Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Guns are not Designed to Kill People
A common slogan of disarmists is "Guns are designed to kill people". There are several variations; the only purpose of guns is to kill people; guns are designed for one thing: to kill; assault weapons are designed for one purpose: to Kill as many people as quickly as possible. All are false. It is easy to demonstrate that this is true.
First, what are guns designed to do? Guns are designed to project force at a distance. They do this by propelling a projectile out of the end of a barrel, at a velocity sufficient for the task at hand. The higher the velocity, the more force can be projected at further distances. The heavier the projectile, the more force that can be projected at a given velocity. Guns are machines that allow us to effectively project force at a distance.
To clarify, consider the purpose of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile tipped with a nuclear warhead. What is its purpose? Its basic design is to project force at a distance, much like that of a simple pistol. But it was not designed to kill people. It was designed to provide deterrence; that is, to stop other people from killing us. No Minuteman III has ever been used to kill a single person, but it was, and is, used to deter an attack on the United States through the ability to project force at a distance.
This principle is as old as humanity. The most famous adage associated with it is: Si vis pacem, para bellum (if you wish peace, prepare for war).
People who buy guns in the United States buy them for three primary reasons; hunting, defense, and target shooting.
A majority of guns in the United States are designed to kill things, but they are not designed to kill people. All hunting guns are designed to project force to kill the game that they are used to hunt. That is a clear and obvious truth. Single shot shotguns are seldom used to shoot targets; though they can do so. They can also be used for effective self defense. Their primary design purpose is to project force at a distance to kill small game, birds, pests, and even big game, with the proper ammunition.
People who push for more restrictions on the ownership of guns claim that they have no desire to restrict people from having hunting guns. Guns that are specifically designed to be used to kill animals. Guns that can be used to kill animals can be used to kill humans, but that is not their design function.
Some guns are not designed to kill at all. Guns that are designed for target practise are not designed to kill anything. They are specifically designed to place shots accurately and/or quickly on targets for score. Numerous gun designs are specifically marketed for target shooting
Some guns are designed to prevent killing. Guns that are designed for self-defense or defense of others fall into this category. Most guns used for self defense are never used to kill anyone. Most police officers carry a gun their whole career and never shoot anyone. The guns are there to project force to prevent extreme harm or death, much like the Minuteman III. While many are used for defense, few are used to actually kill a human.
Most defensive uses are against people armed with knives, clubs, or hands and feet. Many are defenses against animal attack. Deterrence is largely sufficient for humans. About one human is killed for roughly a thousand defensive uses.
Defensive uses of guns occur about 500,000 to 3 million times a year; justified homicides occur about 750 to 1500 times a year. The FBI under-reports justified homicides(pdf) because of the way they are defined in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR).
How about military guns? Military guns are also used to project force, and to provide deterrence. The vast majority of military guns are never used to kill anyone; they are used to project force and deter killing.
The Barrett .50 caliber rifle was developed for the U.S. Military and has been legal for ordinary citizens to own since its invention. It has never been used in an illegal homicide, though it is commonly used in long range target shooting.
Other semi-automatic rifles deserve a mention. While the AR 15 is commonly described as a "military gun" it has been altered specifically for the civilian market. It is included in all the political lists of "assault weapons". It is not an assault rifle. It is correctly described as a sport and utility rifle. The AR platform is readily adapted for hunting, target shooting, and self defense. It is the most popular rifle in the United States, precisely because of its adaptability and utility. It is seldom used in crime.
A great many guns are like the AR 15; they have multiple purposes and can be used effectively for hunting, target shooting and defense, even though one or two of those purposes may not have been the primary purpose for which they were designed.
A shotgun designed for skeet shooting can be used for hunting and for defense. A target pistol can be used to shoot grouse for the camp pot, or to defend against a rabid fox; a self defense handgun can be used for target shooting or hunting; even if they are not the optimum tool for that purpose.
All guns can be used to kill people, so can hammers, screw drivers and cars. That does not mean that they were designed for that purpose. There are about 400 million firearms in the United States. There are about 9,000 murders and 500 accidents committed with firearms in a given year. In each year, roughly 1 gun out of 42,000 is used to kill someone who does not want to be killed. Add in suicides, where people kill themselves, and the ratio becomes 1 in 12,500. If guns were designed to kill people, the designers are doing a lousy job.
The next time you read or hear that "Guns are designed to kill people", you will know that the writer or speaker has not really thought about what they are writing or saying. They are repeating a propaganda talking point designed to have you forget about the common uses of guns, and concentrate on the rare and uncommon.
Guns are designed to project force at a distance. The intention behind that force is up to the operator of the gun.
Definition of disarmist
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
Link to Gun Watch