Sunday, March 10, 2013

Banning Guns Punishes the Innocent and Violates Rights

This letter-to-the-editor appeared in the 2/1/13 NJ Star-Ledger, under the heading "Ban Guns":

For an old moderate Republican (are there any of us left?), I may sound far to the left on this. I favor strict gun control laws: Ban handguns and assault weapons and give long jail sentences to those convicted of any crime with a gun. Guns, especially handguns, are for killing people. We need that to stop, and we need to stop supplying guns to the drug cartels in Mexico. 
At a minimum, we need background checks and current registrations for all gun possession, just as it is done with cars. If you own it or have possession, you must present a valid registration; liability insurance, too. States can collect much-needed revenue from registration fees. 
Currently, the political debate seems to pit rural white men against suburban soccer moms. I hope black people in the cities and all minorities in the Southwest join in the discussion and demand safety for their communities. Then, I hope liberal groups match NRA spending to level the playing field in political campaigns. 
Paul Nickerson, Morristown

I left the following rebuttal comments:

Paul Nickerson's call to Ban Guns is both immoral and impractical. 

It is immoral because a ban would punish the innocent for the wrongdoing of the few, and violate the individual's right to self-defense--which derives from his inalienable right to life. It is impractical because it ignores the many thousands of crimes thwarted and lives saved by the defensive use of guns by responsible gun owners in instances when the police are not there to protect citizens during the commission of a crime (See Tough Targets: When Criminals Face Armed Resistance from Citizens).

Nickerson also ignores the failed history of other prohibitions, namely 1920s alcohol prohibition and today's perpetually failing drug prohibition (the so-called "War on Drugs"). A ban would simply cause the underground gun trade to expand and flourish, just as organized crime flourished in the 1920s and the drug cartels flourish today, leaving decent people defenseless against armed criminals.

The political debate does not pit groups against groups--white against black, rural against suburban, suburban against city, or otherwise. It pits individuals who would violate rights against individuals who support and protect rights. The individual's right to possess guns for purposes of self-defense is as integral to keeping communities safe as are the police and criminal law enforcement. 

Related Reading:

Armed Self-Defense Saves Lives

Gun Control Should focus on Principles, Not Guns

Thoughts on the Colorado Theater Shooting

Media Underplays Successful Defensive Gun Use, by Paul Hsieh

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