2012-12-16

#NOGUNS : Will you do something – Give Up Right to Keep and Bear Arms?

To ensure that those children did not die in vain will you voluntarily give up the right to keep and bear arms?


I am a trader and normally I write about trading, markets and investments. But something happened on Friday 14th December 2012 which has affected me deeply. To realise that 26 people, mostly children as young as 6 have lost their life just because someone had suffered a bout of burning rage and he could lay his hands on most sophisticated killing weapons to remove his rage on innocent children, made me shocked and sick.


President Obama made a moving and heartfelt speech. He offered prayers and told we will hug our children a little tighter this evening. But he did not say one thing – we don’t need the guns. America is no stranger to such shootings. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora – we have seen it all unfold in front of our eyes. Each time we react with shock, horror and disgust. Then the debate quickly disintegrates into “No Guns” v/s “We need more guns” and after a while we all forget (or move on as they say thankful that it was not our child or loved one).

America’s love affair with guns is well known. Some say its enshrined in constitution and gives them right to keep and bear arms though I am not sure if the constitution is clear if the right is granted to individuals (v/s a well regulated militia) and what do the “arms” mean – Knife, Baseball bat, Musket, Guns, Automatic Assault Rifle, Machine Gun, Howitzer cannon – where do you draw a line?

Without surprise, the reaction this time on my social media was divided. The initial comments which started coming on my twitter and Google reader subscription were surprisingly pro gun even before the tears were dried as if in preparation of expected of anti gun sentiments. The typical theme of those arguments were:
    • The issue is not more guns but lack of guns. If every one is armed and trained to use firearm, no one will dare point a gun at another.
    • The school should not be gun free zone. The principal could have blown the head off the intruder if only she had an M4 on her.
    • Schools should have armed marshals (like planes these days)
    • Every one should have mandatory firearm training. Every one should be regularly armed.
    • The only way to stop a bad guy with gun is to have a good guy with gun.
    • Guns don’t kill people, people do.
The other theme of arguments can mainly be classified as “practical (or defeatist)”
    • There are already 240 Million guns out there. There is no way they can be removed from circulation.
    • Only people who will have gun after any outright ban would be criminals.
    • No US politician would every support a gun ban or constitutional amendment better define second amendment.
    • We just need to ensure that Assault Rifles don’t fall in the hands of those mentally challenged. Rest is good.
May be later on we can debate the merits and demerit of these arguments but lets first look at the root of all these issues. Guns!

There is undisputed fact that the US has the highest guns per capita. Nearly 90 per 100 resident. But knowing that many individuals I know in US do not own guns, it could very well be that typical gun owners own multiple guns. US is not at top on firearms related deaths at about 4 homicides per 100,000 population. The gun culture varies from country to country – talking about developed world. In UK even the police does not regularly carry firearms. On one extreme is Switzerland which has very high guns per capita but still a very low gun crime rate, an argument sometime used by Pro Guns to say that there is no link between guns and deaths. On the other extreme is Japan – land without guns.

Which brings to the fundamental question – do you need Guns in the US? And what do you need it for? Opinion is widely divided here but I would be happy to hear via comments what do you use the guns for?
    • Do you feel safe? There is no established link of lack of crime in US towards gun owners in US. We don’t keep guns in UK but we feel as safe (if not more) compared to US.
    • Do you use it for hunting/sports? Can that need be resolved by keeping the guns in a shooting range instead of home?
    • Do you regularly carry a firearm? Have you ever had a need to use a firearm for self defence? What were the circumstances? Last time I used a firearm was to shoot some clay pigeons in a shooting range none of those was attacking me.
Simple mathematics say that probability of events like Sandy Hook = Probability of finding a lunatic * Probability of finding a gun nearby. Now we might not be able to do much about first but you can reduce the overall probability a lot simply by reducing the number of guns and therefore the probability of finding a gun. Switzerland model may not work for US given the socio economic differences but may be a UK or Japan model can work. Remember that Sandy Hook/Columbine/Virginia Tech were not committed by seasoned criminals BUT lone/deranged individuals who were never suspected of being capable of committing such crimes. Remove the guns from the equation and the severity of such crimes go down drastically.

And coming to fundamental question.

Would you be prepared to give up the right to keep and bear arms voluntarily? Can you stand up and say I do not need guns. Can you say I and my family can easily live our lives (possibly happily) without a gun in our household? Can you say that may be if there were reduced guns in neighbourhood (in a real world there is no need for a suburban teacher to hold 3-4 assault rifles at her home) those children would still be alive this Christmas.

Do the right thing. Don’t throw away the memories of those whose lives were taken unnecessarily like a used Christmas tree. Keep those memories alive and think what could have prevented this – the root cause not patch work.

Let me know via comments, twitter or Facebook.

Meanwhile stay safe and hope its not repeated though odds in current circumstances are staked against it.