This May be One of the Root Causes of Anti-Gun Hysteria.

Sometimes I don’t know why I try, but the urge to educate people still rears its ugly head.  Nearly every time I try, I run into obstacles.

Scratch that.  I run into the same obstacle, just a different facet each time.  It’s immaturity.  Without fail, there is an underlying current of immaturity, an inability to accept responsibility on a personal level or assign blame on the same basis, or even better (or worse–your mileage may vary) a bizarre tendency to personify guns as having their own personalities or agendas or as being some kind of all-powerful corrupter.

Look around on CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post, or any other anti-gun, ultra-leftist site and you’ll see other examples of a similar mindset, some more extreme than others.  The omnipresent theme of “getting rid of guns will reduce crime” permeates their blogs and editorials more perniciously and more offensively than a fart in the Vatican.  I’m going to take a poke at a couple of them and you tell me if they’re familiar.

“Guns kill people!”  I love this one.  I just got done arguing with someone on Disqus who believes that because the cause of death on a coroner’s certificate might read “gunshot wound,” the gun is responsible, and also that guns being inanimate objects does not “absolve” them of any “blame.”  He even said it was a stupid statement to say that “guns don’t kill people, people do.”  He went so far as to say, “Nuclear weapons don’t kill people, people do!  Doesn’t sound any nicer, does it?”  (And yes, I know I seem stupid for arguing on Disqus, but I’ll have to take second place: this guy takes first.)  We’re going to dissect this but first we have to have an understanding of what a gun is.

They were originally designed as weapons of war, but also found use as implements of sport and survival.  They are dangerous even if used correctly, but this is a gun in a nutshell: a gun is a machine designed to hold, launch, and direct a projectile at a target. That’s it.  They are not designed to choose a target.  They are incapable of choosing a target.  That’s what you’re there for.  With the trigger pulled and the hammer dropped, the gun will send its bullet, slug, or shot wherever the user is pointing it.  End of argument.  If you happened to be pointing it the wrong way, it’s all on you.

But back to the original topic.  “Guns kill people.”  No.  They can.  They certainly were intended to do so and can definitely be used that way whether they’re a competition-designed gun, a fowling gun, or a service revolver.  However, in an irrefutable twist of reality, no gun has spontaneously committed an act of violence against anyone without someone intentionally or accidentally activating it.  Guns certainly are used in homicides, both justifiable and illegal, against men, women, and children, and always far too often.  However, I do notice that nobody brings out the “knives kill people” argument, or “blunt objects kill people.”  It seems that the purveyors of this argument seem intent on pinning the blame solely on (cue dramatic pause)…THE GUN.

I like that…it’s all scary and stuff when you say it like that.  Maybe I’ll see if WordPress can let me add thunder and lightning to my posts next time.

And if people don’t kill people but guns do, how the hell do you account for so many deaths prior to the invention of guns?  Maybe the Roman Empire expanded just by making people feel bad about themselves or something.

Closely related to this is the argument against concealed carry permits.  Remember the cries of a resurgence of “the Wild West” and there would be shootouts in the streets?  This is similar to the “guns kill people” mantra but is more closely related to the concept of THE GUN as a corrupting influence.  Apparently, Smith & Wesson are the Emperor & Darth Vader and are very strong in the Force!  The theory here is that the average citizen will, after going through his background check, taking the courses, selecting his gun and submitting his fingerprints, will begin arbitrarily shooting up the town at the slightest hint of an insult.  Hasn’t happened, has it?  No, it hasn’t.  In fact, Texas–that oh-so-scary bastion of redneck conservative Christian gunslingers–had a study carried out in 2011.  Guess what?  CCW permit holders were convicted of crimes in just under .19% of all the prosecutions statewide, and about half of those were for crimes not involving guns at all!  Kansas?  Similar story. Minnesota?  Hello.  Anyone from North Carolina reading this?  Here you go.  Florida?  Scroll down after hitting the link, but here’s something for you. Something like .3% of CCW permits have been canceled or revoked.

Hm.  So guns aren’t the corrupting influence we’re led to believe, if statistics and real life are any indicators.  Nor do guns arbitrarily jump up and commit crimes of their own volition.  Well, there’s always, “You don’t need X or Y!”

Now X or Y is either an “assault rifle” or a “high-capacity magazine.”  As has been dealt with more eloquently elsewhere, nobody can own an “assault rifle” without paying prohibitive prices for it then undergoing the BATFE’s background checks, so the term “assault rifle” and its attendant arguments against it are moot.  Also, “high-capacity” is a misnomer.  A 30-round magazine is standard capacity for an AR-15.  Even the word “standard” appears in the nomenclature as a STANAG magazine (“STANAG” meaning “STANdardization AGreement”) so yeah, kids, it’s not out of the ordinary.  Thirty rounds is run of the mill.

The kicker here is that “need” hasn’t got a damn thing to do with anything.  You don’t “need” a lot of things.  You don’t “need” a Corvette when there are Kias about.  You don’t “need” a Rolex when a Timex will do.  You don’t “need” anything but food, water, air, and protection from the elements.  That’s all.

