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Enrico Petrucco

Senior Scientist, Johnson Matthey

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Guns are designed to kill people. When are guns actually a positive influence in society?

Guns are designed to kill people (or animals). I would like to open the floor for honest concise input: How can one use this destructive tool as a constructive tool for society?

Topics: war and peace
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    Feb 7 2012: Those who oppose guns, what would you do to ensure peace in the world? How do you deter violence without the use of a bigger stick? Should we also rid ourselves of our armies and police force? Do you think the destruction of firearms will rid us of crime, infringements, and the transgressions of man? That people will run out into the streets and embrace each other? In the beginning, mankind did not have guns. It shows that early Homo sapiens used the most powerful tool in their possession (their minds) to shape rocks and sticks into instruments of pain and suffering. This is testament that the complete destruction of guns would not yield peace. Soldiers who possess a conscience with the instructions from an equally conscience society often will yield to the liberties and happiness of others. Soldiers understand that the rifle is to be used only at the last resort. A rifle is only a tool. I compare rifles to scalpels. Scalpels are cutting tools are used in surgeries and they are deliberate used to damage and cut away flesh with the end state to make the individual better and so too are Soldiers deployed with rifles are deployed with an intention to make a bad situation better. I as a professional Soldier wish there could be other options. Yet in the course of our existence we have not yet developed anything better than the governments who ensure the safety, security, and freedoms of its citizens through the use of controlled violence. If you disagree then tell me what can be used in its place?
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      Feb 7 2012: Jayme,

      you refer to the use of guns as a solution for a limited number of uses: conflict resolution and conflict prevention: wars, law enforcement, etc. When everything goes South (wars for eg) then yes fire power is still decisive. But conflict prevention strategies and policies are changing. After all, fire power in conflict prevention reached its limit with the Cold Ward, didn't it? Mankind had reached a point where one man could destroy the entire Planet Earth by pushing a red button.

      And today we see that contributing with fire power in conflict prevention is no longer enough. To prevent (really!) conflicts, we should rather invest more money in socio-economical progress. For when you fail to do so, you get poverty, despair etc. which sometimes leads to gruesome armed conflicts. Afghanistan is the perfect example of this, no?

      In a word: it's not so "simple" anymore. And if guns still help to solve "simple" conflicts, they no longer suffice for the complex world of today in conflict prevention.

      And I say this as a European whose father always had vivid memories of WWII and still remembered the name of a GI who stayed for a couple of days in his parents' home in Flanders Belgium (his name was Jim). We, Europeans, should always be grateful for the people who liberated Europe...with guns.

      Now the question I think is also guns as a (domestic) problem, and here I won't debate because I'm biased: I think that the firearms regulations for private citizens in the US are so crazy that I don't want to start talking about it...
      • Feb 7 2012: Please stay i Europe Bruno. We have a few like you in the U.S. already. I have my guns and permits and hope that they will only be used on the target range for practice.
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          Feb 7 2012: Mike,
          "me" being ...? I'm just curious where you don't agree with my points above on the utility of fire power. Or perhaps, is it my last remark? And I promise you I won't answer or start a debate on gun controls in the US: it's off topic here in this question. And I see no point in debating with pro-guns, not my cup of tea.

          Be happy with your gun, from the little mentioned in your post, you're probably a responsible owner and user, good for you and your entourage.
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        Feb 8 2012: Bruno,
        I agree with many of your valid points. I do disagree that there are limits in the uses of guns. Like in my example of using a scalpel, it too has limitations. The use of a surgical blade can only do so much in removing cancer cells and additional efforts are used to augment the surgery such as radiation and chemotherapy to increase the chance of survival. I did not imply that weapons and the use of controlled violence are the only means, nor the appropriate means to end all conflicts. As a government we have numerous means to resolve conflicts. We can enforce trade embargos to apply political pressure to mitigate these issues. These methods should be our first resort rather than thrusting our nation into wars and conflicts. The problem is what amount of force is necessary to put the threat under control. Sometimes mere presence will quickly make a nation change its tune and at other times (i.e. WWII) there is no option left other than to fight.
        I am uncertain if “fire power in conflict prevention reached its limit with the cold war” may be a bit naive. Imagine how awestruck the first individuals where when saw the use of gun powder. When they saw the lethal forces that could be yielded, they could not imagine that a more destructive force could ever be built but it did! Centuries later the more lethal conventional warheads increased the magnitude of killings and decades later the A-bomb expanded death to a much larger scale and was able to wipe out an entire city. Who’s to say that in the future there won’t be something more disruptive? Isn’t it a bit foolish to think that individuals will not strive to obtain a more lethal device? In the future there may be EMP devices that could wipe out entire countries of their electronics, or the use of a virus that targets devises of a specific group of individuals or country. Imagine the devastation of setting back an entire country back to the stone ages?
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          Feb 8 2012: Hi Jayme,
          thx for the reply and I agree with pretty much everything you just said.
          I probably didn't used the right words (ironic for a person who studied linguistics...): by reaching its limit when talking about fire power in conflict prevention, I rather meant that the logic behind it (using lethal/fire tools as deterrent) brought us to a dangerous point (or limit).

