CN: violence, gun violence, dark humour, and general foolishness.
Friends, in the wake of the recent spate of mass shootings (which are of course different and far more newsworthy than the regular everyday shootings, for some reason) I’ve decided to weigh in on the gun control debate.
It has been noted that the USA is the only country outside of a war zone where mass shootings of civilians regularly take place and that increasing gun control by at least a little bit is a no-brainer.
Opponents of gun control have responded by saying that this is all deflection and that the real scandal is the USA’s lack of effective mental healthcare.
After all, they say, guns don’t kill, it’s people who are the problem.
But the thing is that not only is that claim deeply misleading, it actually makes a very strong case for more gun control.
There is a headline on ‘The Onion’ that perfectly sums up the USA’s relationship with mass shootings:
“No way to prevent this!” says only nation where this regularly happens.
The US has a serious mass shooting problem and it doesn’t take long for someone to ask whether it is perhaps a factor that there are so many guns around, and that getting a gun is so easy.
There are of course many reasons why someone might want to own a gun.
They might be a simple collector. They could enjoy hunting. Similarly, they might live in a rural part of the country where animal attacks are a legitimate concern.
These people would like to be able to get a gun, or a few guns, and fair enough. Throughout this article when I refer to “gun nuts” or “ammosexuals” I am not referring to these people.
And it is only natural that these people complain when gun control legislation is proposed because they think that it will mean that they will lose their guns.
But that isn’t the case since all of the gun control legislation that is currently on the table in the US won’t stop any of those people from owning the guns that they are actually interested in owning.
The real problem is people who want too many of the most dangerous guns and use them in an unsafe way. That is what the legislation is being aimed at.
Those are the ones who are “nuts”.
The people who are silly enough to want to be able to own a fully automatic weapon, fill it with armour-piercing bullets, and walk around in public with it regardless of their effect on others, they are the ones who will be targeted by gun control legislation, and they know it.
Which is why they inevitably use the self-defence argument. They know that they can’t talk about collecting or hunting, because those aren’t being targeted by gun-control groups.
So they cry “self-defence!” They argue that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
It is going to take quite some time to go through all of the reasons why that claim is bullshit, so stick with me.
Firstly, it’s a false dichotomy. It is entirely possible that two non-perfect, but non-evil people could have some sort of ‘altercation’ that could be made far more dangerous with the addition of firearms.
Secondly, it ignores the fact that a lot guns get used by their owners on themselves or on their family members when someone snaps.
We really do need everyone to understand that those who buy guns are far more likely to shoot themselves, or a family member, than they are to shoot a “bad guy”.
Thirdly, that catchphrase has no sense of probability. It assumes that when a bad guy arrives that there will be an armed good guy nearby.
But what is far more likely to happen if there is an increase of guns is an increase of accidental shootings, suicides, and murders. And I would challenge anyone to post reliable evidence that suggests that an increase in gun ownership (specifically the high capacity, high firing rate weapons that are being targeted by gun control) somehow makes places safer.
Fourthly, it assumes that a “good guy with a gun” will even be able to help.
The vast majority of attacks by “bad guys” don’t provide any warning and don’t give anyone an opportunity to draw their own weapon. So even if the mythical “good guy” happens to be there when a “bad guy” shows up it’s unlikely they’ll be able to do anything.
In fact there was a recent case where a supposed “good guy with a gun” saw a car jacking taking place and tried to help.
Which brings me to my fifth point: even if the “good guy with a gun” existed they should really be someone who knows how the fuck to safely use a gun in a dangerous situation.
And no, spending a thousand hours on a gun range or even in a combat training simulation will not prepare you for a real-life shooting.
According to the FBI there is no evidence that armed civilians can prevent crimes.
Similarly, The Nation conducted a series of interviews with actual combat veterans on this issue and they stated that armed civilians are not helpful because they literally do not know what the right thing to do even is.
This is not unexpected because the truth is that no one knows that, except people like law enforcement agencies and the military, who have been taught how to respond appropriately.
In fact at the recent mass shooting at Umpqua Community College there actually was an armed, combat veteran, nearby when the shooting started.
And he decided not to get involved.
Which was the right decision.
His argument was that:
- He didn’t know who the shooter or shooters were, or even where they were, so he wouldn’t have been able to help anyway.
- By going in there blind he would have simply given the murderer more targets or, in the case of a terrorist attack, more hostages.
- He had no idea whether law enforcement was on the scene, or when they would arrive, and by wandering in with a gun drawn he raised the very realistic possibility that a SWAT sniper might rationally assume that he was the shooter and kill him on sight.
So evidence suggests that the “good guy with a gun” is a myth that doesn’t correspond to the really-real world.
At this point gun nuts often fall back on their old favourite ‘argument’: “guns don’t kill people, people do”.
This is something that is both technically correct, and deeply misleading.
It also leads to consequences that may be rather unpleasant for the gun nuts themselves.
But for starters I must ask the ammosexuals a simple question:
If guns don’t kill people then why do you want one?
It can’t be for collecting, hunting, or animal deterrence since they wouldn’t be affected by gun limits or background checks.
No, they either want them because they make the person feel powerful, which isn’t a good enough reason to hold back reasonable gun control.
Or they want them because they have bought into the ‘self-defence’ fantasy mentioned above.
And if you want a gun for defence then that means you want guns because they DO kill people.
So here is the reality:
Guns may not kill people all by themselves but they make it far too easy to kill lots of people, really quickly, without those people being able to protect themselves or having even the tiniest hope of survival.
And in this way they are completely different to anything else in the world.
There was a case in Japan where a spree killer used both knives and a car to try and kill as many people as possible.
He killed 3 people with his car, and 4 people with his knife.
If he’d had a gun the slaughter would have been much, much worse (and in the US cars require more testing and paperwork than guns anyway).
As a lifetime martial artist I can tell you that the most gifted knife fighter on the planet can be beaten by half a dozen average people using improvised weapons.
If their lives were on the line? You bet your ass.
But an entirely mediocre gun user (as all the recent spree killers have been) can kill dozens of people without any trouble at all.
The free availability of guns makes massive body counts not just likely, but inevitable
More gun control is needed.
And if you really want to see the truth of this then simply realise that the statement “guns don’t kill people, people do” is just another way of saying:
“the problem with guns is gun owners.”
So we should probably be giving them background checks, and reducing how many guns they can have, which ones they can have, and where exactly they are allowed to whip their guns out.
Because, as so many gun aficionados have been saying recently (without realising it): the real problem with guns is the gun owners themselves.
[Standard Disclaimer: this post was entirely my own opinion and was not paid for in any way, directly or otherwise, by anyone or anything that stands to gain in any way from the ideas expressed herein.]