This was submitted in response to Josh Merlo’s Column: Liberty or Life: Which do you want?
Gun control is a topic dear to me. Back in 10th grade, I wrote a five-page paper showing that where guns were owned by citizens, crime from both governments and individuals was less because it was thwarted by the guns of the citizens. My paper also showed that when guns were restricted or taken away, crime rates went up, and governments were free to perform acts of tyranny on their citizens. Here I will try to give a brief yet concise defense of private gun ownership.
Concerning defense against tyrannical governments through guns, I will give the two examples of China and Armenia. As most people are aware, China has practiced gun control for a long time; yet this does not prevent people there from illegally obtaining guns. Therefore the police periodically perform gun confiscations. One such instance was back in 2008, shortly before the Beijing Olympic Games. Following this gun confiscation, the police confiscated, from the newly disarmed people, private homes and apartments to demolish them in order to make room for the Olympic stadiums to be built. When the people protested, many were arrested and denied repayment.
Conversely, in Armenia, after implementing gun control, the Turkish leaders there in 1915 gave an announcement that Armenians would be deported to the interior. Although some Armenians went along with the gun control and deportation (resulting in about one million deaths), many did not. These Armenians who retained their guns took up a strong position in the hills and put up an excellent defense. When the government’s forces tried to directly attack them, their attack did not succeed. When the government then decided to put those rebelling against them under siege, 4,000 were able to survive the siege because of rescue by the British and the French. America’s Founding Fathers knew that situations like this could be helped through the use of arms. Thomas Jefferson said, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
Concerning defense of individuals through the use of their guns against other individuals, a study was released in 2012 by Cramer and Burnett. It catalogued 5,000 incidents over eight years in which gun owners repulsed individual attacks. 488 were home burglaries, and 1,227 were where the attacker fled from a gun owner. 34 more were pizza delivery drivers protecting themselves, and another 127 were animal attacks.
A further example of the defense of individual citizens through firearm use is to be seen in the country of Switzerland. As of a few years ago, Switzerland had a population of six million, with two million privately owned guns. The BBC reported that the crime rate was so low that statistics were not even kept.
A final proof of the usefulness of gun ownership is seen in how the National Safety Council notes that firearms are used about 2.5 million times a year in self-defense against law-breakers, which means that guns are used to protect innocent people in roughly 80 times more cases than they are used to harm innocent people.
Our Founding Fathers knew that all this, too, could happen through the use of arms; Thomas Paine said, “The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property.”
In Josh Merlo’s column, he writes that if guns are outlawed, there will be no “more excuses, only justice, only security, only the safeguarding of an innocent public from undue execution.” He also writes that “there is a long and rich tradition of limiting liberties when some greater good is threatened. Are not the very lives of Americans precisely a greater good than some ancient and misunderstood right to form militias?” One can see that it is not merely an issue of owning guns in the abstract, but a matter of owning them to protect those very same lives, American or other, from more and worse acts of violence and aggression that will result from the absence of privately owned firearms.