Skip to content

Justin’s Shorts – Gunning for change?

December 20, 2012

The devastating events at Sandy Hook Elementary have rightly resulted in an entire nation taking another look at how guns impact on American society. I hope the coming weeks allow meaningful debate of the realities of the situation the USA finds itself in. I believe the key facts are as follows:

a)     The second amendment guarantees the right to bear arms
b)     Supreme Court cases have tended to support gun rights
c)     The founding fathers had no idea how powerful guns might become
d)     The USA ranks number one in guns per capita amongst all nations on the planet
e)     This is 30 guns more per 100 people than any other nation
f)      This is two to three times the number of guns in most developed nations
g)     The USA ranks 14th in homicides per capita 
h)     The USA ranks 2nd in suicides per capita

One of the fascinating challenges in assessing the right path forward is trudging through the morass of statistics to determine what the underlying “truths” are. Yes, the thirteen nations ahead of the US may have crime or political unrest influencing their figures more than a developed nation. No you can’t differentiate by the types of guns when look at basic volume figures – lies, damn lies, statistics.

When you compare the US to Canada or Switzerland or other developed nations, we don’t have all the information on why gun ownership rates are lower or any restrictions on how they are used or stored.

With such a volume of statistics ready to be dissected to the advantage of either side of the argument, I have to resort to the probability test – if someone gets to the point they irrationally want to kill me (in contrast to those who rationally might feel that way) or I want to kill myself, what is the probability of success if the weapon available is:

1)     My bare hands
2)     A knife
3)     A hand-gun
4)     A semi-automatic firearm
5)     A grenade
6)     A car bomb
7)     A nuclear weapon

I give the last option a probability of 1.0 even though I might miraculously escape due to a previously unknown immunity to nuclear blasts, and the first option the least likelihood based on my general incompetence and wimpiness.

While I question the merits of keeping something that can kill you as protection, I recognize that I have the good fortune of living in a relatively safe area and really have no problem with someone responsibly owning firearms for self-defense or hunting. However, at some point the balance of a right to self-protection and the ability to cause grievous harm to society or others has to tip in favor of restricting the individual’s rights. Where that point is, will hopefully be the subject of intelligent debate in the coming weeks.

One of my great concerns is that this Colt may have already bolted (puns intended) – the volume of guns in the US may already be too high to meaningfully reduce the likelihood of future events like Sandy Hook. However, if that is the case, I hope we’re smart enough to at least make the perpetrator’s task a whole lot harder.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: