Atheists are a small minority in the U.S.  Advocates of gun control might be a minority in America as well. In light of the recent shootings in Aurora I am curious as to how atheists in this network view the lack of gun restrictions.  There are probably divergent views.

I have trouble believing that both presidential candidates are steering away from any call for reform after the horrific mass shooting. In my opinion it is insane to allow citizens access to assault weapons that can kill scores of people in a few minutes.  It was even more shocking to hear on a news show that a family had to raise money to pay for the immense hospital bills for one of the victims while they were already crippled with medical bills from the mothers fight with breast cancer.

As a Canadian I came to stand with my U.S brothers for the reason rally and freedom from religion.  I would be willing to come down to the capitol and march for two other important causes.  Gun control and universal health care.

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Mr Moose:

I'm suspect your scenario is rare.  Here is an actual case (not hearsay) that shows a more common tragedy involving guns

How often are guns used when people know each other?

The societies that have more restrictions on gun ownership have significantly lower death rates due to guns. I'm fine with Porsches that go over 100 mph - not so happy if my whole neighborhood was armed to the teeth with revolvers and AK-47's.   

"an armed society is a polite one"..I'm okay with my neighbors having long as they are law abiding citizens. Not my right to tell them otherwise...that is where freedom comes in. You cannot pick and choose which freedoms you like, unless you want to have a "Animal Farm" type situation. Same with other freedoms, like freedom of religion. I think we'd all have a problem if someone came to us and said we have to believe their way or be punished for it. I am a non-smoker. I believe smoking is bad for you..But, put it on the ballot and I will vote against banning it.

There was a saying that went something like this..not a direct quote: When they came for the Jews, I said nothing..I am not a jew...etc.etc..When they came for me, there was none left to speak for me...

I understand the point you make..if there were NO guns there could be NO gun violence..there'd just be other violence instead. Evil will find a way to be evil.

Sorry to hear you went through that experience and glad to hear no one was shot when you faced down an armed intruder. 

It sounds like a viscous cycle much like the religious wars that carry on with their own momentum. Protestants and Catholics in Ireland are tired of all the killing and want to make peace and then a faction does something stupid and then they can't make peace.

You have to have guns because other people with ill intent have guns.

The anecdotal account always has a lot of influence in discussions.  But, the statistics are more important.  Should my neighborhood be armed to the teeth?  The numbers indicate that societies with gun controls have a lot better control on firearm related deaths. 

We could look at the vaccination question with the anecdotal account and stats as well.  I may know someone who had a bad reaction and decide not to get vaccinated, but the stats may really point to more safety in getting that shot.

Many people have argued that they need guns to defend themselves.  It is too late in the U.S. because the bad guys already have guns. I am curious - do any of you regret how your right to bear arms has turned out?  Would you want to have guns if the U.S. always had strict gun control policy and the bad guys did not have as many guns.

If you moved to another country that has their guns under control would you feel upset if they did not let you have a gun.  Would you recommend to that society that a lax distribution of guns is a better policy?


There are no bucolic myths -  they would be called out for misrepresentation of the data.  I live in Ontario and there isn't an under reporting of homicides scandal occurring here.

Here is some hard data:

Canada Murder Average: 600/year
U.S. Murder Average: 14,500/year with 9,146 firearm related deaths

Canada Population: 33.8 million
U.S. Registered Population: 307 million

Canada Murder Percentile: 1.775%
U.S. Murder Percentile: 4.72%

Why is there more than double the murder rate - maybe easy access to guns is playing a part.

Both of our countries should be looking with envy at Australia and Iceland.

I'd be interested to see those breakdowns with an additional column for impoverished people, cultural diversity, etc. I would assume we (U.S.) have more innercity violence due to poverty, education, drugs, and race issues...

Also, how many of those firearm related deaths are due to hunting accidents, idiots hurting themselves, and children having easy access to guns with no training/supervision from parents.

it is a totally different culture here and cannot be compared to other countries accurately.

I often travel overseas and observe armed policemen or security guards.  There are many societies where it is very difficult for the general public to possess firearms, other than perhaps hunting-shotguns.  Law enforcement officials carry guns, but private citizens do not.  Such asymmetry confounds me and bespeaks of a basic injustice.  Such societies almost certainly have lower incidence of gun-related crimes, accidents or suicides.  But at what price?  For me personally, the purpose of firearms isn't self-defense against nefarious evil-doers who aim to commit a potential crime against me, but to ensure an armed citizenry.

