Not All Firearms Are Bad – Not All Are Good

On Saturday, January 8, a young gunman executed a savage attack on attendees of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ public event in Tuscon, Arizona, using a semi-automatic pistol. The event was part of a series of townhall meetings aimed at inviting citizen participation by being held in visible places, called “Congress on Your Corner.” The gunman went after as many members of the party (not political party, I mean party as in “seating for party of five”) gathered alongside her as he could. NASA families, Congress families, even the Dodgers Baseball Nation lost loved ones in the attack and joins Ft. Hood in Texas, Connecticut, many other places around America from back alleys to businesses to schools and churches, hit by a shocking epidemic that makes going outside or to work a dangerous activity. I’m not exaggerating, either.
Many shootings too minor for notice happen every day – and that’s mainly what I’m talking about, though this event, a mass execution of unusual viciousness, has finally drawn attention.
Aren’t you sick of it? The attack on the school board in Florida. The workplace in Connecticut. We’re all guilty of failing to confront this issue, but why are we so afraid? Perhaps we are ill informed of the choices we have in confronting the problem of gun assaults.
It’s not necessary to have a ban of all firearms. That’s what we fear when gun control is brought up as an issue. And for good reason, since that’s what most gun control advocates want. Such a position is irresponsible and unnecessarily anti-freedom. The type of weapon favored for crimes — fast, concealable handguns — are the only kind we need to ban. Don’t ban shotguns and rifles – they defend.
In 1986, an article in Scientific American convinced me to have a reasonable position on gun policy. It advanced the idea of only banning certain types of guns. Cherrypicking particular guns to ban but not banning all guns is not a new idea, either. The machine gun was banned nationally in 1935.
But a machine gun ban was a slam dunk. Nobody wanted all of America to become like Chicago. A machine gun in every home was not a very pretty picture, either!
The machine gun didn’t have widespread support anyway. It was not a common household item, like the handgun is. But ironically, were the handgun not a common household item, it wouldn’t be a problem. It is made a problem by its commonness.
The Scientific American article pointed out gun ownership (all types) in 1986 was even throughout the United States, but ONLY in the southern and western United States were daily shootings rampant. The difference was in the south and west, most guns owned were handguns and in the north and east the guns most owned were shotguns and rifles.
Next the article tackled perceptions of race and shootings. That the south and west has Black, Hispanic and Asian people, which causes more shootings to occur, is what most assumed in 1986 but didn’t say out loud. And that could be a red herring to get the discussion off dealing with weapons to confronting the “race problem.” Nevertheless, the article proved that race and demographics was not a cause of gun violence. It compared Detroit to Houston and Los Angeles To LA, cities with similar racial profiles and very different shooting statistics, and nearly identical rates of assault. In 1986, the northern and eastern cities had fewer gun attacks and more knife attacks. This despite wide availability of shotguns and rifles. The southern and western cities favored assault by handgun and assault guns. Today, things have changed but the basic premise still stands. Wherever handguns are common, guns become the weapon of choice for assault, and those guns are mostly handguns.
Obviously that begs the question that we need to control people, not guns, since assault levels remained the same, but the weapon of choice was different. But here’s where my opposition to handguns comes in: gun assaults are 7 times more deadly than knife assaults. Without changing the crime level, you have 7 times as many survivors, gun vs. knife.
To repeat, then why to I favor keeping shotguns and rifles? Because shotguns and rifles are not used for assault very often. They are simply not a good weapon. Too cumbersome, too slow. But when you need to defend your home, your business, they are very handy.
Finally the article also tackled the effect of taking away the right to defend. That is in fact a truthful argument. Taking away all types of firearms just strips the law abiding of a weapon to counter, but noted the effect was only a problem where the area of gun ban was too small. When cities would ban guns, guns for crimes were simply available from surrounding areas. A gun ban needs to have a wide area.
I be remiss to ignore the countless times guns play the hero in stopping violent situations. They stop beatings, fights and serve as a deterrent. “I’m not going in there! The last guy who tried to rob that joint was gunned down!” But I invite you to pay attention to the kind of gun these hero guns tend to be. They often turn out to be shotguns, not handguns, many times.

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