Social Question

azlotto's avatar

Guns don't kill people - people kill people...What do you think?

Asked by azlotto (2451points) December 13th, 2009
63 responses
“Great Question” (11points)

I think the statement is true.

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TexasDude's avatar

Guns are mechanical, inanimate objects with no sense of morality or good and evil. They only do what the operator makes them do. So therefore, your statement is true.

anon's avatar

It’s easier to kill someone with a gun though.

absalom's avatar

It certainly facilitates the act, though, don’t you think?

Edit: @anon beat me to it! >:O

Jadey's avatar

I know many of the pedants go on about the technical inaccuracy of that statement – but I am not one of them. I agree.

People make the decision to hold the gun, to pull the trigger, to do something which may (or may not) result in the death of a person. People kill people.

eeveegurl's avatar

So in the case of a little kid that happened to be playing with a gun and shoots him/herself (or actually, someone else, for this matter), you’re saying that it’s the parents’ fault for leaving the gun around?

(Just trying to clarify)

Zacky's avatar

I always thought that the bullets killed people.

dpworkin's avatar

Unrestrained access to overpowered weaponry is bad policy. I say this from the point of view of a very determined 2nd Amendment advocate. I like my guns and I have fought for the right to keep them.

anon's avatar

@absalom But you put it much more eloquently.

_Jade_'s avatar

Technically, it is a true statement. A gun, in of itself, harms no one. It takes the actions of a person to cause the death of themselves or another.

Harp's avatar

“People with guns kill more easily than people without guns”

HasntBeen's avatar

The question is a fallacy of excluded middle: it attempts to force the answers into simplistic “yes” or “no”, without having first demonstrated that there is no middle ground. It’s “pretending there is no middle”.

Most things in life exist because the right combination of conditions are present. In this case, humans bring the hostility and bad judgment, and guns bring the destructive power. Put the two together, and you get gun violence. Take either away, and you don’t have gun violence.

TexasDude's avatar

…and people without guns can’t defend themselves against the people who do have them.

SoulSearcher's avatar

The bullet actually kills, but it does take a person to pull the trigger

fireinthepriory's avatar

The problem with guns is not necessarily that they enable killing. They do, but so do knives. The problem with guns is that they take away the inherent violence in killing. Killing becomes pulling a trigger. Have you ever been angry enough to stab someone to death? To strange someone to death? Probably not. But have you ever, in a moment, been so angry that if you’d had a gun in your hand, you might have pointed it at that other person and pulled the trigger? It’s a lot easier to understand that happening in a moment of blind rage. That is why I think that guns kill people.

SoulSearcher's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard True, I would rather have a gun to at least level the playing field.

absalom's avatar

Shucks, @anon, thanks. Eloquence don’t count for much though. :]

jerv's avatar

Guns don’t kill people, sucking chest wounds kill people.

While @fireinthepriory raises a good point, our society now is desensitized to the point where many could stab, bludgeon, or otherwise kill somebody without a firearm and have no more remorse (or possibly even comprehension) than a 4-year-old.

UScitizen's avatar

Violent feral beasts can use a variety of tools to perpetrate their evil. Guns may be only one of the tools.

Ivy's avatar

I think the gun helps people kill people.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

I think it can be true for sure. But, I still think if people didn’t have guns in their possession, there would be a lot less shootings .. intentional or accidental.

jerv's avatar

@ABJustPlainBarb Sorrry, but last I checked, NH had a lower per capita rate of firearm-related violence and deaths (including accidents) than Japan. Compare the gun laws in those two places and see what you think then.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

True,of course :)

missingbite's avatar

The biggest problem in the US is the lack of gun education. Too many people pick up guns and carry them without having formal training. I was raised with guns. Learned to shoot at a VERY young age. I have been angry at things many times and never thought of using a gun as anger management. I also carry a handgun every day of my life. No one knows I have it on me and unless I need it and I hope they never will.

A 16 year old boy in Chicago was recently killed by a group of kids with a large board. I didn’t hear anyone calling for a registration of bats or wanting to sue the manufacturer of the board.