          So to conclude my point, I'd say guns, bombs and the like remain (sadly IMHO) a major -pragmatic- tool in international relations.
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      Feb 7 2012: I would venture to say that the argument that the human race has used violence to overpower each other since the beginning of our history is a weak argument at best. It doesn't mean that the use of force is somehow part of our "natural order" - it simply means that we are still infants, striking out whenever we don't get our way.

      Let's make it absolutely clear: America has this ingrained idea that might makes right, and that the only way to resolve conflict is to shoot. This is lived out every day in our high schools, from anything to resolve a conflict over a debt owed, bad drug deal, or jut some guy looked at you wrong, you take a gun and kill the "mutha".

      Perhaps if we had more military teaching our youth that guns truly are a weapon of last resort, we might start to reshape this atrocious culture of deep rooted conflict resolution by violence. However, until we resolve to live the idea of appropriate reaction to situations, we can never hope to use guns constructively
      • Feb 8 2012: We are not mature enough to use a gun.
        People does not understand that we are more dangerous than a gun.

        What would be like if all human being poses a gun .
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          Feb 8 2012: If everyone had a gun?

          Some would say there would be murders everywhere.

          Some would say that there would be peace, because no one would want to try anything bad, because the other person's gun would be a deterrent.

          I would say that if every person had a gun, then the only difference in this world would be that every person would have a gun.

          Our guns do not define us: our abnormal and somewhat lascivious passion for guns is what defines us.
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          Feb 8 2012: you mean you are not mature enough. i am.
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        Feb 8 2012: Hi Verble,

        You said: "Perhaps if we had more military teaching our youth that guns truly are a weapon of last resort"

        I don't see that happening...as a matter of fact, it is the contrary....we have military personnel in schools here teaching children in ROTC......I have never understood this.


        Be Well
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          Feb 8 2012: Thank you, Mary,

          While i don't see that happening either, I dare to dream. I did have hope from Mr Hansen's original post, because he wrote that soldiers know to use rifles only as a last resort. I thought that to be a noble sentiment, and imagined that if that could be taught.

          Since American culture has an extreme reverence for The Soldier, then if more soldiers could teach about gun safety, and that they are not to be used as the FIRST response in EVERY situation, then thst might make inroads toward alternative conflict resolutions.
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          Feb 8 2012: The goal of the ROTC is to prepare students to become leaders (officers). If you want kids to learn firearm safety, have them take a hunter safety course. The NRA, local firing ranges, and places like Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas offer these classes all the time. And ranges typically offer a wider variety of classes ranging from basic gun handling/safety to advanced training.
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        Feb 8 2012: "Since American culture has an extreme reverence for The Soldier"

        This is interesting that you should post.. In my original reply to you I went on and on about my observations, then I backspaced because I was rambling....but now I will tell you what I have observed.

        Oftentimes, war and being a soldier is glorified inside elementary schools. Teachers will have children dress in camouflage clothing and will put on elaborate presentations for the end of the year academic celebration. While perhaps one can understand this if the school were inside a military base somewhere, in your average elementary school with young innocent children, the whole thing seems out of place.

