Whenever a gun control debate starts up, I feel uncomfortable. On the one extreme, there are those who would have no laws regarding guns. In fact, there are those who would blame violent crime not on the perpetrators, but on the victims -- for being unarmed. On the other hand, there are those who would jump at the chance to make all guns illegal, despite certain realities.

Like most of us, I think, I'm in the middle somewhere. It seems completely absurd to make the most lethal of weapons easy to obtain. It seems completely reasonable to me to require permits and background checks and waiting periods before owning weapons. It also seems absurd in many cases to blame accidental deaths on the guns themselves -- or the industry that produces them. Although, I think the gun lobby in this country missed an opportunity to change its image in the past 8 years -- it should have been the strongest advocate for gun safety, rather than accepting its image as hard-nosed, shoot-'em-up, war lovers. I think a lot of people think that "responsible gun-owner" is an oxymoron, and that's a bad thing. Hell, if Phillip-Morris can change its image, then surely so can Smith & Wesson. Furthermore, I think the argument of upholding the second amendment in order to fight back against the government is ridiculous -- unless you also advocate legally owning tanks and RPGs and Cruise Missiles. It's absurd.

Anyway, I don't know where I'm going with this. The martial artist side of me wonders if we'd be safer overall in a world where guns didn't exist, but everyone carried hand weapons. The historian in me realizes that every time one side of a conflict is outgunned or outnumbered, the other side finds a way to change the rules, which always amounts to upping the antie. Hence, despite my idealized vision of a world of responsible owners of weapons and honorable rules of combat, I always seem to come back to a world where, in the end, fewer weapons is better, period.

In reality, it seems that what we'll always have is a world where only a select few wield weapons, and the rest either admire them for it or despise them for it (or both).

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