Everyone has an opinion about guns and gun control in the United States. Those pro-gun supporters can recite the 2nd amendment verbatim and are very much “leave my guns alone”. Those pro-control have multiple incidents to cite in support of stronger gun control laws and even a repeal of the 2nd amendment. This isn’t going to be an article on either side of this debate, rather, it’s going to be focused on the violence that accompanies firearms of all types. Anyone that heads into the world outside of their comfort zone understands the obsession Americans have with their guns. The proliferation of firearms in America is unprecedented compared to most other countries in the world. I own a firearm and treat it with the respect it deserves while accepting the responsibility that comes with owning one.
Guns Are Tools
A gun by itself is innocuous. It requires an operator to wield it and of course, fire its contents. Putting a gun at the end of your hand is empowering in a way that most things can’t come close to giving. In the hands of a responsible operator, a gun can be the difference between life or death for them or the person they’re protecting. Guns aren’t the problem, rather they’re a tool that is being used inappropriately for various reasons. Regardless of the reason being legal or illegal, we make a conscious choice to pick up and use a gun. Every time we pick up a gun we make a conscious choice on how we’re going to use that gun. For example, I use my gun to blow off steam at the range. It’s in my home, properly stored and protected, until a situation presents itself that requires me to pick it up. Every attempt will be made to avoid discharging in said situation, but I would use it regardless of whether the circumstances required me to.
The power of a gun is in its ability to deter behavior or actions that are deemed unwelcome. Those unwelcome situations occur every day in this country and people are left dealing with the consequences of their actions. A church in Florida announced to the world that they were armed and ready to protect themselves if needed. That is an action they chose to take. A potential reaction to this is inciting someone who otherwise would leave them alone to take actions against the church. Handheld firearms are no match for a semi-automatic or an illegal automatic weapon. The unspoken deterrent of “are these people armed?” is now gone because they made this announcement. Will something happen? Who knows, but there are enough people with guns in this country that puts the odds against the church.
Humans are Violent
Human nature is violent. We’re driven by feelings and emotions that despite our best efforts otherwise, still manifest. A driver getting angry for being tailgated. Someone saying something offending to someone else. An escalating argument in a bar that turns physical. At any point, anyone can be starting down the barrel of a gun. The debate can be made that we’re not capable of handling such weapons. We manufacture weapons of destruction in a warped methodology called “mutually assured destruction.” The scary thing about that thinking is that it only works when both sides have something to lose that negates any short-sighted benefits. An individual with nothing to lose is not someone you want holding a gun being pointed at you.
We need to take the debate in a different direction. Focus on the people, not the guns. Guns are only a symptom of the larger problem.