(Ed. Note: This is part one of a three part post concerning recent developments in the legislature and potential actions that can be taken in the future to keep them from happening again.
Guns, Guns everywhere or Are We Still Barbarians?
Are we any more civilized than we ever were? I mean sure, we’re not living in an ancient age of Kings claiming to have their “God” on speed dial or anything (right?), and no one in the US is getting invaded by the village or city-state next door (except DeSoto Co.), but have we really changed all that much emotionally and intellectually since those times?
The obvious answer is yes, we have modern democratic institutions, and live in well constructed houses that are the result of thousands of years of engineering knowledge, and work in offices and factories and farms and other businesses that are highly mechanized to make the jobs less unbearable, and have all kinds of technology that helps us live longer, more productive lives…but really, are we all that different? I mean, we have different stuff, and that stuff is, arguably, way cooler than the old stuff and helps us get more stuff done faster, but has the change in civilization only been about stuff or is there something deeper?
The question probably sounds pretty stupid really, I mean, could anyone rationally say that we’re as barbaric as the fabled empires of yore? Just look at the differences of modern warfare. Wars that once cost hundreds of thousands of lives, perhaps millions, are now executed with pinpoint precision, and when targeted correctly, spare the lives of most of those in the general vicinity (right?).
So perhaps we value human life more than we once did. Perhaps that is our crowning achievement. Or perhaps, we just have more stuff to do things in ways that we didn’t before, and the sparing of human life is more of political necessity thanks to the speed and impact of information dissemination than any great awakening of the human mind.
Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, or maybe there’s something to what I’m saying.
I’m not honestly suggesting that while civilization has grown, our ability to be civilized has become stagnant. It is, however, interesting to me that with each small step forward we take as a society there is pushback from those who wistfully yearn for the more barbaric days of yore, where the men were men, the women were women, only the bad guys died in gunfights at the end of the movie and the good guy rode off into the sunset with the girl. I mean, we all recognize that this is fantasy right? That world didn’t really exist. Just like Greek mythology is fables, and all, right?
That said, I’m mystified by the misty eyed apologists for SJR127, the guns in everywhere bills, the possible dismantling of the Ethics Commission, and I’m sure I’ve missed something because I haven’t mentioned either of the Stuntbabies yet. All of these things are throwbacks to our fabled barbarian past.
If someone pulls a gun on you, and starts shooting, how likely is it that you can duck for cover, draw your weapon, and return fire without endangering the lives of others in the vicinity? Seriously, how likely is it that the adrenaline will take over and you will not only miss your target, but also hit an innocent bystander? Think about the number of rounds found at many murder scenes involving firearms. For that matter, think about the number of rounds shot in a typical gunfight in a movie. What is the typical round to bullet wound ratio in either of these scenarios? How many rounds not only miss their targets, but carry on to inflict a wound on an innocent bystander? It’s not like they stop when they miss, right?
I mean honestly, handguns, while convenient, are dreadfully inaccurate. Because of the short barrels, a fraction of a degree is likely the difference between hitting and missing your target at ranges of over 30 feet. While the average person may believe they have the intestinal fortitude, resolve, and accuracy of Dirty Harry, the truth of the matter is that rarely is anyone given the time to line up a shot that even remotely resembles his iconic, “do you feel lucky, punk”, moments. It just doesn’t happen, and if it does, and the trigger is pulled, it’s more likely that you just shot someone who was out of bullets…effectively disarmed.
I’m not suggesting that people who own firearms are somehow uncivilized, or barbaric, quite the contrary. I’m a strong supporter of 2nd amendment rights and feel that gun ownership, while a huge responsibility, is a right provided by the Constitution. I don’t think people NEED AK-47’s or anything like that, and they sure as hell don’t NEED automatics, but who am I to tell someone what kind of gun they go hunting with, as long as they’re hunting for something other than people. Further, I’ve been to many shooting ranges in my time, and have enjoyed renting and shooting “assault style” rifles. It’s a thrill, no doubt about it. The problem for me comes not in the gun ownership, but the rationalization for unfettered carriage.
But thinking about the scenario above, what likelihood of survival does carrying a firearm into a restaurant actually give you? Does it give you any, or does it give you a false sense of security wrapped in the fables of a thousand western movies? Truth is you are no safer with a firearm than without, anywhere, and in some cases, actually more likely to either be fired upon or killed with your own gun. Carrying a firearm, particularly a concealed one, is not any more a deterrent than allowing the death penalty in murder cases deters people intent on committing murder, or long jail sentences deters people from smoking marijuana. In fact, it’s probably less. Vigilante justice is no substitute for the justice system that we’ve spent the past 200+ years building, if anything it weakens it.
We are not barbarians, in fact we’ve come a long way, and while there are people who commit barbaric acts in our society, we cannot act like returning the favor is justice. Justice is making them accountable to society through the justice system. Expanding the number of places that concealed weapons may be carried is not safety, it’s false security wrapped in mythology. All too soon, that mythology is going to backfire.
Next up, SJR127 and the anti-choice crowd