        I have never understood this....And let me just say that I have also seen, and this goes to your soldiers teaching about gun safety....I have seen so called former addicts come into schools to teach about drug abuse...I'm sorry, the language they used has been inappropriate, their explanations unconvincing.......all the teachers have had to do alot of damage control, and many parents have had to be given some kind of explanation as to why their 6 and 7 year old is now asking questions about a subject they had not been exposed to yet.

        Verble, this is such a delicate issue.....everyone is entitled to their own view. I however, like you, find that people kill people.....gun or not.....but in my heart, I find guns very dangerous, and have no place inside the home. It is good to see though, that those who have a desire to protect citizens, use their guns responsibly. Human life is precious......

        This is my humble opinion...Be Well
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          Feb 8 2012: I want to assure you that I am in total agreement. I sold guns for many years, but I have made the choice that I will never carry one, nor shoot one.

          I am enough of a dreamer to envision a day when nobody would even think of using a weapon, gun or otherwise. Still, though, I'm enough of a realist to know that most Americans ascribe to the slogan, "I'll give up my guns when you pry 'em from my cold, dead fingers.". So, at the very least, we should try to proclaim alternative conflict resolution and promote gun safety wherever we go.
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        Feb 9 2012: @Carl

        Yes, I understand about leadership....but really this is not all that ROTC involves....it is leadership inside the military. And, also, you have to commit to serving in the military after graduation in order to receive a college scholarship.

        I guess my problem is with the fact that here you see it in middle and high school. Why??? It is supposed to be a college program....as per the official ROTC web page.

        Young kids get a high from a uniform and a gun.....it's not about leadership, it's about power and prestige......I just don't get it......I'm sorry......that is just the way I am.
    • Feb 11 2012: Well said.
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    Feb 8 2012: Firearms (guns) are tools designed to kill. They are as simple as a wedge. Every screw, bolt, switch or mechanisim is part of that purpose. A firearm is a blunt, deadly, unapologetic device. It is cold simplicity without remorse or qualification, requiring no point of view, religion or perspective. It is the reflection of the inevitable evil in humanity. Regardless of language the firearm requires no definition, no metephor. A language in which, its meaning is as explicit and eternal as death.As a soldier and a police officer I have used these tools to kill other human beings in the defense of my country and its citizens. As a soldier I killed other soldiers, men like me. Men with familys, dreams and hopes. Men who believed they were protecting those familys, dreams and hopes and willingly gave their lives for their beliefs.As a police officer I saw men kill and be killed, who had for reasons known only to their creator, lost their humanity.Firearms (guns) are just tools. It is men who use them that are a positive or negative influence on society.
  • Feb 7 2012: The Gun Is Civilization," by Marko Kloos Was mus-attributed...

    Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories,without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

    In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

    When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.

    The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year-old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang-banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunken guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

    There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat - it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed.

    People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.
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    Feb 6 2012: Guns make land wars... too expensive. The more guns a country has in the hands of its average citizens, the more it will cost to attack it. The less likely said country will attack, and thus you have peace, and safe borders. The only country I can think of that takes gun laws as seriously as the United States... Is, Switzerland... I believe they've never been defeated in a land war, and managed to stay relatively neutral as most of Europe burned itself to the ground, over, and over again. No one wants to attack a country where every human being owns a gun... especially in rough terrain...
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      Feb 8 2012: Today the land wars aren't necessary, the strategy now is air bombing.


      The next act of war is going to be Israel bombing Iran, probably with nuclear missiles. This event will cause a domino effect like no other in history, it will all happen on the same day.

      Israel shoots Iran
      Iran shoots Saudi Arabia
      Russia shoots Israel
      Israel shoots Europe
      Europe shoots Israel
      USA shoots Russia
      Russia shoots USA
      China shoots USA
      USA shoots China

      All this with nukes, except Iran shooting Saudi Arabia, they'll shoot the oil-wells like they said they would with the traditional missiles they have.

      World War 3
      In One day

      After this day the rest of the world will be very sick for a long time due to radiations, it's possible that the population of the world drops back to less than 1 million population.

      I hope this will not happen, but it is more likely to be happening then not happening.

      This is all due to the perpetual militarization of the world, but with the all new WMD devices. That result in a one day World War, in which only a fraction of the world will survive in their underground bunkers. aka the 1% elites.

