I get into a lot of conversations with folks about guns. To look at my blog lately you’d think its the only topic I’m interested in blogging about. I guess I’m just keeping this stuff off my friends’ Facebook and Twitter feeds. This is my space and my thoughts. Anyways gun bans have value. I’m tired of that being denied.
I am an American live in London and I think the gun laws in the UK are about right. Here is a single question/answer I want to address.
I often advocate banning virtually all guns. One response is that criminals will get them anyway. The assertion is that law abiding people will turn in their guns, but criminals won’t. This will leave the good people defenseless against these bad people.
My problem with that argument is that it is usually presented in absolute terms. It sounds like zero criminals will turn in guns. All will remain armed. There will be zero benefit. If anything, it seems like some people believe gun violence and crime will actually get worse as a result. So there’s a question: does anyone actually believe gun crime would go up if guns were banned? And given that guns have been banned in many countries without a concomitant rise in gun violence, why would the US be different?
I can’t find any allowance for any good. That having millions and millions of guns off the street would bring any benefit at all. If we play out the scenario of a nearly complete, nationwide ban (assume we repeal the second amendment, for example), then over time criminals will be disarmed. Get pulled over for a minor traffic crime? If a cop finds a gun she can confiscate it. Over time we will have ever fewer guns in the hands of anybody—criminal or otherwise.
This isn’t a magic pill. It’s not like we change the law on Tuesday and its Disneyland in America starting on Wednesday. Some impact will be felt almost immediately, but much of it will take a generation or more to fully disarm such a large population.
The goal of banning guns (for me) is to reduce death. It doesn’t reduce crime. That is, bad people will still exist and they will do bad things as much as they always have. But we are blunting their impact. You simply cannot kill 50 people in a murder-suicide crime if all you have is a knife. So let’s be clear: crime will still occur. It will simply result in less death.
So the questions to those who believe criminals will still get guns are these:
- Do you think that criminals will always get as many as they need forever into the future after a gun ban?
- Is there any benefit to a gun ban? Does it save even one life or does it result in no change? Or do you believe a gun ban would actually result in more overall deaths?
These aren’t idle questions. Our second amendment underpins much of this, and I think it is time to consider repealing it as written and replacing it with something else. Of course I’d replace it with an amendment that allowed us to regulate guns through federal law. The constitution changes at a glacial pace, and federal law feels positively brisk by comparison. Make this one change and move the control out of the rigid constitution and into the more malleable realm of law.
So what is the net of banning guns. Can we make a convincing argument that a ban would be net negative for society as a whole?