In a perfect utopia all citizens would follow the law while respecting their fellow men. However, we must all be mindful that there are crazy people out there. It is a reality that all of us experienced with the mass murders in Las Vegas recently. Like the Orlando Pulse shootings, Las Vegas has reopened the ban on assault weapons debate while others argue that citizens should not have access to any guns. The problem with the gun debates is that they miss one very important element – will a future law require everyone to relinquish their assault weapons, or guns, if a more stringent law is imposed? That is the fundamental question and the Pandora’s Box elephant in the room.
In the Greek mythology, once Pandora’s Box was opened, all the evil escaped leaving only “hope” locked up once it was closed again. That is the problem with the gun debate.
The issue is that guns and assault weapons are prolific in the community. Implementing any ban on assault weapons, or guns for those advocating stricter gun control, would require citizens volunteering to give up their guns. The problem will lie in the compliance. Citizens who follow the law will turn in their guns as required by any new law. They may be reluctant to, but they will comply with the law.
Criminals will not.
Sure, you can take away all the guns in criminal hands as they are caught, but how long will that take? How many murders will be committed by the guns in the hands of the criminals? That is the fundamental fault to the gun debate.
There are too many guns in the community and there is no effective way to remove from the neighborhoods, short of the military going door to door searching for and confiscating each gun they find. Imagine the scene as soldiers deploy in your neighborhood and begin door-to-door searches for guns. Will the criminal down the street wait until it’s their turn or will they simply abscond with their guns?
That takes us right back to how long it will take for the country to be rid of its guns. While the country is ridding itself of guns, the lawful citizens will disarm themselves, while the criminals will prey on them with their guns.
Clearly, ridding the country of assault weapons or guns is unfeasible no matter how much all of us wishes it to be.
But even more dangerous is the notion that guns kill people.
Stephen Paddock murdered at least 50 people and wounded over 500. Paddock had at least 23 guns in his hotel suite. Yet, at most, Paddock could shoot two guns at a time. At least 21 guns could not kill people at the same time because a gun cannot shoot without someone manipulating the gun’s trigger.
Rather than focusing on solving the gun violence problem through removing guns, the solution must be with solving the reasons for the gun violence. Unfortunately, that means delving into solving the mind of a criminal. Daily, hundreds, if not thousands of crimes are committed each day in the country. There thousands of laws dealing with criminality and yet criminals persist.
As you can see, there is no simple solution.
By all indications, Stephen Paddock bought his guns legally. He passed the background checks. Some would argue that had guns been heavily regulated then Paddock would not have committed the crime.
How realistic is that scenario?
Let us look at a country with stringent gun control – England. Britain has one of the most restrictive gun laws in the world. Even police officers are highly restricted in having guns. Yet, just this year alone, there have been at least 37 people killed in five incidents of terror. Almost 400 people were injured, many severely.
In the five incidents, three involved vehicles being driven into crowds of people and two involved improvised bombs. The obvious argument that will be made is that in each scenario in Britain, far fewer people were killed then in Orlando or Las Vegas.
This is true, but it ignores a fundamental issue, how do you take the existing guns out of circulation?
England implemented its strict gun control laws in 1997. As part of the new law, a buy-back program was funded by the British government to encourage people to turn in their guns. England spent about $200 million. Additionally, England enacted severe penalties for possessing guns. Likewise, Australia also spent about $200 million in its gun buyback program.
In the case of England, about 162,000 guns were recovered by the government during its amnesty buyback program in 1997-1998 after making most guns illegal in private hands. However, even England’s restrictive gun laws allows for the legal ownership of certain guns. According to The Guardian, in 2010, there were 1.8 million legally registered guns in Britain.
NPR estimates there are about 300 million guns in the U.S. today. It would be extremely expensive for the United States to buy back the civilian guns if they were to make them illegal. The government cannot take private property away and thus it must buy the guns it intends to make illegal.
For most, that would be well spent money to reduce mass murders.
But let’s get back to the English example. One important thing must be remembered, it has been 20 years since guns were banned in England. When the gun law was first enacted, there was an uptick of gun violence as law abiding citizens disarmed while criminals remained armed. In time, guns have become more difficult to acquire in Britain, but not impossible. Criminals in England still have guns.
However, the argument is being made that as guns disappeared in England, gun violence diminished. But as you can see from the 2017 terrorist incidents, people are still being killed, but instead of guns, it is cars now.
The most fundamental question everyone should ask themselves, as they debate gun control, do you want to be one of the 37 people killed in England this year without a gun to protect hundreds of your fellow citizens? Does that math work for you, if you are the one to be killed by a deranged killer in a van?
Unlike Australia and England, Americans will unlikely comply in high numbers to a law that demands they relinquish their guns. So how many people will be killed while the country rids itself of guns? Are you willing to be killed to save others in the next decade or two? Answer that question honestly before advocating for disarming citizens. And, don’t use the argument about statistics, because the same can be argued of someone being a victim to a deranged man carrying a gun.