Guns and alcohol: Ban them both

By Eli Talbert / Columnist

In light of continued shootings on college campuses, we must address the problem behind these tragedies.  A major issue is  gun control. After all, 100 percent of shootings involve guns. However, guns are not the only inanimate objects that kill. There is another evil that, for all the same reasons as guns, the government should ban. 

This evil, though admittedly not as scary-looking as guns, has hid within our society for thousands of years. It is insidious, pervasive and just as dangerous as guns. It goes by many names, but the most common is alcohol. Both guns and alcohol are dangerous to society and should therefore be banned.

Now, I understand that this might seem surprising to many people. What could something primarily used by arguably backward conservatives have to do with something heavily enjoyed by enlightened liberal college students? Quite a lot, actually.

For one, despite what you might believe, people don’t kill people. Guns kill people, and so does alcohol. The Center for Disease Control recorded 33,363 deaths related to firearms in 2011, the most recent year on record, and similarly estimates that there were about 88,000 alcohol-related deaths each year from 2006 to 2010. Perhaps even more troubling, guns and alcohol both heavily affect others. 

In 2012, there were 12,765 gun-related homicides and 10,322 alcohol-impaired driving crash fatalities, according to the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation, respectively. When you consider that, according to these numbers, alcohol and guns combined helped people directly kill around .0073 percent of the population, it makes sense to deprive the vast law-abiding majority of their right to have alcohol and guns.

This is especially true when you consider how neither guns nor alcohol have any legitimate purpose. Sure, your typical gun rights activist will squawk about self-defense, but why would we need to defend ourselves if we have the police to do that for us? Police might not actually be legally obligated to protect us, according to the Supreme Court, but the mere possibility should be enough. As far as the entertainment argument goes that applies to both guns and alcohol, why should anyone have the right to enjoy themselves if it raises the probability of me dying by even one-hundredth of a percent? Law-abiding citizens simply can’t be trusted with either guns or alcohol if they are ever used by criminals.

After all, it is not just murderers that use guns and alcohol, criminals of all stripes do too. For example, in 2012, 41 percent of robberies involved a firearm, and an estimated two-thirds of domestic violence incidents involve alcohol. Admittedly, there is no actual evidence that removing alcohol or guns would prevent these crimes from happening, but doing so would only deprive the 34 percent of Americans who own guns and the 56 percent of Americans who regularly drink alcohol of a minor right.

Of course, enforcing a ban on alcohol and guns would require a lot of enforcement work. Pessimists might point to futile events such as Prohibition. They would say a crackdown might only make things worse, making criminals of law-abiding citizens and giving criminals an advantage. 

However, these pessimists should realize that anything is possible in the 21st century. If we give the government enough power, it absolutely could enforce the ban. We even have a ready-made federal agency — the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — to enforce it. If we let the government have a free reign, it wouldn’t be a failure like the War on Drugs — which, incidentally, makes the greatest use of the Patriot Act.

It comes down to your priorities. Do we want to let people run around freely exercising their rights and making the world slightly more dangerous for the rest of us? Or do we want to let our benevolent Big Brother take care of us and protect us from harm? 

The answer is obvious.

Remember, you have no freedom when you are dead. Take the safe choice or risk all the evils of having control over your own life.   

Eli Talbert writes a biweekly satirical column for The Pitt News.

Write to Eli at [email protected].