At Grady's Championship Deli, located at 44th and Keystone (east side of Keystone Avenue, just north of Fall Creek Parkway) at 11 a.m. we will stream "live" a discussion about gun rights. My position is what some (many?) in this country would view as extreme. I believe there should be no private ownership of guns. Our guest panelists will be Andrew Kirch, well-known amongst those of the Indy blogosphere as a conservative advocate, and a very passionate advocate of gun "rights." Also, Michael Z. Williamson, who is a writer (novelist), former member of the United States Air Force, and, as he describes himself, fiscal conservative and social progressive, will participate. He has a booth at the Indy 1500 gun show just down Fall Creek Parkway from the deli, so if his business is brisk, we might have to Skype him onto The Show.
There are many reasons for private ownership of guns. A few we immediately can dispense. One reason is that a person wants to be a "hit" man. Another is that a person has a really serious grudge against someone else. Yet another is that the person has a great many frustrations with life and wants to take out a lot of people. These reasons, I believe most would agree, are not reasons beneficial to the rest of society, nor particularly concepts of liberty that are in harmony with the liberty of others.
That brings me to the four main categories of reasons people privately own guns. First is for fun. Some people like to blow away beer cans. Others like to shoot at formally-manufactured targets on ranges. Another aspect of ownership of a firearm for "fun" lies in hunting. When deer season opens up, Bambi and her many cousins appear on fenders around the country. Target shooting contests and hunting for sport have histories that pre-date the Framers' meeting in Philly during the summer of 1787 to draft the Constitution (and, later, the Bill of Rights of which the Second Amendment was a part). These activities have played a part in the country's history.
A second reason for private ownership of firearms is to hunt for subsistence. This reason goes back probably to the first days after which the first gun was invented. Some people hunt for subsistence today. I have not checked polling research, but I would say there only is a small percentage of people who subsist from hunting. Certainly that would be the case in the inner city. Also, people do not hunt with semi-automatic assault weapons. Not much of Bambi is left after 30 rounds from a Bushmaster.
A third reason for private ownership is defense of persons. I include in this category private companies that operate as bodyguards or as guards of banks or armored cars. Within the home, this category of private ownership has proven to be counter-productive. It is far more likely that a person who owns a firearm will himself or herself be harmed by it, or that a member of the household will be harmed by it, than that the firearm will be used to successfully fend off an attack. A handgun is easier to wield and fire and harm someone than is a knife. (Perhaps Mr. Williamson will give us some insight on this topic on Saturday, since he also has expertise in knives.) Domestic disputes more readily end up as homicides when guns are involved than when someone uses a knife. As for the banks and armored cars, there are class-distinction arguments to be made. (What---only the rich get protection?) Banks and security companies are far less likely to be burglarized than the common home. Burglars generally do not like to have guns "on" them when they break into a dwelling. On the other hand, as I have written before in this blog, they love firearms to steal. Burglars don't need a fence to sell firearms they steal. If you want to make your home a target for burglars, let people know you own one or more handguns.
A fourth reason to own firearms is as a check against the tyranny of government. If government becomes too powerful, we need to grab our rifles, as did the Minutemen, and head out the door and join together on the Village Green to confront the forces of oppression. There are a few points I would make as to why this reason is untenable. Mainly, it has to do with technology. The United States government has tanks, drones, advanced fighter jets, and all sorts of other armaments with which to quell rebellion. Another point is that we are supposed to be a republic. If government has become so onerous, people should organize for votes. After all, if people are not capable of organization on that level, how well will they organize in a fight against the central government? I will add more points to this category of reasons on Saturday.
Ultimately we need to look at when the Second Amendment was written and why people felt the need for firearms to be mentioned in the Bill of Rights. We then have to look at the costs of firearms today and weigh those costs against the benefits. I have written before that when we employ a cost-benefit analysis with liberty, liberty usually loses. Of course, one could argue that was kind of the point Thomas Hobbes addressed when he hypothesized about reasons people join together as a governed body.
There have been a lot of shows on recently about gun "rights" and gun violence. Very few have involved interchange between those who advocate restrictions on private ownership of guns and those who argue for protection of that private ownership. The Show was started so that we can have discussions on just such controversial topics. If you are on your way to the gun show, stop off at Grady's Championship Deli, just east of the Fairgrounds and north of Fall Creek on the east side of Keystone. We start at 11 a.m. This should be fun.