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How Firearms Benefit Society

The firearms industry has come under considerable scrutiny by the general public. Is this criticism fair? In order to come to a definitive conclusion, we should consider the ways in which the firearm industry benefits our society and economy.

Full disclosure: I myself am the owner of a .22 caliber rifle, a Browning 9 mm pistol, a Smith and Wesson .357 magnum revolver with a 6 inch barrel, a 9 shot .22 caliber revolver, and some handguns with reloading equipment as appropriate. I had the privilege of knowing Bruce Browning, grandson of John Browning, which started me down the path to satisfying my curiosity about firearms. 

There was a gun club a few minutes from our home. My wife and I would go occasionally and plink at targets to see what it was all about. Fun for a while, but expensive for what it was. Then the gun club shut down to accommodate urban development and that was that. We haven’t dug out our toys since then and our lives haven’t been negatively impacted by the deprivation. That was several decades ago. River running, backpacking, rock climbing, mountain climbing, and camping in National Parks were more exciting recreations. The curious curmudgeon in me was satisfied. Until recently.

Benefits To The Economy

There are many firearm companies spanning the United States including: Remington; Sturm, Ruger & Co.; Mossberg; Browning; Colt; Savage; Springfield Armory; Smith & Wesson; Winchester; and Henry. Some companies employ 2,000 or more people, which in itself contributes to our economy. And let’s not forget the ammunition manufacturers like Buffalo Bore, Fiocchi, Remington, and gunpowder manufacturers like Laflin, Oriental Powder, and. When you add accessories like holsters, gun safes, scopes, reloading equipment, targets, and cleaning equipment, we can see the impact the firearm industry has on the U.S. economy.

There are also other U. S. industries that benefit from the consequences of firearm use. Hospital staff and paramedics have jobs because people get injured. For those past the need of medical care, funeral homes, headstone makers, florists, and cemeteries benefit. Of course the insurance industry is called upon to insure firearm manufacturers from litigation. The list could go on.

In this troubled world, the U. S. has become the world’s largest economy. With this come certain obligations and opportunities. Because of the authoritarian dictatorships existing in both hemispheres (think Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran) someone has to be in the position to lead an effective opposition. Congress always votes for a large military budget to preserve our position as the sovereign power. NATO countries are worthy allies, as are South Korea and Japan, but the United States must lead. 

Wouldn’t it be better if there was more? The American military consists of merely 1.3 million soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. Plus about 800,000 reserves with a budget of about $773 billion (by far the largest in the world). What if all U.S. citizens were encouraged, if not required, to be armed? Wouldn’t that make the U.S. such a formidable force that it would totally eliminate any dictators from even thinking about incursions? With about 800 U. S. military bases around the world? Surely there is room for more.

All the economic advantages firearms bring to our country, is around 40,000 deaths from firearm suicide and homicide plus mass shootings. An unreasonable price to pay for the preservation of our economic advantages and Second Amendment rights? If we armed everyone, we wouldn’t need as large of a police force because we could have a citizen police force – or vigilantes if you’re from Texas?

What Are Guns Intended For?

As I understand it, guns were invented for the sole purpose of killing creatures, particularly at a greater distance than spears or bows and arrows. My reading of history has not uncovered evidence that gunpowder and guns were invented for merely target shooting. Therefore, if guns were developed for killing, why are we surprised if that’s what they accomplish? A practical example of this leads to the tobacco industry. Cigarettes are the only product in legal commerce that are always harmful when used as intended. 

