Isn’t it obvious?


General Culture

Imagine the following situation. Your apartment is filled with toddlers, and there’s a large number of extremely sharp and shiny knives lying on the floor somewhere, which the toddlers can access easily. What do you do? Kind of obvious, isn’t it?

But you could also just shrug and say it’s not knives hurting toddlers, it’s toddlers hurting toddlers.

I guess in a sense you’re right to now complain that this is really an unfair comparison as far as guns and adults are concerned, because toddlers have limited sense of reason and experience whereas adults….

Oh wait. That somehow didn’t work.

Let’s try again. You’re right to complain that it’s not really a fair comparison, because most (but certainly not all) adults really are a bit wiser than toddlers. And adults know that guns are dangerous things, which can hurt people quite badly. Which is why some people buy them…

Oh wait. That also didn’t work.

Let’s try again. You’re right to complain, because there’s no way we can control the violent streaks of everybody. Which is why they also have riots and people running amok in other countries. And that’s true. Unless there is some sociological knowledge that I’m unaware of societies like ours are likely to produce people who at some stage will run amok and will try to harm as many other people as they can before they will kill themselves.

But here’s the thing. If we make guns so widely and easily available, those people will have a much easier time to kill dozens of other people. It’s really that obvious.

There’s no way to control the violent streaks of people, and there’s no way to control the desperation that some members of our society will endure. And even in societies with strict gun control someone who has access to guns might run amok and kill dozens of people (like in Germany a few years ago), or there might be large-scale riots (like in France last year).

But limiting access to guns will sharply reduce the number of numbers of people getting killed, just like putting those knives away will very efficiently reduce - yet no completely eliminate - the likelihood that the toddlers in your house will harm themselves and/or other toddlers.