Monday 17 January 2011

Ruminations on US Gun Control

On the subject of the US gun debate, I recently came across this statement on an American blog:-

"The Founding Fathers decided it was wiser to make sure that the good folk could freely have access to the means of self-protection, even if it meant that a few nut bars would slip through the cracks."

Notice that the writer, for the sake of defending his blinkered point-of-view, is choosing to assume that the problem of guns in the US is limited to their possession by the unbalanced or mentally-ill in Society. He chose not to add, although it would have been equally valid, "and even if it meant that, 200 years after the Founding Fathers, 80 people per day would have to die as a result of the 2nd Amendment."

But many Americans seem to hold the 2nd Amendment in the same regard as an article of religious faith and  continue to defend it with similar, irrational fervour whatever the consequences. Even when they are fully apprised of the grim statistics they attempt justification by saying, "Well this is our business, we have exercised our choice through the democratic process and are prepared to live, or die, with the consequences." But they are surely not entitled to make that choice on behalf of the non-voting section of society, namely, their children. In America 8 children are shot to death every day. The rate of firearm deaths among kids under age 15 is almost 12 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). American kids are 16 times more likely to be murdered with a gun, 11 times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and nine times more likely to die from a firearm accident than children in 25 other industrialized countries combined. (Centers for Disease Control).

The Founding Fathers lived in very different times when the population was a 75th of today's 300 million, life was brutish and short and physical dangers were in a whole different ball-park to the perils of modern American life, many of which, to the outsider, appear to be a consequence of widespread gun ownership.  However wise they may have been in 1787, the Founding Fathers were not clairvoyant but, had they been able to see 200+ years into the future,  is it not  likely they would have been at least wise enough to have added some circumstantial provisos to the 2nd Amendment?


  1. The Swiss have lots of guns yet few gun crimes. The difference might be that Americans have become generally paranoid and think everyone's out to get them.

  2. Gun ownership in Canada is also very high but gun crime very low. These societies are more cohesive. The USA Society has fault-lines which cross party lines and leads to a democratic deficit and intense suspicion of the Federal Government. Some americans claim to need their guns to protect them FROM their government!