Kids with guns

No, this isn’t a reference to the song by Gorillaz. It’s a reference to a Tasmanian government report that has been leaked to the press. It apparently suggests allowing children between the ages of 12 and 16 years old to use guns if they live in remote farming areas.

I am a lifelong city-slicker who supports gun control. So my knee-jerk reaction is immediately to conclude: No way, Jose! Having said that, I haven’t read the report and seen why it argues that such a measure should be taken. Perhaps it concludes that children on remote farms use guns anyway, so it’s better to have a policy of “harm minimisation” rather than banning the use of guns altogether.

Which brings a funny question to mind. Making a gross generalisation, why do the “Left” and the “Right” have diametrically opposed and contradictory attitudes to drugs and guns? The Left generally favour deregulation of drug use and “harm minimisation” in relation to the use of drugs by children. The Right generally believe we should be tough on drugs.

On the other hand, the Right generally believe that we should deregulate gun use, and some of the American Right, at least, believe that children should be taught to use guns safely (“harm minimisation”). The Left generally believe that we should be tough on guns.

Now that I think about this, the inconsistency seems weird. Aren’t drugs and guns both dangerous? Any thoughts/comments welcome. What is the relevant distinction?



Filed under children, gun laws, law, law reform, politics, society

6 responses to “Kids with guns

  1. marcellous

    One distinction which might be made is that drugs are primarily harmful to the person who takes them, although secondarily to people that they cause the drug-taker to harm; guns are harmful to the person shot by them (including suicides) and to people threatened with them.

  2. GavinM

    Hello LE

    I was brought up in the suburbs, however from the age of about 12 onwards, my father taught me the correct and safe way to handle guns, (.22 calibre rifle), he used to take me rabbit hunting on a farm that is owned by my family…and guess what — I haven’t turned into a mass-murdering psycopath because of it — some anti-gun zealots would be quite surprised about that.

    I firmly believe that there is no harm in teaching children of that age how to safely handle fire-arms, I have taught both my sons so that there is no mystery around firearms for them and they can confidently and safely use a rifle should they wish to…rather than banning guns, perhaps our government and we as a society should be looking more at why gun crime occurs so often here, after all almost every household in Switzerland has an automatic military assault rifle in it and yet gun crime is virtually zero, so what is the difference between Swiss society and culture and ours..?

    As to the differing attitudes of the Left and Right towards guns, I’m not really sure other than it has struck me over the years that ‘Leftists’ seem to have an inherent dislike for and mistrust of the military and I suppose the gun is seen as a symbol thereof. The support for legalisation of drugs by the Left, in view of the many gun and other violent crimes that are committed by drug addicts really does make me wonder about the thought processes of those who propose it though.

  3. lostinsuburbia

    It is an interesting division, why those opposed to drugs support guns and vice-versa. I’ve never really given it much thought. I grew up in the country and have handled firearms since I was 8. Even saying that I am not sure i’d like to see Australia with a “right to bare arms”. I don’t think guns turn people into homocidal maniacs, I think if you want to shoot someone badly enough you will find a way regaurdless of gun laws and failing that if they really want to cause harm they will in any other way accessible to them.
    Although I dare say availability to firearms more than likely contributes to suicide by guns, still if someone wants to kill themselves they’ll find a way whether they have a gun on hand or not, they’ll find an alternative.

    As for drugs, I grew up with drug addicted parents. One is dead from the years of alcohol and drug abuse. (He was 43 when he died. It was the alcohol that killed him though, not the herion)
    I don’t like drugs and I don’t do drugs, I never have. And I took it quite personally that my parents have and do. There is a part of me that would like to see drugs decriminalised. But only if they could be monitored, decriminalising them won’t necessarily make them safer. Those out to make money from them will still cut them with dangerous substances to make a buck. But as the child of an addict you do wonder about the quality of the stuff on the streets and the hope that if they were dedcriminalised and regulated that you wouldn’t lie awake at night hoping that the stuff they were taking is clean and pure.

    I’m not sure if that makes me left, right or whatever, or that I even answered your questions. But that is the process and background by which I made my position on both drugs and guns. I don’t want to see gun or drugs legalised. because I don’t think that will make either one of them any safer. Not without some pretty tough control measures.

  4. Marcellous, I think people on drugs can also cause social harm, it’s just not quite so immediate. The primary harm is of course, to the addict, but drug use also often harms the addict’s family and society in a broader context. It’s just less stark and obvious than gun use.

    I used to have a liberal attitude towards drugs until I saw one of my husband’s best friends go mad and neurotic after smoking a lot of pot. As far as we know, he’s never recovered. He certainly doesn’t speak to any of his family or friends any more. So I’m a bit more wary of the whole thing now.

    But then where do you draw the line? Alcohol is a drug, and causes death and injury, but we allow people to use it all the time (subject to certain restrictions). And I’m glad we do (I love a glass of wine with dinner).

    For both drugs and guns, there’s pros and cons to the use of each, I suppose, and not everyone who uses them is going to turn into an addict or a psycho. I guess the trick is to minimise the cons and maximise the pros…

    Thank you for the discussion so far, very interesting.

  5. pete m

    Legalising drugs has failed wherever trialled.

    Legalising guns has not.

    They also now say that children brought up with table wine have fewer alcoholic problems than those that don’t.

    I guess people get freaky thinking kids are not mature enough to handle things, but when you think about it, our fear is borne out of seeing adults not handling these things! Why should kids miss out on all the fun?

  6. marcellous

    “Marcellous, I think people on drugs can also cause social harm, it’s just not quite so immediate. The primary harm is of course, to the addict, but drug use also often harms the addict’s family and society in a broader context. It’s just less stark and obvious than gun use.”

    That seems to be my point, just with a few added words: “can” “quite” and “often.”

    I don’t think the distinction between paternalistic protection from harm to self and protection from harm which people may cause to others should be quite so easily dismissed by invocation of “social harm” or “society in a broader context.” The distinction is not absolute, – what distinctions ever are? – but it is still the relevant distinction.

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