Should Lebanon Have A Gun Debate?

The Beirut Spring

Is having unlicensed weapons in every other Lebanese household really such a bad thing?

bubble gun

This morning I read a NowLebanon article that blew my mind away (pun intended). If the statistics in the article are correct, almost 50% of Lebanese households now have one form or another of weapons, with most of them unlicensed.

Some of the stuff in the article is really chilling, take this paragraph for instance:

Bassam, 24, got his new M16 as a present from his father. It is his new toy, he said; he even lets his eight-year old cousin play with it and has taught him how to hold it.

But while there seems to be a consensus in civil-war-scarred Lebanon that having guns is a very bad idea, nobody seems to be making the counter argument. This is why I venture in the name of balance to play the devil’s advocate, even if I carry the risk of being shot by the anti-gun folks.

Here are the three main arguments why gun ubiquity could be a good thing, and I urge you to have an open mind about them:

1- The if-you-want-peace-get-ready-for-war argument:
The idea is that If everyone has weapons, people will really think twice before starting a war. People are more likely to talk and negotiate their difference if they know that the other party is no military push-over.

2- The I-sleep-better-at-night-with-a-rifle-in-my-closet argument.
Whether perceived or real, many Lebanese are losing sleep over the threat that the ‘other’ will raid their homes at nights, kill their kids and rape their wives. If having a gun (that you’ll never use) in your drawer makes you sleep better, then go ahead. The country could use the gain in productivity and loss of stress that would give you.

3- The economic-wheel argument.
The guy who sold you the gun and made a huge profit will probably use the windfall to send his kids to school and buy stuff, ensuring more employment for teachers, sales people and manufacturers all over the country..

These are not necessarily arguments I agree with. In fact, on balance, I believe that something must be done to control and reduce the proliferation of guns. But I also think it’s important to for people to consider the other side of the story to enrich the debate and make people more informed. What do you think?

(Photo source of boy holding a bubbles gun)

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Tarek is the founder and chief researcher at Youngberry, a youth research and marketing firm dedicated to the region. Tarek founded and previously worked as Manager at Flip Media (Interactive Agency), (Job Site) and Consulting House Qatar (Consulting firm). He is researcher and writer on internet & disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, and youth culture.