      So enjoy your guns and your wars, for the next might be the last thing you'll ever see.
      And you don't get to defend yourself from that.
  • Feb 6 2012: Guns are designed to project an object at a high rate of speed. It's the choice of the operator how it's to be used. You can't blame the tool, only the people and their actions. Do you blame every car manufacturer and/or alcohol company for drunk driving deaths?

    In most cases where citizens are required by law to own firearms as a condition of living in that city/state the violence from firearms and firearms related deaths are 0.

    Why do people feel the need to assert power over others? Why do humans try to take advantage of other people? Why would a person feel the need to defend themselves so greatly that they invent something that can stop multiple living animals quickly, effortlessly and without much training required?

    If you gave every female a firearm, or at the very least publicly announced that every female would be getting a firearm, in a society that views females as second class do you think rape or violence towards women would increase, or decrease overall in that society?

    The reason a gun is considered destructive (besides the fact that it hurls metal objects at a high rate of speed) is because of human's gross over-usage of the tool for the purposes of evil and the ease at which it can be used to do so.

    You could hold a massive marksmanship tournament encouraging all youths to participate to hone their skills of breathing, muscle control, discipline and team building and easily use firearms for a positive learning experience and really, really fun time without having to shoot each other. You can even decorate guns and showcase some amazing artistic talent and creativity.
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    Feb 12 2012: Perhaps one way of testing the depth and sincerity of the peace we claim to be fighting for would be to put our weapons down. If this seems impossible, or unrealistic, then just maybe the peace we enjoy isn't peace at all, but rather our wealth and freedom at someone else's expense. What might be in the best interest of one nation may very well be opposed to the interests of another.
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    Feb 8 2012: Guns are designed to kill people. But I think that threat of them being used has prevented many disagreements escalating into serious conflicts. I know that this is not the most ideal way of resolving an issue and I am not ignoring the place of diplomacy. What I am trying to say (and poorly I may add. Noobs prerogative) is until such a time as we, as a local, national and international community, can devise a way for diplomacy to feasibly resolve all conflicts then gun and the armed forces are need.
  • Feb 6 2012: I hate guns, but ironically, I think guns are inevitably necessary.
    There are so many dangerous threats in this world, so we need guns to protect people and to use them as a symbolic icon--we have guns(or other weapons), so if you want to attack or kill the innocent people in my family or town or country, you have to reconsider! Otherwise...(you know what I mean?).

    I've always wanted peaceful world where there are no crimes and no dangerous forces since I was a kid.
    But I've also disappointed with our reality, our real world where there are so many terrible things happen and peaceful talks are sometimes not effective at all.

    Nonetheless, when it comes to using guns, we must be careful and ask ourselves why we're using them--e.g. "do I really need to have guns? Is it really necessary to use it right now?"
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      hou gc

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      Feb 7 2012: How do you sure that the good man cannot be bad who have the gun in hand? If he have gun,he may kill anybody in somewhere.It is too dangerous.
      • Feb 7 2012: Guns and other weapons existed since the prehistoric times, if one want to cause damage to you, he can pick up a stone and hit you till you die. If someone attack you, he will most likely have a tool for using that. Thats why he speaks about the need of restrains in an armed force, and also about armed force, not something like givin guns to everyone. Reallyts works in a way that to many things interact, yes it has possible problems, even the human body,state and everything has, thats why we try to improve, the humen society, and everything around us. However I dont pretend to know that its possible to achiev such perfect state, but i know that right know the situation is under better control and we live a better life, and the world is a better place thanks to governed armed forces. There are still a lot ofissue of course and room for improvemnt in the system or i dont know where. But that fact remains.
        No Linda of course not, It would be a generalization of a problem which billions face, its not an anserw. (at least not a right one). Civilians should be able to get guns if they wish (maybe harder then in the USA, but easier then in some other countries) I think that a united armed force is needed.
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          Feb 7 2012: So your idea is to give guns to the militia but not to the people. Let's think about that. If we disagree with military leaders, guess who wins?

          A gun is simply a tool.

          In my area of the world, guns are a necessary tool. Most people own one. It is not unusual when I get out of work that there is a bear or cougar warning. While I would never intentionally hurt an animal, if it is the animal or my child, the child wins. Militia or not.
      • Feb 7 2012: Hi, hou.
        (Sorry, I saw your reply just now.)

