Maybe guns aren't the problem, maybe they are. And perhaps, the real problem is us.
Some problems don't have solutions
Like so many in our nation I have been deeply affected by the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. I don't know anyone who lives in Newtown or have any direct link to any of the victims but still found myself shedding tears for them. I have a child and can only imagine the feeling of loss so many are going through at this time. My prayers go out to all those involved.
Anytime a tragedy such as this occurs the questions of why did this happen and how do we prevent this from ever happening again inevitably become part of the conversation. In this instance, and so many others, the easiest aspect of our culture to question is our gun control laws. These are the weapons primarily used and it would seem obvious if we took guns out of the equation we could end, or at least, drastically reduce the number of these type of incidents. The truth is, there is no simple, fix all solution for this problem.
The second amendment guarantees US citizens the right to keep and bear arms. This law was created shortly after the British left our land and our founding fathers wanted the citizens to have the ability to protect themselves. However, they were different times and they had different weapons. The type of mass murder carried out at Sandy Hook could not have been accomplished by a musket. Truth be told, a person could probably do more damage with a pair of scissors in a school rather than the types of weapons the first citizens of our country had access to. The creators of the constitution could not have anticipated how the world would evolve and how dangerous the weapons would become. So, does the right to bear arms in order to protect ourselves still have a place in our society?
The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership per capita in the world. No other country comes close. Compared to many countries in the world, the United States is safe and our violent crime rate per capita does not rank anywhere near the top. When we see violent crimes occur that involve guns we immediately want to make a knee jerk reaction to change things. Lets take an honest look to see if there is any correlation between legitimate gun ownership and violence.
The countries with the highest murder rate per capita are countries such as Honduras, Jamaica, the Ivory Coast and Venezuela. These countries have 47 murders per 100,000 people or higher while the United States is at 5 murders per 100,000. None of these countries have near the gun ownership rate that the United States has. On the surface it would seem these statistics point out that the gun ownership rate may possibly help stem violence. However, among developed nations, the United States ranks higher in the murder rate above almost all other nations except Russia. Again, the US has a much higher number of guns scattered throughout the population than these other developed nations.
Most of these nations have stricter gun laws than we do but still have a much higher murder rate. Mexico, for example, has very strict gun laws but we hear everyday about the type of gun violence that is occurring there. However, other countries such as Poland who have strict laws, low gun ownership rate, and their murder rate is far below that of the US. To add more confusion to this debate, Switzerland requires all able bodied males to have fully automatic weapons in case they are called into the military and their gun control laws are fairly similar to those of the United States. Switzerland's murder rate is near the lowest in the world.
So we see there is no conclusive data showing that if there are stricter or looser gun control laws it will lead to less violence. Some countries have extremely strict laws and a high violence rate while others have less rigid gun policies and have less violence.
The question boils down to this-do guns make our environment safer or more dangerous? The answer depends on the person holding the gun. We need to understand that there lies within certain individuals the ability to carry out great evil. We can enact all the types of laws we can think of to restrict people from getting weapons but it will not stop everyone. As much as we want to prevent these types of incidents from happening we will never be able to stop all of them. Unfortunately, there are people out there who will always find away to bring evil into our society.
Guns are neutral to all arguments. They don't take a side or feel biased one way or another. They perform a function. Before guns existed, evil men found tools to perform there deeds. Vlad the Impaler and Jack the Ripper never used a single firearm but still managed to terrorize. If we take away guns they will use knives. If we take away knives they will use clubs. If we take away clubs they will use rocks. According to the USA today, one third of the mass murders that have occurred in the US in the last six years did not even include guns. Men will always find a way to kill one another. This is the sad but honest truth of humanity.
One could argue if we cut guns out of the equation then we can at least decrease the number of incidents like Sandy Hook. That may be true. I could also argue if a couple of the teachers in the school had a gun with them and knew how to use it they could have prevented this from happening as well. Who's to say that perhaps more capable people carrying guns could not be a solution? At the mass shooting at Trolley Square in Utah, a off duty police officer was able to engage the shooter and stop him from killing more people. He was able to do this because he had his weapon with him. How many more people would have been killed if that officer had not been there? Could the tragedies at Columbine and Aurora been averted or least lessened if there had been someone in the crowd that was able to fight back because of having a gun?
I don't know the answer to that question and nobody ever will. We can't change the past and can only hope we can avoid this type of tragedy in the future. If a ban on guns would prevent this type of violence from ever happening again I would be the first in line to hand over my weapon. However, there is no data that proves this to be true. Because of that, I want the right to have something I can protect my family with. I want the ability to fight back in case I ever come into a situation where I need to.
I'm not saying that we should hand a gun to everyone that asks for one. There needs to be regulations to these weapons do not fall into the hands who would use them to harm others, I understand that. However, I don't want us to make an emotional decision about an issue that we really don't have an answer for.