An Open Letter To American Gun Owners

gunsAmerican Gun Owners,

Let me start off by saying that I know the vast majority of you are responsible law abiding citizens who are trained in the use of your weapons and would likely never shoot another human being without other lives being in imminent danger. You’re also likely not someone who is brandishing your weapons around supermarkets, department stores, and restaurants trying just to antagonize anti-gun people. Your gun likely sits in a gun case somewhere until you feel like going out to the range to target shoot or perhaps when you go hunting. Despite what many liberals might believe, most of you are entirely rational, educated individuals who are well aware of the power and responsibility inherent in owning a gun. You need not convince me of this as I already know it to be true.

Now having said that, let me also state that I don’t expect that this letter is going to change your mind about guns in the slightest. When it comes to the seemingly endless and toothless gun debate here in America, most of us have chosen our sides, dug in our heels, and will not be changing our minds anytime soon. I get that. I’ll even acknowledge that such a description likely fits me as well. We all have our reasons and our pet studies that will help back up what we already believe about guns, gun violence, and what can or should be done about it.

I’m aware that no amount of sources, studies, evidence, or data is going to result in a sudden shift in viewpoint. I’m equally aware that what I’m going to ask will likely fall on deaf ears. So before I get to that point, let me ask one quick and easy favor. For the duration of this letter, let’s step out of our fox holes for a few moments. I will not attack you with anything and you will allow if only for a moment the idea that just maybe we could do this. Can we make that deal just for the length of this post?

Every year a gun is used to kill 30,000 Americans. 20,000 of these are suicides. 10,000 are homicides. If rates continue as they are, more people will be killed yearly using guns than will be killed in automobile accidents. And despite what many in the gun lobby have told us, liberals and Obama are doing absolutely nothing to take your guns away. If nothing else, you can rest secure in the iron-clad fact that Obama is not coming for your guns.

Okay. Now let me ask you this. What if there was a way to make 100% sure that your gun was never used for a homicide or a suicide? Sure, you may have your gun locked up. You may have various methods of security to keep your gun from being used to harm other law abiding citizens, but each of these can be circumvented. Locks can be broken. Guns can be stolen or lost. It’s one of those things we think will never happen to us until it does. So I ask you to open your mind. I ask you to let in one incredibly simple idea.

The one sure-fire way to make sure that no one ever uses your guns to kill anyone else and every law abiding citizen is safe from any harm your guns might do is to simply get rid of your guns.

I know you’re already immediately dismissing this concept. I know that in some cases it’s a part of who you are. In other cases, you simply can’t imagine a circumstance in which your gun might be used to harm others. You’re probably right about that.

However, if you’re able to, I’d like you to imagine a scenario in which you’re wrong. Imagine that someone with ill intent did get their hands on your gun. Imagine they used it to take their own life. Or imagine they used it to kill someone. Imagine how that might make you feel and imagine how different it might be if you simply didn’t have the gun in the first place. Are you not afraid of that feeling and if not, why not? Isn’t that just as big of a fear as you might have of someone breaking into your house while you’re unarmed? It should be. It’s much more likely that a gun will be used to shoot the person holding it or used in a homicide than it is to be used to defend against a home invasion.

Home invasions are incredibly rare despite how popular such instances are on the news. And defending yourself from a home invasion with a gun is rarer still. Our government has drones and missiles. If they chose to be oppressive, your guns would not stop them. Most of the situations in which you might need a gun are incredibly unlikely. Truth be told, it’s also unlikely that your gun will ever be used for anything beyond target shooting. But why leave even a small chance that it could be?

You can bring your gun in to any local police station. You do not need it. Getting rid of it may save lives. It may even save the lives of the people in your home or yourself. You want to make sure your gun never takes an innocent person’s life under any circumstances? Join us and be good without guns.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I realize that you’re not likely going to get rid of your guns. But I do appreciate your willingness to imagine it with me for a while.

–          Jack Cameron

#GoodWithoutGuns

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4 responses to “An Open Letter To American Gun Owners

  1. “Every year a gun is used to kill 30,000 Americans. 20,000 of these are suicides. 10,000 are homicides. If rates continue as they are, more people will be killed yearly using guns than will be killed in automobile accidents.”

