© Josh Sager – October 2013
If the NRA has clear messaging on anything, it is their belief that the “only thing which stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
In virtually every recent gun policy debate, anti-gun control groups have made the argument that the USA would be safer, if only people had more guns and were allowed to carry them in more places. These people support the “right” to carry guns in bars, schools, movie theaters, churches, sports stadiums, restaurants, playgrounds and every other conceivable place where a mass-shooting could start—essentially every public gathering place in the USA.
This push to arm more Americans is cloaked in the language of self-defense, with the proponents arguing that armed citizens will be able to defend themselves from criminals, just as long as their gun rights are in no way limited.
While pushing to promote this increased gun ownership, these gun groups have fought tooth and nail against any new gun regulations and have even sought to repeal the meager regulations which are currently on the books. Unfortunately, this deregulation of guns has made it incredibly easy for criminals to buy guns (ex. at gun shows or online), and very difficult for authorities to stop the flow of guns to criminals.
Gun Show by CheaperThanDirt
The Arms Race
The NRA and its gun-absolutist cohorts have set up a domestic arms race: They promote laws that make it easy for criminals to get guns and then use the threat of armed criminals to persuade law-abiding citizens into buying guns for self-defense—to complete the cycle, these groups then use law-abiding citizens’ fear of not being able to defend themselves in order to convince them to support the very deregulation which made the problem in the first place.
This constantly escalating domestic arms race leads to huge profits for the people who make the guns but results in the USA being flooded with dangerous weapons. The gun manufacturers make money regardless of whether the person buying a gun is an offense-minded criminal or a defense-minded law-abiding citizen. In fact, the economic interests of gun manufacturers lie with both types of people purchasing their product and adding to their profits.
By creating increased demand for their goods on both sides of the law and blocking any attempts to prevent criminals from buying weapons—the NRA even fights to let accused terrorists buy guns—the gun industry ensures that there is always somebody looking to buy a gun.
Photo and Quote from the movie “Lord of War”
If one is to disregard morality and simple human decency in pursuit of profits, this business strategy is extremely effective and well-designed—they have maximized the number of people who are buying guns without having to admit to the fact that they are promoting the problem which people are all afraid of.
This situation is analogous to an arms manufacturer selling weapons to both a peaceful democracy and an autocracy with a history of aggression (ex. South and North Korea, respectively). In order to increase their business, this arms manufacturer could sell weapons to the autocracy under the table, then go to the democracy and point out that their violent neighbor is getting enough weapons to be a threat. Because of this threat, the democracy would be compelled to buy weapons in order to balance the threat of their law-less neighbor.
If the international community tried to stop this arms race and limit the flow of weapons, the arms manufacturer could scare the democracy into opposing these efforts—after all, the more peaceful country wants weapons to defend itself and is unlikely to trust its lawless neighbor to obey international law (only law-abiding countries obey weapons limits). This fear causes the democracy to unintentionally protect the weapons manufacturers’ ability to keep supplying weapons to the autocracy.
At this point, guns have flooded the USA and there is no easy or quick solution to solve the problems caused by this arms race. Even if no more guns are sold, there are still over 88 guns for every 100 Americans, and these weapons will remain functional for years to come.
That said, immediately increasing limitations on who can buy a gun and tracking the guns which are sold would start to choke down on the illegal gun markets in the USA. By imposing background checks, training and mandatory insurance on new gun buyers, it is possible to ensure that fewer criminals are able to buy guns directly. Indirect gun sales (ex. straw buyers) can be slowed by mandating registration of gun serial numbers and firing impressions, so that any gun that is used in a crime can be traced.
Once the tide of new guns into the market is slowed, then a gradual process of unregistered firearm attrition must begin. Through buybacks, police confiscations of guns used in crimes, and other gun-collection programs, the numbers of loose guns in the United States will gradually fall (supply is restricted and guns are being removed from the market).
Buyback Photo from Kevin Oliver of KCRA
There will be intense push-back against this type of program, but it is the only way to end the domestic arms race. Eventually—once the US’s gun murder rate begins to look like the rest of the developed world’s—the fear of armed criminals will fall and the demand for weapons by law-abiding citizens will decrease to sustainable levels. At this point, the domestic arms race will have ended, and Americans will finally stop having to worry about whether they will be the next victim of the next inevitable mass shooting.