Michael N. Searles

A CRAZY IDEA
 

 

What if only law enforcement officers were permitted to carry a gun? The rest of society would have to depend on the legally authorized institutions for protection. How crazy is that? The idea is so crazy that the Metropolitan Police of the London area was founded in 1829 on the principle of “policing by consent” rather than by force. In these violent times, more than 90 percent of London police officers carry out their daily duties without a gun. When force is needed, they rely on canisters of mace, handcuffs, batons and, on occasion, stun-guns. It is believed that having police armed sends the wrong message to communities that can cause more problems than it solves. As terrorists have attacked civilians and political leaders in the UK, the police that guard Parliament are fully armed with long rifles, wear helmets, and dress in body-armor, but in most instances don’t use their weapons.

The people of the United Kingdom have made a simple decision: They do not want to live in a police state. In the last decade, less than 20 individuals have been killed by the police in the UK in the line of duty. Even when terrible things happen such as a school shooting, people of the UK behave differently. The last school shooting in the UK was in 1996 when a shooter killed 17 people in a Scottish elementary school. Not only did it horrify the country, they took actions. The Dunblane Massacre prompted strict new handgun controls. It was the bereaved parents of the school who activated a change in the law that made private handguns virtually impossible to obtain in most of the UK. As a result, gun deaths are now rare. In 2020, there were just 30 homicides using a gun in England and Wales. Mass shootings are rare with only a handful in the last 35 years. None of these shootings were in schools.

Would Americans give up their guns to lower the death toll in our country? In the story of the Three Little Pigs, the wolf stands at the door of the third little pig’s house and says, “Little pig, little pig, let me in.” The little pig answers, “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.” In 2020, 45,222 people died of gun-related injuries in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How many Americans would have to die to tip the scale? If that number were 100,000 or 1,000,000 would that be enough to say enough is enough? One respondent replied to the question,” what will it take for the United States to give up their guns” with a simple answer: Nothing. He opined, “Do you wish to abdicate your right to self defense?” and argued it would be foolish to abdicate personal responsibility. His last paragraph read, “Our Founding Fathers gave us the right to self determination by giving us the right to defend ourselves. We are the final arbiters of our fate and unlike those who think that just because they disarm we should follow suit, I beg to differ.”

There is a belief held by roughly half of all Americans that a person needs a gun for protection. However, the latest data show that people use guns for self-defense in less than 1 percent of the time. Households with guns have a much higher incidence of being used to kill a member of the family. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 39,773 deaths from firearms in the United States in 2017. That roughly represents 108 gun deaths per day. Of these, about 60% (or about 65 per day) were suicides.

Statistics alone will not convince a gun owner that a weapon in his possession is more likely to do harm than good. Each day, 19 children in the US are either killed or injured by a firearm. Nearly 6,000 are wounded and 1,300 killed each year. While motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for children and adolescents since the 1950s, firearm deaths among children and adolescents increased 29% from 2019 to 2020 and have become the number one cause of death. We are now confronting what stares us in the face. Either the rest of the world is crazy or we are.

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