While the Jovan Belcher tragedy may have helped Jason Whitlock and Bob Costas formulate their personal opinions on gun control, it is doubtful the events in Kansas City will have any lasting or meaningful impact on the public debate.
The furor will ebb and flow periodically, with each high tide of outrage lower than the one preceding it, until all vestiges of it are swallowed by Honey Boo Boo or Dancing With The Stars.
But while the topic is still in the front pages, perhaps some context would be helpful. I don’t agree with Mr. Whitlock’s proposition that if Jovan Belcher had no access to firearms that both he and the mother of his child would still be alive, there simply isn’t enough information about Belcher’s motivation or intent.
But what I can say is that if there were no guns in our society the homicide and suicide rates would plummet dramatically. Maybe a hypothetical scenario best illustrates this point.
Suppose I were to give you a device you can wear on your belt. Just a box with a little red button, and if that button is pushed a person of your choosing dies immediately. No discussion, confrontation or mess. The person would simply disappear. Let’s also suppose that I want to give every single person in America the right to purchase this device, would there be resistance to this idea?
I would most certainly think so. It would be far too easy to kill a person, and many people could not possibly be expected to use the device in a rational or judicious manner. It’s a frightening scenario yet when that red button morphs into the trigger housing group of a pistol strangely the conversation changes.
Would Americans be less responsible with my little red button than they would be with firearms, simply because the right to own firearms is constitutionally guaranteed? Doubtful. Yet that seems to be what many like to pretend.
The fact is that the pervasive presence of firearms in society has caused the death of countless Americans. Notice that I have made no statement whatsoever about the ethical implications of this. My red button could just as easily be used for self-defense or law enforcement purposes just like any firearm, but we need to stop pretending that “people, not guns, kill people.”
That’s technically true, of course, but it is a red herring with zero relevance. The very nature of a gun is what’s important. They are designed to kill as fast and as easily as possible.
As far as I can tell no child has ever died in the crossfire of a drive-by stabbing, primarily because there is no crossfire. Getting beaten with fists or stabbed with a knife is generally a survivable situation, while getting shot generally is not.
Nothing that I have written here advocates the repeal of the 2nd Amendment nor does it advocate any particular policy change, but if we are to make any serious headway in our culture of violence we need to stop pretending that firearms don’t contribute to the problem.
It doesn’t matter how much money the NRA pours into its efforts to highjack America’s founding fathers into advocating a position that many of them would have found abhorrent.
The 2nd Amendment is a function of a weak central government which lacks the ability to finance a standing army, which was exactly the federal government’s position in the 18th century.
Please stop dusting off the fossilized remains of a frontier culture, which no longer exists, in order to make a political point. All discussions should remain on the table if we actually want to solve a problem.