When it comes to Gun Control:
- Gun control kills.
- The Pennsylvania Constitution mandates, "The right of the Citizen to bear arms for defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned."
- Passing more gun control laws would not help. Criminals don't care about breaking a law.
- Facts show that supporting the right to keep and bear arms reduces crime and homicides.
- Handguns are a girl's best friend.
Note: You can link to this page directly by using
This speech was delivered by Mr. Krawchuk to the Educational
Testing Service Toastmasters in the wake of the Columbine killings.
Gunning for a Solution
"A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of
a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall
not be infringed."
So says the infamous Second Amendment to the Constitution for
the United States of America. But the same Constitution promises
to "promote the general welfare" and "insure domestic tranquility".
Do you think that the 193 million privately-owned firearms
promote the general welfare and insure domestic tranquility?
The Pennsylvania Constitution goes even further. Article I
says, "The right of the Citizen to bear arms in defense of
themselves and the State shall not be questioned." But it also
says that "governments are founded... for the peace, safety, and
happiness" of the people.
Happiness? Three months ago, 12 students and a teacher were
killed in Colorado. Does that make you happy?
Safety? Almost 40,000 Americans were killed by firearms last
year alone. Do you feel safe?
Peace? The peace of the grave, perhaps.
Welcome, fellow Toastmasters, to the saga of the War on Guns.
It's a battle between the right to bear arms and the right to
live your life; the battle between pro-gun versus pro-gun control,
a battle between the "haves" and the "want-them-to-have nots".
And it's an interesting battle, because as divided as people
are about guns, there is one thing that both sides readily agree
upon: the facts.
It's surprising, but there is very little disagreement over
the facts. People on both sides of the gun issue quote the same
numbers: Guns are the seventh largest killer in the nation.
There's a gun for every man, woman, and half the kids in the
country, and thousands of those children were killed by firearms
every year; it works out to one dead child, every two hours.
Both sides readily agree that these are facts. So it's not so much
the facts about guns where the disagreement comes in; it's how each group
puts a certain emphasis on the facts; how they spin the facts, if you will.
For example, in 1995 there were 185 fatal firearm accidents
among children. Gun advocates point out that it's down by almost
2/3 from the high-water mark of the 1970's. But gun control
advocates point out that it's ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY FIVE DEAD
CHILDREN! 370 grieving parents.
Do you see what I mean? Same facts, different spins
Another example: Gun advocates prove that Americans use guns
defensively 2.5 million times a year, preventing many more murders,
rapes, and robberies than if they were unarmed.
The gun control advocates agree, but counter that with a gun
in the home, you're 3 times more likely to have a homicide, 5 times
more likely to have a suicide, and a whopping 43 times more likely
to kill a friend than to kill in self defense.
All these numbers come from the same facts. Each side sat up
late at night spinning their numbers in just the right way to
promote their agendas. Each side claims they prove their numbers are
What, then, should we do about guns?
First, we must realize that there is no Utopia. Pandora's box
is open. Guns are here to stay. We can't eliminate illegal drugs
and guns in prison; so how can we expect to do it in a free
society? The answer is: You can't.
We must realize that more laws would not work. Criminals
don't care about breaking a law. Did you know that the students in
Littleton broke 19 different laws?. Do you think they cared? More
laws would only impact law-abiding citizens -- because they abide
by the law -- and not the criminals -- because they don't.
So what, then, do we do about guns? The best programmer I
ever met once told me a fundamental truth, useful not only in
programming, but also useful in life. He said, "More important
than solving the problem correctly is to solve the correct
So when it comes to guns, what's the problem that we're
Do you know what problem I'd like to solve? 40,000 people die every
year from firearms. THAT is the problem to be solved. To my mind, all our
actions must be aimed at reducing the number of deaths as best we can.
And who could disagree? I don't know about you, but I'm tired
of hearing about dead children on the 6 o'clock news.
So what can we do to reduce gun deaths? We need to look at
the things that have already worked. What successes have there
been in America recently?
Without a doubt, the most astounding success, statistically
speaking, is occurring in Florida. According to the FBI, over the
ten years between 1987 and 1997 their handgun homicide rate dropped
41% while the rest of the nation's rose 24%; and it continues to
drop today, 5% a year, while the rest of the nation's continues to
rise. And before 1987, their rate had pretty much gone along with
the rest of the country.
How did Florida achieve this boon, you may ask? How did they
reduce their handgun homicide rate to its lowest level since 1933?
What did Florida do in 1987 that started their contrarian trend?
They made it legal to carry a concealed handgun.
Surprised? I was shocked; I couldn't believe it at first.
But the statistics are there, plain as day. An armed society is a
safer society, 41% safer. Some local communities have eliminated
over 90 percent of gun deaths that way. But don't take my word for it;
ask the FBI.
Here's another shocker: Everyone knows that if a woman resist an attacker, she's twice as likely to be seriously injured. But John Lott at the University of Chicago did a county-level, nationwide study. He confirmed that common wisdom, but he also discovered that if a woman resisted with a handgun, she's half as likely to be seriously injured.
The obvious conclusion to draw from Lott's study is that handguns are a girl's best friend.
But we have to be careful when we rely only on statistics like
these. Statistics can be very cold. So let's take a look at what
happens in real situations with real people. Let's look at a few
of the recent school shootings, for example.
In Pearl Mississippi in 1997, 2 students were killed by a
fellow student. But the vice principal ran out to his car for his
gun, then held the killer at bay for 5 minutes until the police
arrived. If he hadn't stepped forward, how many more people would
have been killed in those 5 minutes?
In 1998, a little closer to home in Edinboro Pennsylvania,
only 1 student was killed because a neighboring merchant with a
shotgun held the killer at bay for 11 minutes until the police
arrived. How many more people could have been killed in those 11
This year, in Littleton Colorado, there was no one there to
stop them. Thirteen were killed.
Fellow Toastmasters, I cannot escape the truth.
No matter where I look, the evidence is clear. No matter how
you spin them, the facts are clear. No matter whether you look at
statistics or individual disasters, the answer is clear.
If the problem your solving is to save as many innocent lives
as possible, there is one incontrovertible, inescapable conclusion:
gun control kills.
And if you disagree, if your goal is NOT to save as many
innocent lives as possible, then I have to ask you: What problem
are YOU solving?