Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What’s the use?

The new thread of argument against firearms (particularly against semi-automatic firearms), when you bring up comparisons to other items that are commonly used to kill, is that “guns are different, because their only use is to kill; so we have to ban them!” The corollaries are that “Hunters only need single-shot weapons!” and that “You’re paranoid to want to fight the government!”

This entirely ignores the benefits of self-defense. I recently went looking for how often a firearm is used in self-defense (often referred to as a Defensive Gun Use), for use in an attempt to change the mind of a friend who was vehemently anti-gun. The lowest estimate I could find for such a use was 800,000 times in a year, and at the high end, it was more than 2 million. The number is hard to quantify because it relies on surveys of potential crime victims, as it’s the rare defensive gun use that comes to the attention of the police for reporting. This is because most are simply a display of a firearm and the willingness to use it in response to a threat of criminal violence. They rarely make the news.

The Second Amendment is not about the right to hunt, otherwise it would be much easier to legally hunt on federal land, and the Supreme Court of the United States and several subsidiary courts would not have held that the Second Amendment guarantees a pre-existing right to use of firearms in self-defense against interference by the federal, state, and local governments. But people do hunt with semi-automatic weapons. And they hunt in situations where you NEED rapid follow-up shots; I surely wouldn’t want to hunt feral hogs with a bolt-action rifle, to give one example.

As for fighting the government; it’s not a fantasy or nightmare, nor is it necessarily a fight against the Federal Army. The Battle of Athens is one example; but I would qualify defensing yourself against a lynch mob or KKK violence in areas where the KKK was government-sanctioned if not government-encouraged to be “fighting the government,” at least by proxy.

Of course, all these arguments ignore the elephant in the room of trying to restrict or ban firearms – the number of firearms misused is an infinitesimal fraction of the firearms in private hands, and the number of people who misuse firearms are an infinitesimal fraction of the number of private owners of firearms. Millions of firearms owned by millions of people did not cause trouble today, yesterday, last week, or last year.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep it civil