A week or so ago, I asked if any readers outside the U.S. would be interested in doing a guest post about how people in other countries view our gun culture. Earlier this week, I published Roger’s excellent post, and today I have another excellent offering from Ben Berwick of the United Kingdom, blogging at Meerkat Musings. His message is short, sweet, and to the point: while there once may have been justification for guns in the hands of civilians in the U.S., there is absolutely no evidence in this, the 21st century, that guns make people safer. They don’t. Thank you, Ben, for this excellent assessment from across the pond!
Allow me to preface this post with the note that I understand the historical importance of guns to US society. Once upon a time they might have been seen as a necessity. Somewhere along the line, they shifted from what could be argued as a necessary evil to a cultural symbol. Now, in some parts of the USA, guns are worshipped as fervently as Jesus.
That history is now more like mythology. Guns are considered vital, regarded as the only way to stop the government from rising up to enslave the people. Access to firearms is what will turn the tide, should the government ever go on a quest to turn from democracy to tyranny.
This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to the outsider looking in. Back in the 18th Century, when the weapons available to the people and government were virtually the same, it would have made sense, but now? An armed populace will still not be capable of resisting warplanes, drone strikes, missiles and artillery. I know of arguments that targeting soldiers on the ground would have the desired effect of removing forces from occupied territory, but that assumes insurgents would be capable of any organised action in the wake of heavy assaults. Against an invading force this tactic might eventually convince the aggressors to go home, but against your own government’s forces? They aren’t going anywhere.
So it seems like guns are desired out of paranoia and a deluded belief that the disparity between civilian hardware and US military hardware (and training) can be overcome by the sheer quantity of weapons. This ‘safety net’ is required at any cost, even the the high collateral damage suffered in mass shootings (and in general, day-to-day US life). This seems like an absurdly high blood price to pay for a cause that would be virtually impossible to achieve in today’s world.
I can’t understand it. I can’t understand how it can be that guns are held up as such a mighty symbol of freedom. Why would deadly weapons be more important than the right to vote? The right to peaceful assembly? The right to free speech? Surely these are more important than guns? And before anyone says you need guns to have the others, tell that to the peoples of the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Canada and Japan, to name but a few countries. Guns are not a cultural symbol to those countries, but they have all of the aforementioned rights.
Guns kill. It is their purpose. They are designed from the ground up to be deadly. There is no evidence that they make a situation safer. There is no proof they act as a deterrent. There are countries where guns are virtually absent from society that have a proven record of being safer than the USA. I’m not going to reproduce the statistics that I’ve posted before. They are available to anyone with access to Google. If someone wants to show guns actually make life better, then by all means, prove it.