Opinion: Let’s Talk About Guns

Anyone reading this from the UK will know exactly why this topic is on my mind but I’d like to start out by saying that I have never, and will never understand mankind’s fascination with guns. Yes, I enjoy a good action movie as much as the next guy but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the inherent danger and risk that comes with owning a firearm. Whether you want to admit it or not, a gun’s purpose is not defensive but rather offensive. A gun is designed to kill.

In my opinion there has never been, and there never will be a valid reason for owning a gun in this country. I don’t care if you want to go clay pigeon shooting, you can find another hobby. I don’t care if you want to go hunting, you go to Tesco and buy a steak. Above all though, and I’d like to be perfectly clear on this one, I don’t care if you’ve been inspired by the UK’s recent bronze medal in shooting at the Tokyo Games because you’re not an Olympic athlete. None of these reasons, dare I say excuses, to own a gun are, outweigh a human life, especially one of a three year old child.

Now I know the UK has far more knife crime than it does gun crime but at the end of the day guns, in theory, are far easier to control and legislate. There’s also going to be those who argue about the danger of driving or the horrors of alcohol, so why don’t we ban those too? Well, again it goes back to the purpose of a gun because the last time I checked, your Fiat 500 and pint of Guinness hadn’t been invented with the ability of blowing someone’s brains out all over the pavement.

As with everything though, the vast majority of gun owners aren’t bad. Most respect the weapon and what it can do but, in my opinion, if we could save even one life by taking away firearms from as many people as possible then we should be doing it. We’re supposed to be a civilised society and we don’t need guns to live and if the events of the last few days prove anything then there’s always a danger of them ending up in the wrong hands which just seems like an unnecessary risk that puts lives in danger and for what? The joy of shooting a clay target or taking shots at the odd rabbit? It isn’t worth it.

I’m not going to start spouting statistics at you about how many gun owners there are in the UK compared to how many shootings there’s been because frankly, one shooting is too many. One life lost, is one too many. It doesn’t matter if it you’re a man, woman or child because a bullet doesn’t care. It’ll kill you all the same. How many people in the UK who actually own a firearm, actually need to own a firearm? How many people need to have a dangerous weapon available to them 24hrs a day? Remember, there’s a big difference between need and want. I need water to survive, but I want a can of Irn Bru.

Hollywood has helped romanticise guns to the masses and let’s be honest, we shouldn’t really be looking to America as an example of how to deal with gun violence and whether we want to admit it or not sometimes, people find it difficult to separate the fantasy of a film from the reality of them living in their flat in London and this is the point we take a left turn and talk about mental health.

When you apply for a firearms licence in the UK, you’re expected to declare any mental health or physical issue that many safely posses a weapon but if recent events are anything to go by that doesn’t happen. Yes, we can blame the police all we want but again, to go back to the whole civilised society thing for a second, if we remove the option to own a gun in the first place, we reduce the danger of it making it’s way into the wrong hands.

I’ll openly admit that I’m not a farmer or a gun owner so I have no doubt there’s probably going to be something I’m not seeing here but we shouldn’t be prioritising your right to own a firearm over a person’s right to live? Even in the safest hands accidents can still happen and bullets can go astray not to mention what happens if the weapon ends up in the hands of someone willing and able to cause harm to others. Again, I don’t think you can justify the risk.

What happened in Plymouth was a tragedy but it was a preventable one however nothing we can say or do will ever bring back the lives that were taken that day. However, what we can do is start to work towards a safer society without guns and if this idea offends I ask you this: What’s more important? Protecting the lives of innocent children, or your ability to shoot a pheasant at the weekend?

by Edward Laing