        To control, government has to prevent those terrible events beforehand.
        Of course, in turn, citizens also have to keep an eye on the government so that the government wouldn't use violence whenever they want.

        So, proper laws and policies are definitely required.


        Think about it,
        even if everyone in the world has no guns, it's probable that some people do horrible things to others if they decide to do it. That's why laws exist(well, that's not the only reason, though).
        You know, if there’s no laws, the world would be getting chaotic.

        So, simply put, if we want to protect the people we care about from the dangerous threats, we have to prepare weapons not for the REVENGE, but for defense and protection.

        Good point,btw.
        Even though guns are inevitably necessary, we must not let the people who kill innocent people crazily justify their behavior.

        Because..the end doesn't always justify the means
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    Feb 6 2012: “When are guns actually a positive influence in society?”

    When they are pink?

    http://seattle.cbslocal.com/2012/02/03/gun-distributor-komen-foundation-team-up-to-sell-pink-handgun/
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    Feb 6 2012: I don't believe guns have any constructive implications on society.If we take away the guns from a society, other weapons will be used but if we add guns to society we encourage their use. Or at least facilitate it.
    Perhaps a gun is useful in a hypothetical society, one overrun by zombies for example but not in the civilised world.
    • Feb 7 2012: Uh? So guns are not constructive but other weapons are fine? So to you it is better to slice someones head rather than shooting them? What else should we do if we are attacked? Should we yell "This is SPAAAAARTA"?

      Please...
  • Feb 12 2012: Well... to live in a world void of violence would be a wish come true to me. I ask though, would our country be safe if we all surrendered our weapons? I feel too many people crave power and wealth and will use any tool to get it. I believe that you can be for peace and non violence until confronted by violence. A time will come were 'turning the other cheek' will only get you a kick in the ass. If someone repeatedly punches you in the face and continues to do so regardless of you actions or ideals of peace then your only choice is to fight back or submit and accept whatever they do to you. I say this all to get to the point of the question, by showing you have the same capabilities as someone who wishes you harm, you make them question the risk vs. benefit. Make a wish and remove all guns from the world and man will fine a new tool for force. Peace is always good on paper but the actions of men will never let it come into existence. World peace will only be gained through the absence of man.
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    • Feb 12 2012: One can not automatically assume that killing a "bad" person is positive for society. People are not bad, circumstances cause the social ills that may be attributed to the unfavourable acts commit by such labeled people. Changing social policies that cause/ignore such social ills would help solve the problems. To consider guns as THE method to bring a polite society is rudimentary at best and immoral at worst.
      "Give us the tools and we will finish the job" Winston Churchill
  • Feb 8 2012: The problem with how you begin the question is with, "Guns are designed to kill people". And then in smaller print, in parentheses, you say "or animals". Well, here is where we argue the point, what the heck are guns designed for? To hurt? To kill? Or perhaps to protect?

    A second question that must be asked along with "When are guns actually a positive influence on society?" is, "When are guns a negative influence on society?"

    Forget guns, look at a knife. A knife can be used for two things: to hurt or to heal. Translation: to cause harm or to protect.

    It is the same for a gun. Guns can be used for malicious, intentionally harmful acts. That's where the negative feelings towards guns come from. But guns can also be used to protect people FROM malicious, intentionally harmful acts.

    So when are guns a negative influence on society?

    It's not really guns. Guns were never the negative influence. The problem was never the guns. The problem was the intentions of the people using the guns. Take away the guns, and you've still got people who will find a way still to perform malicious, intentionally harmful acts, guns or no guns.

    Now to answer the original question:

    How can guns be a positive influence in society? Well, that's similar to asking how any weapon, or potential weapon, can be a positive influence on society. Why narrow it down to guns? Well, I would say protection is in fact a positive influence on society.
    • Feb 8 2012: I am pro-guns.

      All I have to say is that I crack a smile when people talk about guns and deny the fact that they are designed to kill people. A shield is designed to protect, a bullet proof vest is designed to protect. A gun is designed to fire a projectile that would penetrate flesh and bones and likely inflict mortal damage.

