“A weapon does not decide whether or not to kill. A weapon
is a manifestation of a decision that has already been made.”
Producing railguns—weapons that are capable of repetitively shooting destructive projectiles at more than 5000MPH—sounded like an idea from a sci-fiction story just decades ago. Now, the US navy is planning to test its railgun in 2016 and repeat it in 2018; by 2020s, the navy will have decided how to use it, while several countries will hesitate on constructing their own railguns, which each require approximately 22 billion US dollars. Their uncertainty is understandable, as the opportunity cost is extremely high; they could spend 22 billion US dollars on other aspects, such as healthcare and public transportation. Yet, this fact does not seem very apparent to the US government, which is already globally unrivaled in terms of firearms.
Annually, US’s average expenditure on defense is equivalent to $610 Billion, rivalling that of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, UK, India and Germany combined. $610 Billion! This amount of money could have gone to several alternative uses, such as public health care, unemployment benefits or subsidies for education, yet the US government spends it on weapons production. This shows how the weapons industries are a prominent sector in US economy and explains why numerous US politicians are reluctant to ban guns, despite the occurrences of countless gun crimes.
A famous paradigm would be the tragedy at historic black church in Charleston S.C, where nine black individuals were shot to death by a white supremacist on June 18, 2015. Another paradigm is an 11 year-old boy used a shotgun to shoot his 8 year-old neighbor on Oct 7th, 2015 because she refused to let him see her dog. The previously mentioned two cases only depict a tiny shred of suffering that guns have caused. Indubitably, there were much more, more and more cases, in which people used guns to victimise other vulnerable citizens.
The detrimental effect of guns on US community is ,no doubt, substantial. According to the FBI, more preschoolers are killed in firearm cases than police officers who are killed in action. Moreover, as if this revelation is not appalling enough, statistics show that 1.45 million gun deaths have occurred since 1970, while there have been 1.4 million war deaths since 1775 in America. Yet, several politicians, such as Lindsey Graham and Ben Carson, still refuse to place bans on the sales of guns to civilians, claiming that the citizens have the right to own measures of self-protection.
Ironically, these ‘measures of self-protection’ have been used more for murders rather than for their intended purpose. However, these mavericks still insist that banning guns will not ameliorate the issue; instead, it will worsen the matter, just as how handgun ban in England in January 1997 drastically increased homicide cases. Although their arguments might seem resounding, their stance is not necessarily the best choice for the welfare of the Americans.
US politicians should utilise the system of Iceland, which is well-known for its low crime rate. In 2009, its homicide count was one, while it was 15,241 in US. What can possibly cause this stark contrast, when Icelanders also possess guns? Firstly, in Iceland, the consumers are required to undergo much more complex procedures, medical examinations and written tests to procure guns. Secondly, unlike US policemen, those in Iceland are unarmed; only a unit named ‘Viking Force’ is permitted to carry guns, and it is rarely summoned. Lastly, unlike in US, there are only few illegal drugs in Iceland; due to the government’s regulation, Iceland’s citizens do not seek illegal suppliers’ services and break laws to satisfy their demands as much as those in US. If the government genuinely wants to solve the gun crime issues, following the mentioned steps would be a prerequisite.
George Santayana—the Italian philosopher—once said, “Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.” As he claimed, the US government should learn from its tragedies and put its utmost efforts into prohibition of guns, regardless of the negative impact on the nation’s economy. Otherwise, the US will continue to indulge in its unsustainable economic growths through the blood of its own people.