I have long thought about the issue of gun control. It’s an important national concern, particularly given the controversial nature of this issue and its potential to either save thousands of lives or destroy them. Please note that this is not a pure black and white argument because there are cogent arguments both for and against the motion. Instead of taking positions from fits of emotional outbursts and sentimentalism, we must think rationally, debate, and then decide.
So, having read widely and thought critically on this issue, I have formed some initial views. I’m increasingly beginning to think gun control is unnecessary. I’m, however, open to both sides of the argument.
For the motion:
(1) Ashish Deodhar, a FB friend, made a fairly strong argument when he wrote:
As heartbreaking as the Newtown shooting was, one must think rationally when it comes to debating gun control laws – in the US or anywhere else in the world.
We could say that India has some of the tightest gun control laws in the world. And yet, patients were shot dead in a hospital in Gurgaon; a toll collector was shot dead in Delhi for simply doing his job; the story of the Delhi bartender Jessica who was shot dead for refusing to serve a drink after hours is known to us all…
What would have prevented these crimes? An armed hospital or an unarmed hospital? An armed bar or an unarmed bar? An armed toll gate or an unarmed toll gate?
Those who want to kill people will get their arms anyhow. I wonder if tighter gun controls would only prevent law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves!
The last point is particularly interesting. Most criminals get their arms from black market despite bans. They want to kill, and they will find guns anyhow. So why snatch away arms from innocents who can protect themselves.
(2) Those who want to kill will kill even with knives. They don’t need guns to kill. For example, just recently “a man with a knife slashed 22 children and one adult outside an elementary school in Henan province . . .” In light of this incident, shouldn’t knives be banned too?
(3) Guns are a good defence against the State. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution supports a well-regulated militia — citizens armed with guns — in the rare case that the State (meaning the govt.) becomes the people’s enemy. In words of Sanjeev Sabhlok, “what would happen if ALL governments SHUT THEIR EYES to global deception and decided to impose their will by force?”
(4) Gun ownership has the potential to significantly reduce crimes. For instance, yesterday a girl in South Delhi, although accompanied by a male friend, was gang-raped by a group of five men in a moving bus. The group first attacked the boy with rods, following which they raped the girl and threw her out. Could the girl and her male friend have protected themselves if they had a gun with them? I think so! In the very least, the five men would have thought twice before committing such a heinous crime.
Also, we would be able to protect ourselves in the event of a robbery or theft in our houses. We are well aware that we live in a nation where Dominos arrives faster than an ambulance or the police. Imagine if all of us owned guns and knew how to shoot. The robber wouldn’t dare barge into our premises.
This was evident in an incident where a 12-year old girl shot an intruder to protect herself. When the intruder entered her house, the girl hid herself with a gun inside the closet. When she had gathered enough courage, she jumped out and killed him.
(5) This argument may be far-fetched, but I think a well-regulated militia could also significantly reduce our defence budget – or instead of reducing, would at least allow funds to be used in other defence areas. More research in this matter would certainly help.
(6) What about the recent Connecticut shooting of 22 school children? Such incidents are extremely heinous and unfortunate. What’s worse is the killer was a 20-year old who stole his mom’s guns (which she purchased LEGALLY) to murder the children. That said, please note that Connecticut law only allows gun ownership to people above the age of 21. So, the killer used a gun which was already illegal. Banning guns or legalising them hardly matters to criminals because by definition, a criminal is he who does not follow the laws. The Connecticut shooting demonstrates how the government had failed in its attempt to prevent illegal ownership of guns. Who knows, if even one teacher had a gun handy, she could have saved more children or prevented further violence!
Against the motion (please provide your views if you fall in this category):
(1) Yes, there is a possibility of accidental shooting. However, we must gauge the probability of such an accident.
(2) Is it more likely to misuse a gun than a knife? In point (2), I mentioned that a Chinese man slashed 22 children recently using only a knife. Most robberies in countries with tighter gun control laws happen at knife-point. Is knife less lethal than gun in committing crimes? If so, how? We must answer this question.
Whatever the case, we must carefully weigh the costs versus the benefits of gun ownership. I agree that a thorough cost-benefit analysis is perhaps difficult owing to the lack of sufficient research in this area. Plus, doing research is hard. How can we do research on a decision that involves human lives?