If someone is intent on killing another person, they will. Could be with a gun, baseball bat, knife, rope, et cetera.

spacemonkey's avatar

i saw a shirt once that said “guns don’t kill people,I kill people”

jerv's avatar

@missingbite Agreed. Even at age 4, I was taught that guns are not toys and you should not aim them at anything/anyone that you are not prepared to destroy.

dalepetrie's avatar

“Guns don’t kill people…people kill people.” That’s a nice slogan. it’s something you print on bumper stickers and T- shirts, and it’s based on a very true idea….guns do not have sentience, and therefore lack the ability to have intent, be it intent to kill or intent to do good. But the slogan is little more than a platitude based on specious reasoning, it reasons that without intent, there can not be culpability. This of course simply is not true, after all, IF a gun were to malfunction and discharge without the aid of any living being operating it, one would have no choice but to fault the inanimate object.

The fact is, this slogan illustrates a good, important and true point…guns are simply tools, and like any other tool…a knife, a sledgehammer, a chainsaw…it has an intended purpose, but could be used to murder a human being if another human being were operating the tool with the intent of so doing. As such, I undeniably agree with the underlying argument that we should not simply make guns illegal, any more than we should make any other blunt or sharp object illegal.

However, this slogan can also be taken too far in support of the advocacy of gun availability. Yes, a rational, sane person, who is not prone to acting out violently to fits of irrational rage, when properly trained on proper gun use and storage, should be allowed to purchase or own a firearm of any type which has a potential rational or reasonable utility. That is to say, there’s really no reason for example that a person would rationally or reasonably need an automatic weapon capable of spraying a pattern of bullets in a general direction…there is no reasonable or rational purpose for which such a firearm could be needed which could not be satisfied by a semi-automatic weapon.

Having said that, I think it’s important to realize that certain people should not be allowed to possess weapons, because even though it is that person who would bring about another person’s death via usage of that tool, it is simply a matter of public safety to make it as difficult as possible for such a person to bring about the death of another. If it requires incarceration to keep such a person from killing, we do that, but if we suspect that a person might be expected to be unable to stop himself from pulling a trigger, but might not be able to physically stab someone, then why should we allow him the tools to allow him easy access to the death he would choose to bring upon another individual?

And certainly to completely say that guns have no part in the death of those killed by gunshot wounds is a fallacy. Many people feel they should have a gun in their house for protection when really there are far more occurrences of accidental death brought on by the use of guns than there are of people breaking into a stranger’s house and murdering them. Owning a gun for “self defense” is going to be for the overwhelming majority of people who do so, completely unnecessary. And furthermore, did you know that a gun in the home is 26 times more likely to kill someone IN the household than it is to kill an intruder? This is because home invasions are very rare, and accidents involving guns are not nearly as rare.

Fact is, people die every single day, resulting from wounds created by a bullet discharged by a gun when the person who brought about the discharge of the gun had no intention of killing the person who ultimately dies. Ergo, if that person, be he negligent, be he clumsy, be he someone who is prone to overreaction, would not have “killed people” without a gun.

So, the real issue is far more complex than can be printed on a bumper sticker, and it has more to do with keeping guns out of the hands of people who are not capable of handling them safely and responsibly, and making sure that everyone else is aware of the responsibilities and dangers of gun ownership. So in short, though I agree with the logical aspects of this statement, I think by and large it’s wrong.

wundayatta's avatar

The people with guns kill a lot more people than the people without guns.

davidk's avatar

I suspect that people will find this interesting:

“In 2005, 56 prisoners were murdered. There are roughly 2 million inmates held in state prisons, meaning that the homicide rate per 100,000 prisoners last year was only 2.8. That number is less than half the rate of New York City (6.6 per 100,000) and an order of magnitude lower than Baltimore (42 per 100,000). Indeed, of the 66 largest cities in the United States, only El Paso, Tex. and Honolulu, Hawaii have lower homicide rates than the state prisons.”

This quote is from a New York Times article by STEVEN D. LEVITT.

The safest place in the US, despite being filled with violent criminals, is the US State Pen system. No guns there, obviously.

So, I suppose that those who are for more strict gun control laws, might be tempted to use this stat to support their opinion. On the other hand, liberty is a risky proposition, isn’t it? Would the anti-Second Amendment crowd seriously suggest that the best way to reduce crime would be to take away liberty to the extent it is done…in prison?

