Monday, December 17, 2012

Is the answer to gun violence, more guns?

It is a frequent retort that the response to offensive speech is not less speech, it's more speech! That truth is easily proven - if speech is offensive and demeaning, the response is not to keep others from speaking those things, it is to flood the air with positive speech, to drown out those ignorant people who want to spread a negative and harmful message. Sort of sounds like fighting fire with fire.

While the First Amendment is not centered on protecting offensive speech, it is inherent in the amendment that it does so - who is to judge what speech is offensive? The First Amendment protects speech that is disliked in one way or another by those in power, those who would have the power to ban it. The First Amendment protects divergent views and opinions. In doing so, speech that is generally offensive to many also gains protections. That is the price we pay for a free society.

If that is true for the First Amendment, then could it also be true for the Second Amendment? It seems that there is no realistic way to rid our society of all gun violence. So then, the inquiry is whether we can reduce it, and if so, how? Stricter gun control is the quickest solution offered whenever the tide of gun related killings reaches a high point (inevitably, it also recedes, and the discussion wanes until the next time). But many states already have strict gun laws, and mass killings still occur. Most of these mass killings occur in gun-free zones as well, so while law abiding citizens are unarmed, those who wish to do harm gain an advantage. These incidents should be enough to show that disarming citizens who wish to do no harm with their guns is not a solution to stop the mad man from carrying out his plan.

On the other hand, what if more citizens were armed? In specific instances, the last resort to stop the mad man may be the armed citizen who actually physically stops the shooter with a well aimed bullet, or even the sight of an armed citizen pointing the weapon in his direction. This may stop or minimize a specific incident of violence.

But what if our cultural mindset changed such that it was the norm that everyday citizens could be expected to be armed. Would this cause violent people to contemplate the success of their plan a little more thoughtfully? It could reduce the brazenness of these crimes - where shooters appear to have no fear of anyone except the police, at which time they cowardly take their own lives. If they would just make their last shot their first, it would be more preferable.

A few effects of a cultural shift to valuing each person's right to self defense - more confidence and more resistance to violence would be instilled in the general public. Criminals and those who wish to prey on a weakened populace would be more wary, and might be dissuaded from committing the crime altogether, or will, unfortunately for them, have their fears confirmed by the little old lady with a concealed carry permit. 

It must also be remembered that creating laws  is something like squeezing a balloon. While one side is reduced from the pressure, the air only moves to another place of lesser resistance. More laws actually create the need for more laws. This would be true of more gun control - if guns cannot be used to carry out the act, other weapons can be substituted, and some can be more devastating - bombs have a higher killing capacity than an individual with a gun, and a person with a bomb still holds the record for the most killed in a school killing (1927, 38 children, 45 total for the incident). This fact should show that it is not the access to weapons that is the problem, the person behind the scheme is the common factor.

As Kira Ayn Davis notes in her video, evil is not amenable to law enforcement.

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