Day 24- Why I chose a gun

This talk by Peter Van Uhm may make you feel uncomfortable. The Netherland’s chief of defence stands in front of a crowd at TEDex Amsterdam holding a gun and flanked by several members of the armed forces. He describes that while others use the instrument of a pen, a brush, or a camera to make a contribution to society, he chose the gun. I was tempted to stop watching after 2 minutes.
Van Uhm’s story starts with his father, a baker in the Netherlands who was in the Dutch resistance at the beginning of the second world war. A competent marksman, he realised he’d been given an old gun as he fired at the advancing Nazi soldiers yet was unable to stop any. This haunted him for the rest of his life. In high school Van Uhm was gripped by the story of the Allied soldiers, who fought to liberate his home town. As he tells us, he became aware that sometimes only a gun can stand between good and evil to protect the vulnerable in society.
Van Uhm stresses he isn’t pro-war. Instead he aims to promote a state monopoly against violence. Failed states are dangerous. This is why there’s attempts to promote a judicial system in Afghanistan, why police are trained and why the Dutch constitution states one of the main tasks of the armed forces is to uphold and promote the International Rule of Law. In a world where the presence of penalties outweighs the benefits of using violence, he states that the gun is sometimes the only instrument people hear.
According to Van Uhm, statistics support use of the gun, but more importantly they bear testimony to the need for controlled states. Violence has declined dramatically in the last 500 years while the murder rate in Europe has dropped by a factor of thirty since the Middle Ages. War is no longer the best option. But peace and stability come at a price; the gun seems here to stay.

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