“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” This is a phrase made famous by gun enthusiasts. Certainly, everyone has heard it before. Perhaps, even, the saying holds some truth. People choose to shoot others, this is an undeniable reality. Guns do not force you into violence — they are not conscious entities with a murderous agenda — but guns are instruments of death. A firearm, unlike fists, can kill almost immediately. While people do choose to kill people, the gun is what kills.
In a state like Maine, where hunting and gun ownership are prevalent, the pro-gun argument is loud. But what people do not realize is that, very likely, tragedies like the one involving Jovan Belcher, a Maine alum, likely could have been avoided if no firearm was present. Many — if not most — murders are unplanned. They are generally “heat of the moment” crimes. Although I cannot speculate what occurred specifically in the Jovan Belcher case, I think it is fair to assume that this crime was unplanned and fueled by emotion.
So what does this say about gun control? If it is fair to assume that these crimes occur during momentary spikes in emotion, then I think it is fair to assume that without a violent weapon present, fewer deadly outcomes would be reached. While the presence of a ranged weapon does not increase one’s aptitude for violence, the gun does increase a person’s violent capability. This is to say that, while the use of fists against another human being is both violent and reprehensible, fists are also much less lethal, generally speaking. Had Belcher reacted violently without a gun present, a crime still would have been committed; but what crime, exactly?
Although the alternate outcome unfortunately can never be recognized, we should at least take a moment to realize the epic continuance of violence in our society. Record gun sales were made on Black Friday of this year, and these are not only hunting rifles being sold. They are handguns: the types of weapons that exist solely to perpetuate savage acts against others. And, as we continue putting these guns into the hands of Americans, both legally and illegally, we continue to put the blame solely on the individual. This is the culture of violence at work. We continue to supply these weapons of death, but blame mental illness, trauma, etc., for the actual perpetuation of said violence. However, something here does not make sense. We create this angry, murderous culture through the availability of weapons and the general glorification of war and violence, but then we supply this enraged populace with guns. There must be a change. There must be some sort of regulations put in place to curb the growing violence that can be seen daily, and these regulations have to start where the violence starts — with guns.
Jeri Cosgrove is a third-year English student with a concentration in creative writing