The other day my six year old starts asking me about guns. Why? He is six, and six year old boys are generally fascinated with all things fighting and killing oriented. Why? Boys do that. Sadly, my wife and I tried to curb that for quite a while, he somehow managed to graduate to this way of thinking when he was four; we still try to put up a good fight, but sometimes I can’t help but take him to see movies like Pacific Rim (film about giant robots fighting giant monsters – I know guilty as charged). My son loves to ask open ended stuff, usually questions that actually have no answer, such as “Daddy, what if we were all half Rhino?” No answer really – outside of sarcasm, and with a six year old it is best to avoid sarcasm, unless its obvious, because they may take you serious – cognitive thinking not being wired in until age seven and all that.
“Daddy what are guns used for?”
This was not one of those questions. My mind raced at the question. I went through the myriad of reasons that the National Rifle Association likes to bring up:
“The Right to Keep and Bear Arms in defense of self, family and country is ultimately self-evident and is part of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution,” he said. “Reduced to its core, it is about fundamental individual freedom, human worth and self-destiny. We reject the notion that American gun owners must accept any lesser amount of freedom in order to be accepted among the international community.”
So according to them it is about Freedom. Is that true? Is the argument then that the lack of owning a gun means that you aren’t free? I don’t own a gun and I still have the same freedoms as my friend who does. Is it more about fighting tyranny then – fighting those that would use a gun against the free to enslave them, or worse, kill them outright? The right to Bear Arms is in the Bill of Rights, and I can’t say I disagree with the concept of fighting tyranny, I mean who can? But still, Ghandi fought against tyranny and never used a gun, not once; in fact the man was staunchly opposed to them. How did he fight tyranny? He sat down. Seems counter to the concept the NRA has going on.
Then I pondered that concept of home defense against an intruder. I found this information on justfacts.com :
* Roughly 16,272 murders were committed in the United States during 2008. Of these, about 10,886 or 67% were committed with firearms.
* A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, at least 0.5% of households had members who had used a gun for defense during a situation in which they thought someone “almost certainly would have been killed” if they “had not used a gun for protection.” Applied to the U.S. population, this amounts to 162,000 such incidents per year. This figure excludes all “military service, police work, or work as a security guard.”
* Based on survey data from the U.S. Department of Justice, roughly 5,340,000 violent crimes were committed in the United States during 2008. These include simple/aggravated assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, rapes, and murders.   Of these, about 436,000 or 8% were committed by offenders visibly armed with a gun.
* Based on survey data from a 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, U.S. civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year.
* A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, at least 3.5% of households had members who had used a gun “for self-protection or for the protection of property at home, work, or elsewhere.” Applied to the U.S. population, this amounts to 1,029,615 such incidents per year. This figure excludes all “military service, police work, or work as a security guard.”
* A 1994 survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Americans use guns to frighten away intruders who are breaking into their homes about 498,000 times per year.
* A 1982 survey of male felons in 11 state prisons dispersed across the U.S. found:
• 34% had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim”
• 40% had decided not to commit a crime because they “knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun”
• 69% personally knew other criminals who had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim”
Okay, so lots of people used guns in crimes, and some people either directly or indirectly used guns to prevent crimes, or what they thought were crimes. These statistics basically talk about guns being used on both sides of crime. George Zimmerman sure thought he was stopping a crime, right? Fair enough – s0 guns are for the war on crime or is this back to the concept of freedom? Free people shouldn’t have to worry about crime right? Seem legit – however, it also seems a bit naive. If humans were all super duper to each other then crime wouldn’t be a problem, but we know that isn’t the case – millions of people have been killed in history for all the dumbest reasons possible – both with guns and without – not sure how guns prevented, or could have prevented, any of those murders – aka – crimes.
What about fun? I know, I know, guns are fun? My brother in law thinks so. He was a competition pistoleer in Texas, and rumor has it he was a damn good one. The stories he regaled me with were fascinating - in truth I was riveted to them simply because, for some reason, they brought about the boy in me dreaming about the old west – guns fights and such. It turns out that the competitions he entered really had nothing to do with my childhood dreams, but still it was nifty to revist them through his talents. I searched the web for “Guns for fun” and these guys showed up. This is a site dedicated to groups that want to get together and shoot guns for fun. What really grabbed me was the map – almost all the groups are in the USA. I found that to be a bit odd. Are Americans really the only people on the Earth that like to shoot guns for fun?
What about war? Before the invention of the Gun, aka harnessing the power of sulfer to make gun powder, how was war conducted? It turns out that war was often times something men with honor did. Who knew? The Japanese, Chinese, many other asian cultures, and most of European countries were known for battles with honor. The Samurai were at the top of this list – why? They believed that the man who would kill another man had to do so personally – meaning with his hands and a blade. Killing was a personal thing, not something you did from a distance without thought. You had to mean to do it, and you had to live forever with the haunting image of the look in his eyes when you opened him up and let his blood spill on the field of battle. For some reason I respect this perception – killing should take courage and conviction, not randomness and no responsibility.
I stopped and looked back at my findings. Fun? Not a great reason. Home defense? Well if societal issues were taken care of, also not a great reason as this wouldn’t even be an issue. Tyranny? Same thing as home defense – the fault is with the how humans are – some anyway – greedy evil bastards. If those didn’t exist then again, no Tyranny. War? Nope, war was conducted prior to guns just fine thank you. We can argue that those things are problems and thus there is a need for guns, but is it a solution? THE SOLUTION?
What was the question again?
“Daddy what are guns used for?”
The answer, as it turns out, is rather simple: Killing. See the reasons we like to use for having a gun is not about the gun, but about the justification of killing. Guns were designed to kill, period. You can kill humans and animals with a gun. That is it. That is the purpose of a gun. There is no other purpose. All that other crap is about justifying the killing of said animal or human, which frankly are reasons that existed before the gun.
So there is my answer son. Guns are for killing. I looked him right in the eye and said this “And never point a gun at someone unless you plan to kill them.” I wish everyone understood that.