      Guns are 'defensive' weapons in the sense they allow you to fight back, to kill, not to wound. A knife is a different story. It can be used as a weapon but it's original intent was for other activities.
      • Feb 8 2012: You could say the same thing about a knife, as well, though. Knives were designed to kill things first.

        Guns are defensive. To defend means to protect. Its original intent was to help "defend" while in a war, usually. And if the war were just, then you are "defending" or protecting, as well as fighting.

        Even if that was their original intent, it could be argued that things have changed. We aren't talking "then". We're talking "now".
        • Feb 8 2012: Guns are not defensive weapons, you just want them to be as justification for owning them, that is a mistake. A phone is not designed to be a paper weight, but it can be used as one. A gun sole design is to effectively inflict bodily harm, plain and simple, therefore it is an offensive weapon that, alternatively, can be used as a paper weight, even though it was not designed for that.

          Another way of seeing this is looking at a handgun as a tool. A drill is a tool, a handgun is a tool. A drill is designed to open holes in walls (more or less), a handgun is designed to send a projectile at high speed with the ultimate objective of effectively inflicting some sort of physical damage to a living thing, the type where, you know, blood comes out and hearts stop. You can use a drill to kill a person and you can use a gun to open some holes in the wall. That makes a drill an offensive weapon by law, but how many people do you see carrying drills as defensive weapons? zero, why? because it was not designed for the purpose of effectively inflicting bodily harm.

          You are confusing the intent of the user with the design of the tool. Whoever cannot see the difference should not have a permit.

          You are right about knives though so in the words of Sean Connery "why bring a knife to a gun fight?" this before he was 'defensively' shot to pieces.
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    Feb 6 2012: First of all, I hate War, Killing and everything negative associated with Guns.

    I like to think of the human race as a global organism, were each individual (or cell) has the responsibility of insuring the health of not only themselves, but to their local group. Again each group is responsible for its larger groups and so on. As in most living organisms individual cells or group of cells can become infected or mutated and then start to act destructively against its neighbors. The immune system then tries to control the situation, but sometimes it is overwhelmed and the organism will perish.
    The Gun is an antibiotic or Antiviral that sometimes needs to be used.
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    Feb 6 2012: a prison is designed to limit personal freedom. by design it limits free movement, free career choice, free time management. so how could prisons serve society?

    a fence or a door lock is designed to limit movement. it prevents people from moving from point A to point B. how would limiting movement choices serve society?
  • Feb 10 2012: Arguments so far explicitly FOR the gun include protection and peacekeeper/peacemaker. Assuming these purposes are just and supportable, one could measure the effectiveness of this tool to meet these purposes and compare against other means and other uses. I would like to see data, specifically from portable hand-operated guns, on the number of people killed intentionally providing such a service compared against the number of people killed that do not provide for such a service. This calculation would indicate a very important measure in my opinion. It would directly weigh the perceived positive force with the actual negative force, effectively gauging the effectiveness for it's perceived usefulness against the resultant collateral damage (at least one rudimentary measure).

    Since the invention of the gun in the 12th century CE humans have invented non-lethal weapons and other lethal weapons that may be a more effective means of protection and 'peacekeeping' according to such arguments. Were other means found to be more effective, then such support via the argument for protection/peacekeeping would be poor at best and immoral at worst. Were an historical and instantaneous/current measure available for classes of weapons in order to yield data for the support of such important decisions one would not need to accept the many positive/negative arbitrary positions that so many people hold.
    We as a species may not want to allow such serious acts to continue, possibly to our detriment, without knowing with any certainty either way. Of course such measures would not be easy to determine. Would the importance of such measures or related measures be worth the effort? This may be an application to how we could find a moral truth by studying the human living condition: "Is the perceived positive effect of guns worth the hazard?" or some similar question accounting for a better definition of weapon classes...
    Similar ideas have been explored previously...
    • Feb 11 2012: Enrico,

