Upon reading the article “George Jonas on the Benefits of Amnesia and the Folly of Gun Control”, I’ve decided to write my thoughts on the issue–or at least, on how the issue is discussed. First, it might be worth looking into Japan’s gun control system, as their laws are very strict on this issue and yet there are almost no shooting deaths. (The Atlantic has an article on this issue I plan to read shortly, and will update here if I have any relevant thoughts on it.)

Second, I’m not saying that gun control is the answer, but I’m not entirely comfortable with articles and writers who suggest that gun control is a conversation that should be silenced. For comparison, I like to compare the gun control issue with the international response to Iran’s nuclear program: no one wants Iran to have nuclear explosives because (1) they appear to have violent intentions with such a weapon, and (2) because a nuclear bomb would be a much more powerful weapon than those that they are currently allowed to possess. I could be mistaken, but I don’t think anyone would dispute those claims.

How does this relate to gun control laws? Well, it seems that similarly, you wouldn’t want to sell a person a weapon that (1) is likely going to be used for violent criminal actions (e.g. to a person with violent intentions), and (2) is too powerful to safely put in public hands. In some respects, (2) is only relevant in cases where we cannot ascertain whether the person will commit violent acts, but we will never be able to know that with certainty; as such, we should consider what kind of access we allow to more powerful weaponry, like the already-banned miniguns and grenade launchers, or other powerful legal weapons such as shotguns, although I’m sure the hunting community would not be pleased if we considered banning those. (2) is also important in the case of people who accidentally cause their firearms to go off, since even if we could trust everyone in Canada or America to only use a grenade launcher for lawful purposes, we still might want to keep them illegal, since accidentally launching a grenade in a crowded city would be a bad thing. However, as mentioned in my previous post, there are increasingly-viable options for gun accessories that would limit the harm from accidental gun discharges, which should also be considered.

Admittedly, there is some truth to the idea that if we ban citizens from acquiring guns legally, the only people that will have them will be criminals, and that an armed citizen can stop another person from committing violent crimes (although there is no consensus on the latter issue). However, conforming to the laws is an easy way to acquire guns, often the easiest, that is under the direct control of elected officials, making it one of the best and easiest ways for a government to change the nature of gun ownership in one’s country. It is also the method of gun acquisition that we as voters are implicitly assenting to, so it deserves some scrutiny for that reason as well.

Neither of the concerns described in (1) or (2) are going anywhere. No politician is going to say that businesses should be allowed to sell grenade launchers to any adult that wants them, nor are they going to say that a person who has a criminal record and a history of using guns for criminal activity should be allowed to acquire them. These two issues are always on the table, then, and we should be able to fine-tune our response to those questions via more discussion, not less.  Perhaps we should update the laws prohibiting the sale of guns to people who seem likely to commit violent crimes—or perhaps we shouldn’t. And perhaps, as I sometimes speculate, any weapon more powerful than a pistol isn’t necessary for self-defense purposes (do you plan on stopping an army?)—but perhaps I’m wrong about that. Either way, both questions are related to the issue of gun control, and are issues that are inherently on the table when we discuss gun legislation, whether we want them there or not.

(via The National Post)