In ancient Greece when someone committed a murder the weapon was destroyed because the Ancient Greeks believed that fate was decided by the gods so the murder was not as responsible for the crime as the weapon itself. Instrumentality when used in reference to weapons is the hypothesis that the increased availability of weapons in a certain area also increases that areas likelihood of weapon based offences. Essentially the increased availability of guns increases the chances that a criminal will choose a gun as their weapon of choice for committing crimes, not to mention this also increases the range of crimes this criminal can initiate. The result of this is of course the intensification of violence, simply put more guns equals more gun crime (Cook, 1991; Zimring & Hawkins, 1997).
The registering of gun owners makes sense but Executive Vice president of the NRA Wayne LaPierre raises a good point in that it infringes not only on Americans right to bear arms but also on their right to privacy but that’s what this argument boils down to, are you going to give up your freedom/privacy or your guns? The question you should be asking is; why should there have to choose between them (Fram 2013)?
Laws on gun control are emplaced purely on cause and effect basis. In other words gun control laws are increased or decreased in regards to their relationship with crime. If gun control decreases gun violence which common sense may dictate it should be increased but if it doesn’t it’s useless.
What Huemer is arguing essentially is gun controls effect on crime is arguable either way as countries like the UK has a complete ban on hand guns and strict penalties on illegal firearm ownership but there is still gun crime. Huemer’s point is that the main focus on gun control should be balancing crime and the right to have firearms, his hypothesis is that the right to own gun is more relevant than any tentative relationship gun’s may have with crime, after all crime existed long before guns.
Huemer thinks there’s more emphasis on the utilitarian principles of gun control i.e. the greatest happiness for the greatest number than there is to individual rights of ownership and self protection. Which incidentally is the main criticism of utilitarianism as a theory, it works in general but only if you’re a part of the greatest number, those in the minority just go unnoticed.
The rights of individual citizens are sidelined because of the danger of guns but in theory anything in the wrong hands can be dangerous. Huemer believes that this attitude is completely ridiculous maintaining right should be of the highest imperative. Huemer believes the individuals have the prima facie right to own firearms.
Huemer asserts that the right to private ownership of firearms is by extension the right to free of physical harm, as owning a firearm is a tool of self defence and a deterrent against home invasion and other such potential harms. He believes that the benefits of private gun ownership outweigh the danger.
The main opposition to this theory is one of. Instrumentality when used in reference to weapons is the hypothesis that the increased availability of weapons in a certain area also increases that areas likelihood of weapon based offences. Essentially the increased availability of guns increases the chances that a criminal will choose a gun as their weapon of choice for committing crimes, not to mention this also increases the range of crimes this criminal can initiate. The result of this is of course the intensification of violence, simply put more guns equals more gun crime (Cook, 1991;
Zimring & Hawkins, 1997).
The relevance of this theory is that the use of guns as opposed to knives is more likely to cause an injury or a death.
If a criminal substitutes a knife for a gun a robbery the likelihood that the victim may be hurt or killed increases because guns cause more serious wounds that knives, they are more effective at long range and they can be used to assault multiple people, not to mention gun accidents are a very real threat. On the other hand the instrumentality hypothesis does not in any way suggest that crime will increase because of increased gun availability just that the likelihood that criminals will substitute knives and other weapons for guns will increase thus resulting in more homicides.
“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”
― John Stuart Mill (On Liberty 1859)
Huemer, M. (2003) Social Theory and Practice
Mill, J.S. On Liberty in focus, edited by Gray, J & Smith, G.W (2003)
Schmalleger, F. (2012). Criminology today: An integrative introduction (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.