I have been involved in a couple of discussions recently which, technically, got off topic very quickly and never got back on. Two of my Facebook friends weighed in on the gun control debate currently being waged as a result of the recent Newtown tragedy. Both of these friends posted a picture, one a distorted picture looking out the front window of a car, the other of a hammer. They both had similar concepts but different comparisons. The first said people kill people with cars, so if we’re going ban guns we should also ban cars and anything else that might be used to kill somebody. The second substituted hammers for cars, pointing out that more people were killed with hammers than guns last year. Neither of these is a fair comparison.
The above postings quickly led to a discussion of the assault weapon gun ban currently being debated at various levels of the government. I’ll throw in my two cents on that in a moment, but I would first like to point out that nobody addressed my challenging the validity of these comparisons. Maybe because they knew they aren’t, but I think the people I debated were simply more interested in arguing the larger question.
The guns vs. cars or hammers thing is a classic apples and oranges argument. The simple fact is guns were designed to kill. They were not designed to shoot at targets not made of living flesh. They were designed to kill, from the earliest firearms up to today’s biggest cannons. A car is designed to go from point A to point B. A hammer is designed to put a nail in a piece of wood. These are the proper uses for these objects. Yes, a car or a hammer or really just about anything can be used to kill, but if they are they are being used improperly, for something other than what they were designed. A gun not used for violence is, technically, not being used properly. So, essentially, the posts are saying, “Things used improperly can kill just like something used properly, so let’s just ban it all since that’s what those seeking bans are trying to do.” I have yet to hear somebody make sense of the cars / hammers vs. guns comparison or rephrase it so that it does make sense.
There is another argument made which doesn’t make sense to me. In my most recent debate, somebody felt I had stated I expected all the crooks to give up their guns. I have never stated or implied this. I know crooks with guns are going to keep them and it would be naive at best to expect anything else. The argument seems to be that if we ban guns to make the world a safer place, we’re expecting crooks to give up their weaponry because if they don’t, the ban is not having an effect. Or at least not a positive one; the extended argument to this is that if we ban any kind of gun we’re disallowing “law-abiding citizens” (this phrase is always used) from having a defense against the crooks who, having no concern for the law as they are already criminals, will have guns.
While I am not expecting crooks to give up their guns, I don’t think the proposed assault weapons ban will be ineffective for this lack. The concept is not to reduce the current armament in the hands of criminals or law-abiding citizens, but to reduce future increases. The quick counter to this is “If they aren’t respecting the law now, why will they in the future?” They won’t, but it will be more difficult to get such weapons. Do the math: If you make product x, which has a wide variety of configurations, and some of those configurations are declared illegal, will you continue to make them? No, because you won’t have anyone to buy them, so you’ll take a loss on them. That’s just business sense. Yes, in the case of guns, manufacturers can still sell to the military, but their customer base for assault weapons will be reduced, so production will go down. This means less of them out there; thus, a smaller supply for the crooks to get their hands on. No, this will not be an immediate effect, it will take years for any effect from this to be seen, but it will be there. This is not an overnight or a complete solution, but it is hoped it will help.
Also in my most recent discussion, I argued that the larger magazines are not needed for self-defense. If you need more than ten rapidly-fired rounds to defend yourself, as I see it, you’re probably in a world of hurt because (1) your aim sucks and (b) you’re up against really bad odds. I asked for an example of where having more ammo made a difference, and somebody posted a video of a news report with a video of a home invasion where the home owner fired back. The would-be invaders fled after the second or third shot (possibly after the first; they were off-camera at that point). At that point, the defender could have had four rounds or a thousand; it would not have made a difference because the attackers were already on the run. More ammunition would not have made a difference. Yes, being armed and willing to fire back at his attackers did help, but the home owner did not need a twenty or thirty round magazine. Even a ten round magazine was more than he needed, as it turned out.
I will also add that if you really feel the need for thirty rounds (or whatever your preference is for magazine size), buy more guns. This makes more sense to me than larger magazines. Guns, like any other mechanical contraption, will occasionally break down. The more it’s used, the quicker it breaks down. If you fire thirty rounds in rapid succession, the odds of a jam are hire than if you fire off just ten. So wouldn’t it be better to have three ten-round guns than a single thirty-round gun?
In short, then, I have yet to hear a reason to have more than a ten-round magazine for a gun, outside of the military. Yes, we all have the right to defend ourselves. Yes, that includes with guns. I believe everyone should be entitled to own a gun for the purpose of self-defense, and I accept that includes guns capable of firing several shots without the need to reload. Ten seems a reasonable number for that to me. If you (and possibly your family) are threatened by a large enough and determined enough group of home invaders, I think a defender (or defenders) is going to be in trouble before that tenth round is fired, much less anything more than that. Personally, I am a peaceful guy who does not own a gun (but knows how to use one), and I take heart in the fact that, with a couple of exceptions, the violent crime rate in the U.S. has been dropping over the last few decades. Let’s hope that trend continues.