Yes, Guns do Kill People


In the wake of another pointless shooting, I think that it’s time to get to the heart of the problem that plagues America: that guns are a constitutional right, and that they do kill people.

Its time to face the facts. And the numbers. Guns do kill people.

There have been more gun deaths between 1968 and 2011 in civilian America than in every war the country has fought since 1776. To give numbers, 1.4 million deaths to 1.2 million. Now let’s think for a moment. The Americans fought the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and now Iraq over 240 years and in 43 years, there were more gun deaths in civilian life. That’s not just shocking, it’s terrible.

And that’s not the worst of it. In 2011, 11,101 people died from guns in America, which is equivalent to around 30 people a day. This year alone, there have already been around 10,000 gun related deaths in the US (at the time of this writing).

I’m done with numbers now, because I want to go to an argument that I heard people use, and I’ve heard people I know personally use: “Guns don’t kill people, people do. Criminals will always find a way to get their hands to guns (and other weapons). Restricting guns will just prevent people who are law-abiding citizens trying to protect themselves from getting guns. So we should just allow guns.”

I admit that that’s a sloppy version of the argument, and maybe could be better articulated, but that’s about the point I heard. So now I’m going to use chemistry to explain how guns kill people.

When you were a teen (maybe you still are, like me) and you were sitting in a classroom listening to the chemistry teacher talk, did he/she ever talk about catalysts? You know, a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected? Yeah. If you were alive in the ’70s or ’80s, you would have heard about CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons. That was the stuff that was destroying the ozone layer. The point is that they did it so effectively because it was a catalyst, so it just hung around and continued to break ozone down without having much problems on its own. Eventually, CFCs were banned by the Montreal Protocol, and the ozone layer sort of healed, but the damage that was done remained.

Guns are a catalyst. Just think about it for a second. An substance (object) that causes or accelerates a reaction without itself being affected. That sounds like a gun to me, if you consider how many shootings would not have happened had the shooter been a swordsman or a knife wielder instead. Sure, you can still kill someone with those, but it’s much easier to run away and much easier to subdue them. If guns were banned, there certainly would be fewer murders going on.

And here’s a note to all those out there calling for no gun restriction. There are some cases where guns can be used, like in hunting and such, and I understand why people like shooting. But in all, the cons of guns outweigh the pros, and think about this for a second. It’s a thought experiment. Imagine the person you love most in the world. Now imagine hearing that he/she was shot dead in a mass killing spree. Now how do you think about guns? No, I don’t want long, reasoned answers, I want your immediate reaction. You need to remember that the 1.4 million people who died probably had families, friends and loved ones.

Joseph Stalin was one horrible dictator, but he was intelligent. And he once stated, “One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic.” We as humans cannot become callous to death. 1.4 million is not a statistic. It is a group of people whose lives were ended by gun violence. Let’s not forget that.

It’s time guns had their own Montreal Protocol. Guns are more dangerous than probably any chemical we humans can discover. It’s time to change society. I’m not a social scientist, and I’m sure I’ll leave the policy making to the politicians, but I think what I’ve said above makes enough sense for people to realise one thing: yes, guns do kill people.

And that needs to stop.

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