As someone who has lived in four different countries and traveled to several others over the last eleven years, I can tell you that no people who I have encountered continually demand that their government institutions solve every problem imaginable like Americans do. From the dangers of electric garage doors to the eradication of bed bugs, there seems to be nothing that Washington isn’t charged with fixing.
Then, there are those horrific incidents of violence perpetrated by a mentally unstable person that sends many Americans into a tizzy and raises their collective voices for Washington to do something urgently. Cries of, “this can never happen again”, call out for new laws and measures to prevent future tragedies.
And so, we have the latest episode of hysterics over the tragedy that was the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings.
To be sure, whenever any young children lose their lives it is a tragedy. Whether they are in the classrooms of America’s schools, in cars on America’s streets, or collateral damage from an American drone strike over Pakistan, the loss of the young and innocent hits each of us where we live.
But, in the case of the reaction to the latest tragedy, the last thing Washington should do is pass any new gun control legislation including legislation banning so-called “assault rifles”
A little perspective is needed to understand why. Less than 400 people a year are killed with rifles of all kinds. According to FBI numbers from 2005 to 2011, hammers and clubs killed more people than rifles in America. Logically then, shouldn’t hammers and clubs be banned before rifles? At the very least, shouldn’t a license be required to own one? Furthermore, why would anyone but construction contractors need to own sledge hammers? Are they not the hammer equivalent to an assault rifle? Could you imagine going to Lowes to purchase a hammer and having to undergo a background check and a seven day waiting period? Yet, this is the conversation our leaders are having about rifles, which again, kill fewer people than hammers and clubs each year.
But there is more. America has not experienced a direct danger from a foreign adversary since the War of 1812 (One could argue that Pearl Harbor was about the Japanese only wanting to cripple our Pacific fleet to allow Her free rein over the islands of the Pacific Ocean). Yet we have sent millions of young people into harm’s way to “defend” our freedom and have lost hundreds of thousands doing so. Were the lives of those young people less worthy than the youth lost at Sandy Hook? – Of course not. But, our leaders tell us that freedom has costs and the hundreds of thousands of young men and women that gave their lives “defending” our freedom is a large part of that cost.
So, I submit to you that those twenty children who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary are also a part of the cost of defending freedom. At the end of the day, individuals have a natural right to self-defense. They have a right to defend themselves against criminals, foreign invaders, and their own government if it becomes tyrannical enough. Why should law-abiding citizens be asked to unilaterally disarm because a deranged individual used a gun to murder children? It is nonsensical.
Besides, we have tried prohibition before, first with booze in the 1920s and currently with drugs. It did not prevent people from getting a drink or a joint. Why would we think it would be different with guns?
Lastly, children die in car accidents, drown in bathtubs, and are poisoned by ingesting prescription drugs all the time. Does this warrant the banning of these items? Of course not, because they are vitally important to modern life just like the means to protect oneself is.
Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina