Category Archives: Gun Control

Why is Capital Hill Gun Free?

If Congress really believes more guns will make us safer then I propose that all our representatives be armed on the House and Senate floor and that they remove all the metal detectors in those buildings. Of course, they would reject this idea because this would make them less safe. Thus revealing their hypocrisy.

(Yes, some people have real security problems whose solution may involve guns. For example, four Presidents of the United States, about 1 in 10, have been assassinated, others have been the target of assassinations, and all receive numerous threats. US Presidents and congressional representatives have special security risks. But most of us aren’t the kinds of people for whom being shot is likely.)

For more see:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-womack/if-gun-control-doesnt-wor_b_2326155.html

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2018/02/18/congress-gun-free-zone/

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/07/gun-control-us-capitol-120310

What If Everyone Had Guns?


I have to chuckle at President Trump and the Republicans claim that tougher gun laws won’t stop mass shootings. That’s weird, they do so in every other country in the world with tough gun laws. In Japan, England and many other countries almost no one dies of gun violence because … THEY DON’T HAVE GUNS! In the last 50 years, more Americans have died of gun violence in the US than were killed in all the wars America ever fought!

And the idea that more guns is the solution is self-evidently absurd. Let’s follow that argument to its logical conclusion. Ok, everyone should own a gun. No, not good enough, you must carry it with you. Ok, everyone should always carry a loaded gun. No, not good enough, you might be shot before you pull it out of your holster. Ok, everyone should always carry a loaded gun pointed at others ready to fire. No, not good enough, the bad guy might have an assault rifle. Ok, everyone should always carry an assault rifles pointed at others ready to fire. Heck, why not make it illegal to go outside without an assault rifle? Then every person you in the grocery store, church, casino or bar, will be pointing their rifles at you and you at them.

Now think about it. Do you feel safer in such a country? Or would you feel safer in England where there are about 50 gun killings annually? Or in Japan where in 2014 there were just six gun deaths!

In 2014 there were 33,599 gun deaths in the US.

“Guns are security blankets, not insurance policies”

At his wonderful blog, The Weekly Sift, the mathematician Doug Mudar posted an insightful piece recently about the psychology of gun owners titled: “Guns are security blankets, not insurance policies.” He begins with a quote from the sci-fi author William Gibson: “People who feel safer with a gun than with guaranteed medical insurance don’t yet have a fully adult concept of scary.” This, Mudar notes, explains a lot about the gun-control debate in America today.

Mudar points out that proponents of gun control tend to cite statistics about how many more homicides and suicides we have in America compared to other countries with fewer guns, or how much more likely you are to kill yourself or a household member than an intruder, and so on. While pro-gun advocates tend to tell what-if fantasy stories to defend their position. “What if home invaders came to kill you, kidnap your baby, or rape your teenage daughter? What if you were a hostage in a bank robbery? What if you were at a restaurant or grocery store when terrorists broke in and started killing people? Wouldn’t you wish you had a gun then?”

Mudar says that these camps have “two very different ways to think about risk and security. One is the mature, rational way. What are the most likely risks and how can we mitigate them. So while people in America tend to worry about things like terrorist attacks and plane crashes, which pose virtually no risk to them, they forget about mundane risks like car accidents, heart disease, and cancer which pose far, far greater risk. If you really want to be safe do things like wear your seat belt, eat well, exercise and don’t smoke.

The other way to think about risk is the childish, irrational way. In this mode, you worry about monsters in your closet or ghosts in your room. Now frightened children aren’t always assured when you tell them that the chances of being eaten by a monster or haunted by a ghost are very, very low. Sometimes it is better to give the child “a security blanket or a teddy bear” to serve as a talisman to create an aura of security. And that’s what guns do for most gun owners. As Mudar concludes:

The point isn’t that home invasion is a major risk in your life, that you are well-trained enough to win a middle-of-the-night shoot-out if home invaders show up, or even that you have a practical way to get the gun out of its safe-storage location in time to use it at all; it’s that when the home-invasion fantasy plagues you, you can tell yourself, “It’s OK. I have a gun.”

(Of course, some people have real security problems whose solution may involve guns. For example, four Presidents of the United States, about 1 in 10, have been assassinated, others have been the target of assassinations, and all receive numerous threats.  US Presidents have special security risks. But most of us aren’t presidents, congressional representatives, drug dealers or the kinds of people for whom being shot is likely.)

In my next post I’ll briefly discuss the origins of irrational fears.