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GUN CONTROL IN THE WAKE OF CHRISTCHURCH
I expect this article to be pretty unpopular. That’s natural. The first response to a mass shooting event is usually in the range of shock, dismay and outrage. That is, after all, the stated goal of terrorism. According to his manifesto that was also the stated goal of the Christchurch shooter. And so to firmly reject the idea of gun control at a time like this is going to be a hard sell.
Additionally, I’d like to state very clearly that I hate the idea of politicizing a tragedy like this. This is peoples’ lives we’re talking about. To use the unimaginable loss these people are going through for political gain—it goes against my every belief. But sadly that’s the state of political discourse in the current year. Advocates of gun control have already mobilized, and once again the Second Amendment is at risk.
As an American, I believe the Second Amendment is (fittingly) the second most important freedom that we have. It deserves a defense.
The last decade or so has felt almost like a commercial for gun control. Every year we rack up more and more mass shootings. San Bernardino. The Las Vegas massacre. Anders Breivik. Pulse nightclub, and the Parkland school shooting (both within two hours of where I live). There are too many more to name.
Obviously, everyone agrees that there is a problem. No one is arguing that this state of affairs is acceptable. Something must be done. The problem, as usual, is that society can’t agree on how to address this issue. There are lots of little compromises on the table that would probably do a lot of good if enacted. Things like enhanced vetting and biometric locking mechanisms. But again, the political state of America—and hell, the world abroad—isn’t interested in compromise.
So now we’re being presented yet again with only two options: do nothing (thanks republicans) or confiscate guns. Of those two, confiscation clearly sounds more like a real solution. Unfortunately I do not believe that is the case.
Proponents of gun control, some of them powerful legislators, will tell you that restricting certain types of gun will result in less mass shootings. I’ve seen little evidence of this. In fact the gun laws in New Zealand are already more strict than those in America; the Christchurch shooting still happened.
My argument is simple, and really comes down to this: assault weapons are a reality. No amount of effort will change reality. As long as something exists, and there is a demand for it, that thing will continue to exist.
Consider the War on Drugs. Since the early 1970’s the U.S. government has spent untold billions trying to reduce the prevalence of drug abuse. All psychoactive drugs, including marijuana, are federally illegal. Are drugs still available? Are they still a huge problem to this day?
Over the course of its history the American government has tried to ban many things. Drugs. Homosexuality. Abortion. Alcohol. Censored books. All these things continued to exist (and sometimes thrived) under prohibition.
Assault weapons exist. People know how to make them. If you have the tools, you can make one in an afternoon. Writing a bill will not change this reality. Spending trillions of taxpayers’ dollars might get us closer, but no amount of effort will completely eliminate assault weapons.
By making assault weapons illegal all you are doing is preventing law-abiding citizens from getting them. You've probably heard that argument before, but that’s because it’s true. People who don’t mind breaking the law will always be able to get assault weapons—their illegality won’t prevent that.
Additionally, according to some estimates, over 30% of all the world’s existing guns are owned by American civilians. Allow me to repeat that: every third gun in the world is privately owned by an American. Are the police going to go door-to-door and confiscate three hundred million existing guns?
For better or worse, assault weapons aren’t going away. Any ill-fated attempt to get rid of them will only cause further societal problems (if history is any indication).
Now, I don’t claim to have the solution to this problem. I wish I could. I wish there was an easy solution, one that would suddenly and permanently put a stop to gun violence. Better awareness and treatment for mental health issues is probably a good start.
The one thing I can say with any degree of certainty is this: hard gun control is not the answer. Confiscation and prohibition is not the answer. It never has been, and it never is.
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