With 300 million guns in the United States alone, how could a ban on guns hope to prevent further tragedies?
The tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, is among the latest killing sprees in America. Many citizens and politicians are finally saying enough is enough, and that tough decisions need to be made. But what is the most effective way of bringing about this change?
Obama has proposed an assault weapons ban, while the National Rifle Association (NRA) has proposed armed security guards in every school. If you are Canadian, chances are you agree with Obama’s stance, and think that the NRA is crazy. But if you think about it rationally, setting politics aside, the NRA’s position has a lot of merit.
Let’s start with something we can all relate to: BCIT. What if a madman targeted our school just like in Newtown, or École Polytechnique in Montreal? While Canada already has quite strict gun control laws, it is still possible to legally acquire many types of guns, and illegally get hold of many others.
So who is there to protect us? Our school has 24/7 security, but would that be much help? It turns out that security guards in Canada are not allowed to carry firearms outside of their own home. The only exception is if they transport money in heavily armored vehicles. That’s right: the safety of money is more important than the safety of students and citizens. What good is it to arm only the police, when everyone is already dead by the time they show up?
The idea of schools being “gun-free zones” with unarmed security guards makes about as much sense as declaring a building to be a “no fire zone” and then removing all the sprinklers and fire extinguishers.
[pullquote]” ‘Gun-free zones’ with unarmed security guards makes about as much sense as declaring a building to be a ‘no fire zone’ and then removing all the sprinklers and fire extinguishers.”[/pullquote]Let’s also take a look at the other option: a ban on gun sales. Simply put, this is nothing more than a feel-good idea with little grounding in reality. First of all, there are already over 300 million guns in the United States alone. A gun ban isn’t going to make them magically disappear. Secondly, prohibition doesn’t work; you need look no further than alcohol prohibition in the 1920s or the drug wars of today for affirmation.
Want a more relevant example? During World War Two, German forces couldn’t prevent the Polish resistance movement (comprised largely of civilians) from arming itself. The Poles designed and produced an inexpensive, home-made machine pistol that could be made in small workshops by inexperienced engineers. Almost 70 years later, you don’t think people could do the same? And even by today’s standards, it’s about to get a whole lot easier.
One of the hottest new industries right now is 3D printing, a technology set to revolutionise small-scale manufacturing. Gun components have already been printed and assembled into an AR-15, the same weapon as was used in Newtown. The parts were assembled and fired six times before failure; not bad from a $2,000 machine, and on the first try. What this means is that access to guns and ammunition for the common civilian may become as easy as printing off a downloaded file you got off eBay. Good luck imposing a ban on guns in such a world.
Not to mention that schools in the past have also been attacked with weapons like flamethrowers, knives, and explosives. So, even in a world without guns, schools would still be very vulnerable.
Having said all this, I do support reasonable levels of gun control, like age limits, cooling off periods, background checks, mental health checks, and even pharmaceutical checks. But the reality is that gun control alone isn’t going to cut it, especially if we look at the technology (and paranoia) that will be available to us in the future.
With this in mind, the NRA’s proposal makes a lot of sense. Because when you really think about it, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.[hr]