I don’t think anyone is prepared to argue that guns are not dangerous tools. The question is, however, are guns more dangerous than other tools and are they effective for their primary purpose?
First, let’s look at some other tools and their potential uses.
I’m sure most people don’t think of automobiles as “tools,” but that’s just what they are. They are a collection of mechanical devices and support structures to accomplish their purpose. The most obvious purpose for autos and trucks is simple transportation, either of people or cargo, but they can be used for a fairly wide variety of other things.
Racing, either as a sport or a profession, is one other use. Some vehicles include specialized compartments and can be used for work shops or living quarters. Some cars and trucks are valuable because they are beautiful and/or very old and are used mostly for display by collectors.
Automobiles can also be used to damage and destroy things and people, either deliberately or accidentally (though “accidents” – with ANY tool – are almost always the result of negligence on the part of at least one person). Cars and trucks can be intentionally blown up, crashed or simply set on fire to harm people easily. What the vehicle cannot do is INITIATE either good or bad actions. They are inanimate objects without any mind or ability to function without human involvement.
And that is the bottom line for every single tool in the world, including guns. A tool can’t “cause” a person to act, or influence them in any way against their will. The argument about violence “caused” by the convenient availability of guns is easily seen to be ridiculous if applied to any other tool. The inanimate object can not dictate the use to which it is put. Only the human who holds it can decide that, and if the desired tool is not readily available that person can either manage to find one or use something else instead.
Only a little searching in the news archives should be needed to convince anyone that a great many different tools can be, and are often used to harm people, even large numbers of them, and most of those tools are not guns after all! Seventy to eighty five percent of violent crime involves no weapon except the criminal’s own hands. Only eight percent of violent crimes of all kinds involve a gun. (Numbers given at the Bureau of Justice web site are for 2009, and crime statistics have decreased substantially since then.)
But, some tools are more effective for certain uses than others. One can hardly use an automobile to cut their steak, or find a steak knife suitable to cut down trees. A tool for self defense must be portable and effective. A gun is actually a fairly simple tool, and millions of people are taught how to use them effectively with some instruction and diligent practice. It is actually easier to learn to shoot well than to drive an automobile, and much easier to master than martial arts. So called “less than lethal” defensive tools might do – but then again, might not be effective at all.
Amazingly, most defensive uses of a gun do not result in shots fired or, even when that can’t be helped, do not result in the death of either person. But gang related crime is increasing in many places, and innocent bystanders are often injured or killed when these gangs clash.
When people are prepared and motivated, even when confronted with a violent criminal who has no weapon but his hands, using a gun gives the intended victim a much better chance of avoiding injury or death. It is clear that most criminals do not wish to be hurt or killed themselves, and will avoid places where people are most apt to be armed and free to defend themselves. Criminals want easy, weak, and above all, helpless victims.
When people are not able to defend themselves effectively, and most or all weapons are “legally” prohibited, the person who desires to harm others has a free hand and can use any tool he wishes to accomplish his or her evil purpose because anyone willing to commit murder is unlikely to be constrained by any other laws. When it is “illegal” to have a gun, the criminals will certainly still have them – and any other dangerous tool they want, including their hands.
I once had to shoot a man to save my life. If I had not had a gun in my hand that night, I would probably be dead. That’s all I really need to know to make my decision every day to own the most effective self defense tool I can get. I sincerely hope I never have to shoot anyone again, but I carry a gun and I know how to use it.