I have little first hand knowledge one way or another about the issue of guns, but I do have a simple point to make. I spent most of my life in Canada where there is simply no gun problem. People own them, but they are pretty much strictly for hunting (i.e., defending your property in Canada with a gun is a laughable idea; it would never come up.) That said, the first time I ever saw someone with a real gun, was when I saw a policeman with a shot gun entering a store, I suppose to neutralize a situation.
But I reiterate, Canada does not have a gun problem. That's because people basically don't own guns. Its strictly a hunting thing. (In Canada, you are basically a few hours away from a hunting ground, no matter where you are.) Similarly, in Britain (besides the IRA stuff) guns are not a problem. And a criminal in Canada who does have his hands on a gun is either using a rifle or obtained it from the US (most cities in Canada are also only a few hours away from the Canadian/US border.)
But in the US, guns are a problem. Guns are a quick and easy way for bank robbers to get what they want. They are a means for establishing authority and a status symbol in dangerous youth gangs. They are a way for psychologically disturbed people to carry out their deluded manifestos. Guns are associated with crime in the US, simple as that.
After all, think about it. What is a gun? Its an incredibly efficient killing device. Very few people know how to use a gun to only wound somebody (that would be the police). If violent criminals had no access to guns, what would their alternative be for carrying out their violent agendas? A baseball bat? That requires that that criminal can catch the victim and is strong and skillful enough not to have the bat taken from them. A knife? Again, they have to catch the victim and be prepared to stab them multiple times to ensure death; a very messy proposition.
With a gun its, aim, shoot, and you're done; its literally a point and click interface for killing. Its terrifyingly efficient. Guns *do* kill people. Because without guns, those same people have a greater chance of failing to kill or simply never attempting it.
But what about the second amendment? The second amendment is obsolete. The people who wrote it did not realize that there could be such a thing as an automatic weapon with kevlar piercing bullets. They also did not imagine that parents would not always be so dilligent as to be able to alway keep guns away from their children or their neighbor's children. That issue about British soldiers arriving to commandeer or otherwise pillage an American town is somewhat dated as well.
The only attempts, thus far, that have been made to raise a militia to oppose government tyrrany have been things like the Waco Texas and the Montana Freeman incidents. Neither would have been possible without the availability of guns.
In Canada, the police force carries a lot of weight and authority. That's bacause the general populace knows the cops are armed, and know how to use a gun and they don't. This is just fine because burglars and robbers don't have guns either. In the US? In particularly bad neighborhoods, police have basically no authority and are fearful of their own lives.
What about defending your home? Who would you rather have defending your home? An empowered policement, or yourself? The point is, trying to defend your property with a gun is a dangerous proposition that's easier said than done. You hear a bump in the night, its dark, you see something move towards you, to you shoot. But just what did you just shoot at?
No police force in the US recommends vigilante defence against robbers or violent criminals. And there's a good reason for it. It represents nothing more than an escalation in urban violence to them. It means if a cop wants to arrest someone, they have the extra burdon of worrying if the suspect has a gun or not. What if they have a bat or a knife? Irrelevant, because they have a gun. With the general availability of guns in the US, the police don't have that advantage, and it simply makes them less effective.
Update John Lydic has written to me with an opposing point of view:
"You seem to think that guns should be the purview of the government, but at the bottom of [your opinion's] page you have numerous links to articles about government, law enforcement and criminal justice system failures and abuses. IMO any state where the police are the only ones with guns, is by definition a police state."
(1) I obviously don't claim the government is perfect, and that they being the only ones with guns is not a perfect solution. Further, a police force would tend to be isolated from the corruption as other government institutions such as prisons, the CIA/FBI/NSA, the political leaders and so on. I have no reason to believe that the police being the only people armed with guns would suddenly become a very repressive entity.
(2) A "police state" is very suggestive of a certain kind of controlling behavior on the part of law enforcement under control of the government. However, as I said, I've lived in Canada for a good long time, and there was nothing repressive about the cops up there at all. I really don't buy this argument and I don't think anyone else who has lived in Canada or Britain would buy it either.
In support of the second amendment he continues:
As Jefferson stated, "The tree of liberty must be watered periodically with the blood of tyrants and patriots alike. It is its natural manure." Or as one of the leaders of the French Revolution Bertrand Barere de Vieuzac stated it "The tree of liberty only grows when watered by the blood of tyrants."
So the general populace of the United States is supposed to rise up and overthrow the tyrannical US government? This has been tried twice as alluded to above, and not-withstanding that they could not garner support from the general populace, the upshot, at least in the WACO case, is it caused the pointless deaths of numerous people.
I mean is the second amendment basically saying "The US citizens might need to revolt against the government, so here's our blessing you to go ahead and try to do that"? Revolution is not borne of following the rules of the previous government. If the people rightly want to overthrow the US government, they will obtain means by which to do so irrespective of the current government's laws -- that's what history teaches us. The two greatest examples in modern time are the Soviet Union and India (from British Rule) where the toppling of an oppressive government was enacted irrespective of laws about guns.
They both understood the potentially dark side of a government run amok. The US and Canada both currently enjoy relatively benign governments at the moment, but I don't think we should ever be lulled into thinking that "it can't happen here".
But as I claimed above, the availability of guns is not even relevant to this. It was a "quick fix" back in the days when the american constitution was written because back then a sufficiently large enough state which opposed the government could have easily raise a militia from this premise (hence the civil war.) The fact is, in modern times, this will not work. You and your band of buddies have guns? Fine, the government comes in with tanks. We all saw a full execution of this with WACO.
I suspect there were Japanese Americans who thought that as they were being moved to interment camps during WW II.
The constitutional availability of guns did not help them.
I for one don't want to rely on "An empowered policement" as my first line of defense. A 911 call here bring the police to your home in an average of 15 minutes. That's simply to long to wait when a thug is breaking in my door. Police, at least in the US act more as historians, taking the facts after the crime has been committed.
Lobbying for a more responsive police force is independent of the issue of whether or not you have a gun available to you. Vigilante activities are not a serious deterrent or in any way a reliable or desirable alternative to a police force.
If you check the stats, you'll see that crimes like home invasion have been on the rise in Canada also. Our biggest problem isn't the number of guns (<0.4% of all guns are used in crime), but a justice system that refuses to incarcerate the bad guys long enough to keep the rest of us safe from them.
Your abuse of statistics will not sway me. I have a master degree in mathematics -- I assure you I am not as innumerate as you appear to be. Point statistics like these mean absolutely nothing. You have not stated *how much* the rise in home invasion is, or what have been the factors that have contributed to this. You similarly have not presented the percentage of crimes assisted by guns, but rather the percentage of guns that assist a crime. The former statistic would be interesting, the later (which you present) is almost non-sequitor.