A Short Commentary on Shootings and Gun Control

There have been way too many shootings this week, and naturally/necessarily, gun control comes up. I’m not big on guns. I don’t care for them, personally; however, in the light of all these shootings, we could make a knee-jerk reaction, and I would like to say “hold on” before we do something that won’t actually help as much as we would like.

The studies I’m finding (like this) suggest that while restricting guns decreases gun violence, it increases other forms of violence. Obviously, if you have fewer guns lying around, fewer people will be shooting other people or themselves, but you can’t just consider gun violence. You have to consider the whole picture. Of course, I would welcome studies indicating the contrary, as I have only just begun researching the topic.

The problem we are facing — and one which DEMANDS legislation — is how to keep guns away from people who are dangerous. That means sensible restrictions on gun purchase, ownership, and storage. That also means we need to fund an oversight program. The current programs we have in place clearly aren’t sufficient. That might mean we have to raise taxes slightly to fund a new approach, but if it improves the quality of life in our nation, we should do it.

So what I urge both gun owners and gun control advocates to do is to come together and realize that while banning weapons may be questionably effective, we can agree on one thing: we do not want guns in the hands of people who intend them for murder or similar violence. We need to stop partisan bickering and try to find an actual solution.

I know this post isn’t particularly philosophical/theological, but I felt obliged to weigh in. There is likely going to be a slew of rhetoric from both sides of the debate in coming days, and I wanted to do my part and try to present something of a balanced perspective.

About Chris Attaway

Chris Attaway is a Christian philosopher seeking to refine the way we live through reasoning and reflection. Be sure to follow his blog, The Discerning Christian, for challenging articles which offer new perspectives on old problems.
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9 Responses to A Short Commentary on Shootings and Gun Control

  1. Nate says:

    For me, it is amazing to try and understand how ‘turn the other cheek’ becomes use a gun.

    • I understand. It’s difficult to balance given that there seems to be a demonstrable benefit from responsible gun ownership. I believe, though, that turning the other cheek and other means of Christian nonviolence are in response to systematic oppression and are perhaps less applicable elsewhere.

  2. Claire says:

    “The problem we are facing — and one which DEMANDS legislation — is how to keep guns away from people who are dangerous.”

    I’d suggest that anyone with a gun is dangerous. People don’t fall in to two categories, there aren’t dangerous people and not dangerous people, those capable of hurting others and those not capable. We’re all capable of more than we know, or other people could know about us.

    • The intended meaning here is that there are certain conditions under which a person is more likely to use a gun aggressively. These are the conditions which we want to avoid. It is true, everyone is capable of hurting others; however, against my intuitions, it seems the research shows drops in violent crime as gun ownership increases, presumably due to a “good fences make good neighbors” sort of effect, where people are aware of boundaries on behavior and that people are capable of enforcing those boundaries.

  3. What we need is not gun control, but media control. The shootings get way too much media hype. People who crave their “15 minutes of fame” get new fuel from each over-the-top broadcast.

    • Beth says:

      I agree with this completely. When was the last time the mainstream media covered someone with a concealed carry permit who stopped a shooting? It happens all the time.

  4. tulloch1985 says:

    From an Australian perspective, in the 1990’s there was a massacre in Tasmania that caused all automatic and semi-automatic weapons to be banned. This has been extremely effective in Australia, dropping gun related deaths by up to 50-60%.

    The American Political comedy show “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” did a segment on this which was both witty and incredibly accurate.

    As much as I like to avoid involving myself with foreign politics, due to the risk of looking foolish. With this in mind however I will give this a shot, at the same time am more than prepared to be quickly corrected on any false assumptions I make.

    The argument against regulation seems to revolve around the second amendment. The purpose of consitutional law is to keep certain rights in place that cannot be easily overpassed, the reason for this is there are accepted circumstances where the majority cannot get it’s way. Now the second amendment, as far as I’m aware, was put in place due to the war against England had a need for militia because the American army was not strong enough on it’s own.

    With these points in mind, the second amendment does not seem to correlate with modern USA. A militia is not needed because the military is large enough, and the arms of the time were not the arms of today.

    So does it not follow, that amending the constitution to ban or at least legislated automatic and semi-automatic weapons, would not be unconstitutional because the arms being legislated didn’t even exist at the time the constitution was written?

    Overall I am aware I have digressed from the point of this article, that the idea was to find a middle ground and begin a realistic discourse with gun enthusiasts, and on that note completely agree, but if the representative on this video I’ve attached is anything like the majority of these enthusiasts, then I think rational discussion is a lifetime away.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pOiOhxujsE

    • I’m not sure on all the details, but my impression has been that the ban, while lowering gun crime rates, also increased other crime rates. I’m not in a good position to research that further right now, but it at least showed up in the first few things I read.

  5. Chris, I’m in Australia and was going to post much the same sort of comment as tulloch1985. Crime rates have been more or less flat, the main difference is the victims are not dead, only injured. The other change we’ve seen is the violence seems to be more targeted at rival gangs with very low levels of collateral damage. The figures are here: http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tandi/341-360/tandi359/view%20paper.html
    The expectation was that knife crime would rise following the restrictions on firearms, but the figures show a fall. http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tandi/401-420/tandi417.html

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