As far as the 2nd Amendment goes, the arguments using crime miss the point altogether anyway. The essence of the 2nd Amendment has less to do with crime and murder rates, and more to do with being a citizen-based counterpoise to overarching governments that are seeking to take away other rights—a grass-roots guard against tyranny, if you will.

jerv's avatar

@daloon Not according to the stats. I mean, there is a small grain of truth there, but the numbers I’ve seen say that there is more to it than that. Notice how there are higher numbers, even for non-firearm related violence, in more urban areas? I’m not talking sheer numbers here either; I mean per capita.

JLeslie's avatar

I think in America we should be looking at the underlying problem rather than the outward symptoms. Like if I have strep throat lets kill off the bacteria, not just give me throat losengers. People die from gun violence almost every day in the city right next to me, Memphis,TN. More then the gun problem, I am interested to know why so much violence period? Why are these people moved to commit such savage crimes against each other? What motivates gangs to prove you worthy by commiting a heinous act? I just don’t understand the culture, and we obviously don’t understand how to combat it.

Still, it does seem that if there was a movement towards disarming the country it probably would result in lower homocides, we see this around the world. I do not mean take away the right to bear arms though. I guess I am conflicted. Think it about it. If it were simply unusual for people to own guns, then it would be unusual. I think it would even mean criminals less likely to use guns, especially children. I think we had 2 gun incedents in high schools in Memphis last year, and one mother who got onto a schoolbus waving a gun in MS right outside of Memphis.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie – It’s not unusual at all to own guns in NH and look how few people get shot there.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv If only all the country was NH. As I said I am favor of allowing people to own guns, for many reasons. I am guessing that in NH your overall crime rate, and vilent crime rate is relatively low (guessing) although I know your state borders a major city like Boston, which might have some crime due to the nature of major cities. But come live in a horrible, homicidal, crime ridden city like Memphis, New Orleans, DC, Miami, and it is distressing. That is why I focus on what are the underlying problems.

I would guess most gun owners in NH own guns for hunting or protection from wild animals (which I think about on my property since I have heard the coyotes howling lately). Here where I live it is also on the top of most people’s minds that they need a gun to defend themselves, in parts of Memphis defend themselves from a constant threat of violence, not an unusual occurance of random violence.

Don’t get me wrong, I think of guns as the great equalizer, I am fine with hunting, I wonder if all of the Jews had been armed in Germany if some things might have been different during the holocaust. I am not against guns, I am against violence.

missingbite's avatar

@daloon Very few serial killers use guns. It can be argued that some victims of serial killers would still be alive if they (the victim) had a gun.

I agree that a lot of killing is involved with guns. Very few of those killers with guns weren’t criminals already though. I still believe it begins and can end with education.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie Correct, and that is why I agree with you 100% about guns themselves not being the problem.

missingbite's avatar

@JLeslie It has been said that Japan didn’t invade further into America after Pearl Harbor because every home in America has a gun. I don’t know if that is true but it makes sense.

jerv's avatar

One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that guns is a bit like Pandora’s Box; we can’t get rid of them now!

Anybody with basic machining skills can make a firearm fairly easily, the formula for gunpowder is no secret, and there will always be a market for a device that has the ability to put holes in people from a distance. I mean, bows were quite popular for a long time before guns came out!

The “best” you can do is inconvenience law-abiding citizens with legislation and possibly turn them into criminals. There is quite a bit of truth to the old saying, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”. If you don’t beleive me, look how well Prohibition worked for alcohol!

wundayatta's avatar

@jerv and @missingbite Guns make it so easy to kill people. It’s a lot harder to kill with knives or chainsaws or bare fists or poison. Why the hell do you think guns were invented? They are a more efficient killing mechanism.

missingbite's avatar

@daloon I agree with what you are saying. I also believe that a person who will kill with a gun would kill with a knife or anything else. It’s the person, not the tool. That’s why I want to make sure I have an equal playing field (or slanted in my favor!) if I run into one of those who are intent on hurting me. If someone comes at me with a knife, they will see my gun.

jerv's avatar

@daloon @missingbite – I concur. Sure, it’s easier but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Guns may be more efficient, but sometimes people like to take a little more time and do a quality job.
As for “a lot” harder, not really. Maybe a bit quicker and less painful with a gun, but that doesn’t stop stabbings, beatings, etcetera.

wundayatta's avatar

Most murders are crimes of passion. Most of those who are murdered either know or are related to their murderers. Guns are more likely to hurt their owners than anyone else. These things are all well known.