It would seem to me, then, that there must be something else causing paranoia and rampant terror among the gun-grabbers.  A clue can be found in any number of headlines.  Suicide bomber?  A religious fanatic or ideological zealot!  Rapist?  Sick and in need of help.  Stabbings?  A violent person who needs incarceration and treatment.

Shootings?  ZOMFG, teh GUNZ!  Good God, we have to get rid of those guns!

This is another manifestation of what we’ve already covered but with the addition of the inability to assign blame or take responsibility.  (Remember that from way up at the top of this rant?)  But this time we’re not going to go over THE GUN.  Rather, we’ll take a peek at the mindset of the anti-gunners.  Their remarks that an assailant is sick or in need of help may be warranted (sometimes) but they often hedge any finger-pointing with “but if only…” and follow up with how someone “slipped through the cracks” of the health care or legal systems, else they’d have been properly taken care of.  But add a gun to the mix, and suddenly the shooter is absolved of wrongdoing (but still needs “help”) and we need to immediately focus on THE GUN.  Even today, in the aftermath of the Aurora and Newtown shootings, there’s just the barest lip service paid to mental illness.  We can’t have a real problem stealing spotlights from guns, can we?

What this is all leading up to is this simple observation: the anti-gun crowd operates solely out of fear, not rationality, a fear stemming from some unnamed trauma or from an overdose of TV and movies coupled with bad parenting techniques.  There is the tendency to anthropomorphize THE GUN, to imbue it with a soul or will of its own to make all things that happen somehow attributable to THE GUN first and foremost with the triggerman’s mental illness a distant second (third if you factor in violent movies and video games.)  This particular fetish of theirs is an outgrowth of a phenomenon all parents have seen in their kids, and have likely gone through themselves.  You’ll notice that if a younger child hurts themselves, they lash out at the object involved: pinch a finger in a door, they kick the door.  Drop something on their foot, they kick the object.  Smack a thumb with a hammer, and it’s “Stupid hammer!” and it gets thrown across the room.  You can see any number of outbursts on YouTube, and it’s in full effect in the gun-grabber mentality.  THE GUN is bad and scary.  It intimidates them and needs to be punished for doing so.  The shooter isn’t the problem, he’s the victim of problems.  Even in the recent deaths of young children who were playing with their parents’ unsecured guns, we must vilify THE GUN and not place blame on people, where it always and invariably must fall.  In the case of Aurora and Sandy Hook, the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the shooters who knew they were doing wrong but went ahead anyway.  In the cases of the children, the parents must bear the burden of guilt for not supervising their children or locking up their guns.

No, it’s rarely the human who must ever bear any responsibility.  Blame instead THE GUN in all its evil.

Until the anti-gun crowd manages to grow out of their childish, irrational fear of objects and learns to accept responsibility for their own actions or recognize the culpability of wrongdoers, there won’t be any level-headed discussion about guns.  In very few of the shootings involved has anyone really been mentally ill; most of the shootings are done by people who are well aware that they are doing wrong and they, not their tool of choice, are the problem.

Some will tout background checks at every juncture as a cure-all.  I have no problem admitting that our background systems check needs some tweaks, but at the same time I wouldn’t want our government to oversee it when they’re so competent they put toddlers on no-fly lists.  If a properly functioning instant check system helps keep guns away from crazies and doesn’t interfere with my right to buy a gun or ammunition, bring it on.  But that tacit admission (despite being a lead-in to registration and possible confiscation) leads us back to the gist of my post: it’s always the people, never THE GUNthat require our attention.

 

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Show of hands: who here does NOT get it?

Gun control laws.  The “silver bullet” that will stop all gun crime in the world everywhere.

Wrong.

I’m going to show you in very simple terms, without (much) sarcasm, why gun control laws, whether passed or not, are doomed to failure.  I’m going to take a few moments here to explain the intentions of gun control laws as they’ve been “helpfully” explained by their proponents.  First, many proponents of gun control claim that too many people die from gun violence and it needs to stop.  I am led to believe that stopping gun violence–not decreasing it–is the ultimate goal of this faction; that’s what they say, so I take them at their word.  Second, other proponents say that they need to cut back on the numbers of people killed by guns (a flawed statement, but more on that later.)  This is a worthy goal and more realistic than the first, but they’re going about it all wrong.  Third, it appears that nearly all gun-control activists say that nobody has the right to own “assault rifles” or “high capacity” this or that because they’re weapons of mass destruction and are made for wholesale slaughter and yadda blah blah.  I’ll save the analysis of their epic misunderstandings of the Constitution, terminology, and whatever else for much later in life; we’re not here for that now.

What we are here for is to point out why gun control laws don’t and won’t work.  I’m only pointing out the various camps and their most frequently repeated refrains.  There are also other reasons like guns make you more liable to kill yourself, statistics show one thing or the other, and nigh-uncountable permutations and degrees of crossovers and interpretations.  What all of them have in common is the desire to get rid of guns in their entirety.  How do they propose doing this?  Through the law.  By one means or another, there absolutely must be laws passed to prevent anyone from owning guns at any time in any place, which is the only means available to achieve freedom from death by armed criminals.