In a society with no highways or motor vehicles, traffic deaths would be very low.  But at what price? 

I do not side with America's conservatives who insist that personal ownership of firearms is crucial for self-defense against intruders, robbers and so forth.  Most people lack the athleticism, the poise, the training and instincts to react sufficiently promptly to make a difference, even if a gun is available at hand.  Neither do I exalt the hunting-culture as a crucial tradition whose tools must be preserved.  Rather, private possession of firearms is an abstract expression of personal freedom, rather than a toolkit for practical aims. 

If moving to another country where firearms possession is strictly controlled, I would indeed lobby, to the extent practical, for wholesale revision of the laws and the culture to render firearms more available.  And I would much rather live in a neighborhood bristling with firearms, where people carry them like wallets or combs, than one devoid of guns, or with only the occasional gun locked in some basement storage cabinet.

Got to love those analogies... low traffic deaths - but  no cars to drive .... comfort of an armed citizenry at the expense of the highest death rate in all civilized nations.

I think it all comes down to your upbringing.  Some of us have escaped the ideology of religion and some have not.  Some people are brought up Christian, Muslim, or Jewish  and can not be budged in their core beliefs.  The same thing goes for your take on guns in society. I was brought up in a culture that does not believe we need access to all types of guns to possibly overthrow our government or to defend ourselves from criminals. Who knows, if I was brought up in the U.S maybe my arguments would be as passionate as some of the gun advocates.

But, this stuff about guns all sounds crazy to me and most of my neighborhood. 

Are there any pro gun people, people who were brought up with the belief that all types of guns are essential to society who have changed their minds a little?  Maybe a ban on assault rifles or tighter controls. 

Personally I am very glad that our politicians would not back off of a debate on access to assault weapons because it might lose them the election.

comfort of an armed citizenry at the expense of the highest death rate in all civilized nations

That sums it up for me in a nutshell

I think this discussion shows there is no "atheist' perspective on weaponry.  Each has their own opinion.  My dad owned rifles.  It was just part of his culture as a hunter.  He taught me as a boy how to shoot.  Small town / farm.  He hunted quail and ducks.  He went skeet shooting.  I am a military veteran and knew how to handle at least the pistols and M16s.

I also deal with a lot of people on a daily basis.  I've had had my share of dealing with irrational people or rational people in irrational moments.  And plenty of narcissistic people.  I am not quick enough or agile enough to defend myself if someone pulls a weapon on me in a small space, suddenly.  I've made that comment a couple of times and no response from pro-weaponry writers - because there is no rational answer.

I think weaponry, including guns, should be controlled.  Especially weapons designed for  mass murder.  The difference between those and biol weapons, chemical weaponry, is ?

I also think that if guns are free for people to own, they should be required to go to classes, and pass the exams,  about use of guns, ethics of gun use, gun safety, de-escalation of conflict without guns, more. We require that for drivers.  If people are going to own lethal weaponry, we  should also require it for that.

I'll be the first to concede that my capacity to "defend myself" with a firearm is ludicrously small.  I am far more likely to injure myself than to affect any substantial resistance in a dangerous situation.  Further, I fully concede that such "dangers situations" are rare, and accidental discharge or other misfortune is a far greater threat, statistically, than that of any intentional violence.

The purpose of guns is psychological.  They are a security blanket.  They are not a means for the neighborhood posse to march on Washington or to take on the local National Guard.  They won't help grandma defend the homestead from marauding ruffians.  They are not a tool for overcoming injustice or redressing grievances.  But they are something to posses for personal reasons of assuaging personal insecurities.  I argue that such insecurities are not a crude pathology that mature and reasonable people ought rightly to outgrow, but something endemic to the human condition. 

Religion enters the picture by somehow anointing gun ownership with mythical righteousness, as if "shootin' back at them there bad guys" is, um, discharging some scared duty.  It's not.  The atheist reason to support gun ownership is not a starry-eyed romance but a realistic appreciation for human nature.  We humans like to have weapons.

