Axver (axver) wrote,
Axver
axver

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On the issue of guns.

Apparently the American state of Florida has passed a law that authorises "gun owners to shoot anyone in a public area who they believe threaten[s] their safety". My only knowledge of this law comes from that (poorly written) article, so I obviously am in no position to discuss it specifically, but it does bring into my mind generalised ponderings on gun ownership.

I honestly think there is, at a purely idealistic level, no valid justification for the ownership of a gun. Unlike other implements that have peaceful as well as violent uses, a gun is designed solely as an offensive and destructive device. While a chainsaw can be used to murder someone, it can also be used to chop up wood for your new fence. A length of rope could potentially be used to strangle an individual, or it could be part of the sailing implements used on a yacht. You may kill a pedestrian by hitting them at eighty kilometres an hour, or you may get to work on time. Many devices have the potential to cause death but have perfectly legitimate peaceful uses as well. How about a gun? It's designed for the express purpose of maiming or killing something else. It is inherently offensive. Why do many people own a gun? In case of threat, to kill that threat.

Let me now acknowledge two important uses of the gun: hunting and the military. I'm torn on the matter of hunting - on the one hand, it can cause great pain to an animal, but on the other hand, I'm not a vegetarian and I enjoy a good dinner of chicken. At the very least, hunting should serve a legitimate purpose rather than killing animals for the sake of killing them and entering some kind of pissing contest to see who can shoot the most ducks or get the most impressive moose head above his fireplace. This is the case for strict gun regulation and the case I would like to believe: the possession of guns in the general populace is strictly limited to legitimate hunting and to target shooting practiced on licenced ranges. This leads to the military and other defence and law enforcement. Unfortunately, the world doesn't exist in my idealistic mind and guns are required by the military and some members of law enforcement to do a necessary job. One could say a gun is a necessary evil.

Now let me turn this entire entry on its head. While pondering idealistically, I became conscious of the need to rein in my thoughts with reality. As much as my idealism may be a desired state of existence, it's not about to take place any time soon because reality is one crazy beast. The argument is often raised that even in a society where guns are virtually unattainable for the general public, criminal elements will acquire them anyway, so making guns illegal doesn't hinder those it should hinder while punishing those who would be responsible. Is this a legitimate argument? No. We're not about to legalise drugs just because criminal elements still have them despite laws or because some people believe they're harmless. The more valid argument is this: a criminal breaks into your house and is going to rape your wife - if you had a gun, you could take him out, but because you don't have one and he's stronger and more fiercely armed than you, you're beaten into submission. Is a reason like that a legitimate reason to own a gun? You can intellectually detach from the situation and argue points either way, but if put in that situation - I wouldn't hesitate to blow the bastard's brains out of his skull and I'd damn well expect the law to praise me as saving my wife rather than prosecute me for killing someone who deserved to die a much slower death than what I gave him.

So where does this leave me and my position on guns? Frankly, I'm not sure. On an idealistic and moral level, I do not believe there is a justification for the production of the gun. Purely - or even largely - offensive devices have no place in our society. However, when you actually take a look at reality, guns are not just a necessary evil for members of the military and law enforcement, as they not only have a legitimate use for non-violent target practice but also as a form of self-defence. How do you regulate this? When does the use of a gun stop being legitimate? What actions warrant being shot - do they have to threaten a life, or is something inherently abhorrent like rape also valid grounds? Besides part of the last question (a rapist certainly deserves a bullet), I have no answers. I am ultimately uncertain on where precisely I stand on the gun debate. The idealistic side of me loathes them and wishes for them to be made devices of a barbaric past. The realistic side of me knows that is an unreasonable position to hold and simply becomes confused in the complexities of life.
Tags: crime, gun ownership, guns, society, violence
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