Please Take the “Need” Factor Out of the Gun Control Debate

In the wake of the horrific school shooting that took place last week in Newtown, Connecticut, we’ve heard a common question asked by supporters of increased gun controls: Why does anyone need the type of guns used by the shooter?

For me, it’s a simple question to answer: The average citizen probably doesn’t need them. What I don’t understand is how that answer is relevant to the debate.

It irritates me whenever I hear someone begin a legal argument with, “Why does anyone need…” In a free society, it’s not up to me or anyone else to be the arbiter of what someone needs. It’s an extraneous question. The legality of private ownership shouldn’t be tied to necessity.

Let’s face it…Most of us own plenty of completely unnecessary things. A lot of those things are even dangerous. We buy cars that are built to reach speeds that far exceed safe, legal limits. We buy samurai swords and large knives at shopping malls. We buy propane tanks and rat poison at supermarkets. We buy alcohol.

Whether or not we need these things isn’t a determination that should be made by the government or anyone else who isn’t involved in the purchase. They’re not our spouses, parents, or whoever holds the purse-strings on our family budget. Consumers shouldn’t be compelled to defend to society or the government their reasoning behind buying products, even when those products are firearms.

If someone likes to shoot at cans or paper targets in the woods with a semi-automatic firearm, or feels safer in their home with one, it’s not my place to say that they can’t own it because I don’t think they “need” it. It’s none of my business.

If the argument is truly about a public safety concern (and it certainly is to many), let’s just come out and say that. That should be the debate. Imposing a legal limitation on property by playing the need card, on the other hand, is nothing more than a self-affirming, symbolic mechanism for penalizing people who are simply enjoying their freedoms.

When peddlers of class warfare target rich people for tax hikes, they often ask the question, “Who needs that much money?”

When a city mayor feels compelled to dictate the dietary habits of his citizenry, he asks questions like, “Who needs to drink more than 16 ounces of soda pop?”

The only answer that such questions warrant, in the United States of America, is: “It’s none of your business.”

If the government is not the entity providing the product or service, it’s not their role to cast judgement over our rationale for consuming it. It’s certainly not their role to create legislation based on it.

There are real arguments to be made for how we can best protect our children from people like Adam Lanza. The “need” factor isn’t one of them.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration (Computer Information Systems), and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. He is the author of the Sean Coleman Thriller series, which is available through all major retailers. John lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
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  • Bill

    Excellent article; I even like the NOYB. Liberals do know the difference between needs and wants; the problem is that they always try to impose their wants on others needs.

  • The DA

    Terrific article.

    There’s a saying in law that “he who frames the issue wins the argument.” One of the reasons this country is in such a pickle is that conservatives have allowed Obama, liberals, and the mainstream media to frame the issues in such a way that logic and common sense regularly take a backseat.

    There’s also another saying that “hard cases make bad law.” That’s what we’re seeing now with the rush to legislate more gun control because of the horrific event in Connecticut. To me a modern day liberal is someone who thinks you can actually prevent forest fires by banning matches.

    • John Daly

      I totally agree. Thanks for posting.

  • Brian

    In the old days guns were legal. But mass shootings were rare. Why? To me it is a combination of bad parenting, media influence from shady moguls and producers, Liberal policies that encourage government dependency, drug problems becoming common starting with the stupid Hippie revolution, and the breakdown of the family. Go look at how kids behave in public schools today versus how it was when Bernie was a kid, or even 10-15 years ago.

  • Patrick H.

    Good point, when the “need” factor enters into a debate, it assumes that everyone’s needs are exactly the same and it brings up the question of whether or not the government should be deciding what we need which it could change its minds depending on the wims of the politicians both on the left and the right.

  • GlenFS

    Wonderful piece and powerful point, John. Best on the topic in a long time. Even Bill O’Reilly has been using the N-word when he discusses “assault rifles”. I shared to FB.

    • John Daly

      Thanks Glen!

  • RickonhisHarleyJohnson

    You talk about hitting the ‘nail on the head’. Great article, John.

    • John Daly


      • RickonhisHarleyJohnson

        You’re welcome!

  • Wheels55

    The story here is that “none of your business” means we all need to practice personal responsibility – a concept that scares liberals. Liberals love to tell us what is best for us (Big Gulps and guns kill).
    Mrs. Lanza, God rest her soul, did not practice enough personal responsibility when she kept her guns where her son could get to them. She must have taught him how to use them since he seemed to have no problem with that last week. It’s the same thing as parents leaving alcohol in reach of their driving age children. Know your kids and act accordingly.
    What I need is my freedoms.

  • cmacrider

    John: Even when you get to the argument that gun control helps protect society the argument lacks empirical data. Canada had extensive gun control legislation for over 10 years and there was no decrease in the crimes of violence in fact they increased. Canada has recently rescinded its long gun registry legislation simply because it was an absolute waste of money and only the law abiding citizen complied with this law at the expense of his liberty.

    • John Daly

      Yep. The automatic weapons ban we did here for ten years showed no improvement to the gun violence problem either.

  • DanB_Tiffin

    I know the difference between my needs and my wants. Conservatives seem to understand this difference. It is completely lost on liberals, though. The emotionalism and hysteria that they love just confuses them.