With gun debate, fevered emotions blind us to logic

“Nowhere is [the gun control] debate more emotionally charged or politically consequential than in Colorado,” recently wrote none other than the New York Times. Our state’s experience at Columbine High School and an Aurora movie theater agitates our state Legislature and triggers pro-gun rallies by Colorado sheriffs and pro-control visits by the president himself.

The debate is so emotionally charged that logic no longer matters. We’re well past point-counterpoint. The only arguments come from the gut, not the head, and that applies to both sides.

Pressed hard enough, the pro-control faction will admit that recent Colorado legislation limiting gun magazine size and requiring background checks won’t significantly reduce violence and is largely symbolic. After all, 75 percent of gun-related deaths involve handguns, yet handguns never enter the debate. Why? It’s those pesky emotions, keeping us from substantial discussion about all forms of gun violence.

Many Americans emotionally view gun ownership as our last resort for resisting government tyranny and even consider possessing weapons as synonymous with freedom itself.

Like throwing pebbles against a passing train of emotions, I’d like to mutter some facts.

According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, countries with more guns have more homicides per capita, and the same goes for U.S. states with more guns. Additionally, according to a study by economist Richard Florida, states with stricter gun-control laws have fewer gun deaths per capita.

Of course, these “head” arguments are impotent against emotional absolutes as supercharged as our God-given right to be free.

Gun advocates seem to suggest that if our government becomes tyrannical — the same government that spends more on advanced weapons systems than the next 13 largest defense-spending nations combined — modern-day Minutemen will take up positions behind every landscape retaining wall in suburbia and fight off the tanks, stealth bombers, drones and aircraft carriers with their high-capacity AR-15 assault rifles, thereby restoring us to — what? — civilization?

Logical arguments aren’t heard because the National Rifle Association and its loyalists believe that when we walk into a shop, church or elementary school, we’re safer when those around us tote devices designed to kill people.

Here in America, 40 percent of homes contain guns. Here, children are 11 times more likely to die from accidental gunshot wounds than children in other developed countries and 13 times more likely to be murdered with a gun. Here, Americans age 15 to 24 are 43 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than in other developed countries. Here, 8 million Americans have been legally granted the right to hide under their clothing a device designed, from blueprint to final polish, to kill people. Here, 1 in every 240 citizens will be murdered, 60 percent of them with a gun. Here, 80 percent of gun-related deaths are inflicted by the victim himself or someone he knows, dwarfing the home defense scenario that motivates so many gun purchases.

If it’s true that guns are so fundamental to our freedom, why do the facts above make me feel less free, as if I’m encircled by people, devices and circumstances that endanger me and my family? Tell me again the logical arguments for how all these guns are making Coloradans safer and freer. Oops, I forgot. This isn’t a logical debate; it’s an emotional one.

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