Now let's revisit the analogy with cars and traffic deaths.  Personally I deplore speed limits.  I realize that letting unskilled or inattentive drivers go 150 mph will cause traffic fatalities to spike.  I myself might become such a fatality.  But personally, the price is worth it - again for psychological reasons, and not because driving fast necessary gets us from A to B faster.

All sorts of behaviors are not strictly necessary and arguably are harmful, yet we tolerate them or even celebrate them because our personal preferences lead us there.  I prefer to live in a society that unabashedly makes an enormous and obvious sacrifice in public safety in exchange for abstract personal liberties, for I prize the accounting for those abstractions more than the concrete and simple reality of just staying alive. 

Classes, yes, absolutely, and certificates of mental health also.

But as a non-gun owning, non-hunting Canadian, I must confess, I agree with an armed citizenry. Canada is a Big Brother country, in some regards we brown-nose USA policy, when it's fiscally advantageous to multinational corporations, but on issues of daily social issues, Canadians have less freedoms than in the USA, don't even bother trying to have a peaceful demonstration here, police have infiltrated everything and all groups. I am happy our Canadian Gun Registry fiasco has been dumped.

Guns are scary, and guns are dangerous, but those are entirely statistically independent concepts than anti-gun laws. They is no evidence that such laws have the intended consequences. We atheists are supposed to be evidence-based, not coincidence based. Single-point differences between countries are nothing more than cultural coincidences, due to different histories.

Michael, your closing words, "...where people carry them like wallets or combs, than one devoid of guns, or with only the occasional gun locked in some basement storage cabinet." puzzle me.

You might have a reason for not saying (in whatever way you choose) "...where people, including the lawless and the mentally ill, carry them like wallets or combs, than one devoid of guns, or with only the occasional gun locked in some basement storage cabinet."

A few posts in this discussion move me to say it is inaccurately titled. "Atheist Views on gun control...." would be more accurate.

The topic of gun ownership in the US is a mixture of dangerous nationalism, a misreading of history, false bravado, cowardice, and special interests - all rolled up as confusing morass of mostly nonsense and emotionalism.

The nationalism stems from the the language of the 2nd amendment. A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. This was written at a time when nascent US government had a deep distrust of standing armies, as being antithetical to a free society. Hence, the part about militias. Over time, it was realized militia's couldn't do the job of an trained army.  Now, the reliance on the language of the right of the people. The same ones who focus on that clause are the generally the same as those that ignore the preceding amendment.

"Guns won the west." There is a certain grain of truth to that, considering we declared an unjust war on Mexico and took 1/3 of their country, then shot all the native Americans and their buffalo that we could find, all in our quest for "Manifest Destiny." Problem now is that people perceive that history in the way it is filtered through John Wayne movies and stories of the OK Coral. That version is, to many, the heroic and glorious substitute for reality.

"Anyone comes into my home or attacks my family, I'll blow them away." Or, "I'm armed because it's the only way to keep the government in check if they know the citizens will shoot back." Both, in my estimation, have varying degrees of idiocy. Those who have guns in their homes are at greater risk from dying a violent death than those that don't. And, I'm really waiting to see someone bring down an F-18 fighter jet with a squirrel gun or pistol.

"What are you going to do when the terrorists attack?" The US does have enemies. And, we know that they will plan, coordinate, and carry out attacks.  Problem is, those enemies are both foreign and domestic. Now, I doubt there is an Al Qaeda cell operating out of Ashtabula County, Mississippi, or Franklin County, Illinois. However, while I can't speak to Miss., there is a KKK cell in later jurisdiction. A domestic enemy that is covered by the 2nd Amendment.

Every time a mass shooting happens in the US, we intentionally bypass discussing or analyzing the reasons - access to firearms, mental health, domestic terrorism, etc. The NRA and their supporters loudly and falsely scream that to do so is politicizing the tragedy. Politicians looking for votes, including both of the current presidential candidates, sidestep it rather than risk alienating one base or another. So, we wring our hands after Oklahoma City and do nothing. Wring our hands after Columbine, an do nothing. Wring our hands after Phoenix and Gabby Giffords, and do nothing. And, we'll all sit around and wring our hands after Aurora, Colorado, and wait for the next mass murder. 


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