Are Guns Good or Evil?

There is hardly any gun debate in my country, because we hardly have guns. But I like to follow the debate in other parts of the world, especially the States. And I understand both of its sides. I’m anti-gun myself, but I won’t judge you for wanting to bear firearms in your daily life. Perhaps you don’t feel safe in your neighborhood. Perhaps you want to protect your home or your loved ones. I get it.

What I don’t get, however, is gun enthusiasm. How can anyone look at something that’s designed specifically to kill living things, and feel enthused? How can anyone take pride and comfort in the belief that society only functions because its inhabitants carry lethal weapons around? How can anyone view firearms as symbols of liberty and peace?

How can anyone think that guns are good?

I am an outsider to the gun debate, but if I’m allowed to make a small contribution to it, it is this: We need to ask the right question.

Let’s not ask “are guns good or evil”. Because they’re evil. Anything that’s designed to kill a human being is absolutely evil. Let’s instead ask “are guns a necessary evil”.

And if we find that they are indeed necessary, how can we change the world so that they are not?

15 comments

  1. If we are discussing the ”civilian” possession and use of guns, my answer is: guns are evil and certainly not necessary. (I won’t enter into the thorny issue of the existence of guns, and weapons generally, in other contexts.) There is any amount of research and studies that show how societal violence is aggravated if the possession of guns – “for self-defence” – is widespread. This is a fact that seems to be hard to accept for quite a lot of people, at least in the US. I remember the astonishing answer a shocked witness to a mass shooting gave to the television reporter’s question “How did you react when you heard the shots?” The man immediate reply was: “I was furious I didn’t have my rifle”.
    In fact, I believe that the fascination of weapons, the love, is the main reason why civilians, ordinary people, acquire and use them. As you put it, they are enthused by guns. If they try to tell you that their guns are symbols of liberty, or a necessity for an ordered society, or whatever, that is an excuse, a rationalization. What they do feel when they handle the object itself is (I believe) a mixture of admiring love of an elegant, beautifully working mechanical device, and the heady sense of total power the device gives its owner. The emotion is related to that feeling many people seem to harbor when it comes to their cars, only stronger, in proportion to the difference between being able to annihilate a living being, and just being able to go wherever you wish fast and unsupervised.
    Obviously, this is a psychological explanation, which may lead to the conclusion that there isn’t a lot to do about it; this gun-love is a common, human trait, and there the matter rests. Thankfully, that would be a misunderstanding of what psychology is. We are as human beings capable of change; we are also influenced by a lot of factors, including upbringing, education, and the unspoken agreements of the society we share with others. You and I and our friends and neighbours would, in all probability, experience something of that fascination deep down – along with horror and fear – if we were invited to handle a gun, but we wouldn’t for a second wish to own the thing.
    “They have the guns; we have the poets. Therefore, we will win” (Howard Zinn).

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  2. Hear hear! The gun fascination in countries with very liberal gun laws such as US and Brazil is near psychotic, with crazy death numbers. Just compare with countries with strict gun laws and do the math.
    Another quote (unknown origin,): “Whenever I hear the word gun, I take out my culture!”
    Peace out

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hear hear! The gun fascination in countries with very liberal gun laws such as US and Brazil is near psychotic, with crazy death numbers. Just compare with countries with strict gun laws and do the math.
    Another quote (unknown origin,): “Whenever I hear the word gun, I take out my culture!”
    Peace out

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  4. But are guns really evil if some people deserve to die. Think about it for a moment, people don’t use gun just to kill an innocent human being. Some people luckily got away from being murdered by defending themselves with a gun. It’s something you can defend yourself with it’s not evil, but some people choose to use it in an evil way. Gun takes lives but save others.

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    • First off, nice to hear from you again! What you’re mentioning is the main argument for guns, and like I said in the post, I understand it. You want to be able to protect yourself and those close to you from unexpected dangers. But my post isn’t so much about whether or not guns have their uses (they totally do). It’s more about the general concept of guns and how I think we should regard it. It was probably not made super clear in the text, so I’ll try to explain myself better here.

