28, Male, white-collar job. Low crime area as far as I know.
FamousAjax wrote:To you, do the pros outweigh the cons in allowing people who have been registered, had background checks done, etc, to carry a handgun with them for potential use in self defense?
Not to me, no. I've already mentioned training, and I'll come back to it again, but simply filling in some forms and having no criminal or mental health record is not, in my opinion, good enough to be allowed to own a lethal weapon.
As Joe said, with enough determination or luck, you can kill someone with pretty much anything. This is true. But I'd bet good money that a gun makes that much easier.
Knives - there's an age limit on buying knives, and you're not allowed to carry them outside if the blade is over... what? 3-6 inches from memory.
Cars - you have to do extensive training to be able to get a drivers license. Not enough, IMO (you should be re-tested every 10 years or so if you ask me; there are a huge number of cocks out there. I'm one of them sometimes.
), but it's better than "I've just bought a car, let's go slide it round a motorway".
Baseball bats/crowbars etc - you'd get some funny looks from regular people and probably a few questions from plod if you wandered around everywhere carrying anything like that.
FamousAjax wrote:The process of obtaining a gun was pretty simple: Saturday, at 18:00, I went into a sporting goods store in my area, and asked to see one of the handguns in a locked glass cabinet. The man behind the counter handed it to me, and I held it unloaded, checked how the clip operated, felt the tension required to use some of the latches, etc. I told the man I wanted to purchase it, and he asked for my drivers license, and handed me a small stack of paperwork and a computer, and asked me to fill out all the questions. The written forms were fairly simple: last, first, and middle name, address, telephone number, social security number, drivers license number, place of employment, that address, that phone number, and answer a bunch of questions about whether or not I had ever been convicted of a crime. After filling all this out a second time on the computer, I was told it would be about 10 minutes, while someone in a call center ran all my information, and approved or denied my purchase. The salesperson called into a phone number, told the person on the other end my request number, and he informed me I had been approved, and that I could purchase the gun. I grabbed the cheapest box of 50 9mm bullets, and he rang up my purchase. I was then escorted to the door by a man who carried my gun and ammunition, handed my gun at the door, and told to be safe and enjoy my day.
That's outrageous. Imagine trying to buy a car like that. At some point, the seller would ask for your drivers license. Proof that you've actually learned something about using one safely. Plus I'd imagine America has a similar system to ours, whereby insurance is mandatory for all drivers. Do you have anything like that for guns? I don't think so, but I'm willing to be enlightened.
So it's definitely too easy to get hold of guns. Let's now look at why you need a gun. I can think of reasons:
1) Home defence. Gun is kept in the home, to be used to defend oneself and ones family in the case of home invasion.
2) Personal defence. Gun travels with you, either concealed or openly. If you get into a situation, you do a Jack Bauer and either wound or kill the attacker. Or hope the fact that you have a gun makes them shit themselves and run away.
3) Hunting. I'm assuming deer/moose rather than rats and the neighbour's annoying dog. Classic woodsman, with the trusty rifle.
4) Fun. Guns are awesome. Hollywood has been telling us this for years. I'd love
to go shooting at a gun club somewhere.
So, let's go over these reasons:
If there's a chance you have a gun in the house, does this make it more likely that would-be burglars will bring guns? I think so. Also, even here in Blighty, we read a few stories a year about kids who go out plinking with an air rifle and accidentally headshot their mate. If there are "real" guns in the house, unless the parent is enforcing proper gun safety 100% of the time, this will get worse. And the more people with guns, the more likely that some won't be looked after properly and safely.
Also, while the presence or absence of a gun may not affect people's susceptibility to attempt suicide, having a gun makes it staggeringly more likely that a suicide attempt will succeed.
A study from Harvard a few years ago wrote:
The association between firearm ownership and suicide was due to higher gun-related suicides; non-gun-related suicide rates were not significantly associated with rates of firearm ownership. Also, suicide attempts using firearms, which constitute just 5% of all fatal and non-fatal attempts, are highly lethal--more than 90% of all suicidal acts by firearm are fatal. By comparison, individuals who use drugs to attempt suicide, which constitute 75% of all attempts, die in the attempt less than 3% of the time.
Again, as mentioned by Joe, how likely are you to be able to effectively use your firearm in a stressful situation, especially if you haven't actually done any training? And I don't think that simply being a good shot by practising against targets is enough.
Even if you accept that hunting animals for sport is moral (I don't, although I'd bend that rule if you butcher and eat what you shoot and are good enough to not just wound them and leave them to die), there must be a specific class of rifle (the "hunting rifle", I'd guess) that could be legal, with the proper training and permits, without an open season on handguns and automatic weapons. Something bolt-action, preferably without a magazine or clip, slowing the rate of fire below what your average psychopath would consider effective on crowds of people. Something non-concealable.
Yeah. That's not a good enough reason for me. Explosives are cool too, but I don't notice anyone saying that grenades and C4 should be legal. And if you have a gun for sport shooting, it should be secured at the club you shoot at, and their security should be among the best that money can buy.
And as for fully automatic weapons... seriously? I mean, can anyone think of a convincing reason for ever
allowing civilian ownership of these? All they do is spray a lot of bullets, very fast and not very accurately. You're pretty much guaranteeing collateral damage if you fire one of those in a crowded area. Automatic shotguns are illegal, I believe. Who decides that one type of weapon is illegal but another is not?