The evidence for this became apparent with the General’s Report in 1964. That did not slow down the tobacco industry. Counterintuitively, it enhanced their profitability. In a published article I wrote titled: “The Golden Leaf,” it tells the story that tar and nicotine were determined to be bad – big surprise there – How do we reduce them? With filters. They worked in more ways than one, reducing the tar and nicotine content making cigarettes less dangerous. But, filters are made with cheap paper. Expensive tobacco could be replaced with less expensive paper and the cigarette could be lengthened to make the smoker think they were getting more for their dollar. The bottom line is that according to tobacco companies, what we needed was more research. And when the research shows unmitigated harm to both smokers and nonsmokers, they suggest moving on to vaping.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) may have vestigial ethics and invisible morality, but they are not stupid. They learned from the tobacco industry. Doubt, delay, disinformation, disingenuous solutions. Let your legislator puppets make “progress.” Enhance background checks, enact red flag laws, create more mental health clinics, harden school security. If cutting American gun deaths by 10 or 20 percent is progress, then we have succeeded. Why go for a 90 percent reduction that would trample all over the Second Amendment?  

Where would the media be if channels like Fox News couldn’t discuss gun deaths and blame it on marijuana use or mental illness? They might be reduced to explaining to us why the “peaceful protestors” who marched on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 needed assault weapons and body armor, as shown on TV, to break into the building so that they could peacefully demonstrate against a “stolen election.”

It takes considerable chutzpah for a mere mortal such as this writer to question the massive intellect of a man like the late Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court. He decried the concept of an evolutionary growth of the U.S. Constitution to adapt to changing conditions. He insisted on interpreting the Constitution according to what its writers understood. Doesn’t that mean that “arms” as written in the Constitution mean muskets using black powder? Where would our current military be if only muskets were permitted?

Learning From The Past

In August of 1945, Japan surrendered, ending World War II after the atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Shortly thereafter, some scientists were predicting that this great military advance probably presaged the end of the world in a nuclear conflagration, perhaps within only five years. But doomsday did not arrive on that schedule and we Americans survived with practice drills called “duck and cover.” And those who could afford it built bomb shelters in their backyards. Maybe what we can learn from history is that school kids can adopt the duck and cover method, but wear bullet-proof clothes and helmets as well. Add to this teachers can be armed, ready to protect their students. 

What Is The Real Existential Crisis Facing Our Planet?

For many scientists, the existential crisis of our suffering planet is climate change with its concomitants of global warming, rising oceans and their acidification, coral bleaching, species extinctions, severe hurricanes, forest fires, and other pernicious effects. 

When I graduated from high school in 1948, the world population was estimated to be about 2 billion. It is now going on 8 billion. This quadrupling in just one lifetime must surely explain the extraordinary increase in fossil fuel combustion with the sudden rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. Mother Nature has ways to inhibit overpopulation such as lethal pandemics, starvation, war, etc. But what is wrong with giving her a helping hand by the uninhibited sacrifice of the citizenry by gun violence?

Other countries like Australia and New Zealand have outlawed the use and possession of assault weapons. This in turn has lowered gun violence dramatically. Japan hasn’t allowed private ownership of firearms for many years (except under very strict conditions) and has not had gun deaths or overpopulation to begin with. Is there a lesson for Americans? Americans in dire need to play with an assault rifle have the option of joining the military or National Guard. The question persists, what if America were like Australia? 

The Right To Protect Ourselves?

A close friend of my wife and I, who is a nurse and pastor’s wife, was held up in a grocery store parking lot. Her assailant demanded her purse and when she foolishly refused, she was brutally pistol-whipped with severe injuries to her face. And she lost her purse.

A relative of my wife has a concealed-carry permit and I understand carries a loaded weapon in her purse for protection. I have wondered what the scenario would look like if she were in the position of our nurse friend and needed to protect herself. The assailant already has his weapon in hand. When he demands the purse, would our beloved relative say, “Wait a second until I can retrieve my gun from my purse and then we can have a fair fight.” Or does she always carry her gun in hand when she takes her groceries out to her car? I don’t know. When we contemplate the issue regarding firearms benefiting society, should we think a little harder?

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About the author

Gordon Short, MD, is a pathologist and the founder, chief designer and inspirator of Brevis Corporation since 1977. More from Gordon Short.
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