Gun ownership debate

My attention was recently brought to a debate on a discussion forum called Opposing Views. The basic idea is that a question about an issue of our times is asked, and various groups and individuals who have been involved with that issue weigh in with their opinions. The specific debate to which I refer is titled “Does Owning a Gun Make You Safer?”.

Arguing for the “Yes” side are the National Rifle Association (NRA), Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), Gun Owners of America (GOA), and the Second Amendment Sisters.

Arguing that “Just because hundreds of millions of Americans exist with hundreds of millions of privately owned firearms without being shot doesn’t mean that firearms aren’t horribly dangerous,” are Ceasefire PA, my favorite Joyce Foundation funded forcible citizen disarmament advocates–the cynically misnamed “Freedom States Alliance,” and States United to Prevent Gun Violence.

To be honest, a more relevant question, in my estimation, would be “Does owning a gun make you freer?” I certainly believe that a person equipped for effective self-defense is significantly safer than one who is not, but it’s my belief that the Constitutional guarantee of the fundamental, absolute human right of the individual to keep and bear arms exists primarily to equip the people to resist tyranny, and that the ability to fend off Joe Meth-addict or Johnny Rapist is just a nice side benefit. Even if gun ownership did somehow constitute a net danger for the owner (a point I am wholly unwilling to concede), I would argue that freedom is worthy of the sacrifice of some degree of safety–“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety . . . ” and all that.

I also believe that whether my ownership of a gun makes me safer, or (by some odd mechanism) less safe, is my business, and public policy need not concern itself with my personal decisions about my own self-defense.

Still, it’s a discussion worthy of one’s time to check out, if only for the fact that the anti-rights crowd rarely dares enter a two-way discussion of the issue.


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