Tuesday conversation: gun control.

Ok, it had to happen.  Six freaking days before Friendsmas.  But it’s on everybody’s mind, so let’s have it out.

Me?  I do not favor gun bans.  I’m all for reform of gun law that would strive to keep firearms in the hands of responsible citizens (and close loopholes like the gun show loophole that allow for irresponsible citizens to acquire guns).

I believe an armed populace is a necessary influence on its government.  But, again, the arms should be in the hands of responsible citizens trained in safety with a very, very low psychological likelihood of using guns maliciously.  The problem is that the people who tend to agree with me on the need of an armed populace as an influence on the government, also tend to be a bunch of John Wayne throwbacks who think letting gay people hold hands is tantamount to installing an oppressive dictatorship.

Take my parents.  They are both very smart people (between my parents and my brother, I am the intellectual black sheep of my immediate family, and have no problem saying so).  They are also as liberal as it gets.  They are both pro drug legalization, ardent supporters of gay rights, etc.  They are also gun owners.  My mother taught a mandatory hunter safety course for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (which my brother and I both attended).  She also used those guns to hunt game that fed our family for the sum of my youth (at a significant discount, and with greater health benefits, than store-bought meat).

My parents also have a conceal carry permit, and take a handgun when they go on trips to new areas.  My mother has actually been accosted and being able to draw her gun quickly ended the situation.

These are the people who should have firearms.  They’re out there, mixed in among the very loud people (generally from the South) who think any gun and every gun should be widely available, with significantly less regard for being certain that the person owning a gun will wield that power responsibly.  And believe me, I hate getting lumped in with those people every time I open my mouth about gun laws.

I’m very aware that guns can (and do) result in violent crimes and deaths that would not have occurred otherwise.  Guns can turn a bar fight into a homicide.  Improperly stored guns can result in a child coming across them.

But I’m not sure gun bans will solve those problems.  I’ve often said to anti-abortion people that laws prohibiting abortion will not stop abortion, they will only make it less safe.  I think the same about firearm bans.  Laws will work on law-abiding citizens, but not so much on law-breakers.  I think gun bans would 0nly consolidate the power of firearms into the hands of people who would use it immorally.

The issue, for me, is how to ensure that people like my folks are the ones getting guns, not felons, or people with a history of alcohol abuse, or people who are serious suicide risks, etc.  Access to guns can can make society better, just like nuclear power can make a society better.

So yes, stricter gun laws.  And we need to be talking about that.  But I am very, very wary of proposed gun bans.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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