I once had no particular stake on either side, but I did read an excellent article in the Brown Journal of World Affairs by David Kopel that made an amazing case at least for the futility of international gun trafficking controls, which got me thinking about this all. I can only find it here in PDF, unfortunately. I’d recommend reading it. It makes some good points. It also tells the interesting story of Bougainville. While I don’t think a small island in the south pacific makes exactly the best case study to analyze the effects of gun control, it’s still interesting.
To me, gun control is the ultimate exercise of treating the symptom instead of treating the cause. The problem is not that we have lots of people killing eachother with guns. The problem is that we have lots of people killing eachother. This is something I would hope most gun control opponents would agree with me on. But, ironically, I think it’s Bowling for Columbine that made this point very well, which I have discussed before.
When it comes to my solutions to the “people killing eachother” problem, though, my opinions tend to digress from most (but not all) gun control opponents. Most gun control opponents are also generally fiercely libertarian and sometimes rather conservative. This is unfortunate, because most conservatives will quickly dismiss (or ignore) the idea that there are structural social forces bearing down on the areas (inner-city ghettos, for example) that are hotspots of violence and turmoil. However this assumption is fundamental to any ideas I have of a possible solution. Remove these structural forces and improve the qualify of life of these people and the problem will solve itself.
Conservatives want to eliminate social aid programs from the government, leaving it to community-based charity groups. But if there’s one area in this country that is a shining example of the failure of community to work against staggering structural forces, it’s the inner-city. Has there ever existed a group of people with less sense of identity, esteem, or options? How do we help them? How do we give them options? How do we diffuse the overcrowded pressure-cooker that is the inner-city?
These (among others) are questions that need to be answered in order to address America’s problem with violence, not whether or not we should ban guns.