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A Reflection on the Gun Problem (Because it's not a rant except that it kinda is)
WARNING: This Article is LONG. Like Moby Dick long. However long a Moby's Dick may be. Badda-bing! Consider yourself warned.
"Why would anyone in their right mind want to own a gun?"
A question I got asked by one of my elementary school teachers the other day. She's Japanese.
[I live and work in Japan, but I am a tax paying citizen of the United States, and so I care about such things related to America, because I care about America.]
"They want a gun for self defense," I responded.
"Why would they need a gun to protect themselves?"
"Because other people have guns."
"That's why we don't have guns in Japan," she said.
I actually had to laugh to myself, because she's exactly right. The only reason anyone would need a gun is if another person had a gun and intended them harm.
Yeah, yeah, I know... people will kill you with knives, bats, and cars too. Nothing new here. But these things cannot kill dozens of people at once, like a gun can, and the carnage is rather disproportionate to the act of using such a tool.
What I would like to point out, however, is that you can run away from these things. A bullet is a lot harder to outrun. Just saying.
So I think the comparison here is probably more between those who kill rather than the type of item they choose to kill with. In which case "guns" is just a sub-topic for discussion.
Different Situations Call for Different Measures: But There are Still Good Ways and Bad Ways of Doing Things
Japan still has skeet shooting and shooting for sport, but these guns remain in a secured locker at the shooting range or sports club AT ALL TIMES.
It is illegal to remove the gun from the premises. So 'gun enthusiasts' in Japan who have guns have them in lockers (and they are locked up tighter than Fort Knox! Which is a good thing I'll think you'll find).
In Japan they RARELY ever have a problem or incident regarding self-defense matters that would ever need to be resolved with a gun--even as their population density is far greater per capita than any other modernized nation (this matters).
Japan also does a good job at keeping their crime rates down. Americans are more violent in general, and statistically speaking, and there is behavioral data to support this. I don't know what that means for sure, but I am pretty certain that putting the guns into the hands of an already violent people is probably not a good idea.
Most matters/disputes/conflicts can be resolved without guns. It's called conflict resolution, people. It works, which is why there are people who specialize in it.
Even dangerous or violent incidents can typically be resolved without the need for guns. I know this because we no longer live in the Wild Wild West, even though some like to think so.
I am not denying certain situations require the use of a gun, or even deadly force, but what I am saying is that you probably will never even witness such a situation, at least not outside of an active war zone, let alone be caught up in one
Lots of Excuses to Own Guns But Very Few Worthy Reasons to
The person who states that it is the crazies (bad guys) who are hell bent on killing you with a baseball bat or a knife are the reason to have a gun on your person simply over estimated their chances of getting into a situation where a wild-eyed lunatic wielding a knife or a bat is breaking into their home to do them harm or kill them.
Even if this rare occurance should come to pass, usually you can avoid getting killed by... you know... running away.
There is some kind of macho hold your ground don't be a coward attitude that makes me uncomfortable about those who insist they need a gun to hold their own.
Run away! Why even risk the chance of injury or death?
Now there is no guarantee that you'll always be able to get away. But then again, the odds of getting caught in such a situation, a dangerous no escape situation, are even LESS than getting caught in a general self-defense situation.
So being prepared to run away is clearly more rational than going out and buying gun so one can feel "prepared" to defend oneself against... what? The government? Such arguments amount to little more than white noise in my mind, the noise of black helicopters perhaps, but still not a good enough reason to own guns, sorry to say.
But I understand, every situation is different, so that's why I want to learn about the reasons why a person feels they need to own a gun. We need to start adjudicating the reasons, if you will, and begin to ask gun owners to justify their reasons for having guns.
A Frightening Catch-22
I believe in the right of self preservation. Self defense is a technique to aid in self preservation. But NOT owning a gun doesn't mean you won't be unable to properly defend yourself, unless that person happens to have a gun. Then that's a problem. Because the only way to defend against a gun is to have another gun.
This is the catch-22 of having guns. You see why that's a problem, right?
