No, Guns Are Not What 'Ails' the Nation

AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar

It is a commonly accepted fact in the gun community that most of the people who support stricter rules on firearms don’t truly comprehend the gun rights issue. Many of these folks have never even held a gun, much less fired one. But they see the rampant gun violence occurring across the nation, and they believe those who pretend that limiting gun ownership for responsible citizens will somehow save more lives.

I came across an op-ed written by author Dean Minnich in the Baltimore Sun, in which he suggests that guns are “at the core of what ails us as a nation.” Let’s go ahead and break this one down.

Minnich begins the piece by discussing a story in which a gunman opened fire on a Baltimore street. He fired 60 rounds that wounded four and killed one. “That night on local TV news, the police commissioner was pleading for someone to come forth and speak up, so the cops can catch the shooter,” he wrote.

The author continued:

Back up a minute: No one has handed over videos of the incident? The commissioner pointed out that it was a nice day, middle of the day, and people were out. Someone had to see something, someone had to know something, and heaven knows, if cops were trying to arrest a suspect there’d be all kinds of video and people on camera complaining about police brutality. So where are the neighbors today?

Maybe, by the time this sees print, someone will suck it up and come forward, say something, share a video, and then be willing to even testify.

Minnich pointed out that even if someone is willing to come forward, “it will take more courage than the average suburban resident can imagine.” He notes that most who don’t live in inner city neighborhoods have to worry about the repercussions of “snitching.”

He’s right. There is a code in many of these areas that dissuades people from contacting the authorities to let them know they witnessed a violent crime. However, what he fails to realize is that if Baltimore PD is able to apprehend the shooter, they will likely find out that he obtained his firearm illegally, meaning the gun control laws his type loves would not have stopped him from killing anyone. In fact, cities in states like Maryland, which have strict gun laws, are actually placing more innocent lives in danger because they are making it harder for people to defend themselves.

The author goes on to further illustrate how suburban residents are insulated from the realities faced by people in urban areas. He wrote:

The average suburban citizen can be all about gun ownership being a right, and how it protects a community and keeps people safe. They have the time and money and transportation to go 20 miles to a gun range to try out their new 30-round magazine and the gizmos that essentially make their handgun an automatic weapon. They have assault-grade weapons, too, but they could use them for deer hunting if they want to, so they have the right to have — and brandish them — on the steps of the building where the school board is meeting.

In this paragraph, the author demonstrates a remarkable ignorance about guns. I’m not even an expert but I know that 30-round magazines do not turn a pistol into an automatic weapon. This is the problem with people who know nothing about guns trying to push for legislation to restrict them.

But I digress.

Minnich goes on to further explain why guns are the problem:

The people of the neighborhoods where shots are being fired literally every day live on a different planet than those who call themselves citizen patriots, but guns are at the center of what ails all of us.

It’s too easy to get the weapons and use them, and too hard for good people to actually do the work that really defines the freedom we like to believe is our American birthright.

What the author again fails to realize is that the people committing these gun crimes are getting their guns in violation of the many laws on the books. Millions of responsible gun owners obtain their weapons legally and only a small percentage use them for anything other than hunting, self-defense, or recreation. America does not have a gun problem. It has a heart problem, as I will explain later.

The author also explains:

Just witnessing a crime can make you the victim of another in some neighborhoods; just being from other neighborhoods makes other people think they’re immune from the consequences of their misjudgments.

This is where Minnich misses the point. Ironically, he actually made my argument for me. If witnessing a crime and notifying the authorities can put one in danger, the problem is a culture that produces that result. Guns do not make people punish others for “snitching.” This is yet another reason why this is a heart issue – not a gun issue.

Removing guns from that situation will not address that reality. If anything, making it harder for responsible folks living in those neighborhoods to obtain firearms is making them more vulnerable to the bad actors who have little problem obtaining weapons illegally. The number of instances in which firearms are used in self-defense far outweighs those in which criminals are using them to commit violent crimes. Preventing law-abiding people from obtaining weapons only emboldens these nefarious individuals. If folks like Minnich wish to save lives, they must realize that disarming the populace will accomplish the exact opposite of what they seek.


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