Fayetteville, AR –-(Ammoland.com)- One of the favorite assertions of gun control advocates is that guns are not like cars, fire extinguishers, or swimming pools in that guns are designed to kill, while the other objects have acceptable purposes. This bit of doctrine comes up whenever the point is made that rifles are used in killing fewer times than beatings or that the former number is much smaller than the total of drowning deaths.
There are two key flaws with the assertion that guns are designed to kill. The first is to observe that a gun is a tool to propel a bullet down range. Where that bullet goes is up to the user.
This is not mere sophistry. Take a look at this pistol, a Walther GSP Expert .22:
Does that look like a tool designed with the purpose of ending another life? It probably does to some people, specifically those whose tactical knowledge comes from Hollywood.
Perhaps the problem here is that what blogger Kim du Toit called the Gun Nut Forest is a vast expanse. Learning the subject takes dedication. But those of us who are willing to do the work come to understand that guns are designed—beyond the basic purpose of sending a bullet down range—to make a variety of tasks easier, be they target shooting, hunting, or even collecting, as is illustrated by the guns that come with elegant engraving and fancy cases.
And yes, some guns are designed to be used in fighting and self defense. Note that I didn’t say to kill, and this is not a mere quibble. The goal of a fight is to win—to survive, primarily, but also achieve the desired goal that made the fight necessary. Sometimes, survival is the goal. In other situations, it’s to gain ground or whatnot. But as the the famous rules of a gun fight inform us, the sooner the fight is over, the less shot you get. And the legal situation for civilians defending their lives is that we can use lethal force only so long as a threat to our lives exists, so for us, the purpose of a fighting gun is to bring that threat to an end.
What this all gets at is the question of whether lethal force is ever justified. A pacifist would say no.
That’s an intellectually consistent position to hold, but it’s practicable only so long as the other people in the same environment refrain from violence. Most of us, however, accept that lethal force is a morally acceptable choice at times , even most gun control advocates.
Thus saying that guns are designed to kill is silly. Saying that lethal force is at times justified, but that we have no need for the tools to employ such force makes the concept purely hypothetical. Now typically, gun control supporters will say that they only want to restrict access to guns, rather than imposing an outright ban, and while I have my doubts, the question I’ll pose to them is how many people do they wish to deny the realistic ability to stop a lethal attack.
Are guns designed to kill? Fundamentally, no, and secondarily only sometimes. But even if we answer yes, that is no reason to impose violations on gun rights.
About Greg Camp
Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.