Recent shootings have ignited quite the debate among amateur 2nd Amendment theorists; the battlefield turns frequently to Facebook, using status updates, “fact sheets,” and news articles to voice opinions—fair enough, for most of us this is the best means of getting the most people to see our message. With plenty of Marines and Soldiers on my friends list (a former-Marine myself) the trend on my newsfeed has been in support of the NRA theory that guns serve as a deterrent.
Bottom line up front: the more people we have in our society toting guns, the more likely we are to have gunfights or kids gaining access to guns or accidental discharges. Sure, examples of the noble citizen killing a lunatic on a shooting spree would increase, as would opportunities for this noble citizen.
More perplexing to me in this logic is that the use of deadly force is an extremely complex situation that even the ‘professionals’ struggle with at times—people are going to mess it up and more guns give them more opportunities to do so. Undoubtedly this will lead to a proliferation of perceived street-justice and create death sentences for petty crimes by converting fistfights into gunfights. Realistically, can we really expect all citizens to not only be as proficient with a firearm but also as judicious as we expect our law enforcement and military to be? Keep in mind, every felon was at one time a non-felon, and the lack of a felony seems to be, for most states, the only qualification needed to own a gun!
How is this argument any different from nuclear proliferation? If we want every ‘law-abiding’ citizen to carry a gun, why don’t we promote every seemingly law-abiding nation to have nuclear weapons? After all, according to those on the pro-gun rights side of the debate, criminals aren’t going to be stopped from getting these anyways. This is true in the global setting—North Korea has weapons, Iran is looking to get these weapons, Pakistan (an Al Qaeda stronghold) has these weapons (and security measures over these nukes are questionable). Sure, we can’t eliminate bad guys from getting these but fortunately the line of thinking for non-proliferation is the best available: despite the current possession of nukes, we seek to stop the hemorrhaging–we don’t encourage everyone to gain them as a means of ‘deterring’ or ‘stopping’ a rogue. The goal is to eliminate, not proliferate. Right or wrong, we have a select group of states considered to be stable that possess nukes (aka those who got them first) and will deter rogues, we don’t need everyone dishing out summary justice—we have a global structure to handle this.
More guns equal more chances for gunfights. The 2nd amendment allows us to feel secure against the threat of a tyrannical government–I gain that security by the federal government not limiting the weapons my local and state police or militia keep in their armories in the case of emergencies, or by adhering to what the 2nd Amendment actually says. When my beer-drinking neighbor wants to sit on his porch with a shotgun in his hand and a pistol on the table, I feel less secure (by the way, who is watching that pistol when he goes inside to grab another beer?).