Like all boys and men (I suspect) I have a fascination with weapons and fighting. War movies are good, but zombie movies with guns and axes are often a lot better.
There is something very exciting about playing with weapons; it’s probably an evolutionary survival of the fittest thing. The apes that were better at whacking other apes over the head were more likely to procreate and so those genes have become a part of us.
Well the modern form of having the bigger stick to threaten other with is still something we all desire deep down.
But along with the genes that favor violence, we have also inherited those that allow for rational thought. And when we think about violence, we tend to also think about the possibility of us being hit over the head with an even bigger stick, and that doesn’t seem all that appealing.
In fact the more that you think about it, the clearer it becomes that not everyone can manage their anger, and maybe there are some very good reasons to limit “big stick” availability.
I used to belong to a gun club when I was at university. We fired a range of target rifles and handguns. I wasn’t bad at it, and played in a couple of friendly competitions. The care by which we handled this weapons was probably excessive, pre-training before firing was mandatory, the weapons was stored in very robust safes, and the rounds of ammunition was audited, and there were zero accidents.
A few years later a crazy lunatic in a small town in Scotland, took one of his (legally owned) handguns into a children’s school and shot and killed a multitude of innocent victims. There was an investigation into this nutcase, and while the results of the investigation were slapped with a government secrecy order of a hundred years, action was taken to ensure that this kind of thing would be drastically limited in the future. I suspect that someone very high up in the incumbent government of the time was in someway culpable, hence the secrecy, and the drastic response. But all guns in the UK were taken from the general public. There are now no legally held handguns in the UK by the civilian population, and very restrictive controls on hunting weapons. So quite simply anyone with a gun is going to find the response from the highly trained armed police unit’s rather immediate and unequivocal.
I believe this response to a terrible crime was a little excessive, but it was a response, and the results in terms of weapon-based crime have shown it was effective (some may debate this).
Quite simply there needs to be very strong controls on the access of dangerous weapons by crazed people, no loopholes.
It’s pointless to restrict access to weapons through some legal means but not others, and it’s pointless to stop access to legal weapons when huge numbers of illegal weapons are in circulation if you don’t also control the access to ammunition.
If I wanted to get a gun today (I don’t, this is hypothetical), I know that just by travelling for an hour in any direction I can find an illegal weapon and stock up with legally purchased ammunition at any Wal-Mart store. I know that to avoid waiting periods for legal weapons I could visit a gun show or buy a weapon that has been made unusable, and just by visiting the Internet get information on how to make it usable again. I’m sure there are even more ways, but that’s enough.
The point is crazy people can and do have access to lethal weapons, and that is just nuts.
It’s actually quite easy to limit the access to ammunition, put in place much stricter controls on weak minds, and force people to be much more responsible with the weapons they do own.
The concept that people can carry loaded weapons around in their cars or on their person, for “personal protection” is dangerous. It takes training both physical and mental to be able to use a weapon effectively, and even those who receive regular training find in very hard to be affective in the heat of a confrontation.
The chance of a trained person with a weapon being effective in an unexpected confrontation is very small. More people are likely to be hurt, the more weapons that are in play during a confrontation. And the level of training seems to have very little impact on the outcome.
What does seem to have an impact is the mindset of the participants. If a crazy person takes a gun to a location with the intent of hurting or killing someone then they are mentally prepared for the fight. They may have taken hours, days or weeks to mentally prepare, thinking through what they are going to do. While if you witness a crazy person start to shoot, you are not physically and mentally prepared. And the chemicals released in your body and mind at that moment are not designed to prepare you for rational decision-making. Even the best trained police officer or soldier will confirm how difficult it is to take control of a situation that you were not prepared for. The best can do it, but it takes incredible fortitude and decades of work to get to that point.
The average person who enjoys weaponry is not a professional, they (like all of us) are generally rational and love the machismo fostered in movies, books and computer games. The average person who would carry a concealed weapon into a public place is much more of a danger to themselves and those around them, than any weak minded lunatic with psychotic tendencies.
I like guns, I really do. But I realize that it’s better that as few people as possible take them out in public, own them or use them.
I recognize the fun element, and I recognize the power of them in the hands of soldiers, and the police. But I also recognize that I would do a lot of careful checking on exactly who has them and how they get ammunition, if it will save just one persons son, daughter, husband or wife.
And there are many people being killed by many guns every day.