What’s the solution to gun violence? More guns! Or at least this seems to be the rather counterintuitive response society has adopted in the wake of recent tragedies. Since the tragic slaughter of innocent children in Newtown, Connecticut, states have passed more measures expanding rather than restricting the right to carry firearms. Of the bills sent to a governor’s desk, 25 weaken gun laws, 8 strengthen them, and 5 were neutral. (Nicas & Palazzolo, 2013) One of the most concerning aspects of this has been the increase in the number of people carrying concealed weapons. At last count, Florida was granting 15,000 new gun carry permits every month. (Solotaroff, 2013)

Loosening the restrictions on concealed weapons

A number of states have passed laws abolishing what used to be gun-free zones. In October of 2015, the Michigan State Senate approved legislation that allows people to carry concealed weapons into schools, day cares, and other places that were formerly off-limits. (USA Today, 10-16-2015, p. 4A) Mississippi has removed most of the exceptions to its concealed weapons law, allowing people to take guns into sporting events, bars, churches, schools, colleges, and other previously gun-free zones. Also in October 2015, Texas joined 7 other states (Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin) that allow concealed weapons on college campuses. (Jervis, 10-19-2015) Twenty-three other states leave that decision up to the college or university. Only 19 states ban guns on campus outright. About a dozen states have laws on the books that strip employers and companies of the right to be gun-free, essentially allowing gun rights to circumvent property rights. Summarizing this pattern of loosening gun restrictions, Tim Dickinson writes, “In 1987, only 10 states had ‘right-to-carry’ laws permitting citizens to pack heat. By 2010, the NRA celebrated its efforts in converting the 40th state.” (Dickinson, 2013A, p. 48)

Worse yet, some states have decided to abandon the requirements for concealed weapons permits altogether. As of writing, 4 states (Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska and Vermont) had already given citizens free reign to carry concealed weapons wherever they please, and a dozen more states were considering laws that would eliminate the need for concealed weapons permits – Colorado, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia. (Ellis, 3-7-2012) Meaning anybody and everybody who owns a legal firearm can tote it around wherever they go. That’s a lot of extra guns in circulation.

In the town of Nelson, Georgia, the city council passed a law they dubbed the “Family Protection Ordinance” which requires all homes to own guns. Not only is such an ordinance blatantly unconstitutional, but the premise is absurd. They might as well pass a law requiring people to keep untamed, man-eating tigers in their home and call it by the same name. Sixty-one-year old councilman Jackie Jarrett says he voted for the ordinance to send a message to the federal government: “We don’t appreciate them doing away with our second Amendment rights.” (McWhirter, 2013) People like Jackie need to pull their head out of their nether regions and look around: Nobody is trying to ban guns. We’re just sick of people like you trying to cram your dangerous delusions down everyone else’s throat, and jeopardizing community safety in the process.

Country

Guns Per 100 People

Gun Homicide Rate

(per 100,00 people)

United States

88

2.97 to 3.2

Canada

31.3

0.1

Norway

30.8

0..5

Australia

15

0.14

United Kingdom

6

0.07

Japan

0.6

0

 

Some people have taken an even more stupefying tactic. In 2013, Missouri’s response to gun violence was to propose universal weapons education for first graders. Yet the ultimate prize for stupidity goes to Arizona State Senator Karen Johnson, who tried to pass a law allowing kindergartners and grade school students to carry concealed weapons to class. “I feel like our kindergartners are sitting there like sitting ducks,” she says. (News Week, 3-17-2008, p. 27)

As Joe Klein writes: “gun laws have steadily grown more insane. Right now, the National Rifle Association is on the cusp of another bloody triumph, the so-called National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act, which could force gun-control states like New York and California to respect the ‘right’ of citizens from the fever swamps of Florida to tote their weapons around Times Square and downtown Los Angeles.” (Klein, 2012) The gun lobby has been able to do this not just in spite of tragedies like that which happened in Newtown, but precisely because of them. They’ve been able to repackage the constant onslaught of gun tragedies into the idea that more guns are needed in order to keep us safe. Let’s examine whether this idea has any merit.