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Modern civilization was built upon the gun


[A minor debate about gun control broke out in a blogged re-read of a fantasy series I have enjoyed.  The comment below is taken from my contribution to the debate.]

Gun control: Leigh, you're way off base in considering gun control to be the more "civilized" option.  In many ways, the existence of firearms enables civilization.  Consider the saying: "God made man, but Samuel Colt made men equal."  With a firearm, an honest man can face an attacker on terms close to even.  It matters little if he is old and frail, rich or poor, trained or not, noble or serf.  To attack the honest man armed with a firearm is to risk everything on even odds. 

Significantly the odds do not change even for small groups of attackers; a criminal gang is no safer than a lone bandit.  Though such a gang may overpower a man with a firearm, they may not do so without risk to their own members; trading one for one with honest men will shortly reduce the supply of criminals to nothing.

What does this say for the rights of women, whose physical qualities (on average) make it difficult to defend herself on equal terms when attacked by a male criminal?  The right to carry a gun is the right to face a rapist on equal terms, the right to say no and make it stick.  The right to carry a firearm has done more to ensure the equality of women in society than any other single factor, with the possible exception of the right to vote.

Finally, consider what happens when civilization breaks down and must be enforced.  With a sword or a knife held by the defender, an attacker may feel that he has a chance of success.  He may be willing to risk and even to take injury in order to complete his attack.  The result is a bloody melee where neither party escapes unscathed. 

With a firearm the vast majority of defensive uses involve mere threats.  "Freeze or I'll shoot!" leaves no blood on the ground and the police can sort out who was at fault at their leisure.  The threat of instant death often removes any necessity for actual harm, resulting in a civilized resolution of the dispute in a court of law.

I don't consider it hyperbole to state that modern civilization was built upon the gun -- and I consider this to be a very good thing indeed.


This entry was published 2010-09-10 14:02:20.0 by matthew@triggerfinger.org and last updated 2010-09-10 14:02:20.0. [Tweet]

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