Since the recent mass shootings that have happened, with a loose definition of mass, there has been inevitably many articles and blogs verbalizing this issue. Both sides have weighed in heavily over the need for more gun control or for more guns. What is to be done in a society where guns are available and people want to kill each other?
I enjoyed reading +Sam Harris's viewpoint on this mostly because I agree with almost everything he says. The truth of the matter is it is impossible for us to eradicate guns from this country, either because of the constitution, or because of the sheer insurmountability of the task. This is due in part to the number of guns already in the country, the unrealistic task of manning the borders to insure no new guns come in, or the pro 2nd amendment practitioners who would only give up their guns when you pry them from their cold dead hands.
Another point in Harris's article was concerning the use of a gun as the great equalizer. Although our Declaration of Independence made such grandiose and altruistic principles in the unforgettable phrase "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,..." the truth of it being idealistic, or at least is qualified by the remainder of the phrase "... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,..." Therefore the equality of man is limited to our rights and our liberty. To the bane of gun control activists this self-evident principle does not extend into the realm of physical fitness or physique, and due to our innate instincts from our evolutionary heritage, and perhaps lack of social upbringing, there are those who would take advantage of others if they know they are stronger.
Any form of physical combat is unequal when faced with someone who is bigger, stronger or faster than yourself. This goes doubly for women who generally are naturally smaller, weaker, and slower. In no way do I mean this to be derogatory towards women, who I greatly respect, and there are those who definitely are not small, weak, or slow, and there are men who are not big, strong, nor fast. A gun in the hand of someone who knows how to use it can equalize the situation, we no longer need to run in fear of the brute, or submit to the indulgences of a mad man.
The media though has failed the people yet again in their reporting, or lack thereof. Before the Sandy Hook shooting there was another that took place and got media attention near where I live. At the Clackamas Town Center a man by the name of Jacob Tyler Roberts started a short lived shooting rampage before having his gun jam. He was confronted at that time by another man named Nick Meli who had a concealed handgun, now drawn and pointed at this would be mass murderer. Jacob, upon recognizing his fate, backed into a stairwell and committed suicide. A great site that I have recently found does a monthly run up on stories that get reported to them with people successfully using guns in self defense, and this story is included in their December post at the Easy Bake Gun Club.
I believe in being a responsible gun owner. Part of that is getting trained, another part is training others. Although the statistic is often quoted that a gun in a home is more likely to be accidentally shot or to injure or hurt someone in the home I think this is more the fault of the fear of guns rather than their mere presence. When it comes to sex and alcohol I think that most people would agree that it is best taught in the home by parents on how to be responsible with both rather than to let adolescents roam free and explore, through devastating experiences, the consequences of both.
Unfortunately too many gun owning parents hide their guns completely and never allow their children to see them or teach them about the consequences of using a firearm. Instead they are left to the curiosity innate in ever child, especially for the forbidden, and the multimedia which they consume through video games and movies to teach them concerning guns. A good friend of mine takes a great deal of time in reiterating the rules of gun handling and making sure his children understand what a gun is capable of doing so that they can't claim they didn't know. This is part of being a responsible gun owner, educating those around you, especially those you live with, about the proper use of firearms.
In the aftermath of every mass shooting there is always an outcry that something must be done to prevent this sort of event from happening again. There has not been any realistic suggestions ever put forth on how to avert the determined murderer, who by definition is not law abiding, from obtaining his goal. Armed security in schools would lesson the impact by decreasing the time it takes for a first responder to be there, but the problem may still occur. It is at these times that we may ask ourselves "What is to be done?" and come up with nothing but silence. Let us not be rash in our decision, let us not make criminals out of law abiding citizens, and let us not unarm those who would prevent a more devastating outcome.