Administrator’s Note: We here at TTAF are taking a break from blogging for the rest of the year. We feel that it is important that we take some time off to spend with friends and family, and also to relax a bit as the past year has been hectic for all four of us. We cannot thank you enough for reading, commenting on and sharing TTAF. We hope to use this time off to create more posts that we hope you will enjoy. While we are on hiatus we would still love to hear from you via the comments section and also by writing guest posts. We are looking for writers from all backgrounds, yes even women, to contribute to the site and if you are interested please send us an email. We are seeking to create a community experience with this blog and in order to do so we want to hear from you.
In the meantime we will be counting down the top fifty posts (out of 353) from this year. Once we are done with that we will get back to our regular blogging. As you read these posts feel free to share them on any number of social media sites with the buttons found below each post and above the comments section. Have a great holiday season.
-Matt, Drew, Josh, and Curtis-
For the original post click here.
Administrator’s Note: A few weeks ago I wrote a post supporting strict gun control laws. You can read that post by clicking this link, don’t forget to check out the comment section as well. The post caused a bit of a stir and what I was hoping would be a civil conversation turned into a name calling contest for the most part. There were a few people who actually participated in thoughtful conversation and to them we are thankful. One of those people was B. Roth (etcssmccrackin in the comments). When we asked for rebuttal essays Mr. Roth was the only one to respond. I have included that post below, in its entirety, and completely free of any editing. We hope that you will continue to read and comment on the blog regardless of your view on this issue (there are even differing views among the administrators) and we again want to encourage readers to make this site a place of discussion, thought, and civility for a generation of guys. Thanks again to B. Roth for sharing his viewpoint.
May 18 1927, Oct 1 1997, and Apr 16 2007; three dates in American history when a single disturbed individual decided to murder multiple people. For whatever reason that entered their diseased minds, these individuals made a conscious decision to violate perhaps what has been the most sacred of mans laws since the beginning of time. On May 18, 1927, murderer Andrew Kehoe perpetrated the Bath School Disaster, which stands today as the most deadly mass killing in American history, taking the lives of 47 people and injuring 58 others. On Oct 1, 1997, murderer Luke Woodham killed 2 people and injured 7 at Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi, after already having killed his mother at their home. And on Apr 16, 2007, murderer Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 23 during what most of us remember as the Virginia Tech Massacre.
While these events all share a tragic history as acts of mass murder, they each differ in one significant way: guns. In the example of the Bath Disaster, the killer opted to use home-brewed explosive devices; one at his home, one at the Bath School itself which caused the most casualties, and a final one in his truck which killed the last few people including the murderer. The killer’s only gun, a bolt action hunting rifle played an insignificant role, being used only to detonate the explosives in the back seat of his truck. At Virginia Tech however, the killer’s guns played a much more prominent role. The murderer ignored state law prohibiting guns on campus, and stalked the school shooting his classmates, before reaching his internal limit and killing himself. The Pearl Shooting on the other hand saw a dual use for guns. After killing his mother, the murderer arrived at the school and shot several students and faculty, stopping only when the Assistant Principle, having retrieved his own semi-automatic pistol, held him at gunpoint until police arrived. What do three separate events in American history, spanning a timeframe of 80 years, prove? Although some lessons may be derived, these incidents don’t really prove much, save perhaps that some people are so sick that they are capable of great atrocities, and that inanimate objects may be used for whatever purpose that their bearer intends, good or bad.
People in general and Americans in particular have great difficulty coming to terms with events of great tragedy. They struggle to grasp the rationale and the motive, asking the media, our leaders, and themselves, “Why?” A great number of people simply cannot deal with the idea that a single person or small group of people could have so much evil in their heart that they would do something so horrible, leading to the conclusion that “it must have been something else.” Why else would people not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald, a trained Marine Corps rifleman, shooting from a distance considered elementary by those with similar training, could possibly murder one of the most beloved US Presidents by himself, or that a single insane student could kill so many at a movie premiere? To handle the scale of the tragedy, we tell ourselves that “Oswald just HAD to have help; it MUST have been the CIA” and that “if only guns were banned, then all those people in Colorado would still be alive.” On its face, it seems to make perfect sense, until one actually looks past the surface.
