The epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S makes me seriously sick. I have grown weary of hearing people defend their right to own guns with limited control, as if that right precedes people’s right to live. Honestly, I don’t buy the whole, “I need guns to protect my family” argument. Many first world countries have restrictive gun laws (I’m looking at you Canada and Australia) and we don’t see a sudden rash of home invasions. Here’s a little story…
We own guns. In fact, we have five guns or so in the house. Almost all of these were heirlooms from Mr. TJL’s father and grandfather and carry sentimental value. However, we also have a young child in the house. Mr. TJL often tells the story of how his grandfather hung the snake charmer (a type of rifle-handgun combo) on the back of the front door. Guess what ended up happening? Young Mr. TJL blew a hole in the living room floor. I am sure that not a damn thing was learned from this incident.
The last time we took a road trip, Mr. TJL packed a gun. Initially, he claimed it was for “protection.” Neither of us would actually react in time to an eminent threat, we would probably end up getting shot with our own gun and we certainly were not going to have a loaded gun in the front of the car. I mean seriously, how many of us train multiple hours a day to react to a sudden threat? Hardly any of us, unless you are a police officer or in the military.
Finally, he admitted that we needed it for the apocalypse. In the off chance we broke down in the middle of nowhere and no one stopped or we couldn’t use our cell phones or walk to a place with service, or just walk to the nearest town, we could use the gun to shoot a rabbit or something and blah, blah, blah, blah. Let’s face it, most average Americans do not need to own guns for ANYTHING. They will not protect you. You are not hunting for food. It is not an integral part of your survival and you certainly do not NEED an assault weapon.
It has gotten to the point in this country where people think it is their right to shoot another person. Take one step onto my property, I am gonna blow your fucking head off. What happened to the time when we were neighbors? Have things truly gotten so bad that we can’t interact instead of react?
In my 40 years, I have NEVER needed a gun. I completed 4 years of field work in the backcountry of Canada and NEVER needed a gun. Did I see bears? Sure, and I turned around and went the opposite direction. Do I camp in rural areas? Have I traveled alone cross-country? Do I travel at night? Have I ever been scared about the outcome of an escalated situation? Sure, and I never have needed to shoot someone. Have I just been lucky? I don’t think so, I have been cautious instead. I don’t rely on guns to get me out of a sticky situation, I use my head.
I don’t view this issue as a political one, I view it as a moral one. My right to guns does not supersede public safety, ever. If you are a mechanical engineer working in a car factory in Detroit, and you insist on owning AR-15’s to fight terror and crime, you are an extremist.
I am not against gun ownership. Are you a rancher and use a rifle for your livelihood? Great. Do you live in a rural area, have limited means and hunt for food? No problem here. Are you a businessman, engineer, teacher, plumber, sandblast technician, attorney, physician, retail worker, wait staff, chef, babysitter, or lawn maintenance worker? Give it up man. The argument is ridiculous and paranoid.
Why are guns so valuable and beneficial that it’s worth hundreds of thousands of lives?
I don’t think there is any evidence to support the implied claim that there are millions of people who died because they didn’t have guns to defend themselves. I treasure liberty, but I also like feeling safe in public, and my mother-in-law carrying a gun in her purse does not make me feel safe. Our gun control laws are a cultural relic.
The facts are pretty clear. There is a VERY strong correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths, both within the states and abroad. I don’t dispute that guns sometimes save lives, but it looks like they save a few hundred a year, and cause about ten thousand.
Again: I’m not saying that we should take away everyone’s guns. Why not? Because I don’t believe prohibition works. I think that would just fuel more crime. There are plenty of folks who use guns responsibly, and I would prefer a solution that doesn’t take away something so many value. In fact, I don’t have a solution. It’s clear this is a very contentious issue. It’s also imperative that we find a way to prevent these tragedies. We simply can’t go on having a mass shooting every day. It’s unacceptable. I remain hopeful that folks on both sides of the issue can have civil discourse which will lead to better understanding of the facts, and ultimately that both sides can work together to keep guns out of the hands of evil.
Living a FI
That is why I loved this post by Living a FI this week – Unloading Guns From A Portfolio . He has a moral objection to making money off of these tragedies. He makes some excellent points regarding gun manufacturers, their ties to the NRA and the shaping of U.S. gun policy. He has put his money where his mouth is, but beware he may make you rethink the ethical implications of your portfolio.
While you are there, check out Living A FI’s post collections. Specifically:
Canadians and Australians, what do you think of the U.S. gun policy. Do the gun policies in your countries make you feel castrated?