Gun Control

Gun control is a difficult issue, I find. Given the ubiquity of guns in this country, it's hard to come up with a policy that'll remove them off the streets. Recently, there was a funeral held for a cop who was killed after being shot here in DC, and this has prompted a lot of talk about what should be done, since this was the first cop killing since 1987 here.

So should the policy to be really control guns? How? There are more than 2 million guns out in the streets of DC alone. Future control isn't going to help much, and getting the guns back is easier said than done. So let's toss that out of the window.

Several people have proposed that control should be in the judicial system. That is, treat gun-related crimes seperately and have gun courts that penalise these offenders in a more severe fashion, so as to discourage gun-related crime. There are two serious problems to this: First, the justice system can't handle such an input of perpetrators (right now, only one of every four homicides results in a conviction, mainly because the judicial system can't handle the overload), and second, the problem is rooted not with the guns and their control (or lack thereof), but with society's discontentment and desire to lash out (at least certain segments of society).

Killing a cop is lashing out against the system of justice itself. Clearly, the people who use these guns fear the justice system little, and even if gun laws were made stricter, I doubt this would deter anyone in any serious fashion. Given the watered down version of the Brady bill we saw, we probably can't hope for much even if such a "gun court" was implemented. Still, this is probably the most workable solution given the mentality of politicians.

Now, the ideal solution, of course, would be that no one WANTS to own a gun and kill each other. Given humanity's miserable existence, I doubt this is possible. The other solution is to do it the way it was in the wild west. That is, give guns to whoever wants it and carry it around. If anyone tries to kill you, you do it first.

We need to consider how realistic such a proposition is, and whether something like this would work. It's easy to say let everyone have guns, but a lot of people can't use one. There has to be a certain age before you can buy a gun and you can't use one if you're too feeble and weak, but then this applies to the killers too. The problem, of course, is who the killers target. But this can be swept under the rug (not a good solution, but workable perhaps) by saying that the people who can't use guns (children and old people) can be protected by the majority who do. After all, this seemed to work in the west (from what I've read in western novels---I don't claim to be an expert in that field). So people can acquire guns and learn to use them rather easily (if you can drive a car, you can operate a gun decently).

Another argument is that it would lead to a more "violent" society and that this is not a good direction to make progress in. Notwithstanding the fact that I personally think this is what should happen, I think that such an action, initially at least, will make would-be killers sit up and take notice. Their targets are starting to hit back. I don't wish to exaggerate this problem, but I remember when I first visited DC there was this TV report about some people in a car just shooting random people on the streets. If some of the people responded, I think the killers would be less likely to do something like this. Hopefully the initial reaction will be enough to curb the flow of violence. If this doesn't happen, then it's true that people will start using guns more freely (so if someone knocked into you and made you spill your ice cream, you'd shoot them), but I think this will happen anyway (at a certain point the violence will be too much and the police will no longer offer any sense of security).

I'm not saying you should go out right now and get a gun and carry it in a holster slung around on your hip. I'm saying this is the sort of a direction we seem to be heading toward and therefore gun-control should not be (there could however be regulations regarding the killing of animals, but, hey, if you can't control the killing of humans, you have less hope of controlling the killing of other animals, I'd argue). Already I know several people who buy guns and keep them in their homes to "protect themselves". It won't be too long before people start carrying them around to do the same.

Regardless of how I handle these counter-arguments, there exists a distinct imbalance between victims and their opponents in gun-related crime. Most of the people killed, even in gang-warfare, are people who can't defend themselves. There has to be a shift in the availability of weapons so the equilibrium can be maintained. Taking guns away, and severely punishing persons involved in gun-related crimes, seems the harder, and less-realistic, way to go about this.

"Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away
 Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air
 You better watch out
 There may be dogs about
 I've looked over Jordan and I have seen
 Things are not what they seem.

	What do you get for pretending the danger's not real
	Meek and obedient you follow the leader
	Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel
	What a surprise!
	A look of terminal shock in your eyes
	Now things are really what they seem
	No, this is no bad dream.

	      The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
		       He makes me down to lie
      Through pastures green he leadeth me the silent waters by
	       With bright knives he releaseth my soul
	     He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places
		   He converteth me to lamb cutlets
	    For lo,m he hath great power and great hunger
		  When cometh the day we lowly ones
	    Through quiet reflection and great dedication
		       Master the art of karate
			 Lo, we shall rise up
	     And then we'll make the bugger's eyes water.

	Blasting and bubbling I fell on his neck with a scream
	Wave upon wave of demented avengers
	March cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream.

 Have you heard the news?
 The dogs are dead!
 You better stay home
 And do as you're told
 Get out of the road if you want to grow old."
                                            ---Pink Floyd, Sheep

Pseudo-intellectual ram-blings || Ram Samudrala ||