In the wake of killings such as those in Aurora CO, and most recently Oak Creek WI, many people clamor for tighter gun control based upon the above reasoning. A glance at the numbers seems to reinforce that conclusion. For example, out of an estimated US population in 2009 of 307 Million people, there were approx 102K deaths or injuries for the year. In the face of that many deaths and/or injuries per year, it seems obvious that bans and regulation would make a positive difference, until one realizes that these are the numbers for deaths and/or injuries due to automobiles coming from approx 255 Million automobiles in America. Looking at the numbers for guns instead, we see that out of approx 300 Million privately owned firearms, there are almost 42K deaths or injuries due to guns every year. Breaking these numbers down to ratios, the odds of being killed or hurt by an automobile is approx 1 in 2500, whereas the same ratio for guns is approx 1 in 7143, meaning that a person is almost 3 times more likely to be killed or injured by a car versus a gun. Of course, to suggest banning cars would be preposterous, due not only to their integral role in our national infrastructure, but their importance to our personal identity and way of life. In short, the common sense realization that the good aspects of car ownership vastly outweigh the bad is readily obvious to all but the most extreme observer. The rebuttal to this statement however is invariably that while cars are essential, guns are not, meaning that the detrimental effect of a gun ban would be negligible.
Using the Pearl High School example however, we can see an instance where the presence of a gun had a positive effect, leading one to ask: If there are approx 42K deaths or injuries due to guns per year, how many “positive effects” are there? These effects are known as Defensive Gun Uses or DGU’s, and depending on what study is used, they happen between 800K and 2.5 Million times per year in America. Using the average of the number range, this means that approx 1.65 Million people successfully defend themselves with a firearm every year, compared to 42K adverse effects per year. Additionally, the raw data of gun deaths and injuries must be looked at. For example, the majority of those instances consist of criminal use in violent crime, often against other criminals. Looking at the skyrocketing violent crime rates in the UK and Australia following their gun bans, it becomes obvious that lacking tools, the criminals simply continued their activities using different tools, and without armed “victims”, actually increased their activities. The next highest sub-group within the gun deaths is individual suicides, acts which are also independent of the tools used. For the sake of argument, even using the raw 42K numbers, Americans actually defend themselves with guns 39 times more often than they are victimized by guns. Therefore, analyzing the ratio of good vs. bad, and looking at the historical examples of increased violent crime rates after gun bans, it would seem obvious that the good of gun ownership far outweighs the bad.
The issue essentially boils down to personal choice and the question of removing the ability for some people to make their own personal choice. Should a person be allowed, for example, to publicly burn an American flag, to wear uniforms or medals that they have not earned, or to protest at funerals? Absolutely they should, thanks to their inherent right to free speech. To this point, many gun ban proponents state: “But, free speech is restricted. After all, you can’t yell fire in a theater, right?” Actually, you can yell it, and in some cases you are morally obligated to yell it. The difference is that the results of free speech are regulated. For instance, to yell fire when there is none or to accuse someone of a crime they did not commit will carry a penalty under current law. The actual ability remains uninfringed. If freedom of speech was treated the same as the right to keep and bear arms, a person would have to undergo a background check, pay a fee, obtain a license, and then would be allowed to speak only in certain “authorized” areas.
At the end of the day, people oppose or support things for a myriad of reasons, some of which are defensible or able to be actually “proven”, some of which are not. Religious or pacifist beliefs for example are a personal choice, and may have their roots solely in how a person “feels” about something, or how a religious text says they should feel about it. What is truly great about freedom is that those viewpoints are not only allowed, but essential to liberty itself. The question remains however, of exactly what is right or ethical insofar as making laws for the public at large. Should the citizenry of the entire United States of America be held to the essentially unsubstantiated “beliefs” of anyone, even a majority much less a minority? If it is numerically verifiable for example that the possession of guns is less onerous than the possession of automobiles, that the instances of total violent crime tend to increase in the wake of gun bans, and that the instances of lives saved by guns outweigh the instances of gun violence by a factor of approx 39 to one, then how is it ethical to propose a gun ban based upon those “beliefs’, removing the personal choice of all Americans? Long story short. It’s not.