After the shootings in Newton, gun control advocates came out of the woodwork to make their pitch as to why arms control is needed. Predictably, the Second Amendment backers answered with the idea that more guns, not less, would safeguard society. And now, with the Christmas eve shooting of two firefighters, we are sure more arguments with each side vying for our support. Some of us, like Congressman Ron Paul, believe that neither side provides a solution that correctly addresses our insecurity, because we don’t have a gun problem in America, we have a moral one.
The left believes that reformed gun control laws will lead to less gun-related deaths. There are many statistics supporting this claim, but how do gun control advocates explain Kennesaw? This Georgian city passed an ordinance which requires all households to own and keep at least one firearm. The result has been violent crime rates well-below the national average. This seems to disprove the theory that more extensive gun control is needed to protect us.
And with an estimated 310 million firearms circulating in the U.S., can we really expect gun control to keep arms out of the hands of criminals? Since those who wish to break the law are unlikely to obey gun laws in the first place, it seems that gun control would do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of those most-likely to do damage with them.
But the right’s solution to gun violence is just as problematic as the left’s. The right posits that armed guards in society can keep us safe. But placing armed guards throughout society seems to be dangerous in and of itself; 1984 and Brave New World warned against this kind of authoritarian government activity. And won’t the economic impact of such government intervention be unsustainable? One can only imagine the trillions of dollars that would be spent on guards in our malls, schools, and streets.
Others on the right say that we need a better-armed citizenry to lessen gun violence. If that’s the case, then why do countries with the most guns per 100 people also have the most gun-related deaths? It certainly seems that more guns do not lead to less violence.
It is evident that neither the right nor the left have a fail-safe solution to gun violence, and this is because neither side fully understands the problem. The problem is not, as the left believes, that there are too many arms in society. Nor is the problem that we don’t have enough arms, as the right sees it. The real problem is that people are naturally self-interested and that sometimes, people want to kill others.
After the Newtown shooting, Ron Paul wrote, “Real change can happen only when we commit ourselves to rebuilding civil society in America,” and he’s exactly right. We can pass or repeal as many gun laws as we would like, but as long as immorality is prevalent, we will not stop violence. “We cannot reverse decades of moral and intellectual decline by snapping our fingers and passing laws.”
Ron Paul here suggests that before we can solve gun violence, we must first understand the problem that underlies this violence: it is the virtue of gun owners, not the number of guns, that makes us more or less safe. This is something that many on both sides of the aisle seem to misunderstand.