Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Can we retire the "if everyone has guns, no one will need guns" theory now?

Every time there is a mass-murder incident, gun advocates tell us: It would not have happened if everyone had a gun. If an armed law-abiding citizen had been at the scene, they could have fought back and stopped the shooter. I heard this reasoning time and time again: after Virgina Tech, and after the many incidents of multiple shootings in schools and malls around the country. However appealing the theory may be to some, it always sound suspect to me (not to mention a bit crazy. The thought that we should promote the presence of armed teachers, janitors, students, and mall guards is something that only Americans would accept as worth considering.)

Now, after Tucson's shootings, Karoli at Crooks and Liars has this excellent question: "Can we retire the if everyone has guns, no one will need guns theory now?" That is a very good question indeed, reinforced by Karoli's impeccable arguments for it.

As Karoli says, "Arizona is an open carry state. It's not unusual at all for citizens to be carrying their guns, even to the supermarket." Besides, as many have pointed out, Arizona has very relaxed laws about getting and licensing guns. So, if everyone in Arizona can easily obtain and carry guns, how come the people who stopped Jared Lee Loughner's shooting spree did not use guns to do so, but their bare hands?

I would suggest that the solution to the firearm violence which plagues the United States more than any developed nation is not going to be solved with more firearms, but with more sanity. The problem is: How do you make, or keep, people sane in a country that thrives on (and rewards) instilling fear in its inhabitants, and that considers health care, particularly mental health care services, a luxury and a privilege instead of a right?

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