For a long time I struggled with this one. No matter what kind of logic I have shared with some people they come down to this final conclusion: "Guns are designed to kill. The intended purpose is to take life and I will not have an instrument of death in my home or near myself or my family." Then usually they follow that up with, "And I think anyone who does is sick."
That is a tough one, for sure, and when that gets thrown out there it's also usually where everyone agrees to disagree and go their separate ways or they start name calling and slinging mud.
Gun advocates know it's a cop out response and gun haters know it's the Ace in the hole. For people on the fence about the gun issue, however, they're not sure how to process that information.
Is an object with the sole purpose of killing a healthy thing to have in my home; around myself, my spouse, my kids? Am I being a bad individual by exposing my family to something so macabre in its invention?
It's a very serious question for people who have no experience with or around firearms and who aren't sure whether or not they want that kind of experience. These people (perhaps you're one of them) vote on all of our gun rights and an argument as strong as "I'm protecting my family from evil by not having guns" can have a strong emotional sway. As I've said, I struggled with an answer for quite some time, until, after a little more research and time and sleepless tossing and turning in my bed an answer slowly formed in my over-active brain. It may not be the best answer, as I will freely admit my own fallacy, but it's my answer and my educated opinion.
To answer any question like this you have to break it down. First, we have to find the operating statements. Guns kill, killing is evil, therefore guns are evil.
Now we have to work out each phrase individually.
Well, yeah. You got me. If someone is shooting a gun at something their intention is not to tickle it. The firearm was invented as a means to shoot a projectile at an enormous speed which results in holes, damage and wounds in living tissue that can result in death. We won't deny this.
Killing is evil.
This is where I ask you to pause. Is killing, in all shapes and forms, evil? I submit to you that it is not.
Your average human today is so isolated from killing that he or she fails to see it's necessity to life.
Let's look at killing from a global and natural standpoint. Nature is ripe, if not teeming with killing. It is, in fact, natures balancing mechanism. Without bats killing mosquitoes and other bugs they would multiply to unbearable proportions. Without the deer population being controlled through killing by predators such as dogs and large cats their numbers would increase dwindling the supply of eatable herbs for other herbivores. Even in the ocean the process natural killing keeps the oceans in balance without which our entire planet could suffer. If anything killing (not just death) is a vital part of nature's life cycle.
Animals kill for food, to protect themselves and their young and to defend their territory. Contrary to what many people believe, man is not the only species that kills for the fun of it. Some animals do indeed kill for pleasure. Animals of the cat kingdom, being the most notorious killers for pleasure, will often kill for no other reason than because they can even going out of their way to go on long hunts just to kill and then discarding their spoils after playing with them. Ants will also indiscriminately kill as will chimpanzees and even dolphins. Not to mention we are often stumped to find a friendly dog or horse or other beloved pet randomly turning on another animal or human and killing. We try to explain it away but the fact of the matter is, animals kill.
To take it a step further people will often say, "Well, animals do not kill within their own species." Not so. Male cats will kill any young cubs they come across. Chimpanzees will randomly snatch other young chimpanzees and start a feeding frenzy. Dogs will happily make a meal of any injured members of the pack. Pigs will allows runts of the little to starve to death. Ostriches will trample their own eggs and the list goes on and on. Either through neglect or direct consequence, animals kill within their own species.
Does this make them evil? I guess that depends on your personal definition of evil. Evil implies maliciousness and immorality which needs a moral standard with which to be judged. Is there a moral standard for animals? If not then how can an animal be evil? If it's not evil then how are those killings justified or do they need to be justified? Is it permissible--dare I say natural--for animals to kill because they want to or because one of their kind is ill or because they can?
