One of my favorite quotes of all time was by President John F. Kennedy in his inauguration speech, where he talked about how much all of us have in common as citizens of the world. We all breathe the same air. We all want what’s best for our children. In talking about an issue as divisive as gun control, I think it’s important for us to take a moment to recognize that at the heart of the matter, we’re all on the same side. We all want to leave our children the best, safest, freest world we possibly can.
So let’s take a look at the research. According to records from 2015 to 2017, an average of 316 people are shot daily in the United States. Of those, 106 are killed—95 of them intentionally. 35 people are murdered, and another 90 are unintentional, and the victim eventually recovers. That amounts to roughly 39,000 people per year—which is a lot, no doubt, though it doesn’t hold a candle to the 480,000 a year that the CDC says die from smoking in the US.
German Lopez famously put the argument against guns about as simply as anyone could when he said, “More guns, more murder.” But does that actually hold true? The Journal of Criminal Justice conducted an extensive analysis of 41 different studies on the relationship between gun laws and violence and found that 21 of them showed a positive relationship between guns and violence, which seems to support what German Lopez was saying. However, they also found that those 21 studies had not been properly controlled, and the evidence they offered was flawed. The conclusion they drew was essentially that only weak research supports the “more guns, more murder” stance, but strong research does not.
Australia is another good case study. In 1996, Australia went through an awful and very public multiple homicides that led them to severely tighten their gun laws, including the forced buyback of many types of guns. This is especially handy because we’ve been able to directly compare the before-and-after to find out what kind of change these laws have made.
I want to stress that I don’t have the answer. As always, my goal is to start or continue to the conversation, not to end it, but I do think there’s a fallacy in anti-gun rhetoric I usually hear. Basically, the idea is to restrict everyone’s liberty for our own good, because some people will abuse it. But if you go down that road, where do you draw the line? There’s a wonderful C.S. Lewis quote that I would ask you to try and consider with an open mind: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
I don’t intend to call anyone a tyrant. I wouldn’t even say that I have a definite position on this issue myself. What I will say is that numbers won’t show whether society respects individual freedoms, or whether it will override those freedoms, ostensibly for our own good. It’s up to each of us to be as discerning as we can.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!