Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Gunning for Safety

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A few of my co-workers have been mildly obsessed with recent gun control bills. One of them, noticing my lack of participation, asked whether I pay attention to the news.
“No,” I replied.
I was then asked, “Do you care?”
My response: “No. Bicycle safety makes a much bigger difference in my life.”
“Gun control can make a difference to your life.”
“It might sometime maybe make a difference. Cars kill more people than guns do.”

Later, I wanted to have replied that when guns reach the top ten causes of death, then we could talk. So I looked it up, and found that vehicle deaths are only tenth on the list, behind nine broad categories of health problems.

I mentioned this to a skeptic of my acquaintance, who discovered that gun control legislation has very little correlation with murder rates, percentage of murders that involve guns, school shootings, or even suicide rates. One statistic looked the same in Switzerland (almost everybody owns a gun), Brazil (almost nobody), and the USA (somewhere in the middle), but vastly different in Finland.

What seemed to maybe make a difference was access to health care, particularly of the mental variety. That might account for the sheer number of school shootings in the USA, almost unknown elsewhere in the world. That and the fact that middle school is all but designed to make students hate each other, with adults offering little consolation beyond “It gets better.” So when meddling insurance forces people to switch anti-depressant medication, is it any wonder you get a Columbine now and then? (A certain first-person shooter got entirely too much credit for that one.)

So no, I don’t care about gun control laws one way or another. They’re deadly weapons with some utility, just like cars. I certainly wouldn’t mind if everyone were required to take a training course and pass an exam before owning one, and I wouldn’t mind having such a course be considered a regular part of growing up. Nor would I mind having the right to own and/or use one be stripped by the courts for certain gross stupidities like killing someone with one, or using one under the influence of mind-altering substances. I applaud any effort to provide safe spaces for their proper use, while shielding the general public from such users.

Meanwhile, I don’t own a gun because I don’t see myself ever using one. I don’t care much for hunting, I haven’t signed up for military or police duty, I don’t want to be the hero that gets myself killed protecting innocent citizens from someone else with one, I don’t believe in an upcoming apocalypse, and I’m unlikely to have it handy and loaded in the event of an emergency. Is there something I’m missing?

On the other hand, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if my son gets into them, later in life. I won’t actively discourage such behavior, but I will enforce some sort of safety standards as long as they’re in my domain. And I wouldn’t expect the government, as the collective will of parents like me, to be any different.

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Written by eswald

26 Feb 2013 at 9:20 pm

Posted in Lifestyle, Politics

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