Libbo, I agree with most of what you say, and I do admit that any example I make up will be contrived, but I just don't buy the guns for self defence argument. Not that it's not a valid one to make, I just don't think the defensive ability of a gun outweighs the danger of having one around the home.
Oh yeah, that line about peace and happiness was a throwaway barb, just to see if G would bite. I don't really believe we'll ever get that kind of society. And I'm not a hippy. (Just for reference - I can't stress that enough.)
Mind you, I don't advocate sitting by and doing nothing while peoples lives are at stake (including being severly beaten, raped, etc). But there are other, non lethal methods of defending yourself and others. Pepper spray, self defence classes, martial arts, hell even a mobile phone (ala Buffy 7.1 ;))
And I stick by my statements that having a gun makes you a target. Consider our hypothetical mugging/rape situation. First of all, in a gun plentiful world, the criminal is going to consider the fact that you may have a weapon. Also, he's not going to try and rape your wife while you are in any sort of position to stop him... He'd probably try and kill/knock out/tie up you anyway. The way I see it is, having a gun is going to be helpful in very few situations. Either you are only moderate danger, in which case lethal force is overkill, or you are in so much trouble that having a gun ain't gonna help your survival prospects anyway.
You mention accountability. The idea of everyone being accountable about gun safety is just as laugable as "a peaceful little world" (btw, I object to the term little, it is degrogatory without basis). I'm sure 99% of all gun owners are responsible. It's the 1% that worry me - especially when it's 1% of 100 million people. Talk all you want about safety classes, license requirements, but the fact remains that some people are just slack, forgetfull or stupid, and there will be plenty of opporunity for legal guns to be abused. The way I see it is the smaller the nunmber of guns out there, the less morons with a gun there are (btw, nowhere here do I imply that being a moron is in any way linked with owning a gun).
jawlz brings up the point of guns preventing crime. I would like to see your numbers, but I'll take what you said at face value. What I meant by the "guns are not used for defense" statement was guns are used for defense the same way nuclear weapons are used for defense - if you threaten me, I'll destroy you utterly. Thats fair enough, if you never actually have to drop the bomb/fire the gun.
(As a side note, I suggest reading Orson Scott Card's Ender series, especially Speaker for the Dead/Xenocide, for some interesting discussion about when the use of deadly force is appropriate. You will find parts of it support both sides of this argument)
I might also note that my position is not set in stone. I am willing to change my beliefs on this. But you'll have to make me believe, not attack my position.
George: I had written something here about your last comment, but on reflection your posts are nothing but flamebait. Come back when you have cooled off.
Sorry about the length of this post. It's pretty OT too. If anyone (excluding G) wants to continue this thread, I'd be happy to do it via email. Right now though, its 3.40 am and I am going to bed.