Guns in America


In April of 2007, John Edwards, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama were in Iowa, campaigning for the Iowa Caucuses. Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson interviewed the candidates and asked each  spoke with each who made a point of talking about gun rights and none of the three endorsed such proposals as gun registration or a ban on handguns.

Kay posted portions of her interviews on her blog, which has generated a couple of dozen comments over the past year. Some flaky, but most thoughtful. The one that  haunts me is from Sergio (who has an email address in Aruba?):

"As a non-US citizen I can’t believe how Americans in 2008 still cling to their weapons while trying to police and moralize the rest of the world. Although the US has a unique culture and history – certainly when it comes to guns – I wonder if Americans ever consider why almost no other country in the world allows people to bear arms, especially fire arms. The US has one of if not the highest gun killing rates in the world for a country that is not at (civil) war.

Do you really believe that weapons make a society safer? Strictly licensed weapon possession for hunting and sports is allowed in most countries of the world, but the ‘right to keep and bear arms’ is really unique."

I honestly don’t know if we enjoy the freedoms we do because of, or in spite of, all the handguns (and assault rifles etc etc). If every man in Zimbabwe had a gun, would Robert Mugabe still be in power? Let’s face it, the ballot box is a joke in that country. Sort of like Florida.

The recent Supreme Court ruling has prompted me to think about this topic a little. And make a list of all the reasons I can think of for a private citizen owning a handgun. In no particular order:

  • Self-defense (from a mugger or home invader)
  • Sport/target shooting
  • Collector/keepsake
  • Repel government goons when some president decides two terms aren’t enough
  • Commit crimes
  • Piss off people who don’t think handguns should be legal

That’s all that I can come up with at the moment. Self-defense is a popular reason for gun ownership, but I can’t recall the last time I heard of someone repelling a robber with their six-shooter. And it seems like there’s no end of stories of some youngster shooting his sister (or a dozen or so classmates) with dad’s Glock. That’s the tasteless interview I’d like to hear.

"Mr. Smith, it’s been a year since your oldest boy shot and killed his little brother with the gun he took from your bedside table. Has this terrible tragedy changed your position on hand-gun ownership in anyway?"

I think Sergio is right on one point. We need to stop "trying to police and moralize (to) the rest of the world." It just makes us look like dicks.