Weighing in on the gun control debate

In light of yet another school shooting, the gun control debate is heating up AGAIN. I usually stay out of it, but this time I think it’s worth expressing some thoughts on the subject.

How about we assume for a minute that both the pro-gun and anti-gun camps are as extreme as the opposite side claims, that your average pro-gun person really wants to carry military grade assault weapons to the grocery store and that your average anti-gun person wants to raid private homes and take everything that fires a projectile faster than a slingshot. Then let’s meet in the middle.

You want a gun in your home for hunting? Great, but have one that’s actually usable for hunting. Do a background check no matter where you buy it. Register it, keep it secured properly, and have regular inspections to make sure your gun safe is secure and being used properly. You want a handgun for target shooting? Great, but keep it secured properly at the range where you’ll be shooting. Show your gun license when you go to buy ammo, just like you show your driver’s license and car insurance when you go to register a car. I’m all for keeping a shotgun or hunting rifle in your home, as long as it’s properly secured, but you don’t need an assault weapon that’s only good for killing human beings. I’m OK with you having ammo, but you don’t need a stockpile that looks like you’re prepping for the zombie apocalypse. You don’t need to carry a gun with you to the mall. You don’t need a gun if you have a history of domestic violence complaints, of violent crime, or of endangering yourself or others.

I understand being worried about being able to protect yourself. However, a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who were assaulted were 4.45 times more likely to be shot if they were carrying guns. In cases where there was a chance of struggle, it was 5.45 times as likely.  Another study found that for every use of a gun in a defensive or legally justifiable situation, there were 4 accidental shootings, 7 assaults/homicides, and 11 suicide attempts (successful and unsuccessful). So guns aren’t making people safer.

Gun control, by itself, is not going to fix the issues that cause school shootings. It’s going to have to be part of a comprehensive solution to a culture of violence. However, if we’re screaming at each other from the extreme ends of this issue, we’re not going to get anything done. So let’s just meet in the middle with a reasonable compromise and go on to the problem of fixing a culture in which people feel justified in shooting each other, ‘kay?

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