IV. Culture of Defense
The United States of America has been having a lot of problems concerning Gun Violence, but gun rights advocates use the argument of self-defense as means to keep their rights. The argument of self-defense is apparent: we need arms to protect ourselves. But do we really need guns? The answer is no. There are other, safer ways to protect yourself during harm. And it is also constitutional. One of the ways to avoid gun violence, is to substitute the means of self-defense with non-lethal weaponry.
Going back to the language argument, we can also define the word “arms”. Black’s law dictionary defines arms as understood in the 18th century, and it includes: “‘musket and bayonet’, ‘sabre, holster pistols, and carbine’; an array of ‘side arms’; and any accoutrements necessary for their operation.” So then, what are the other options?
The technological “boom” in the 20-21st century changed the understanding of self-defense. If it used to be one-bullet charcoal based guns, now we have 10 rounds, nuclear weapons, tanks, etc. We have developed so many different ways to defend our countries, and we’ve also developed so many different gadgets to protect ourselves. For the constitutionality of non-lethal weaponry to be understandable, they must be defined: “[w]eapons that are explicitly designed and primarily employed so as to incapacitate personnel or materiel, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel, and undesired damage to property and the environment.” Thus, non-lethal weaponry is designed to incapacitate a threat without death, and to minimize permanent damage. But this definition focuses on the intent of the weapons, not the actual outcome, but their effects are reversible in most cases. Non-lethal weapons which are typically used for personal self-defense are determined by three factors: cost, access, and ease of use.
There are three main types of non-lethal weapons: blunt force objects, electric weapons, and irritant sprays. Blunt force objects are intended to cause temporary injury or pain. They can take form of batons, bean-bags, liquid filled munitions, etc. The most popular would be batons, or baseball bats. This is a great alternative to a gun. It’s good for self-defense, and the criminal will get caught, not killed. Of course, if these weapons are used improperly, they can cause horrible damage, however these kind of weapons substantially decrease the risk of death to the target and others.
Electric weapons are “energy devices that use pain and muscle tenancy (or involuntary muscle convulsion) to affect the targeted person”. There’s two types of electric weapons: stun guns and tasers. Stun guns need direct contact with the intended target, thus they’re not useful in long-distance situations, thus making the user a little vulnerable. Tasers are good for both long and short distance situations, they shoot two electrically charged darts up to fifteen feet. Electric weapons are much more useful than blunt force objects, and are also very popular among ladies, since they’re easy to carry around and are a perfect self-defense weapon. Electric weapons are a wonderful substitution for guns, they have a very low chance of causing death (if used right), and in the end the criminal gets caught – not killed. Electric weapons have been used and tested by more than 11’000 law enforcement agencies.
Last, but not the least, are irritant sprays. They are mean to “disable an individual by shooting a foam or spray containing an irritant capable of causing temporary blindness, intense pain, and trouble breathing.” Irritant sprays are not as effective as tasers, the spray can be avoided, or the foam might spray into the user’s face, but at least it can be used multiple times, they can be easily stored, and they are cheap.
All three types of weapons can be used as arms in their functional sense, and they can be used as a matter of self-defense instead of guns. They are all available to the general public, and are a safer option.
Annual homicide ratings have been changing in the United States non-stop, but they always stay in the higher numbers. In 2011, there were a total of 11’101 gun homicides, which were almost 70% of all homicides in all of United States. There were also 851 individuals who died unintentionally by the use of guns. The United States also has the highest rate of private ownership of guns, at 88.8 per 100 people. But guns aren’t the only means by which people are killed. Anything could be used as a weapon, whether it’s a pen or a shotgun, the result always depends on the intent. According to the FBI, these are the murder victims by weapons, in the years 2010-2014:
The numbers are stunning. In 2011, out of a total of 11,961 murders – 6,115 were caused by firearms. Second highest running murder weapon would be a knife (or any cutting instrument) with a total of 1,567 in 2011. But these numbers speak for themselves – comparing over 6000 deaths to 1500, it’s apparent which murder weapon is mostly preferred and used. Exactly for those reasons, we need stricter gun regulations.
1. COOKE, CHARLES C. W. “Self-Defense And The Second Amendment.” National Review 67.24 (2015): 26-27. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Nov. 2016.
2. PETERMAN, A. J. “Second Amendment Decision Rules, Non-Lethal Weapons, And Self defense.” Marquette Law Review 97.3 (2014): 853-901. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Nov. 2016.
3. Murder Victims by Weapon, 2010–2014.” FBI:UCR. N.p., n.d. Web.