By Paul Wanaye
As more private individuals acquire guns, the power of the Police declines, personal security becomes more a matter of self-help.
There is some sense to this argument, for even criminals don’t like being shot. But the logic is faulty, and a close look at it leads to the conclusion that the Government should ban private gun ownership entirely, or almost entirely.
If widespread gun ownership had the robust deterrent effects, our country would be freer of crime than other developed societies. But it is not. When some citizens are armed, as they are today, crime doesn’t cease. Instead, criminals work to be better armed, more efficient in their use of guns (“quicker on the draw”), and readier to use them.
When this happens, those who get guns may be safer than they would be without them, but those without them become progressively more vulnerable.
The unarmed must arm themselves. But when more citizens get guns, further problems arise: people who would once have got in a fistfight instead shoot the person who provoked them; people are shot by mistake or by accident.
The more private people owning guns, the less effective the Police become. The power of the citizens and that of the Police approach parity. The Police cease to have even a near-monopoly on the use of force.
We have a right to bear arms because of the threat of criminals taking over the freedoms we have. The more people there are with guns, the less able the Government is to control them. But by arming the citizenry limits the power of the Government; it does so by limiting the power of its agents, such as the Police.
Domestic defense becomes more a matter of private self-help and vigilantism and less a matter of democratically-controlled, public law enforcement. Domestic security becomes increasingly “privatised.”As more private individuals acquire guns, the power of the Police declines and personal security becomes a matter of self-help.
For the Police to remain effective in a society in which most of those they must confront or arrest are armed, they must, like criminals, become better armed, more numerous, and readier to fire.
But if they do that, guns won’t have produced a net reduction in the power of the government but will only have generated enormous private and public expenditures, leaving the balance of power between armed citizens and the government as it was before, the unarmed conspicuously worse off, and everyone poorer except the gun industry.
The logic is inexorable: as more private individuals acquire guns, the power of the police declines, personal security becomes more a matter of self-help, and the unarmed have an increasing incentive to get guns, until everyone is armed.
When most citizens then have the ability to kill anyone in their vicinity in an instant, everyone is less secure than they would be if no one had guns other than the members of a democratically accountable Police force.
Criminals want guns for themselves but not for their potential victims. Others want them for themselves but not for criminals.
But while gun control can do a little to restrict access to guns by potential criminals, it can’t do much when guns are to be found in every other household.
The writer is a concerned citizen