But what about humans? If you accept the widely believed notion that humans are evolved animals then the question is not, "Why do we kill?" but rather, "Why don't we kill more?" From nature's perspective we humans are a bunch of softies. Instead of kicking our sick to death, eating them or leaving them to die we put them in hospitals and care for them. Instead of eating our young we care for them and nurture them. Instead of killing or abandoning any member of the pack that ceases to be useful we tend to them, help them, feed, cloth and house them. We are even just as compassionate to the animal kingdom, going out of our way to rescue injured animals, fix them up and release them back to their natural habitats when their own species have left them for dead. We humans do not follow natures prescription for balance.
We are also horrible killing machines. On the physical scale, humans have it very bad. We are one of the weakest species on earth in terms of brute strength. We have no killing teeth, no claws, no protective fur. We even aren't that fast. We can't fly. We can't breathe under water. We are, again, a bunch of softies. The only things we have been able to do to ensure our place on the food chain are build ourselves cocoons (cities, towns, houses) from the nature that is set out (and much better equipped) to kill us and invent weapons.
From the first stone that was thrown by hand to the modern day missile, we humans have been mastering the means to use projectiles to kill from a distance. Bows with arrows, catapults, slings with stones and guns with bullets.
If you see how fragile humans are in the grand scheme of things and you acknowledge the brutality and viciousness of nature you start to embrace the idea that the human inventions of things that kill is not only NOT evil but necessary to our very survival whether we killed to defend ourselves from other stronger animals looking to kill us or for food. I think we can all (by the very nature that we still exist) appreciate the invention of weapons.
And so the response becomes, "But we no longer have to kill for food or protection of our existence and so firearms are no longer necessary."
This, again, is not so. There are those of us who live in rural areas who still have to deal with the occasional predatory animal that will kill either a human or a human's livelihood. Defending personal life and means of life are still viable for humans to this very day and I suspect as long as there are bigger creatures out there it will always be that way.
So now I bring you back to the question of evil. Is the killing of animals in defense of a human life or way of life evil? There are some who would say yes and I'd very much like to understand their thinking on the matter. If animals can kill other animals without being deemed evil, why then should humans be considered evil when we kill for the same reasons? They simply can't be.
Some might then concede and say, "Okay, we'll let farmers and people who live close to the wild have firearms but there is no use for them in cities or populated areas." And now we come face to face with evil. The good of man fighting against the evil of man. We humans do have a moral separation from the animal kingdom. Unlike animals we are NOT bound by our natures alone and we choose to break those moral laws and when we do we cross over the boundaries of good and right and into the realm of evil. Greed, jealousy, revenge, or just because we want to we end other human beings' lives.
Some people think that if we all just loved enough there would be no need for weapons. I wish that were true. But because we humans are not animals and we are not bound by a natural order and balance. Because we can choose to break moral law there will always be someone who will prey on the love and good will of people who are trying desperately to do the right thing and be good people. When those good people are defenseless, evil reigns.
And so we use those tools--those weapons we fashioned to protect ourselves from nature--to protect ourselves from our fellow man. We employ men and women to do these jobs on a regular basis on a national, state and local level. We use these weapons to keep in check those who fear only the consequences of the evil they wish to do and we use them to immediately defend life against those in the process of trying to harm it. In America, some great leaders have seen to it that the average person has the means to protect him or herself from the evils of their fellow man. Does that make us evil? No. It makes us natural.
There isn't a creature alive that doesn't fight for its life with all that it has. A cub, even while being torn apart by it's father lion will scream and claw to the best of it's ability. Wounded dogs will still bite and fight to be spared the execution of the pack. How natural is it then that we humans use what we have invented for protection to protect us? How UNNATURAL is it then for another man to attempt to tell us we don't have the right to use what we have intuitively crafted in our own defense?
Are guns evil because they are constructed to kill? Absolutely not. They have no motive or moral imperative. They can and have been used for evil, yes, but they can and have also be used to overcome that evil and to protect and wouldn't they then be called good?
It's natural to want to protect one's own life and the life of those he loves. Some choose to do that with a gun and there is nothing evil in that. If one should choose not to defend himself or his or her own family with a gun I know of no one who will not respect that decision. We only ask not to be disrespected for ours.