The circus that is the Trayvon Martin affair is just the latest to bring our national obsession with firearms (whether one be pro or con) to the forefront of the discussion. I won’t belabor the Martin matter any further as I think so much misinformation and disinformation has been bandied about that there is not enough hard evidence for the casual observer to employ basic scientific method before formulating an opinion.
That a young man was killed with a firearm is simply enough of a starting point.
Let me attest, however, that I am not a rabid NRA member (or even a member at all), not a hunter (though I don’t begrudge those who are) and have owned firearms used for target shooting and, yes, personal protection. I am more than familiar with their care and use, having been an Expert Marksman with every small arm in the Army’s inventory when I served. I am also very much in favor of reasonable gun control, permitting and criminal background checks. I wouldn’t own nor would I purchase an illegal firearm.
Rather than offer any hard conclusions, my intent then will be to spur some thought and debate on the subject.
I also know full well that we have nearly as many firearms floating around in our country as we do automobiles and a good many of both aren’t legally owned, transferred or operated. Fine upstanding citizens buy, register and insure their cars legally and operate them safely with a valid driver’s license.
The less than “stand-up” among us?
Not so much … and the exact same thing can be said about guns. The people that none of us want to have them can get them if they want them, the niceties of the rule of law be damned. Trying to get illegal firearms off the street is as much an exercise in futility as would be confiscating all the illegal cars … and the numbers of both would be equally daunting.
I believe the latest statistics show that +/- 13,000 people were killed by firearms, in the USA, last year (a fraction of those killed by automobile, by the way). Conversely (depending upon which study one believes) there are purportedly somewhere between 800,000 and 2.1 million successful defenses of life and property, using a firearm, each year across the nation. If anywhere near true, that’s a startling ratio and, if incidence of cause and effect is the barometer, a hell of a case in support of gun ownership, no?
Keeping in mind, too, that some portion of that 13,000 met that fate with legal justification, it doesn’t appear the bad guys with guns (killing people, at least) are even statistically significant; representing 1/100 of one percent of the low-ball number of 800,000 “successful defenses.”
With firearms, like most everything else, there’s no substitute for training and experience but, how much of a factor this played in any of the so-called “successful defenses” is anyone’s guess.
The simple fact of the matter remains, however, that there are circumstances in which there is simply no substitute for, or better option than, the ready availability of a firearm.
Sadly, we do inhabit that kind of world and I truly hope that such circumstances never befall anyone, with or without a firearm close at hand.