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  • Saturday, February 11, 2006


    Guns on Parade

    I came across a couple of facts which surprised me. I can't vouch for the accuracy but I did find them in separate sources of apparent reliability.

    There are approximately 200 million guns in the US. There are approximately a total of 675 million guns in the world. (One source said 600 million, the other 750 million so I'm splitting the difference.) Undefined in this statistic is the definition of "gun". I assume this basically means a firearm usable by a single person, say .50 caliber or less.

    The astonishing thing to me is the idea that almost a third of all the guns in the world are in the US, almost enough to arm every adult citizen. That's a lot of guns.

    I'm not anti-gun. I know how to handle guns safely. I've trained with guns and I'm not afraid of them. That said, and without using the phrase "gun control", it seems a tad excessive to have so many guns around the US.

    I think guns often promote stupidity. People may kill people, not guns, but the access to guns makes the option of using them to settle personal disputes within reach. Perhaps that's a good thing in some Darwinian manner but I don't really think so. Negotiation to reach an equitable solution takes work and patience. Grabbing a gun and pulling a trigger, not so much. The thing is most people reach a point of frustration where the quick fix seems preferable to a lengthy process of working things out. The stupid people often aren't the ones being shot in domestic disputes, they are usually doing the shooting.

    In international relations, the US regularly and predictably uses military force to resolve situations. As far as I can observe, very rarely are these military actions inevitable or the only possible solution. Like using an accessible handgun, the US is often eager to pull out the guns to make a point. It's less a possible option and more a preferred path.

    The whole military/industrial complex is geared to using military force. If the military (and its guns) are not used, it's like buying a new car, putting it in the garage and only driving it around the neighborhood once every couple of months. I don't think that is a very wise use of resources but it serves some sectors of our society very well, thank you for asking.

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