      See the extensive study (link provided) on concealed carry laws in the United States - as the study lays out much of the data you are seeking. It does suggest that arming law abiding citizens is an effective way of decreasing crime and preventing atrocities like mass murders. http://www.davekopel.com/2a/lawrev/shallissue.htm At least here in the United States.
      • Feb 12 2012: Thank you for the link, yet it does not provide an unbiased/complete dataset. If one wants to understand the effects of a minor policy change on a social system then one must review the entire of the USA to provide the data. My interest is not limited to the USA. To compare countries that are otherwise similar finds a different conclusion. Murder in the USA is an order magnitude higher than in the UK (gun control is very strict): http://www.gapminder.org/data/
        In order to arm the public in the USA one must be able to afford to purchase a gun, resulting in an inherent imbalance in protection of society. The argument supporting domestic protection/peacekeeping does not stand to scrutiny. The case for foreign protection/peacekeeping is more complex, considering whether an intervention/presence is required is debatable in most cases. There are obvious positive cases such as the USA in WWII and Cuba in the African Oddysey. These cases mark clear moral standing to support social justice. Unfortunately, not all cases are so clear, especially when an intervening country may have ulterior motives. I find that I am increasingly thinking about society in a more global sense and my personal borders of nationalism are faint. Better US policies regarding social justice would be pleasing, domestic and foreign.
        • Feb 12 2012: Agreed. In the example I referenced, and as with any research; results are rarely unbiased. It would be tough to compare and contrast the United States with any other country simply because of our long and unique history with guns, social economic differences, etc. I'm not sure I would agree with you that there's an inherent imbalance in the protection of society based on the requirement that one be able to purchase a gun - as many fine guns can be purchased here in the US for under $200 - far lower than the cost of a TV. That said, the low cost of handguns may be part of the equation here in the states where there are easily $80MM guns. Just the number of regular hunters in the United States far exceeds the world's largest standing armies. We are unique for sure.
      • Feb 12 2012: Hi Larry, I agree that it is difficult to compare countries, yet it is likewise difficult to contrast differing locations within a given country. Controlling experiments/analysis for variation in identity and belief are difficult. I give great credit to those who endeavour the task.
        If there is no imbalance in protection via gun ownership in the USA then an extreme argument could place a gun (purchased) in the hand of every child to protect against an assailant. Just as people do not (normally) expect a gun to be in good hands when held by a child we must also question how useful one is in the hands of an adult. To do otherwise is a double standard based on assumption. The assumption is that adults are responsible and will only use the gun for a 'positive' reason, which in many cases may be debatable.
        To hunt is different than to own a gun for protection/peacekeeping. That is a perfect example of a positive reason to own a gun, for food acquisition. Some people do not have access to hunt wild animals for food in a city and may use a gun for food acquisition in a less favourable manner. Or to obtain another basic need, or possibly a hierarchical need. That is the reality of gun ownership.
        Everyone is unique and we all have needs, at the very least that is how we are the same.
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    Feb 10 2012: I believe one day the possession of deadly weapon will be illegal in the whole world (of course some limit using for policing). All major conflicts will be solve by international efforts mainly via diplomat. The benefit of being in the main stream with international community will be so large that no one wish to break it.

    The key point is to reinforced the strength of UN.

    Hope it's not too naive.
  • Feb 10 2012: Intent behind force is the core issue behind when any degree of force is justified. I am a firm believer in talk out the problems and I believe military force can bring people to the table to try to solve the problems humanity faces.

    Unfortunately sometimes the individuals not representing their country despite having power over it sometimes require this force to be shown rather than just in the background.

    Historically the nations with the greatest "guns" have been number 1 in economic power partially through better negotiating positions, and I hope to see this change as India and China emerge in power. The power of nations like Germany and modern Japan have also shown a decrease in the military to economic development is possible if not easier. The cost of the escalation of military vs the human benefit I think has been in decline, but the amount of damage a well armed individual can do has dramatically increased. We have the capability to allow a small number of individuals to wipe humanity out and this burden to stop the spread of this knowledge to those that might choose to do so is in humanities best interest and a worthy use of a gun.
  • Feb 10 2012: You can't win a fight with a sword against a man with gun. With that said, gun is a tool to kill and what makes it an instrument of war or peace depends on the intention or the perception of who is carrying it. Throughout history, man has continue to sophisticate the weapon to harm or kill-from slig-shot to arrow to knife and eventaully to gun and so on. The use of weapon is acustome to many (perhaps all) societies for hunting and protecting,or invading,and dominating another society.
    So to use gun as a constructive tool will require promoting positive perception of the need of guns in a society. If we aim at using gun for protecting , maintaining order, and preventing guns from ending up in the wrong hands, positive influence to the society.
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    Feb 9 2012: By using guns, aren't you contributing to the problem?
  • Feb 9 2012: Though many people think that weapons, such as guns in this case can be a solution. However I think that the world should use other methods to prevent wars, as guns are made for killing others and causing destruction. I agree with Bruno, who said that we should invest more money into socio-economic progress. If you think about it really, the world's economy is getting worse. It is not a "instrument of peace and stability". This basically means this man is fighting for peace. Fighting for peace is like "screwing" for virginity.
  • Feb 8 2012: We need a world no need of such thing( in this case a gun).

