I recently commented to a friend that we need better gun laws. I pointed out that the San Bernadino shooters purchased their guns and ammunition legally and that made no sense. My friend replied he would never give up his guns unless he was “100% guaranteed” he’d never be in danger.
I pointed out that was impossible. You’re not 100% guaranteed you’re not in danger now, when you have your mini-arsenal.
He thought for a moment and reluctantly agreed. His ownership of guns isn’t actually keeping him safe. “But,” he concluded, “I feel better thinking I could protect myself.”
I thought about our conversation when I saw this article at the American Prospect:
Here’s a truth that no politician, Democrat or Republican, is going to tell you: There is absolutely nothing that our government could have done to prevent the attack that took 14 lives in San Bernardino last week. If you’re looking for a lesson we can learn from it, that’s the one you ought to take. Universal background checks for gun purchases is a good idea, but it wouldn’t have stopped that couple from killing those people. Starting a new war in the Middle East is a terrible idea, but it also wouldn’t have stopped it.
The second key point:
Which brings us to another truth you won’t see politicians admit: terrorism will never be defeated or vanquished or eliminated or banished. It’s a technique, attractive to those with limited power precisely because it’s relatively easy to use.
The notion that owning a gun will keep you safe is an illusion. You will never be 100% safe. No matter what. The trick is learning to manage risks and that requires accurately assessing them. Hysterical talk about bombing Syria, banning Muslim immigrants and whatever other horrors we hear from our political class won’t help us manage risk.