Notre Dame Professor: Most People Don’t Need Guns in Their Home

December 17 2013
by GSL Staff
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Gary Gutting is a professor at Notre Dame University. He also apparently thinks people should only own guns if they can demonstrate a “need” for owning one.

Gutting made his feelings known in a recent New York Times op-ed.

Let’s look at some of what he has to say.

Unless you live in (or frequent) dangerous neighborhoods or have family or friends likely to threaten you, it’s very unlikely that you’ll need a gun for self-defense. Further, counterbalancing any such need is the fact that guns are dangerous. If I have one loaded and readily accessible in an emergency (and what good is it if I don’t?), then there’s a non-negligible chance that it will lead to great harm. A gun at hand can easily push a family quarrel, a wave of depression or a child’s curiosity in a fatal direction.

Mr. Gutting, I realize that you probably live in a nice, gated community far removed from violent crime (or at least that’s what you tell yourself as an excuse for not taking responsibility for your own safety). However, a majority of people in this country do not live in middle class suburbs. A majority of the population either lives in large cities, where crime can happen anywhere. Even in a nice area of a metropolis, you are likely only a mile or two away from a not so good area. Another large portion of the population lives in rural area where a police response could take a dozens of minutes (the average violent attack lasts less than 2).

Finally, there’s the idea that citizens need guns so they can, if need be, oppose the force of a repressive government. Those who think there are current (or likely future) government actions in this country that would require armed resistance are living a paranoid fantasy. The idea that armed American citizens could stand up to our military is beyond fantasy.

Gun owners use this reasoning not for current times, but because we don’t know what will happen in the future. Would Russian citizens that lived 100 years before Joseph Stalin took power be able to predict that a genocidal maniac would take control of their country within a couple of generations? I highly doubt it. Do we know with 100% certainty that a dictator could not seize power in the US in the next 100, 200 or 300 years? Also, the fact that you think that there is a situation where the government would use its military on its own citizens if further proof of a need to keep civilian arms.

As one commentator on the op-ed points out, the US already has a history of repression and genocide against people living within its own borders. Anyone remember what happened to the Native Americans? African slaves? Japanese-American citizens during World War II?

It’s easier to get people to see that they don’t want something than that they don’t have a right to it. Focusing on the need rather than the right to own a gun, many may well conclude that for them a gun is more a danger than a protection. Those fewer guns will make for a safer country.

So I guess we’re just going to ignore the fact that over the last 20 years the number of privately owned guns has surged to all time highs while the homicide and violent crime rates have dropped to 40 year lows? An armed populace likely makes everyone safer from violent crime.

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