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    • If, say, a gun helped you defend your family from a crazy attacker, that would obviously be a good thing. But the gun itself isn’t good. It’s still a machine designed to kill, which I think is inherently horrible. The fact that it was needed in that situation is a tragedy. The fact that so many guns are being used today is a painful reminder that human civilization has failed to an extent, that we’re not as peaceful as we should be.

      A gun isn’t a good thing that can sometimes be misused for evil. A gun is an evil thing that can occasionally be used for good.

      This may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but I think it’s an important distinction to make. If we start viewing weapons as a tragic last resort, necessary only because society is still sick with violence, we can begin to slowly phase them out and become a peaceful species. But if we view weapons as a natural part of a healthy society, we’ll keep killing each other forever.

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  5. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The gun itself isn’t evil but people use it in an evil way. Getting rid of guns will not stop people from committing acts of violence. Gun is an “easy way out” you can die the second you get shot. If they take guns away from people, they will use other methods to kill, and I don’t think knife will be the option, it will be something much more evil. I’d rather be shot than burned alive.

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    • “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

      You’re not wrong, but it’s kinda like saying “vacuum cleaners don’t clean floors, people do”. Yes, of course that’s true; vacuum cleaners don’t clean floors all by themselves (excluding Roombas). But they are tools specifically designed to make cleaning floors a lot easier. The existence of vacuum cleaners encourages cleaning.

      Same with guns. Guns don’t kill people all by themselves. But they are tools specifically designed to make killing people a lot easier. The existence of guns encourages killing.

      That’s what I mean when I say guns are evil. Not that they have a sinister mind of their own, or that they kill people automatically, but rather that it’s in their very design to help accomplish murder. (And yes, in some situations, murder is necessary, but it is ALWAYS a horrible act. There is never a situation where murder itself can be considered good, even if it had some good consequences.) Guns are evil because they are instruments of death.

      I think the reason you and I disagree on this issue is that you’re thinking about the here and now, while I’m thinking about humanity at a larger scale. I want humanity to become a kind and civilized species (which we already are in some respects, just not enough), and we will never reach that goal if we carry guns around all the time. By embracing those horrible instruments of death, we are encouraging violence. But if we tried to slowly phase out guns, we would be encouraging peace instead. It would be a symbolic act, a way of saying “enough with the killing”. Of course people wouldn’t immediately stop killing each other as a result. But we would be one step closer to our common goal of peace.

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      • Also, you can die immediately from a gunshot, but that’s far from guaranteed. A lot of the time, it’s a lengthy, extremely painful process. It really depends on where you’re hit.

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  6. It’s to late for humanity to try and make peace. Mankind has become so evil that it can not be fixed even if we try a million years. It’s to a point we’re carrying a gun is normal. So no, taking away guns is like taking away our protection.
    And for the record it is legal in some countries for people to carry guns because if the government uses force against the people, they can rebel and take the ruler down from power, but if we don’t have guns and they do what will we fight them with?

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    • Well, in that case, we simply have vastly different premises for our political analyses. I have hope for a future of peace.(There’s a lot going against it, true, but look at how far we’ve come from our uncivilized beginnings. Who’s to say we can’t continue in that direction?) You believe we’re beyond hope and you appear to have made peace with that bleak hypothesis. That explains why we can’t seem to find common ground.

      Your question about people defending themselves from the government is a perfect example of the thought process that makes people want guns. “WE need to have guns because THEY have guns, and we need to be able to defend ourselves if they attack”. I can understand that way of thinking, but if everyone keeps thinking that way, we’ll stay trapped in our violent ways forever, and guns will only increase in number. In my opinion, we can only evolve if we have the courage to lay down our guns and trust in the good of humanity every now and then.

      But again, I think that way because I have hope for humanity’s future. You don’t have that hope, and I suppose I have some respect for that. It’s not like you have absolutely no evidence to support your pessimistic stance. Still, I think giving up is the easy thing to do. Having hope is much harder, and I take pride in my efforts to keep it up.

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  7. But the thing is trust me even if the people stops thinking “we should have guns because they have it to” people with power will always abuse their power, if the government see people without protection they will abuse their job and power more. Their might be a single hope for the people but not the government there will always be corruptions. Even in Sweden, there are politicians who have bought sex. When even Elon Musk is trying to occupy Planet Mars, there is definitely not hope in humanity.

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