Here’s what somebody said on a comment line the other day: “If you say, ‘Guns don’t kill people – people kill people!”, isn’t that like saying “Toasters don’t toast toast – toast toasts toast!”
Wow. This impressed me. In a stroke, it laid to rest all of the asinine, self-serving, my-desires-first arrogance of the entire pro-gun argument.
Yes, we have a crappy mental-health safety net. Yes, our culture of cheap thrills has opened new career paths for dangerously crazy people. Yes, the ridiculous climate of fear fostered by the likes of Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly has encouraged people to fall off the deep end. HOWEVER –
Why does this prevent us from even engaging in a dialog regarding some form of control over the tide of deadly weapons washing over the nation? Last I looked, the 2nd Amendment said ” A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
WHY is that part about the “well regulated militia” ALWAYS left out of the argument? Because gun rights proponents know it is gonna cause a problem, that’s why! So the 2nd amendment has been truncated to say what it is that people of a certain political bent WANT it to say, and NOT what is actually says. Talk about rewriting the Constitution.
How about the fact that the Founding Fathers were talking about FLINTLOCKS? Muskets! Breechloaders! Not handguns, automatics, semi-automatics, grenade launchers, or mortars. Where in the fervid imagination of Thomas Jefferson did he ever picture a gun-toting madman filling the 50-pound body of a Newtown first-grader with ELEVEN slugs?
And why – oh why – does every meaningful debate about guns rights I attempt to have with one of the Stepford gun-rights proponents invariably go one of two ways? The first way is to devolve into insults and name-calling, like a less-sophisticated version of a Fox News contributor. Sometimes it just starts out that way – I say something along the lines of “Maybe we need to talk about some form of firearms regulation”, and the well-thought-out response is the ever-popular conservative quip, “You have your head up your ass!” Sometimes these persons will proceed on with misinformation about how many people protected themselves with their trusty weapons (except for the guy just yesterday who put his pistol on his dashboard, which promptly fired and killed his 7-year-old son who was buckling himself into his car seat. The irony of the pistol on the dash (“I thought it was unloaded”) contrasted with the little boy’s safety seat is … awful.) There’s also the fact that most of this so-called info, when checked, is more full of holes than the straw bales surrounding a target on a shooting range. Statistically, “protective” firearms are more useful for shooting babysitters, newspaper carriers, trick-or-treaters, domestic partners, wives, husbands, co-workers, schoolchildren, politicians, people you are mad at, people you don’t like, yourself on purpose, or yourself accidentally, than protection.
The second way that my encounters with gun-rights proponents go is straight to the technical gee-whiz factor. For some unknown reason, guy after guy (and they are ALL guys) seems to think that a bunch of technical bullcrap about the velocity of the slug, the rifling of the barrel, the relative merits of this-or-that firing mechanism, the “rate of delivery” (eeewww), and a veritable host of other details somehow relates back to the argument, BUT IT DOESN’T. These facts relate ONLY to soulless, childless, bloodless technology. This is similar to one of those geeky people who are super-excited to show you some slick feature about your computer that you will never use in a thousand years, when all you want to do is send a message to someone. The difference is, computer misapplication generally does not have fatal consequences.
What is this about? Are they trying to distance themselves from the basic, inarguable fact that “people with guns kill lots of people really fast”? Are their brains so bifurcated that they just block off the road that leads to the human-misery quotient and merrily proceed along the more innocent byway of “guns are cool”? I wish I knew.
Then this Virginia study comes out, about how more handguns (up 73%) meant less crime in Virginia (down 24%) last year. Oh, the gun-rights people are head over heels in love with this. But of all the places on the Net I have gone to kind of get a feel for this guys research technique, I have come up empty. For all the effort I made to get a handle on this guy’s potential confirmation bias, I came up with nada. So for all I know, his “study” might just be another setup bunch of queries, like:
“Select the one that most agrees with your feelings regarding Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare):
A) I hate Obamacare
B) I intensely dislike Obamacare
This is what is called a “leading question”. But I would really like to have some insight into his methodology, and I don’t think anybody down South is gonna look into it. (By the way, my esteemed representative Cathy McMorris Turniphead Rodgers is well-known for this kind of useless “questionnaire”.)
So we have ONE study that is far from transparent, that is INTERPRETING something, and may or may not be trustworthy. This does not change anyone’s mind on the fact that WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT GUNS IN THIS COUNTRY. The NRA has battened down the hatches. But let us recall, the NRA is its own entity now. It is a corporation, a brand, a logo on a rear bumper. Its mission is to protect itself, and reason has nothing to do with the equation. Its leaders want to keep their jobs, and they want to feel that they are still powerful, a force, and at this point, whether they wield that power for social betterment or detriment is irrelevant. Its members don’t want it to change, either, because change is hard in general, and especially hard for authoritarian, “I’m the boss of you” types who think they are correct on every issue they feel like expounding on. You know, “rules people”. Constitutionalists. People who think the world is like a picture behind a piece of glass: static, unchanging, still. Sorry, rules people. The only unchanging fact of the universe is that everything changes and is always in process.
At this point, everybody on the regulation side wants Obama to do something NOW. But we forget. It is not his job. We still live in a democracy – it is OUR job, all of our jobs. So write a letter to the editor, sign a bunch of those petitions, talk to your gun owning buddies (although most of them actually already agree that automatic and semi-automatic weapons have no place in civilian hands), and do whatever you can to spare other Americans the horror of Newtown.