One of my daughters recently asked me why I have guns. Gun talk is rampant these days. However, I couldn’t give her a reference encapsulating my perspective, and I decided to assemble some common gun-control assertions and respond. I hope it promotes productive discussions.
Assertion: We know how to solve this problem; all we need is the will!
Response: The US has 350 million guns that can last over 100 years. No “common sense” gun control legislation will dent the availability of firearms in the foreseeable future. None will enable us to feel safe sending kids into public or abandoning active shooter drills.
Assertion: The US has too many guns!
Response: Can we agree there are too many guns for even the harshest solution to work? Even if the US overcame all objections, repealed the second amendment, and passed a mandatory-surrender law, non-compliance would hobble the program. If we matched New Zealand’s compliance (33%), there’d still be 115 million guns.
That’s ~32 guns per 100 people, a much higher ratio than almost all other countries, and the majority would remain in criminal hands.
Assertion: Other countries instituted bans immediately after mass shootings. That should work here too!
Response: America’s unique history has produced an exceptional situation. For over two centuries, gun buying has been virtually unrestrained. Neither a total stoppage in gun sales nor even something more radical (see above) would significantly reduce the volume in the short term. No other country has had to deal with that.
Assertion: Guns are the problem! Mental illness and violent movies and video games are worldwide.
Response: Data say that the US is uniquely violent. Our non-gun homicide rate in 2010 (1.7 per 100,000 people) was more than double the total homicide rate in non-US, high-income countries (0.8). So even with zero gun homicides, the total US homicide rate would still be more than double their total rate. Granted, gun availability probably contributes to the homicide (5.3: total) and suicide rates (6.3: firearms; 6.1: other means), but gun control isn’t a cure-all.
Assertion: Some say gun-control laws can’t work: criminals ignore them. We never hear that for other laws, such as drunk driving!
Response: Gun laws are fundamentally different from other laws because guns are best for both offense and defense. Drinking laws don’t disadvantage the law-abiding, but gun laws do. A recent KFF poll found 4% of respondents reported shooting in a defensive gun use (DGU).
With 260 million adults in the US, that’s about 10 million DGUs of the most extreme kind. (DGUs with no shots fired were omitted.) If law-abiding people unilaterally disarm, fewer people will be able to protect themselves.
Assertion: You’re not safer when armed! Data show more injuries when you have a gun.
Response: The data is contested, but skip that for now. By being informed, diligent, and attentive, I believe that I can do better. It may be hubris, but against all recommendations, I have safely put Q-tips in my ears, and I often exceed the recommended speed on highway exit ramps.
Assertion: You’re not safer when armed! “Good guys” are ineffective in actual attacks.
Response: Granted, effective defense is a tall order. A video called “Proof that Concealed Carry Permit Holders Live in a Dream World, Part 1” stages a surprise, direct attack, and most in the room are killed whether armed or not. But that’s a singular situation. Picture instead a teacher and students barricaded in a classroom during an active-shooter incident. It’s less “Gunfight at the OK Corral” and more “Little House on the Prairie.” The job becomes deterring entrance and defending space. Similarly, at home at night, retrieve your gun and hunker down. Other situations may include natural disasters, pandemics, an EMP/CME, a suitcase nuke, and other major societal disruptions. In almost every situation, I would rather have a gun than not.
In a March 29, 2023, Smerconish.com poll, 48% of 24,349 voters agreed: “America may as well learn to live with gun violence because it will never change.” Unfortunately, I’m going along with the 48%. Everyone wants safe kids and an end to active-shooter drills, but I don’t see that happening. Pie-in-the-sky promises in politics and polling create a “just do something” message without reflecting reality. Based on the facts, many Americans of all stripes and political views seem to be thinking rationally when they decide to keep or acquire arms.
Carl Grantley, a seasoned author in his early seventies, has actively participated in the gun-owning community since 2015. An attentive member of the National Rifle Association and his state’s NRA affiliate, Carl holds his personal views distinct from these organizations. His journey into gun ownership began when his wife, following training, instigated the family’s initial acquisition of firearms – a selection that included a handgun, two pre-owned shotguns, a quick-access bedside safe, and a locker.
Over the years, Carl and his family have continued acquisitions to expand and enhance their capabilities for self-defense and hunting. Their training continues as they strive to maintain their proficiency. Through extensive interactions with more committed gun owners and newsletters from both from The Trace (a gun-safety organization) and The Reload (a gun-rights organization), Carl has deepened his understanding of the surrounding politics and rhetoric on gun ownership.
Read Carl’s follow-up Smerconish publication: Gun Regulation: A Different Perspective