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.
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
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
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
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.
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