Gun control has become a contentious topic in the 21st Century. As firearms have evolved over the last centuries, they have become more accurate, more lethal, and more easy to operate. The intent for stricter gun control is to remove such instruments from the hands of private citizens. In both Canada and the US, respective governments enacted a series of policies that would reduce, limit, or stop gun ownership by private citizens.
However, in the US, where there are 120.5 guns to every 100 people, enacting such laws has proven difficult, if not impossible. In the minds of most people, removing things that can kill seems to be a logical common ground upon which we can all stand. Why would anyone be opposed to gun control?
To answer that question, we must look back in history.
The right to bear arms originated in England during the Assize of Arms in 1181. Enacted by King Henry the Second, this act emphasized that the right to bear arms was not only about about the defense of oneself against fellow man, but more importantly for the protection of the citizenry against tyranny and invasion.
In the 20th Century, brutal regimes under Hitler, Pol Pott, Mao and Stalin murdered hundreds of millions of their own citizens in concentration camps, genocides, revolutions and purges. If we took the average number of US gun homicides per year between 2006 to 2019 of 9524 cases per year, it would take over 629 years for the same number of victims to die from gun violence compared to the number of Jews killed by Hitler, or 10,500 years to the number of Chinese killed by Mao.
Amidst the production of this video, the Freedom Convoy of 2022 is ongoing. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeatedly called protesters “fringe minorities” who are “racist, misogynist” and “who take up space”. On February 14th, he illegally invoked the Emergencies Act, during which government hired mercenaries brutally cracked down on peaceful protesters. Chrystia Freeland, the Minister of Finance, then froze the bank accounts of those who donated to the movement through GiveSendGo by branding them as terrorism-enablers, and the Chief of Police threatened to go after protesters who have already returned home.
Elsewhere in New Zealand, Australia, France, Germany, Austria and other democracies, their historically benevolent governments have all turned into dictatorships, suppressing the freedoms of their own citizens.
Therefore, in the argument of using firearms to protect oneself from tyranny, the ownership of guns should not only be a privilege, but an essential and constitutional right. Governments, not fellow man, have always been the greatest perpetrators of violence.
Of course this argument is difficult for the masses to digest, as our media and education systems seldom focus on large, singular genocidal events in history. Instead, the media regularly and frequently covers gun crimes to keep social anxiety about guns at an all-time. After all, people are less likely to worry about 100 million people murdered by their own government 70 years ago if they are constantly worried about grocery store robberies.
However, we must keep in mind that gun violence is very tragic. We dare not overlook events such as Columbine or Sandy Hook. That being said, guns are not animate objects which able to magically levitate and discharge themselves against a living being, just like knives or baseball bats. Violent crimes are driven by human nature, which is in turn driven by psychology, social stability, and morality. While disarming a population may result in fewer gun fatalities, it does not lower the probability or prevalence of crime. In England, where guns are difficult to purchase for private citizens, there are still 40,000 – 50,000 cases of knife offenses per year.
Furthermore, most gun regulations would only deter lawful and legal gun owners who are more likely to be enthusiasts and hobbyists. Murderers and criminals will not be deterred by laws or regulations, especially those surrounding gun ownership. In Canada for example, only 2 out of 275 firearm homicides in 2019 were committed using legally obtained guns, with the remaining 273 cases all using guns which were stolen, fenced, straw-purchased, or smuggled into the country. Stricter gun control would have still failed to prevent 99.27% of gun crimes.
Associating crime rate with crime fatality is a typical tactic used to distract us from the real problem – why do people commit crimes? Without removing the underlying causes, removing guns would only turn gun crimes into other forms of crime.
We believe crime rate can be reduced with sensible government policies. First, fighting poverty would reduce crimes associated with desperation. Low house-hold income is associated with twice as many violent victimization than high-income households. Low-income individuals also have the highest marginal-benefit from theft, robbery, or violence compared, as they have little to lose, but much to gain.
Second, reforming public education to reinforce character morality and improve literacy rates would reduce crimes associated with social values. The Department of Justice states: “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure. Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.” According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Furthermore, 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally low literate.
Finally, making mental health services more accessible and affordable to the public would reduce crimes associated with anguish, psychosis, and substance addiction. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, 89.3 million Americans live in federally-designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas. Currently, half of state and federal prisoners and two thirds of jail inmates are in serious psychological distress or have a history of mental illness. Furthermore, two-thirds of those released from prison will be rearrested within three years.
Combining these strategies would drastically reduce crime rate in a meaningful way as they would also have profound and long-lasting effects on the stability of our society as a whole. Buying back guns, preventing sales, or limiting firearms would only serve to restrict lawful gun owners from pursuing their hobbies, and leave the criminal elements unaffected.
Since attempting to disarm its population in recent years, Venezuela has turned progressively more lawless. The poverty rate in 2005 of 45.2% has skyrocketed to 76.6% under an increasingly corrupt regime. Since banning firearms in 2012, gun ownership in Venezuela has increased 55% as people feel more insecure about violence and crime. Today, Venezuelans must line-up outside of grocery stores for hours to purchase essential needs as the ruling elites become completely removed from the needs of its citizenry. Not only did gun control in Venezuela not reduce crime, it has exacerbated the situation as its government turned into a criminal enterprise.
Gun Control is a slippery slope. Once a government is allowed to disarm a populace, they will invariably begin to introduce more policies which will infringe upon the rights of their citizens. Those who surrender their guns not only forfeit their guns, but are actually forfeiting their basic rights to defend against tyranny or foreign invasion.
Governments who are benevolent and upstanding need not worry about an armed citizenry – There is no reason to overthrow a government that puts the interest of the people first. That citizens have the option to use firearms, rather than actually use it, is the reason why governments should listen to its people. This is the same philosophy behind nuclear deterrence, whereby one nuclear nation is unlikely to use nuclear weapons against another nuclear nation. Guns exclusively in the hands of governments, but not the people, is a power imbalance which has never ended without bloodshed and destruction.
What little benefits we would gain from disarming a population will invariably be overwritten by the trespass of civil liberties by an unchecked government. Just like unrestrained individuals who will easily turn to crime, an unrestrained government will easily turn into a criminal enterprise.
In a letter to son in law of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson once wrote: “What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.”
Remember, governments should only be an instrument of power for the people. It should not be the only people with instruments of power.