You feel free to get yourself a gun. No matter how foolish it may be, it’s your right to get one. It was not one of the founding fathers’ brightest ideas, but now it’s part of tradition, and even though our world is totally different from theirs, we still maintain a right that lost its relevance long ago.

jerv's avatar

@daloon – Oh really? Well known to who? I grew up around guns but there was never any problems. Many people I know did too. There were also trigger locks, gun safes, proper handling practices… all sorts of stuff that many people call “Common Sense”. It’s well known that a properly handled firearm never hurt anybody.

Then again, Americans don’t have any of that, so what you are really complaining about isn’t guns bt the fact that we are surrounded by impulsive, brainless people.

However, I do think that there should be some sort of competency requirements like they do for driving so I am not totally unsympathetic. Incompetence kills, whether with bullets or Buicks.

wundayatta's avatar

@jerv Pretty much any CJ department will tell you that. There has been plenty or research. But I’m not in a mood to research it now.

Also, I hope you know better than to make any generalizations from your own personal experience. It takes a lot of training, and probably ongoing training so that everyone in a family maintains proper safety procedures. All it takes is for a safety lock to be left off a gun for a minute, and a child could get it and start playing cops and robbers and someone is dead.

Guns for hunting? Cool. Guns to carry around in the city? Not so cool.

jerv's avatar

@daloon – My point was less about the veracity of your statement than it was about “These things are well known”. Just as I cannot extrapolate from my personal experience, you can’t either. That’s all I’m saying.

But you may have missed something I said earlier. Not all children of gun-owners get the same lessons I did. That says a bit about the responsibility of some people both as gun-owners and as parents, and if people are going to be irresponsible then taking their guns away will just lead to them finding other ways to harm themselves or others.

Some may go so far as to call that “Darwinism” since humans are the only species that doesn’t mercilessly weed out the naive.

At this point though, I think it’s obvious that we each have our own strong opinions on the issue and that nothing either of us says will change the other’s mind. How about if we just shake hands, agree to disagree, and not get into a pointless argument? I had (more than) enough of those at AB :D

wundayatta's avatar

@jerv I was about to stop following this question for that very reason. So let’s go have a beer and talk about something more interesting.

missingbite's avatar

@daloon and @jerv, I want a beer too! I’ll buy the first round!

jerv's avatar

@daloon @missingbite It’s awesome living near Seattle; plenty of great breweries.

Barkeep! A round of Pike’s Tandem!

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv Ok, so we agree on some things, except I have to wonder if the states that have those horrible crime ridden cities have very loose gun laws? Again, I am not well versed on the subject, but if I had to guess I figure TN and LA make it pretty easy to get a gun both through legal and illegal channels, and the attitude in society here is everyone has a gun, it’s my God given right to have a gun, no one is going to tell me I shouldn’t have gun, you better have a gun. When I go to a bar here there is a sign saying no fire arms allowed on the premises. My husband’s company’s handbook says, “you may not bring your firearm on company property.” YOUR firearm. That wording threw us for a huge loop. I think in any other state I have lived in it would have said “a weapon.” The truth is Memphis is simply gun oriented and there is more gun crime. There has to be something to that.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie – Most places I worked had a similar “no weapons allowed on premises” policy which meant that all of the gun racks in the trucks in the parking lot were empty.
Then again, home defense wasn’t really much of an issue in the sticks seeings how sparsely populated it was. Hell, the only reason I locked my front door when I left the house was because one of our cats knew how to use the doorknob!
In the small cities (20–25K people) there was more violence but mostly of a bar-fight nature; no guns involved. A good chunk of our crime was in the three “big” cities near the coast. Same laws, different culture.

I am unaware of the gun laws in most other states since I only worried about those in New England, but this chart of firearm ownership versus per capita homicide rate shows that the relationship between the two is that there really isn’t a relationship.

You might also be interested in this data about the Firearms Death Rate per 100,000 and bear in mind that NH has very loose gun laws while CA has fairly strict ones but compare the crime rates!

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv thanks for the links.

Just to clarify I think all companies probably have “no weapons allowed on premises” my point was the wording, YOUR firearm. Like it is assuming everyone has a firearm, and for that matter techinically, legally, it would seem you can bring other weapons on the premises and even your neighbors gun.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie – Considering I am a machinist, the point is moot. If I so desired, I probably could walk in empty-handed and leave with a (crude) gun in a couple of hours.

