Matthew Fitzsimmons

Some Thoughts on Gun Control


I wrote most of this in a stream-of-consciousness style a couple months ago. In light of the deeply saddening events of today, I feel I may as well publish it without trying to polish it up or add much to it.

The Ramblings

In politics, I increasingly feel like a moderate stuck between two extremes, although lately it feels like the Republicans have been the most extreme which is why I lean toward voting Democrat lately despite the fact that I'm not 100% in agreement with the Democratic party.

The issue of gun control is no exception, despite the fact that I'm a gun owner who carries a concealed handgun almost every day almost everywhere I go.

The positions I see generally espoused on both sides of this issue have elements I agree with and disagree with, and sometimes I see blatantly illogical statements that just boggle my mind. I don't really have much of a plan for this article, but I'll try to go through a variety of statements and see where I end up.

The Republican trend lately has been to allow anyone with no training to carry a concealed weapon. I think this is a bad idea. After personally having gone through a concealed carry course, I feel that everyone who feels the need to carry a concealed weapon should go through at least that level of training and pass a proficiency test. On the flip side, I do think that requirements beyond this are largely unnecessary.

In regards to purchasing guns, I'm not against waiting periods, and I'm not against more stringent background checks. It may also be a good idea for some sort of mental health exam to be required.

Conservatives are correct that criminals don't always follow gun laws. This is blindingly obvious, but it seems that many liberals can't wrap their mind around it. That being said, it is also true that legally purchased weapons are sometimes used to commit crimes.

While mass shootings have been in the news a lot lately, and there's seems to have been an outbreak of them recently, they still account for a very small percentage of murders and violent crimes. They also seem to primarily involve legally purchased weapons, which brings up some of the other issues like stricter background checks and mental health tests.

So the answer many liberals have is to outlaw gun ownership by private citizens. The problem is, this brings us back to the issue of criminals not following gun laws. If you could guarantee that gun violence would drop to zero if guns were outlawed, and if you could guarantee that I would never be placed in a situation where I may be forced to defend myself, my family, or someone else with a gun, then I would be willing to give up my guns. If you could guarantee that someone would never again kick in my front door in the middle of the night, I might be willing to give up my guns.

In the aftermath of the Aurora shooting, I saw comments from conservatives saying that if people in the theater had been carrying guns, then there would have been many fewer victims. This is not necessarily true. This is partly where training requirements for people carrying guns comes in. If there were properly trained people with guns, they would have a much better chance of defending themselves and others, but if you had a theater full of untrained people carrying guns, it could have actually been worse.

And of course liberals had their own things to say about this. They said that it would have been worse if a bunch of people had been carrying guns. That may or may not be true, but that also assumes that if concealed carry laws were looser, a significant percentage of the population would carry guns. This does not appear to actually be the case. Most gun owners have guns for hunting or home defense, and never carry them. So a theater with a couple of people carrying guns would be much more likely to be defended without the collateral damage of a bunch of untrained people carrying guns.

I saw one statement from liberals after the Aurora shooting that really boggled my mind at how illogical it was. Since nobody in the theater defended themselves with a gun, then some were saying that was proof that people don't need guns to defend themselves. One situation where nobody defended themselves with a firearm doesn't mean that there are no situations where people defend themselves with firearms.

I've also heard "that's what police are for." The problem is, police can't be everywhere. When my front door was kicked in, for example, the police were a minimum of 20 minutes out. I was within seconds of having to take care of the issue myself, until the dogs apparently scared the guy away before he actually entered the house. He was long gone by the time the police showed up.

Statistics also show us that cities that have banned handguns have had very little success in actually limiting homicide rates that way, and states that have implemented right-to-carry laws have experienced a drop in homicide rates (although it's unclear how much of that is also due to other laws enacted at similar times). What it does show is that more guns in the hands of private citizens does not necessarily equal more crime. Guns are actually used in self defense significantly more often than This article has what appear to be some well documented statistics and graphs. Wikipedia also has some good articles here and here. Included in those statistics are statistics of just how low on the list of deaths and injuries in the US firearms rank (it's very low).

Basically, I feel like the status quo is not acceptable and we can and should do more to prevent gun crimes. But the knee-jerk reaction of outlawing guns completely is not even possible, nor would it be effective.