This is the fight fire with fire type of thinking which I find dangerous, because it only adds to the fire, and creates a greater chance of getting burned.
Besides this, pulling out a gun in an emotionally charged situation, on top of a dangerous one, only adds fuel to the flame and escalates the risk factor that someone will likely use their gun. Our mental states can easily be changed, especially in intense, dangerous, or emotionally charged situations. "Emotionally responsible" doesn't mean much when your emotions are compromised.
There are a lot of responsible drivers out there too, I know, because I am one, but also a lot of road rage. Nobody is impervious. We all have our good days and our bad days. We all experience these things. So let's not equate "responsibility" of gun ownership with an unyielding bill of mental health and level-headedness. This just a fantasy to make the excuse of owning a gun for no valid reason sound more credible.
But the question remains: How do we avoid the Catch-22?We could avoid this by going the way of the Bat. Yes, I am making a Batman reference. He doesn't use guns because his parents were killed by them. Gun proponents will never understand Batman for that reason, and I feel sorry for them.
Breaking News! Gun Rights are NOT Universal Rights
I hate to break it to the gun rights people, but the "right" to own a gun is only a U.S. law. That is, you're "right" to own a gun is a lot like your "right" to drive on the 'right side' of the road. It's a legal right enforced by the law, at least in the U.S. where people tend to drive on the right and have guns.
In other countries though, those same "rights" don't count for much because the laws are different.
Move to Sweden or Japan, for example, and the right to own a gun does not exist. The right to own a gadget, or a gizmo, or a tool simply isn't a universal right in the same way my right to living a life without the threat of violence or death is a universal right.
But we already knew that different cultures are... well... different.
It's not about them having more or less legal rights either.
It's about reasons for why we think we need guns, or the reasons for really needing guns, for that matter. That's the issue at the core here.
So although stating your legal right to bare arms is protected under U.S. law, and it is, that isn't the same thing as saying you have an 'innate' right to own a gun. I'm sorry, but you don't, for the very simple fact that universal rights and legal rights are not always mutual.
On Owning A Gun: What's the Reason? I wanna know.
It's clear that the answer to the gun problem is not more guns. Asking for more guns to fix the gun problem is like asking for more AIDS to fix your HIV problem. It's so obviously not part of the cure. It hurts my head anytime anybody mentions it.
My father owns a gun, because he used to be a criminal attorney, and still gets death threats now and again, by real criminals. Not just random crazies, mind you, but people who are goolish thugs and all around bad eggs.
I can understand why this type of person would want to keep a gun in their home. And he does. I get it. I do.
But you see, he has a valid REASON for owning a gun. Not everybody does.
If a person has a valid reason to own a gun, such as getting death threats, and fearing for their life, living in a dangerous neighborhood with lots of break-ins and theft, or being the victims of abuse (i.e., rape), or being a public target (such as law enforcement, criminal lawyers, or political figureheads) then I totally think they ought to be allowed a gun if the need be.
Other valid reasons for having a gun that I was made aware of include: For example, being an avid wilderness hiker/camper and needing it for protection from the angry critters of the wild, seems to be a valid argument. I would think that because it deals with a situation of imminent potential danger, a gun would be a good way to address such a situation and the potential danger/level of threat the hiker/camper may encounter.
Conclusion: Let's Look at the Reasons
For the average citizen, like myself, I don't intend on owning a gun anytime soon, for sport or otherwise. Why? There's simply no need to own one. I hope it stays that way.
So when I hear talk about "responsible gun owners" my first thought is to ask, like the teacher at my school did, "Why would anyone--particularly this person--want to own a gun?"
What is the reason?
Is the reason good or bad?
If they are just some random person that wants to have a gun for now good reason, however, then I have to seriously question their motives--and no matter how responsible they may be.
In the end, for me, it really depends on whether the REASON for owning a gun is justifiable.
That's what I am talking about here. I want you to have your guns... if your reasons are justifiable. If not, then you're just a person with too many guns, in my opinion.