The United States has a gun control problem. Whether you believe that “guns kill people,” or “people kill people,” in either case, people are dying from bullet wounds. For some reason, U.S. citizens seem more prone to shooting one another than citizens of other countries. Maybe it’s because everyone’s so mad at one another about differences in opinion regarding gun control.
Many people think we should just require everyone purchasing a firearm to first acquire an appropriate license and to undergo a background check. Many countries that have a more strict process for acquiring guns, such as the UK, have far fewer shootings per capita than we do.
Of course, the focal point of the counterargument is the second amendment. And frankly, quoting the constitution is a pretty strong argument. But while many conservatives quote their right to bear arms, the amendment also states that a well regulated militia is “necessary to the security of a free state.”
With Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump trading threats via Twitter, most U.S. citizens aren’t completely confident that they won’t see another war in their lifetime. However, thanks to our second amendment, most of them feel fairly secure within their own homes. It is commonly said that Americans simply have too many guns to make invading the United States a real possibility.
The thing is, we don’t really have militias anymore. In the event of an invasion, an enemy army would likely be stocked with heavier weaponry than is currently legal for most citizens to own. Would we be a safer country if we could all threaten to bring our tanks out of the garage in the event of an invasion? Would we be safer if we were allowed to have a well regulated militia? Or would arming every other civilian with assault rifles pose a risk to our domestic well being?
In light of recent events, it’s fairly clear that allowing the general populace to look like the professional military wouldn’t be a great idea. We haven’t been invaded since the War of 1812. Chances are that with the public less well-armed than the invading force, the likelihood of any real militia emerging, and the chances of a repulsion of enemy forces by civilians are both very low.
So is there really any point, beyond sport, for the general populace to have so many guns? Are gun sports enough of a reason to justify keeping them legal? Would we be willing to relinquish whatever independent capability of defense we can lay claim to? These are the questions we have to ask. Not, “how can we stop mass shootings,” but, “what are we willing to sacrifice to stop mass shootings?”