I fight the urge almost every week. The urge to write a little something to point out one thinking error or another being spoken by guns rights advocates. Tim Swarens wrote a column in today’s Indianapolis Star that has led to the weekly urge that I fight getting the best of me.
The point of Swarens’ column today is that advocates on both sides of the gun control debate are not doing much to address the problem of violence in our cities. I agree with him. The column largely grew out of a conversation with a guns rights advocate, Rep. Jim Lucas, of Seymour. Rep. Lucas and I could argue for hours about our opposite views on the matter, but today I only want to talk about a couple of them.
While paraphrasing from his conversation with Rep. Lucas, Swarens writes:
“First, we have a lot of dangerous people roaming the streets of Indy carrying guns without a legal right to do so. Another law on the books isn’t likely to stop them.”
Now, the thinking errors in the point are numerous. First, it implies that the lot of “dangerous people” does not include the people carrying guns that DO have a legal right to do so. On the streets of Indianapolis there are plenty of gun carriers that are licensed to carry, who are also dangerous. That license doesn’t make them not dangerous. Further, law abiding gun carriers are only law abiding until they commit the first criminal act with their licensed weapons. Sadly but often, the first criminal act is catastrophic. This is an area of extreme statistical manipulation throughout the gun debate. So extreme, it reduces the debate to the “liar liar pants on fire” level.
Additionally, Swarens’ point above also assumes that a non-carrier like me, should somehow be trusting of licensed gun carriers, or law abiding carriers, simply because of the license. I do not believe that in my downtown Indianapolis neighborhood that my safety is enhanced because large numbers of people I don’t know and don’t care about me have armed themselves. Those gun carriers may have enhanced their own safety (which I will debate another time), but they have absolutely not enhanced mine. Just as guns rights people don’t trust the general public enough to leave their guns at home, I don’t trust ANYONE with a gun on their side designed only to protect themselves. Issuing them a license doesn’t change this one bit.
The sub-headline above Swarens’ column refers to “violence in our cities.” I appreciate Rep. Lucas’ passion for his stance on guns rights and the Second Amendment. However, Seymour and Indianapolis are in different universes on this one. Swarens isn’t writing about violence in Seymour–which is not a “city” by anyone’s definition. Like Rep. Lucas, I once lived in a small town in southern Indiana. But now I hear gunshots at night in my neighborhood. I watch local news in the morning to see if anyone who lives near me was hit the night before. Neither the problems nor the solutions are going to have much in common in these two distinctly different galaxies.
More guns won’t make me more safe in my neighborhood or in my city. Being able to possess a gun lawfully doesn’t equate to one being trustworthy with that gun. And finally, my decision not to carry a gun is, in part, my contribution to my own mantra on gun reduction.
Even with all the challenges our law enforcement community has been facing in recent weeks, I trust them with the guns. I do not trust the random person who can stand up to the exhaustive process of getting that elusive license to carry. The police carry guns for me, not just themselves. And I think my cops would agree that our town would be a better place if there were fewer guns in it, licensed or not.