People will continue to commit evil acts.

This letter to the editor of Time, in response to the Virginia Tech shootings, is curious. The letter writer is from Toronto, so his perspective on our Constitution is probably a little bit different. Yet, what he says is similar to what we hear from many gun-control proponents in the United States. Here’s an excerpt:

If there are protections in the Constitution, drag that document kicking and screaming into the 21st century by amending it. Let the military and the police have their weapons, and let legitimate hunters and farmers have their long guns. But everyone else? Just let them try to club or stab 32 people to death in one go.

Marc Kramer, TORONTO

Clearly he misses the point that gun ownership among the citizenry is meant as a deterrent to tyrannical government, the kind where “the military and the police have their weapons”. To be fair, Mr. Kramer does not expect all citizens to be disarmed. I am left wondering who will decide who qualifies as a “legitimate” hunter? A farmer? So in the process of disarming citizens, we’re also to give the government the power to decide who meets a narrow definition of acceptable (long gun) gun owners. This argument is far too deferential to state power.

Still, Mr. Kramer’s argument disintegrates in the end because he implies that banning guns will end mass murder. I’m sure someone would have a difficult time stabbing 32 people to death in one go. But what about driving their car into a crowded area? Although these accidents weren’t intentional, is it crazy to believe that someone with murderous intentions could try the same? Should we now ban cars, except for those few who “need” them?

Guns and cars are different. I get that. But we’re not discussing them in the everyday, intended use context. We’re discussing what can be a weapon? Cars can easily be made a weapon, as can many different otherwise innocent objects. When put together, they can become a bomb.

The discussion must move beyond the simplistic “guns are icky and the Constitution is outdated for allowing them”.

6 thoughts on “People will continue to commit evil acts.”

  1. A reasonable solution would be to simply ban semi-automatic firearms since these are the specific weapons that are being used to commit all these mass murders.
    Machine guns (fully automatic firearms) are already banned because of their rapid-fire capabilities, and no one questions that ban, so I don’t see why anyone should object to banning semi-automatics.

  2. The point of my entry was to demonstrate that banning semi-automatic weapons will not stop mass murders. As long as humans continue to have mental problems, at best, such a ban will change the weapon used.
    And as much as I hate guns, the Constitution allows guns. I’m open to ideas that the Constitution permits gun regulation with ownership, but to go the final step and ban handguns is a repeal of the Second Amendment without going through the Constitutional steps. That’s wrong.

  3. The point of my entry was to demonstrate that banning semi-automatic weapons will not stop mass murders.
    Your commentary wasn’t specifically about semi-automatics. The word “semi-automatic” doesn’t even appear in your entry.
    …but to go the final step and ban handguns…
    I was talking about semi-automatics only, not guns in general.

  4. I wrote “semi-automatic weapons”. My intention was that it was a stand-in for “guns,” as was the rest of my comment. I should’ve written it better. Point conceded.
    But the overall point was clear, I think. Crazy people will continue to be crazy and will continue to be inventive in ways to be evil. Until we can effectively legislate away mental instability, the argument is more complex than “guns kill people.”
    P.S. I’m not attributing that simplistic view to you, specifically.

  5. I’m not sure I understand your response here.
    Your statement seems to imply that you think people should be able to own any type of weapon they want (including machine guns).
    Please clarify your position.

  6. I don’t necessarily agree with that. The deep issues of gun control don’t interest me, so I leave them to others. My position, in short form, is that guns are constitutionally protected, to at least some degree. This must be considered.
    Beyond that, the issue is more complex than believing we can make bad things stop happening if we just control/ban guns enough. People only focus on the evil things guns do, and dismiss the positives.
    Aside from the original intent to allow the citizenry to protect themselves from tyranny, a valid-but-minor concern today, concealed weapons can stop crime in progress. The cost-benefit of that must be considered. I don’t see much of that from the crowd seeking to ban guns.
    Just look at the letter I excerpted in this entry. “Ban guns and mass murder stops.” It’s wishful thinking. Policy debates should involve more than reactionary, one-sided thought.

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