There was a mass shooting today in Oregon. Tragically, I should probably phrase this as “there was another mass shooting…” Not in Oregon, specifically, but mass shootings seem to have been more frequent in recent years, ever since Columbine. The gun nuts, both those for more guns and those for stricter gun control laws, are already coming out screaming. I am more in the latter group than the former, but in this case I doubt stricter gun control laws would have helped.


Those who say we need more guns around would point out that criminals won’t obey gun control laws anyway because, well, they’re crooks. They are, by definition, law-breaking citizens, so why would they pay attention to a law telling them they can’t own a firearm?


This would be a valid point…except it’s not just criminals who are doing the shooting. Yes, once person A shoots person B (and maybe persons C, D, E, etc.) they have committed a criminal act (assuming they are not acting in self-defense), but prior to that point they may have been a law-abiding citizen. Tighter gun control laws will reduce the number of murders which are acts of passion, not premeditated acts like one of the mass shootings. I think any reduction in murder is a good thing.


“But,” the less-gun-control folks will say, “the murderer will simply choose a different weapon.” Ah, what a brilliant argument. Sure, they might, but other weapons are simply not as lethal as a gun. You can run away from a knife or even a bow and arrow much easier than you can from a gun. The chances of survival are simply greater when a gun is not an option. Greater survival means less murders, and again I say this is a good thing. I hope everyone will agree on this point, at least.


So what about the criminal types? Well, there’s an argument which can be made for this group, too. Yes, they are going to ignore the gun control laws and buy their armament on the black market.


The black market isn’t free, however. Things tend to be cheaper when they are legal as opposed to when they are not. Look at marijuana, for example. This seems to be headed for legalization nationwide, slowly, but for now it’s only legal in a few places. Forbes created a map of the average cost of an ounce of the stuff. The places where it’s legal are typically cheaper than where it isn’t. Black market guns would be similarly higher priced. I would wager the price difference between a legal and an illegal firearm would be substantially higher. There’s several reasons for that, but it boils down to the relative risk involved for the seller.


I do want to be clear about something here. I am not in favor of banning all guns. That would work as well as alcohol prohibition, which is to say not at all. Hunters are going to hunt, and I believe they have the right to do so. Hunters, however, are taught how to use their weapons. Not everyone who walks into a gun shop is. Not to mention most people don’t take an assault rifle or handgun to hunt game; it’s a completely different set of weapons.


Here is what I do favor: If you want to own a gun, you must be licensed. To be licensed, you must pass a test (with or without taking a course) on gun use. I think there should be different tests for different guns just as there are different licenses for different kinds of driving. You cannot, for example, legally drive an 18-wheeler without proving you’ve learned how to handle one.


So I put this question to those in favor of less gun control: What is wrong with this idea? You, being the fan of guns you are, will know your shit and pass the test and legally own the gun you want. Yes, it’s an inconvenience to have to get one, but if it saves a few lives, how, exactly, is it not worth it?