The problem with the gun control debate is that people react emotionally instead of dealing with facts and reason. Instead of careful, calm, and realistic consideration of the bigger picture, they latch on to cheap, sentimental arguments meant to appeal to their audience’s sense of outrage and decency.
Whether it’s a municipal politician trying to score points after an inner city shooting and talking about policy that’s either beyond his or her comprehension and ability to effect, or their equivalent at the federal level, they don’t bother looking beyond the weekend’s body count. They can certainly wax poetic and play people’s heartstrings like a banjo when frail, white girls are hit in the crossfire, although their silence when it’s black people shooting black people is also telling.
Fortunately, most politicians know which side of their bread is buttered and who spreads it the thickest for them. They can be usually counted on to make the “Tough On Crime” speech at such moments. They use these incidents as opportunities to help foster their tough, “I’ll keep our streets safe” image, which is what people want to hear.
There is always somebody who might try to make a stink about the fact that a gun killed the person, but not too many people pay much attention to them. I always wonder what they would have preferred killed them – a steak knife? At least a gun can be a quick and painless and they won’t have suffered like they would have after being stabbed to death.
Where people really hit their stride and manage to garner attention for themselves is when they take on the international trade in anti-personnel weaponry and small arms. Look at Princess Di. She wasn’t even married to the Prince Charles anymore and got herself into the public eye by setting up a campaign against land mines.
Did she once pose in front of a factory where the workers are busy assembling the mines that are being sold around the world? Did she once check out the unemployment lines that exist in those countries and see what a boon to their economies it is to have these positions in the local community?
No. She traveled around the world posing with peasant farmers, women, and children (probably even a dog for all I know) who have had various limbs blown off because they ran their tractor or team of oxen over a land mine. This of course created a wave of sympathy for people that the rest of the world doesn’t normally give a rat’s ass about, but because they looked so pathetic, standing next to pristine Lady Di, the guilt button was pressed big time.
All of a sudden it became the fault of the land mines that these people were getting injured. The next thing you know, some international treaty is created that’s banning land mines and putting huge numbers of people out of work. All of this because people weren’t with it enough to check former war zones for anti-personnel devices and were losing body bits. It seems only common sense to do a quick scan for mines in the field your about to plough when you know fighting has taken place there. But instead of teaching people to do that, they pass a treaty trying to ban landmines and do a lot of damage to the economy.
That whole mess is a perfect example of not looking at the big picture and of public opinion being influenced by a manipulative appeal to their sentiments. Just ask the famine folk. Nothing works better to guilt people into ignoring their better instincts than some pathetic, large-eyed, dark-skinned face wearing a tattered undershirt. Lop off a body part or two and you’ve got a spin-doctor’s dream.
That whole land mine debacle has proven that the threat to small arms manufacturers is real and the industry is in danger. The nest big threat on the horizon is the Control Arms Campaign being run by Oxfam International, Amnesty International, and the International Network on Small Arms. Oxfam and Amnesty International are experienced professionals when it comes to giving the guilt complexes of Western liberals a working over and can’t be taken lightly.
Five years ago the United Nations held its first conference on the small arms and light weapons trade. The second one is this week. Movements like the Control Arms Campaign use these meetings as flashpoints to pump up the volume on their attempts to paint the trade of weaponry in as bad as light as possible.
Expect over the course of the next week to be reading about how small arms kill more people each year then the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, how they contribute to violence against children around the world (25,000 children kidnapped and used as soldiers in Uganda, children being raped at gunpoint, and watching their parents killed or raped), and that there are a minimum of 640 million small arms in existence today.
You won’t be hearing anything of course on the direct and indirect effects on the world’s economy that the anti-personnel and small arms industry has. Nothing will be said about the countless jobs it creates in countries all over the world, the amount of money made by the shipping industry in transporting the goods, or the numbers of people employed by those responsible for the movement of the weaponry.
Even the numbers are deceiving; 640 million small arms may sound like a lot, until you take into consideration the number of wars that are ongoing at any one time, plus all the standing armies, reservists, police forces, and paramilitary outfits around the world. The industry is just barely managing to keep up with the demand
You can’t hold the industry responsible for how their products are put to use; that would be like holding car manufacturers responsible for traffic fatalities. How is a company supposed to know what the purchaser is going to use them for when they are given a contract to supply ten thousand semi-automatic rifles? They have a general idea — they are weapons after all — but they are not in a position of being able to ask, “Are you going to use these to form a child army, burn women and children, and chew veins in your teeth?”
What other industries have such restrictions placed on them? None. Like all other industries, the armament business strives to provide a product that works, and is as safe as possible for the people utilizing it. It’s a highly competitive and cutthroat industry, where you are only as good as your latest innovation.
If the people at the Control Arms Campaign have their way, countries will be forced to regulate arms shipments crossing their borders. Any type of control or restrictions placed on this industry will place many firms in jeopardy. Reputations are made based on the ability to deliver quantity as well as quality with the least amount of fuss possible.
What would happen if a company receives an order but is not able to fill it right away because they have already shipped their quota for that month? They lose a contract, and probably a client. Seeing how this is such a reputation-based business, word will get around that the company can no longer meet expectations. Their order books will dry up and they’ll go under.
This scenario will repeat itself over and over again until a once-thriving business will be on its knees, just barely scraping by. Think what a devastating effect this could have on local economies and international trade. But nobody will be mentioning anything about these facts at the United Nations conference on the small arms and light weapons trade this week.
No, they’ll just talk about fifteen-year-old girls who have been kidnapped and held captive for nine months and the children being conscripted to fight wars in the jungles in far off lands. What any of that has to do with the actual business of the arms trade is beyond me.
Logic and reason don’t seem to have any place in the arguments marshaled against this long-standing and essential service. Make sure you think with your brain and not your heart before you decide which side of the argument you favour.