I like guns. I said it. I grew up adoring every gun slinger from the quick-draw cowboy to the chain-gunner soldier. I have fired a few guns too, from the standard Glocks at gun ranges to WW2 Mosin sniper rifles. I don’t own a gun and never intend to (unless the world somehow survives extinction and I get to retire in a ranch in Wyoming where ravenous wolves threaten my prize llamas). While I am still living in an urban environment, it would take a miracle to convince me about the benefits of owning a gun. Everyone non-gun collector I have talked to has given me two reasons – self-defence and the pleasure in exercising their constitutional right.
As for self-defence, I think people secretly wish they were government agents or assassins and there was danger lurking everywhere, and the gun under me pillow is the last ditch insurance in a bad bad world. That said, I absolutely don’t think that a burglar is worthy of being a burglar if he hits the vase with his elbow and wakes up the neighbourhood. Any decent burglar ought be sly enough and have enough research done on his target to actually avoid the sleeping owner in the first place. But again, with the oh so many online universities, who knows how qualified today’s thieves are. About 700 people die each year from accidental gun usage and another 15000 or so get seriously injured; not more people die mainly because the success rate of our emergency medical care has outpaced the growth of guns. Eventually, they die of shock after getting their hospital bills of course. Electronic security systems are ridiculously cheaper than a decade ago and people have more ways than ever to call for help when required, old fashioned self defence with a shotgun is both out of place and dangerous in crowded urban environs.
Next, the constitution, a magnificent document as of 1787, talks about the merits of a well prepared militia that can keep the government in check. Right. Only in my wildest dreams could I see my hipster friends with nyan-cat embossed pistols bravely tracking on their iPhones, the positions of the government’s tanks and MIRVs (Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles – for those uninitiated in weaponry). For a guy that grew up reading Jane’s war ships in secondary school, I could have told you a millennium ago how asinine the idea of a modern day militia sounds. Despite my profound respect for Madison and Hamilton, I simply don’t think they foresaw the age of ICBM-carrying submarines and long range stealth bombers. Without a question, the case for a militia is void, and government madness can be put in check through more effective coordinated and non-violent methods.
The recent string of gun violence incidents has sparked a pretty fierce debate in the country, however no legislation has actually been ratified to address the said problem. I would suggest two things to my congressman – one, eliminate all assault-type weapons, and two, restrict the total number of guns that were manufactured after 1950 in towns with a population of over 500K. Assault weapons are fantastic in wars or for those in the deep south, warding off large herds of rushing buffaloes, but have little purpose in a modern society. Rapid-fire mechanisms and large magazines are both dangerous and silly in a world where people can actually live blog a burglary. The risk of misuse and abuse of assault weapons far outweighs their already non-existent utility. In an age of growing distress, uncorrected malaise and widespread mental illnesses, it is prudent that we as a society protect ourselves from ourselves.
Second, the restriction of total number of weapons is a very good way to make the actual number of weapons in our streets to be used in more worthy ways. Of course economics tells us that when you restrict the supply of something, an underground market automatically forms to meet the demand. But then, its not like cartel members and mafia goons are getting their guns at the local Walmart right now, there already is a large black market and gun trafficking has never seemed to slow down. But at least a restriction on total guns will drive up the prices of guns and get them into the hands of people who value them the most – the collectors and the sport hunters, the rest of the urban folk can simply enjoy firing guns in the numerous gun ranges that will pop up to meet our insatiable need to shoot stuff. Having 89 guns per 100 people makes us the most armed populace in the world, the second highest concentration of guns is exactly half of that of US – in Switzerland with 45 guns per 100 people. Having more guns than everybody else does not make us stronger, it makes us hollower.