The Riddle of the Gun

Above is a link to an article I am critiquing. It is quite long, but very good if you’re interested in recent politics.

Anyone who has been on Facebook while I’ve been online has no doubt seen one of my political responses in their creeper feed. I kind of wish that didn’t happen, but then again making your voice heard on issues you believe in is the cornerstone of democracy. I generally am debating with “people where I come from” who are pretty hardcore Republican. For the purposes of this post, I will just say that they are very pro-gun and very anti- gun control. It is very hard to find an article on any hot political topic where I think someone speaks objectively and reasonably as the author of the article which I have linked. I would like to attempt to breakdown why I think this was a successful article and why I think anyone should read it before casting votes for our great nation.

Firstly, Sam Harris discusses a bit about his background. He states that he “stand(s) on both sides of this debate.” When I saw this paragraph, I began to receive him better. No longer was I going to read an article by a left-wing anti-gun nut or a right-wing Yosemite Sam loony. I am about to get an honest opinion from someone who doesn’t believe removing all guns or giving everyone guns is the best solutions we have. He states, “Like most gun owners, I understand the ethical importance of guns and cannot honestly wish for a world without them. I suspect that sentiment will shock many readers. Wouldn’t any decent person wish for a world without guns?” Again, this serves to separate him from avid gun lovers for him to make future points for having guns objectively.He then goes on further to talk about why guns can be useful if not necessary. Police often can’t get to the scene in time to help to no fault of their own. “It is a problem of physics.” He puts a heavy emphasis that whoever is at the scene is the first line of defense. He goes on further to make the point that a fallacy some left leaning people have is that a gun free zone is a safer place, but he makes the point that when only bad guys possess firearms in an area people quickly change their mind when they hear gun shots. That is why we call the police after all. He states the stat, “With the exception of the attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every mass shooting since 1950 has taken place where civilians are forbidden to carry firearms [Correction 1/11/13: I have been informed that this mall is a gun-free zone too.].”

After making several other supporting claims for good guys possessing guns, he doesn’t leave that as the be all end all. He says that we must invest more into helping the mentally ill to prevent future tragedies. More guns isn’t the only answer he is here to advocate. He instead appeals to some other “more liberal sensibilities.” “The fact that guns in the U.S. can be legally purchased from private sellers without background checks on the buyers (the so-called “gun show loophole”) is terrifying. Getting a gun license could be made as difficult as getting a license to fly an airplane, requiring dozens of hours of training. I would certainly be happy to see policy changes like this.” Finally, we have an advocate for guns who doesn’t think people should be able to buy guns from every gas station as easily accessible as Slim Jim’s.

Overall, I was impressed that he managed to give an honest critique of our politics. As much as he likes guns, he said he couldn’t understand our perversion for talking about them so much. He even states that more people die to physicians not washing their hands every year than they do to fire arms. I’m not saying that people won’t disagree with this guy. People already have. I just think that this was well-written and I wish that more political rhetoric was written more objectively.