Will guns make us safer?
At a time when fear seems to be driving our society, safety is a major issue. Many people don’t feel safe. Many believe that the crime rate has increased over the past few years. The reality is that it has decreased significantly since the 1970s and that the ‘70s in many ways were the most dangerous times for personal safety for people in this society.
Unfortunately, the media does much to perpetuate the fear that exists. The old saying in the newsroom is, ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ Shootings and personal tragedies are at the top of the news broadcasts. We are constantly bombarded with ads for personal safety systems, alarms that will tell us if our house is being broken into and will alert the police. Many people believe that they must own a gun in order to be safe, and they are fearful that their guns will be taken away by the government. I own a gun, an old service revolver that I wore when I worked for the sheriff’s department many years ago. I must say, though, that it doesn’t make me feel any safer having it in the house. In fact, statistics suggest that having a firearm in the home makes it more likely that someone in your family may die, rather than an intruder.
And do we really need assault weapons with huge magazines? I doubt it. I don’t think the Vandals are going to be at the gate anytime soon.
Whether we feel safe or not has much to do with our perception of the situation. This is not to say that there aren’t places one should avoid on a dark night, but how we see things has a lot to do with whether we feel safe or we don’t. If we believe that one event can make everything good or everything bad in our lives, we are likely to not feel very safe. If we believe that when bad things happen they are permanent and will never change, we are likely to not feel very safe. If we blame ourselves or other people for the problems that we face, we are less likely to feel safe. This is not to say that bad things don’t happen and that people should not be accountable for their actions. But believing that one event — for example a job promotion or lack of it — can make everything good or bad, or that when something happens it is permanent, either good or bad, or being engaged in the blame game makes us more vulnerable to feeling unsafe. Changing our thinking may go a lot further to making us feel safe than buying a firearm.
Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.