    Gun has a great implication for survivial value as well destructive value.

    We have evolved from Hard Surviving - Hard Working - Hard thinking(21century) - Hard Loving.

    We are stronger than a gun because our love and peace are much stronger than any of weapons.

    With a gun , I may be able to save one , but it entails a sacrifice.

    With Love,( ? ) will save one without harming anyone.


    Detachment from the gun ,Mr. Petrucco. we have a missing link between a gun and who we are.
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    Feb 7 2012: Guns are tools, yes. Unfortunately they happen to be tools that we as humans use irresponsibly. When I was younger (ages ago!) almost every teenager had a gun and after schools went out hunting in the woods - the point was that, culturally, every kid knew how to handle their gun, and would only ever use it on varmints. It was inconceivable that they would use it on their classmates. Nowadays, a kid with a gun is a murdering machine of immeasurable savagery.

    However, I would say that varmint shooting is only one of two reasons to own a gun.

    The second reason is the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the US. This was put into place in order to guarantee that the government wouldnever be able to suppress the people by force, because it was incumbent upon the people to be well trained in the proper use of firearms.

    Nowadays, of course, we've gone all psycho, and in 2010 you had congressional reps from the Dallas area calling for violent uprisings if they didn't retake Congress, and a radio host in Florida saying "if ballots don't work, bullets will!". But I really don't think that's what the framers had in mind.

    With this mindset, I think now more than ever we must understand our rights, but work toward a society in which violence toward each other ends. I'll make no bones about it: I hate guns. They took away my parents (yes, I am Bruce Wayne! . . . Just joking!). But I will admit that they can be used as a constructive tool for society, but only so long as the society is mature enough to see guns as a constructive tool.

    And my apologies, you wanted a concise answer. I'm not very good at concision.
  • Feb 7 2012: Guns are needed in a world with evil in it to ensure freedom, liberty, stability and protection. Unfortunately, there is no utopia in this world.
  • Feb 7 2012: What distinguishes the gun from the bomb? Scale.

    The gun protects the interests of the one who holds it. Whether the person who holds the gun will use it positively or negatively is a question of whether societies can make good decisions.

    The gun is more effective than the sword. The bomb is more effective than the gun. The more efficient the weapon, the more unstable the whole world is. At some point, societies need to make better decisions, or we have to find an alternative to "guns."
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    Feb 6 2012: I would love to live in a world where we didn't need weapons, or locks. I hate locking myself out of my car, or house, or office...

    But there is something primal about throwing, catapulting, or launching stuff into the air...
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    Feb 6 2012: Referring to a gun as a "peacekeeper" is an oxymoron in itself. Guns are used to assert authority over others; they should be called "fear tactics" rather than "peacekeepers"
    • Feb 7 2012: Fear of confrontation keeps the peace. When someone uses a weapon to illegitimately assert authority over others, then their threat should be met in equal or superior force to either mitigate or eliminate that threat. Since you don't know when a threat will occur you need to make sure you are prepared.

      Peace is an enforced state, so yes weapons are "peacekeepers" or more correctly peace makers. We live in relative peace because we have arms to ensure this is so.

      "Si vis pacem, para bellum"

      Whether you are talking about a handgun or a missile, it makes no difference, principle holds.
  • Feb 6 2012: I think we only need weapons to defend ourselves or to help others (like people in Lybia). I hope that eventually all nations will have democracy and we will not need weapons any more.

    Some pople feel they need gun to protect themselves esp. in places where it is legal to own a gun.