The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has incited vigorous debate about the problem of gun crime, in schools especially. Lawmakers and citizens have proposed arming teachers (or at least, not forbidding them from protecting themselves while at school), expanding mental health care, implementing “gun violence restraining orders,” or installing armed guards.
The other side of the aisle has focused their debate exclusively on a single means: restricting access to guns. This obsession is unfortunate, since outlawing firearms has done nothing to earn the name “gun control.” Banning guns is an act of futility, arguably the most impotent action ever undertaken by humanity—except for all other government bans, of course.
A Legacy of Failure
Let’s recall that our 18th Amendment prohibited alcoholic beverages nationwide. It went into effect in January of 1920. It was not repealed until 1933. That means that the “Roaring 20’s”—that era notorious for moonshine, bathtub gin, speakeasies, The Great Gatsby, and so on—took place under the auspices of the disapproval of the American government.
So much for “liquor control.” Other drugs have left comparable legacies. Even exempting marijuana due to the relative lack of enforcement, the track record does not inspire confidence. In 2016, more than 15,000 people in America died from heroin. Heroin is illegal. 10,000 more died from cocaine—also illegal. Those are just the numbers of overdoses. “Drug control” is not in fact that effective.
One might imagine that firearms, being mechanical in nature, would be easier to successfully “prohibit.” But mankind’s failure there too is already evident in the United Kingdom, where guns are effectively illegal. (The average policeman in Great Britain does not even carry a firearm. Still Britain’s annual gun crimes number in the thousands.
Too Slippery to Control
These issues would only be more intractable in America. Approximately one third of American adults own firearms, making the thought of banning them inauspicious to begin with. Great Britain, additionally, is an island; combined with Ireland, they amass about 93,000 square miles of jurisdiction. America is more than 3,000,000 square miles in size, with extensive borders with Mexico, Canada, and (by water) Russia. There’s no need to speculate on whether strict gun bans mean fewer guns—or, more accurately, less crime. One only needs to look at the handiwork of overregulation in Chicago, New York City, or Baltimore to see that just because elected representatives forbid it, does not make it so.
Guns are too slippery for the government to control. That is not my preference; it is a harsh reality. It has proven itself time and again, and every vote cast ignoring that truth is an invitation for needless pain and suffering to haunt the innocent. Gun laws that are passed will be obeyed by those who obey laws—not the criminals we are trying to thwart.