Murphy Row: Guns Don’t Kill People, Bullets Kill People

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.

We need to get guns off the streets.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Gun violence is an epidemic.

The gun debate in this country goes back and forth like that for ever.

Guns are bad.

We need guns for safety.

Guns are too dangerous.

Don’t take away my guns!

This can go on forever because we all agree that gun violence has gone too far, but one camp sees guns as the problem, the other sees guns as the solution. When ideologies fall on such polarized ends of the spectrum, there is little room for compromise in the middle. By contrast, what if we looked at this issue in a new more logical way? What if we all acknowledge that, guns don’t kill people, bullets kill people.

In the most literal sense the bullet going into a body and destroying it, ultimately causes the death associated with gun violence. What if we did more to regulate bullets? Chris Rock in his famous bit about gun violence claims the solution is to make bullets cost five thousand dollars each and then no one would ever miss the target. In true genius comedic fashion, Rock shows us that just taking a look at gun violence from a slightly different angle can provide a real and viable solution to the problem. Obviously for economic reasons, Rock’s solution would never happen in the real world. He shows us how to take this debate away from guns vs. no guns, which has no middle ground for a real solution, to conversation  that might yield a real solution. His solution just needs to be taken a step further to solve the heart of the problem.

Guns require responsibility. If you choose to own a gun, that owner has to be responsible with that gun and respect the power that a gun carries. If someone uses a gun, that person is responsible for the result of that use. This is where Rock’s five thousand dollar bullet idea falls short. His idea prevents an innocent person from being hit by a stray bullet, because no one in their right mind would ever let a million dollar item go astray.

Let us take Rock’s idea a step further. Let’s make every bullet directly identifiable to the person who purchased those bullets. Through a micro chip, or 3D printing a bullet with the owner’s fingerprint on it, each bullet could identify the owner. Admittedly this idea needs some time in R&D, but if it were possible to make every bullet unique to the owner (shooter), then that would provide the proper amount of accountability. Every bullet and thus every shot would need to be answered for by the owner. Not only would that give us the shooter in many crimes, but it would constantly reinforce the ideas of responsible gun ownership in the psychology of the owner.

Sure, there would be immediate demand for stealing and selling bullets on the black market. However, if you believe you are responsible enough to own a gun, and you believe a gun is an effective way to protect your property, then you should be able to protect your bullets from being stolen. If you cannot successfully prevent your bullets from being stolen, then I’m sorry, you do not deserve to own a gun.

If your bullets do get stolen, you would have two choices. The first would be to report them stolen to the proper agencies and then those agencies would take away your license to own a gun. The second option would be to keep your gun license but then you are then still responsible for all of the bullets that were stolen. Take your pick.

Responsible gun ownership is a life or death issue. If you fall short of your responsibility, people can and will die. When the stakes are that high, I think it is fair to give people one chance to prove they are responsible enough to own a gun. If you fail in that responsibility and allow your bullets to be stolen, then you failed the test. You were unable to to ensure your gun ownership did not end in wrongful death. If you cannot prove that level of responsibility every day of your gun ownership, then no, you do not deserve a second chance.

Sure, you have a right to own a machine designed to kill and maim, but if you choose that responsibility, you should feel the immense weight of it. If you own a gun, you should feel that there is zero tolerance for a mistake. The way to drive point that home for gun owners is to put their gun ownership at stake. Yes, you have the right to own any gun and use it how you see fit, but if you ever take a shot you cannot answer for, or you prove you cannot be responsible enough to protect your own property, then no, you no longer deserve that right.


  1. Agreed. And you can make the same argument with a lot of things when you put self responsibility of individuals in the first place. What about cars, how many people get killed by cars? Much more than by guns, so should we take away cars or limit them to some capacity to certain people. I can go on forever, point being is obvious. It´s the individual in charge of how he uses the instrument.

  2. How come it is after the fact that we learn who shouldn’t have had the right? So now everyone guesses who that is and slaps a label on it; the mentally ill, the loner with a grudge, gangs, the suicidal, the ones who got it illegally, etc. But it is those who feel entitled to harm another. I have no clue where that message comes from, surely not from our society (sarcasm). Violence is violence regardless of the instrument. Only, a gun is used to kill more people, more quickly. We have limited the scope in public conversations as to not name any attitude or belief contributing to the demoralization or dehumanizing others for any reason, that may be of our own perpetuation in small circles. No, we can’t regulate attitudes or disrespect. And despite the laws, they do not stop people which is why our prisons and jails are overcrowded. Laws do not change people. But in each and every act, all of us have the responsibility (with or without gun ownership) to make a difference starting in our families, then our communities, then our nation, then our world. I feel it it is pointless to argue the debate about guns with arguments that do not expand across the everyday life, of everyday people.

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