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Why do so many Americans have guns?
Guns guns and more guns
Asking the question: Why do so many US citizens own guns?" prompted a variety of answers and seemed to follow a common theme: to protect oneself from violent criminal activity and because it is deemed the constitutional right of the individual.
As an Australian who lives in a country where the vast majority of people don't ever think about owning a gun, the perceived US attitude of gun ownership is a mystery.
One argument put forward for gun ownership was that "you need a back up plan" while another was "because we can." To those of us who live in countries where we do not have a penchant guns, these are very strange reasons for owning guns and frankly a liitle scary.
A gun is designed to be fired at something or someone with the aim of harming that object or person. If you have a gun sitting in your bedside drawer chances are one day you'll use it or someone else will.
If we adopt the position that "I have to have a gun to protect myself from the other person who has a gun" then that logic can be applied to other weapons eg nuclear weapons. Now we all know that some countries, including the US have nuclear weapons and most likely argue that it is its right to possess such weapons to protect itself. However, from what I read, the US doesn't like other countries to have nuclear power and actually goes to war to stop these countries from having the right to protect itself.
So you can see my confusion. On one hand you say it is your right, but you don't extend that same right to others? How does that work?
Another point put to me in support of gun owner ship was that : "The American constitution is the most unique constitutions in the world to date, and one of the only documents ever written to protect individual rights and natural freedoms, especially in relation to government over-control and guns. Part of what makes our constitution so unique, is the 2nd Amendment (which everyone should read)."
To make a superlative statement " the most unique constitution" one would presume that the author has undertaken extensive study in the the constitutions of a large number of countries. Perhaps the author is very knowledgeable in this area but with no detail of other constitutions it can only be viewed as a biased statement and as a result falls flat as a credible argument.
Another gun ownership supporter said:"I have taught 2 sons, my wife, several ex girlfriends over the years and proud to say hundreds of soldiers how to shoot and in a few years will help my sons teach their children firearm safety and shooting. I pray that none of them ever have to use a weapon against another human being but I want them to have the knowledge and the ability to be able to do so. When seconds count the police are only minutes away. By the way the Second Amendment doesn't pertain just to firearms, it is the "right to bear arms". People seem to be confused by that but yes it is an inalienable right a right that we feel does not come from the government and that the government can not take away. So your government has taken something from you that was not theirs to take. Ponder that and instead of asking why we own firearms ask why you don't, as the criminals take over your cities."
This comment, along with the other comments, makes me think that US citzens don't realise that not all of us live in fear with criminals running our cities.
Sure we have criminals, some use guns but many don't; the criminals don't run the place and we don't live in fear nor do we feel any need to know how to fire a gun.
Most criminal activity, and I imagine this is the case in most countries, is corportate crime which is the reason the US economy is suffering at present and has been for the last few years.
I think the USA is a fascinating country with a rich culture, but it worries me that many US citizens believe that violence is the only answer to violence.
Another commentator claimed that gun related crime had increased in Australia, a statement that is false.
Australia ranks low in world gun ownership and consequently gun related crime has declined in the last 15 years.
Australia has one of the lowest rates of gun ownership in the world, according to the annual Small Arms Survey, released in Europe, 2007.
The independent research project, based at the Graduate School of International Studies in Geneva, catalogues weapons production, stockpiles and illicit arms transfers.
In recent decades the Government has tried to reduce civilian gun ownership, notably through a weapons buyback scheme after the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996.
It has worked, with figures estimating there are only about 15 guns per 100 Australians.
In comparison, the United States has an estimated 90 guns for every 100 civilians - the highest rate of gun ownership in the world.
Gun related homicide in Australia has decreased in the last 15 years. For more information on gun related crime in Australia go to: http://www.ssaa.org.au/research/2008/2008-09_criminal-use-handguns-Australia.pdf
Finally the greatest contradiction in US gun ownership debate for me is the argument that it's a "God given right to own a gun" - nowhere in the Bible does it say "go forth and own a gun to protect yourself" in fact, if I recall correctly, Jesus said to "turn the other cheek."
I accept that US citzens have acquired guns because they feel threatened, but I am not convinced that gun ownership will solve their problem.
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