Often in the gun debate those in opposition of the 2nd Amendment fall back on several arguments: the founders did not intend for people to have semi-automatic weapons, more guns means more gun violence, and guns aren’t necessary in a civilized society. I would like to take a moment to talk about why these arguments are incorrect, ill-informed, and ineffective.
More guns means more gun violence.
This is wholly untrue. In fact, today more people own guns than ever yet the rate of gun violence has steadily trended down. This is not to support the claim more guns means less violence, simply to say the opposite is not true.
The founders wrote the second amendment when everyone had muskets.
This is used to illustrate the supposed fallacy of the 2nd amendment defending the use of semi-automatic weapons. The intent of the 2nd Amendment however, is not just that citizens be armed, but that they are armed enough to defend themselves from a potentially tyrannical government. If citizens were armed only with muskets, they could not stand against a small-town police force, much less the federal government at large. While the need to be able to stand against a government may seem conspiratorial and outdated let me ask, which side of the aisle claims to be the “Resistance”? Which side of the aisle supports Antifa’s violence against our elected “fascist” leader?
No one needs guns!
This is generally used when you point out gun violence causes fewer deaths than car crashes. In fact, when you remove suicide and law enforcement related deaths, firearm related deaths in 2014 were 11,744 while vehicle related deaths were 33,736. Don’t get me wrong, I think cars are necessary, but are all of them?
Take motorcycles for instance. In 2014 motorcycle deaths per mile traveled were 27 times greater than cars, accounting for 4,594 deaths. Sports cars, like motorcycles, are built for high performance and are generally associated with unsafe driving. They have an average death rate of 54.6 per million per year compared to an average of 30 per million per year for all vehicles in 2014. This according to the IIHS. Mini cars don’t stand a chance in an accident with anything with a mass greater than the common grey squirrel. Their average death rate is 88.8. The fact of the matter is, if you qualified everything by safety and utility you would be left with luxury cars, pickups, and SUVs. It’s not so difficult a proposition; if motorcycles, sports cars, and mini cars’ are the least safe vehicular options, why shouldn’t they be regulated in the same manner people want firearms to be? If there are other, more safe modes of transport shouldn’t we eliminate those deadly machines?
The question is, can we make government big enough to prevent unnecessary death? Every state requires some form of driver’s education yet every year over 30,000 people die in car accidents compared to 461 accidental deaths from firearms. Every day 28 people die in car accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver even though the combination is illegal. The null effect of making firearms illegal is on display in Chicago where 58 people, the same as were killed in the Vegas shooting, die from gun violence in the span of a month.
The reality we must face is no government can prevent all unnecessary death and we should not rely on the government to protect us from such spontaneous acts as occurred in Las Vegas. The government cannot identify every terrorist before they send shrapnel into a crowd with pressure cookers, or shoot up a nightclub or music festival. The responsibility lies on the individual and the community to help the mentally ill and defend against those who wish to do us harm – be they individual actors or our own government.