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If gun control is futile, what isn’t?

Emily Conron | Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I found Mr. Roth’s characterization of the impracticality of gun control very compelling [“No such thing as gun control,” Feb. 4]. For the first time, I realized, “Wow, the American government really is powerless. It can pass laws and statutes left and right to restrict people’s rights, it can impose fines and penalties to try to change behavior it deems contrary to the public interest, but in the end, people are going to do what they want to do regardless of what the law dictates.”
And then I continued along this line of reasoning and wondered, “Why do we bother posting speed limits on highways? Or requiring driver’s licenses, for that matter? What’s really going to stop someone without a license, or a basic regard for other people’s safety, from getting behind the wheel and going 80 in a 45?”
Finally, I brought this rhetoric to its logical conclusion and asked myself why the United States has a standing government at all. Clearly there’s nothing we can really do to control the population except to “shoot people who resist,” as “popular blogger” Stefan Molyneux put it.
Through the lens of Mr. Roth’s logic, expanding gun control legislation really does appear futile. But so does basically every other government activity imaginable: enforcing speed limits, regulating pharmaceutical sales or collecting taxes. The truth is, every law will have opponents, and every law will face non-compliance. Does that mean our society should abandon all legal attempts to ensure public safety and protect the common interest of citizens?
I find it especially ironic that such a cynical view of our government’s effectiveness at maintaining law and order would be articulated by a constitutional studies minor. But then again, I’m a theology major, and I must have missed the day in class when we learned about our “right to defend ourselves … not given by Congress, but by God,” which must have been mentioned somewhere in the Bible between “Thou shalt not kill” and “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.”