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Arguments for and against banning guns

FOR banning guns

  • SAVING LIVES: There were 427 mass shootings in the United States in 2017, and more than 15,000 people were killed in firearm-related incidents, whilst over 30,000 people were injured. It’s true that banning (or, at least, heavily restricting) guns from civilian ownership wouldn’t eliminate gun violence completely, but it would make it less likely. It would also save tens of thousands of lives.
  • GUNS ≠ PROTECTION: It’s very, very rare for mass shooters to be stopped by an armed civilian. There have been cases (such as when an Uber driver with a concealed carry permit potentially foiled a mass shooting in Chicago in 2015). However, in the event of a mass shooting, armed citizens could actually make the situation worse by confusing first responders and people around them about who the shooter is. In addition, gun owners are more likely to accidentally shoot a family member than they are an intruder.
  • STATES SHOULD HAVE A MONOPOLY ON VIOLENCE: Guns are not a defence against tyranny. The rule of law is the only defence against tyranny. The idea that armed militias could overthrow a professional army is laughable; it might have worked in the 18th Century, but the capability gap between civilians with small arms and modern armies with tanks and stealth bombers is now a yawning gulf.

AGAINST banning guns

  • GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE… It’s a cliché, but it’s true: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Firearms are a tool, and they can be used for good or ill. It’s certainly the case the guns can be used to commit robberies, murder, and terrorism. However, there are also legitimate uses for guns, including sports, hunting, hobbyist collecting, and personal protection. Getting rid of a particular tool will not stop people committing acts of violence. Instead, we need to address the root causes that drive people to perpetrate violence, including looking seriously at whether the mental health system is performing as it should.
  • GUNS = PROTECTION: Guns are a necessary tool in a violent world. They provide protection from muggings, home invasions, terrorist incidents, and mass shootings. Furthermore, an armed citizenry is (as a last resort) a guarantee against tyranny. Should it ever come to insurrection, then the people would have the means to rise in armed revolt against the authorities and overthrow them. Even if it never comes to that, the threat of armed rebellion will help preserve government from tyranny.
  • BANNING GUNS WON’T PREVENT VIOLENCE: We do not ban tools just because they are dangerous. Tens of thousands of Europeans die in car accidents ever year, yet we don’t ban cars. Terrorists have used cars and trucks to commit atrocities, yet (again) we don’t ban cars and trucks. Indeed, terrorists in Europe have resorted to using knives and cars precisely because guns are so well-regulated across the European Union. So, banning guns does not stop violence.

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