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Let’s Discuss America: Uncontrolled Guns

There is a lot of talk in this country concerning what many of us refer to as “gun control”. There are those who demand tighter restrictions on everything from buying guns and rifles to carrying and using them. Others insist the 2 nd Amendment of our Constitution grants the unfettered right to “bear arms”, some claiming this allows us to have and carry weapons basically wherever and whenever we want.

Unfortunately, those on both sides of the debate, and everyone in between, is wrong in how they are framing the issue. The real problem is not “gun control”, but “uncontrolled guns”. Let’s take a look at some facts.

There are estimated to be over 400 million guns in the United States, including police, the military, and American civilians. Over 393 Million (over 98%) of those guns are in civilian hands, the equivalent of 120 firearms per 100 citizens. These estimates are fairly consistent in articles and reports from both sides of the argument.

Now, get your mind around this estimate—of all those weapons, well over 250 million of them are unregistered and therefore basically untraceable. You can play with those statistics if you like, claiming it is a few million more or a few million less, but the net result remains the same. There is an unregistered weapon available for every adult in this country, which is staggering.

Where does this leave us in our debate over gun control? It should be obvious to any thinking
person that criminals, or those who have criminal intent, are not coming forward to give up their illegal arsenal of weapons. Why would they? An essential element in the thinking of even the most craven criminal is not to get caught. I, therefore, refer to their weapons as “uncontrolled guns”. Police will never get their hands on them unless and until the criminals are apprehended while carrying them, or worse, using them in the course of some crime. And, even after those weapons are taken away, there are millions more out there for use by these lawbreakers.

Given the enormous numbers of these unidentifiable weapons, what purpose is served by making it more difficult for law-abiding, non-criminal Americans to buy guns, or to carry them in order to protect themselves in an increasingly lawless society? Every day, the news carries stories of innocent civilians across the country being shot, carjacked and otherwise assaulted by those carrying weapons about which we do not have a trace. What do the advocates of stricter gun control say about that? Do they have a plan to identify and confiscate those tens of millions of unregistered weapons? Of course not. No viable plan is possible.

Those people who think we can control the spread of violence by limiting the guns owned by lawful members of our society are sadly mistaken. We need strong law enforcement, backed by our local communities. We need zealous prosecutors and judges who will punish violent criminals to the full extent of the law. We need to focus on deterrence, not permissiveness, protecting victims not perpetrators. That is not a racist or gun-crazy view, it is common sense, and it is the only way to stop the crime wave on our streets from increasing, and our fellow citizens from being victimized.

Jeffrey Stephens

Jeffrey S. Stephens, is a political analyst, columnist, and author of the new book The Handler

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