Gun ownership and gun control laws are currently a hot topic in our country. There are very strong beliefs and emotions on each side. Those strong emotions and beliefs often make it very difficult if not improbable for the two sides to have a reasonable and logical discussion about the issue. To make matters worth, the issue is both complex in nature and involves discussing very unpleasant realities that are difficult to face.
At the core of the gun ownership and gun control debate are matters of life and death; guns being used to kill the lives of innocent people and guns being used to kill bad people who wish to harm innocent people. Most individuals just want to go to work, earn a little money, come home to rest, and have a little fun on the weekends. Most people don't want to have to worry about matters of life and death. Because our great country has been blessed with such peace for so long, most modern day Americans generally don't have to worry about life and death issues on a daily basis. This is a luxury of peace time. Unfortunately, just because we don't want to consider matters of life and death does not mean that life won't throw us into a true life and death situation that will require action on our part to survive.
There are many angles that the gun debate can be approached from. Today I would like to examine just one: the general success of current laws that control whether other things can be owned or not. Regardless of other arguments, either side should be willing and able to address the consequences of limiting gun ownership through legal legislation. A brief examination of how other controlled things like drugs and prostitution exist, one can see that laws always fail to prevent unwanted action. Laws allow us the ability to legally prosecute an individual for their actions, but they rarely prevent those actions from occurring in the first place. Additional gun laws will only make law abiding citizens unable to defend themselves against violent criminals.
Legally Controlled Substances
There are a great many items that laws already restrict or deny the ownership of. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and prescription pain killers are just a few examples. The current laws on the books having varying degrees of penalty for owning of selling these controlled substances outside of highly restricted medical use. However, these substances are still very commonly used and easy to obtain illegaly.
The current heroin epidemic that our country faces is proof in and of itself that laws are not a good way to prevent individuals from owning and obtaining items our society considers unwanted. The current Heroin laws have steep punishments for possessing even grams of the drug. However, heroin sales and ownership are rampant and extremely common in our country. Heroin overdose is currently the leading cause of death among our nation's youth. The laws that ban heroin and other drugs have done little to prevent tens of thousands of preventable deaths of American citizens. Legislation preventing the ownership of drugs is not doing a great job at preventing the rampant drug deaths currently sweeping our nation.
If we extrapolate this reality to how gun laws would affect gun ownership, it would be reasonable to assume that, like heroin, even in the face of strict gun laws, guns will still be commonly owned and traded. Even though the manufacture, transport, sale, and ownership of heroin is illegal, the drug is still very common and can be easily purchased and found in almost every American city. Even though there are whole departments within the Federal government devoted to tracking down illegal drug manufactures and trafficers, illegal drugs like heroin remain very common place and claim the lives of thousands of users every year. Why would expect guns to be any different with new gun legislation?
An Aside on Prohibition
Prohibition is another example of how laws that were intended to change citizen actions failed to do so. From approximately 1919 - 1933 in the United States, it was illegal to make, sell, or transport alcohol. Of course, we all know that that didn't stop anyone from finding a local speakeasy and drinking as much alcohol as they wanted. In fact, some historians believe that more alcohol was consumed during Prohibition (when it was illegal) than when alcohol was legal! It is yet another example of how laws in and of themselves to not curb or prevent citizen action. People who wanted to drink got a drink. Laws will similarly not prevent people who want to own a gun from owning a gun.
As a society, we have outlawed prostitution in an attempt to protect women from the abuse and negative atmosphere that tends to go hand and hand with the practice of selling sex. However, prostitution is alive and well, and tens of thousands of women across our country continue to be taken advantage of in the sex trade. In any American city of a sufficient size, one an individual can procure sexual services for a price. While some women are will participants in the sex trade, many are not. Imagine being forced to have sex with ten or more men a night, every night. The stories from the women who manage to get out of this horrendous world are truly depressing. How well are the anti-prostitution laws serving these young women? Has the existence of these laws do anything real to prevent the terrible things that happen to women in this nations sex trade?
Yet again, the presence of laws has done little to nothing to prevent the actions of private citizens from acting however they want. Certain citizens will do what ever they want regardless of what laws are on the book. No matter what types of guns are outlawed, there will be members of our society that continue to produce, sell, and buy those guns outside of the law.
(As an aside, please contribute to local women's shelters and other charities that work tirelessly to help free women who wish to leave the sex trade.)
Current Gun Laws that Don't Work
There are already intelligent gun laws on the books that are not being followed by literally tens of thousands of offenders. For example, individuals with a prior violent felony conviction are prohibited from owning or purchasing a gun. Additionally, individuals with a prior domestic violence conviction are prohibited from owning or purchasing a gun. However, many of these individuals still own, carry, and acquire firearms. The is all illegal of course, and this generally happens through illegal black market transactions. At the end of the day, these offenders who have already demonstrated a tendency towards heinous violence are easily able to illegally attain firearms and continue to use firearms to carry out violent crime. Ask any law enforcement officer and I guarantee they will say that the vast majority of guns they encounter in the hands of violent offenders are already illegally owned by those offenders because the offender has a history, the gun is stolen, or the gun is illegally manufactured or altered.
Individuals who are already willing to break laws will have no problem breaking other laws in order to get something they want like a firearm. Other criminals enjoy cashing in on the firearms blackmarket by manufacturing or selling firearms for clients that cannot legally acquire the same firearms. If these laws are not being followed nor preventing violent individuals from owning guns, why is it thought that more laws would have any impact on preventing violent people from owning guns.
Disarming Good People
The only thing that more gun laws will do is make it harder for law abiding citizens to own guns. Law abiding citizens respect the law and just want to live a normal, peaceful, and productive life; they don't want to rock the boat. Furthermore, because law abiding citizens earn money the old fashioned way (by earning an honest living) it would be hard for them to afford the black market premiums on guns that drug dealers and career criminals can afford. Should further gun laws be enacted, violent law breakers and career criminals (who already can't own guns but own them anyway) will continue to own firearms and acquire new ones while law abiding citizens will be prevented from getting firearms that would be necessary to defend themselves from violent crime.
It is indeed unpleasant and scary to consider these sorts of things. Depending on where you live, violent crime may or may not be a common occurence. Rape, home invasion, armed robbery, mass shootings, and terror attacks happen. When you need help right away, and police response is 4-12 minutes away, the only person who can prevent a violent crime from happening in that moment is the people who are already there; and if you don't have a gun, then you have chosen to be a victim. Law abiding and peaceful people have a right to defend themselves from violent crime and should be allowed to do so. Restrictive gun laws will only able violent criminals to further victimize law-abiding citizens who can't themselves in the absence of legal gun ownership.
Laws do not change the intentions of people. The people who intend to follow the law will respect the changes made to laws. However, those who will do what ever they want regardless of laws (outlaws and criminals) will be unfazed by changes made to the law. Just as black markets provide scores of illegal drugs in the face of highly restrictive drug laws, there will always be black markets to provide criminals and evil doers with an ample supply of guns no matter what kind of gun laws are passed. Criminals will always be able to be armed while gun laws would make it harder for law-abiding citizens to be armed so as to protect themselves.
As with many things in life, you have a choice to make. You can either choose to be armed and have the means to defend yourself, or you can choose be unarmed and be the victim to the whims of the ever-present criminal element who is armed and will always be armed. I will always choose to be armed and in control of my own destiny. I will always support laws that protect my right as a law abiding citizen to bear arms and my right to defend myself and loved one even in extreme situations.