Saturday, September 1, 2007

Are guns beneficial to society?

My beloved* opposite end of the spectrum has recently released claims that civilian gun ownership is not beneficial to non-gun owners. He lays the blame for gunshot victims by the presence of guns, and states that the defensive use, which he describes as protecting our TV and stereo systems, doesn't outweigh the damage caused when people abuse guns.
(1)(2)

In this article, I intend to thoroughly review the entire notion, and prove him wrong whenever he is indeed mistaking

Let's take a look at the blame part, gun control proponents often like to blame guns for violence and suicide. Now, I'll be the last one to deny that defensive weapons are in fact quite facilitating to murder, but can we blame them?
Or -statistically speaking- is there a correlation between firearms ownership and homicide rates? Not according to these figures The USA is the most armed country (% of armed households), but does not have the highest homicide rating, another well-armed country, Norway (82% the guns of the US) is even dangling on the bottom of the homicide rate chart.
Even though we can clearly see that guns are used for murder at a higher rate when a nations gun ownership level increases, guns do not necessarily affect the total homicide rate .
You've all heard some "gun nut" tell you that you can't blame an inanimate object for violence, turn out he may have been right!
The figures found here support that idea, but in a grimmer aspect. They clearly show that the US was not a peaceful nation the year when the numbers were collected, but there is still no correlation between firearm ownership and homicide to be found.

We definitely have a violence problem, a murder problem, but we can't point at guns and yell "culprit!", it's just not true.

Well ... doesn't this end the entire argument? Not entirely, the exact same story can be told about suicide, guncite's got a page on that too, once again there is no direct correlation between the presence of firearms and the suicide rate. You can read up on it on the sixth page of that last document. Once again, we may have a suicide problem, but guns are not too blame.

So, what good are guns to us?
Let's not talk about target guns and hunting weapons, their benefit to the owner is obvious, they're benefit to the rest of society is nil, and they're hardly ever used for criminal purposes (guns used in crime). No, we're talking about handguns and defensive weapons (often dubbed by the misnomer assault rifles)
Starting with handguns: People buy defensive handguns (not Olympic target guns) for self defense. This is the same reason that police officers are issued handguns. They can be carried concealed with relative ease (as to not offend hoplophobes) and do not impede your mobility when used indoors.

Even when a small portion of a population carries concealed weapons, criminals become deadly aware that violent crime becomes a risky occupation. A clear increase of confrontational violent crime has been observed in countries where gun ownership has been reduced. (The failed experiment).
How's that for the benefit of society as a whole? YOU are safer because an NRA member miles away has gone through safety classes, submitted fingerprints and the works, and has spent his hard earned money to purchase a tool for -what appears to be- safeguarding society as a whole.

Now, I know that the statistics published by gun rights organization are grotesquely inflated, but firearms ARE used for self defense, safeguarding life and limb, and often enough, property as well.
I do not agree with shooting somebody who tries to make off with your TV, I do however condone blocking his path and demanding he puts your property down. Should the criminal decide to aggravate the level of threat to lethal, than do whatever you must to stop him.
If you've got a camera nearby, use that instead! Photograph faces, shoes, cars, license plates ... both a camera and a handgun can be operated with one hand, nobody needs to be shot over your TV.

Oh well, what about assault weapons?
Well, depending on whose definition of assault weapon, they are either used rarely for criminal
purposes, or not at all. (Guns used in crime)
What's their possible use? Ask you local police officer. In large cities, it's not uncommon for police cars to have one of those scary black fully automatic machine guns inside, sitting there should a police officer decide he could use it to defend lives. Because of their cheap ammunition, they are cheap and fun to shoot recreationaly, and are marginally effective for hunting and varminting.

In all seriousness, guns cannot be held responsible for the bad side, and they definitely have a good side.
Besides, why would you ban them, not only can it not be done (wrote a piece on that in August, "can we get rid of guns"), but it doesn't help. Read "the failed experiment", take a look at "current events in the UK" on this very blog.
Banning guns does not take guns away from criminals, does not take the murderer out of people and will not give the depressed a new appreciation for life; those are things we'll have to do as society as a whole.

Say, why not go on a camping trip with some hunters? They won't make you kill an animal or point a gun at you. Why not invite your local NRA chapter to the funeral of a "gun victim", they'll be first in line to denounce gun abuse.

Why not be a little more kind to your fellow man?

*Zealots from both sides make me look good :p
Guns used in crime http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/guic.pdf
Gun ownership stats http://www.unicri.it/wwk/publications/books/series/understanding/19_GUN_OWNERSHIP.pdf
The failed experiment http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/FailedExperimentRev.pdf

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