    People often like to compare gun crime between the U.K. and the U.S. We know that now firearms are hugely easier to get your hands on in the U.S.

    Have you ever compared the _overall_ suicide rates between the U.K. and the U.S. (not just with guns but by all means)? If you do you will see they are nearly identical (11.8 per 100K for U.K. vs. 12.0 for U.S. – probably not a statistically significant difference).

    Logic says that if there was a greater likelihood of suicide when guns are present then the U.S. ought to have a much larger overall suicide rate. But we don’t. Therefore I think can conclude that a total ban on guns will have little effect on the two thirds of all gun deaths that involve suicide.

    Truly suicidial people will find a way.

    On the other hand homicides with guns are approaching historic lows not seen since the 1960s when I was a kid. Accidental deaths with guns have been on the decline for a very long time. Accidental deaths with guns are much, much smaller than accidental deaths in motor vehicle accidents.

    “The one sure-fire way to make sure that no one ever uses your guns to kill anyone else and every law abiding citizen is safe from any harm your guns might do is to simply get rid of your guns.”

    Which only means that those who turn in their guns, that is the law abiding, will be left defenseless and the criminals will still have guns. Great solution there.

    Even Prof. Hemenway at Harvard (school of medicine) who is most decidedly on the gun control side admits there might be as many as 80,000 uses of a gun in self defense in the U.S. every year. Hemenway’s school has been the recipient of millions of dollars from Michael Bloomberg. Dr. Kleck (a celebrated criminologist) found 2.5 million self defense uses in a study in the early 1990s (when crime and homicide were admittedly much higher than today).

    At least 11 major studies have found that the use of a firearm in the U.S. for self defense is not trivial. The real number is not really known (for many reasons) but the lives saved, the crimes prevented, the women not raped is a public good that guns account for every year.

    “I realize that you’re not likely going to get rid of your guns.”

    Correct. I have a CHL in Texas and carry a loaded handgun legally in public every day.

    “But I do appreciate your willingness to imagine it with me for a while.

    Feelings and imagining won’t solve our problems. Guns are not the problem. People are. Something went terribly wrong with people in the U.S. in the last 60+ years I have been here.

    When I was a kid in the 1950s I could buy a German battle rifle collected of the fields of Europe after WWII by mail order from an ad it the back of a comic book. The only “check” was that my check didn’t bounce.

    But we didn’t have these mass shootings in public. We also weren’t drugging the hell out of our kids. Guns are not the problem. We need to start looking for the real underlying problems instead of focusing on a symptom. For example see:

    Guns And Drugs
    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/guns-and-drugs/

    Regards,

    lwk

  2. So are you gonna ask billionaires like Mike Bloomberg to give up their armed bodyguards as well? Or do only 1%ers have the right to self-defense?

    • I ask billionaires like Mike Bloomberg to seriously question how much of having armed body guards is self defense and how much of it is security theater. Guns tend to create the illusion of safety.

  3. Thanks for your thought-provoking comment. I’ll do my best to be equally thought-provoking.

    When Australia enacted their gun control laws, the results were a 65% drop in suicide rates. I’d call that fairly significant and worth looking at and a compelling reason to look at it.
    http://jeffsachs.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Australia-Gun-Law-Reforms.pdf

    The idea of turning in your guns is simple. It’s one less gun that anyone can get their hands on and use to kill. The idea that simply having a gun will somehow result in your being safe from gun-wielding madmen has been proven wrong most horrifically here in the Northwest when four well armed and trained police officers were shot dead in a coffee shop with one guy with a gun. Yesterday, a ‘good guy with a gun’ was killed in Las Vegas when he didn’t realize there was more than one shooter.

    Being armed creates the illusion of safety, but it doesn’t actually make you safer.

    Access to guns are not the only contributing factor and we definitely do need to look at other factors, but since 1996 there have been 87 mass shootings or school shootings. 67 of those were in the United States. I don’t think it’s because we’re crazier or more drugged than other countries. If you can point out data that show how else we are different from all of the other first world countries on Earth beyond our easy access to guns, I’d be interested in taking a look at it.

    It seems to me though, that just maybe, access to firearms have something to do with America being the capital of mass shootings.

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