Corporate_Avenger's avatar

Guns do not kill people…bullets do not kill people. Gaping wounds in major and vital organs…that’s what’ll getcha! You have to go to the basics to find the truth, people.
I’ve been battle field tested, NRA approved.

smokes's avatar

Jerv I agree with the pandora’s box idea guns are like it or not are here to stay just like drugs, prostitution and war.

HasntBeen well put. That is the best analysis on this site the intent comes from people the ability comes form a gun and projectile. Nothing happens without both sides of the equation.

As for people that point out that you can kill with a knife they are correct but I have a plaque in my neighborhood with 12 students and 1 teacher’s name on it an I would guess that at least 11 of those names would not be on that plaque if it were not for a gun. A knife just doesn’t do it. Also have you ever heard of a gun being used for anything other than killing? I use a knife at least three times a day, a hammer twice a week and pipes more than I care to count and never had anything die and I’m pretty sure I put these tools to their best and most effective use. The gun has only one real purpose. I mean you can use it to poke holes in a piece of paper but you know that is not what is was made for and a hole punch does a much better job of creating nice clean holes.
As for those that think a gun will protect you think again some body armor might but a bullet passes though an armed person just as fast an easily as it passes through an unarmed person and if your going to get shot nobody is going to warn you it is coming or let you draw your gun first. The wild west duals are really just stories.

meagan's avatar

A person dies from a gunshot.

missingbite's avatar

@meagan You are stumbling into the age old question of what came first, the chicken or the egg? Nobody has ever died of a gunshot without a person pulling a trigger. The gunshot you speak of came from a person, not a gun. Inanimate objects like guns can’t hurt you without help from people.

meagan's avatar

@missingbite Yeah, but without the gun… what would you kill him with? I’m sure it would take a bit more courage to actually stab someone.

jerv's avatar

@meagan Not really. I mean, you can kill people quite easily without a gun anyways. We have cars, poisons, bows, large sticks… a million other ways to hurt/kill each other. Hell, you could just choke them out with your bare hands!
It’s not about courage. The only think that counts is how much you want to hurt someone. If you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way regardless of courage.

missingbite's avatar

@meagan The means will make little difference to someone who wants to kill. Humans have killed each other since the beginning of time. People will either kill or not. Most serial killers prefer to strangle and torture.

Bootsiebaby's avatar

I agree, it is not the gun that kills people, it is the person who pulls the trigger. The obvious solution is this: if nobody had guns, nobody would be able to shoot anybody. It doesn’t get any simpler.

jerv's avatar

@Bootsiebaby You would need to ban all metalworking then. You would also need to get rid of the entire machining industry, put 3D printing technology back into Pandora’s Box, and you would need to do that worldwide.

Otherwise, there will always be guns. Maybe only on the black market, but so long as there are milling machines, lathes, drills, sulfur springs, manure, and wood, then there will be guns. Well, you’d also need metal, but I think that we have enough metal already in circulation that it wouldn’t be hard to find something to make a gun out of. I’ve seen an upper receiver for an AK-47 made out of a shovel, so good luck getting rid of guns!

Bootsiebaby's avatar

@jerv Going by your theory, the best thing to do with guns would be to treat them like illegal drugs, and have similar laws pertaining to them.

jerv's avatar

Look how well the War on Drugs worked out :/

Also, I’m not keen on having to undergo a background check every time I buy something from Home Depot, nor do I feel the need to limit Dremel bit sales the way drug stores limit the sale of decongestants (specifically, the ones used as an ingredient for Meth). Wait .. I live in a state that legalized marijuana, so by your logic, we should keep the minor weapons legal and only really ban heavy weaponry.

Trying to control gun violence by trying to control guns will lead to failure, and probably increased violence and great expense. It’d be better to get to the root cause and see if we can get people to be less violent in the first place. And looking at statistics around the world, it becomes readily apparent that we’re a Fourth World nation in that regard; inferior even to some Banana Republics. The reason many nations can even get away with having strict gun laws is that the majority of people there have no real desire for guns. In other words, it’s not the law that prevents the violence so much as the fact that the society itself is more peaceful to begin with.

Bootsiebaby's avatar

My logic was not based on living in a State that legalised marijuana because I don’t live in the USA. I live in the UK, and marijuana is illegal here.

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