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Why do people want to own guns?

  Why do people want to own guns?

Firearms have three main purposes. The first and the least important of them is sporting: clay games, such as skeet, and target shooting. These ritualized sports are of no more danger to the society at large than judo or fencing. The second is hunting. For many people, it is both an important source of protein and an integral aspect of their cultural identity.

The most important purpose of personal arms is self-defense. The definition and reality of self-defense is reluctant participation. The same people who learn to handle firearms, usually hold certifcates in First Aid and CPR. That does not mean that they are just waiting for others to choke or suffer a heart attack. However, if someone around them does have a problem, they can help.

People purchase guns out of necessity, much the same way they buy accident insurance and fire extinguishers. Fortunately, unlike other emergency management tools, firearms readily lend themselves to non-emergency uses. Weapons suitable for saving lives from violent attacks are also used in sporting competitions and for hunting. The recreational and non-emergency use of firearms enables their owners to stay proficient with their tools.

While many people carry a weapon willingly as a badge of their personal freedom, most find effective weapons, such as full-size pistols or submachine guns burdensome, especially once the weight of ammunition and accessories is added. However, people do so to avoid coming to grief at the hands of the few violent felons who do not value lives and well-being of others.

I would like to comment on several popular views about firearms.

If only firearms were outlawed, many social problems will disappear.

Firearms are tools, not causes. By the same logic, banning needles will prevent drug use. In reality, druggies would use alternate delivery methods, while diabetics who need needles to inject insulin would be out of luck. By the same token, violent felons would still have guns or switch to edged and blunt weapons, leaving law-abiding citizens vulnerable. For better or for worse, guns are effective equalizers.

Nobody needs a machine gun for hunting Bambi.

Primary purpose of personal weapons is not hunting but preventing criminals of all ilks from hunting you and your dependents. And effective weapons, up to and including machine guns, are very helpful in keeping you and yours alive in the face of adversity. In historical terms, today's hunting rifles are 1950s military weapons.

Guns are too effective for protection.

Adherents of that theory advocate tear gas or tasers. Come again? They are asking you to handle the situations for which police require shotguns, body armor and superior numbers alone, with only marginally effective tools at your disposal.

Everyone should just learn martial arts.

Most people do not have the time to become very proficient: guns have a much less severe learning curve. Moreover, most martial arts trainers advocate retreat in the face of a knife or another weapon. Fast retreat is least available to the same people who cannot fight with bare hands.

Gun owners can get trigger-happy and blow everyone away.

Psychopaths intent on mass murder can and have used other means, such as gasoline, explosives, knives and garrots. Normal people concerned about concequences of their actions are not likely to kill on a whim. Even a justified homicide (such as to prevent a mugging) would entail legal expenses in excess of $10,000. A wrongful killing would likely land the perpetrator in prison. For these reasons, every gun owner I know is more polite when carrying a firearm; responsibility and restraint are practiced most deliberately.

Banning large capacity magazines will help prevent crime

Murder and drug dealing are already illegal. Can we really expect someone contemplating a shooting spree think "Oh, man! I better not use any magazines over 10 rounds when shooting up that McDonalds...they are illegal"? Just passing another law will not deter the criminally inclined: it will, however, make self-defense less effective. As for the need for large magazines for legitimate self-protection, ask the people who faced mobs of hundreds during the LA riots.

Why would anyone need military-style weapons?

A synonym for "military-style" is "reliable, effective and relatively inexpensive". Since you have a right to self-defense, you would benefit from access to the most effective tools available.

Women should avoid guns. Assailants would simply take the guns away.

In reality, that does not happen. Guns are not very complicated: it is hard to screw up pointing and hitting the intended target at the distance of a few feet. It is not always necessary to shoot the perpetrator: presenting a credible threat of bodily harm is usually enough to stop an attack.

We should turn the other cheek...

The quote referred to a blow to one's pride, not a life-threatening assault. Also, most people who would not defend themselves would fight for their child or spouse. Even so, pacifism may be a valid choice for some individuals. Forcing that choice on everyone is neither fair nor realistic.

Why are gun owners so hostile about "reasonable gun control"?

For most gun owners, personal liberty is as much an ethos as Christianity or Judaism, and people who'd confiscate and burn their Bibles/rifles/Torahs elicit a strong emotional response.

Gun control laws seek to make people defenseless in the face of danger, violate property rights and strike at the personal freedom and self-determination. But, as Stalin was fond of saying, "you can't make progress without breaking a few heads." Do you agree?


Our planets Proud Heritage of Gun Control.

While gun control appears to be a modern idea, it is in fact almost as old the firearms themselves. Precedents for prohibiting certain weapons had already existed. For example Jews in most of Europe were prohibited from owning arms or joining armies. Naturally, all that was done for their own good. Similarly, peasants were prohibited from owning swords. Crossbowmen and archers were threatened with mutilations if captured on the battlefield. In case of guns, the imperative to ban them was even stronger than with muscle-powered arms.

1518. Enlightened Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I bans wheel-lock firearms.

Stating that a concealable weapon was the choice of bandits, he prohibited manufacture and use of wheel-lock firearms. While the ban did retard development of the mechanism, it did nothing to reduce crime. Wheellocks were so expensive that it would take an exceptionally well-heeled brigand to own one.

An unfortunate side effect of this ban was that people who depended on pistols to deter highwaymen were out of luck. Likewise, people accused of witchcraft or herecy had no effective means of defense, as blunt and edged weapons required strength and years of training to be effective.

The ban had eventually lapsed, as the Emperor's son liked guns and had not renewed the ban. As with many laws of that time and place, it was enforced mainly against the commoners.

Public Safety in 17th century France

Posession of flint-lock or snaphaunce firearms was punishable by death. Naturally, that prohibition did not extend to the king or his partisans in the on-going civil war against the Hugenots.

Japan Controls Guns and other Weapons
In the late 16th and early 17th century, the Shoguns who unified Japan sought to prevent further challenges to their authority from peasants and monks alike. To that end, they had confiscated all weapons, including firearms, from the population in the Sword Hunt of 1588. They succeeded by murdering not only those who did not obey promptly but also their entire families. Such are the measures needed for successful gun control.

America tries half-measures.

The end to slavery after American Civial War had led to first serious gun control in the US. Originally enforced against Negros, these laws had later been applied to Chinese and other Asian immigrants, East Europeans and just plain poor people.

Efficient German approach succeeds

Jews were required to turn in guns, sticks and anything else that could be used for self-defense in 1938. That co-incidentally was the year the first concentration camp opened. Most of the six million that perished in the next seven years were disarmed by laws of Germany or their respective home countries. By contrast, when the wised-up survivors with illegal arms made a stand in 1948 Palestine, they had succeeded in protecting themselves and all those who were in no shape to fight. Shall we condemn them for using weapons illegal by British law of the time and place to survive attempted genocide?

Why dig in the ancient history?

With the benfit of hindsight, it is easy to see that depriving a population or an individual of means of self-defense is never done for the benefit of the people disarmed. Are current efforts do do the same to us any different?