Now comes the stinger: laws do not prevent crimes.  They never have, they never will, they never can.  The function of laws is twofold: a law is primarily to outline for the people subject to them what behaviors are acceptable in that given society and to outline punishment for breaking those laws.  The second function of a law is to guide the courts in passing down an appropriate sentence when a law is broken.  That’s it.  This is one of the reasons laws are generally so complex in their formulation and verbiage, so that there is no ambiguity in understanding the appropriate behavior or punishment.  (Another is the legal concept of “fine print,” which makes it easier for someone to be convicted or provide a loophole, depending on the skills of your attorney.)

So what does prevent crimes?  There are again two things.  First is a respect for one’s fellow human.  The second thing is a bit more primitive in nature: the fear of punishment or reprisal.  Remove one or both and you’ve a criminal in the making.  The issue of respect should be self-explanatory, because if you respect your neighbor, your community, or humanity in general, you’re obviously not going to intentionally do anything to harm them.  If you lack respect for them, the inverse is true in that you’re more apt to do something of a negative nature, even if it’s only flying the furious finger.

The major component here is the second item.  If a potential criminal fears reprisal in its immediacy, severity, or certainty, he will have second thoughts about breaking the law in question and he’ll refrain from committing the crime.  Let me put this into a more familiar scenario for most.  There was a time when most of us were children, some longer ago than most.  Your parents set up rules for you to follow, put some kind of boundary in place.  “Don’t do X or Y will happen to you.”  You were either not supposed to watch TV, go somewhere, or whatever, and there was a punishment in place, be it a spanking, grounding, revocation of privileges, or whatever.  And like most kids, you likely tested Mom and Dad.

You went across the street or to an arcade or some place you were forbidden to go.  You stayed out past curfew, had a piece of candy, or you took something you were told to leave alone.  Why?  Why would anyone do that?  Simple.  As a child, you had no real concept of consequences, therefore (wait for it) you didn’t fear the punishment.  Then you got busted for doing whatever you did, and then you learned that actions have consequences, bad for bad and good for good.  You saw the reward for your behavior, took your chance, then paid the penalty.  What happened the next time you saw temptation on the other side of that boundary?  You backed off.  You had learned to respect the law by learning to fear the punishment.

As you got older, you learned to respect laws as you interacted more with other people.  That, coupled with what you were taught about consequences, helped turn you into a more law-abiding person than you were before, and the continued reinforcement through the years kept you on the proper path.

But not everybody is you or me.  There are those out there who do not fear reprisal, do not respect society, or both.  You’ve seen them recently or heard of them before.  The Weather Underground.  The Unabomber.  Timothy McVeigh.  The Columbine shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.  The Symbionese Liberation Front.  Christopher Dorner.  There are more, trust me, and you can probably add a few names off the top of your head right now.  To a person, the people I’m describing had absolutely no fear of any punishment at all.  They either expected to die before going to prison or accepted prison as a necessary outcome.

There’s another breed of criminal out there that suffers from mental sickness, like Adam Lanza or Seung-Hui Cho.  Their lack of fear comes from a different source, be it PTSD, chemical imbalance, psychoses, or whatever the term.  They may or may not be responsible for their actions, but that’s a different debate.  In the end, they also do not fear reprisals.

It is a simple conclusion to reach if you’re willing to ignore party rhetoric and left- vs right-wing.  Laws will not prevent crimes.  Laws against murder, assault, and trespassing were in place at the times of the Newtown and Virginia Tech shootings, but they happened.  Laws against minors in possession of handguns, concealed weapons, and murder were likewise in effect in Colorado.  Columbine High School was victimized, anyway.  If laws were the all-powerful panacea the gun control crowd wishes to believe they are, or if the laws were half as effective as the anti-gunners wished, there would have been no crimes.  Somehow, though, there are still those who believe that just one more law, one more stipulation here or there or an amendment somewhere else will be the cure-all we’ve been missing.

It will not be.  It never will be.  If someone is of a mind to disregard one of the most highly regarded laws of all–the law against killing a fellow human–do you honestly believe that they will heed a law barring them possession of a 20-round magazine?  Will the next Jared Loughner or Naveed Haq stop himself and think, “Wait, I’m using a semiautomatic rifle with a detachable magazine.  Those are illegal here.  I can’t go shoot somebody now.”  Do you think that will happen?  Is that a realistic expectation?

Hopefully you’re not that naive or foolish.  I don’t need to cite papers or studies to prove my point.  Buford Furrow, Jr., proved it when, in defiance of California’s standing semiautomatic rifle ban (Roberti-Roos, 1989, amended in 1999) in 1999 fired into a Jewish community center in Los Angeles.   In that case, the semiautomatic Uzi he used was illegal to possess in California, and obviously he used it.  Every one of the shooters I listed and all of the ones you’ll see had something in common: they hated someone and didn’t care if they were caught or punished.

Stop and think.  Laws in place since Hammurabi, laws society has needed since society even formed, were broken then and are being broken as you read this.  Will one more make a difference?  The painfully brutal answer is obviously “no.”

You may ask what measures would stop crime.  The answer would be “none.”  What might reduce crime?  Several things might.  Better parental involvement in raising children.  Better mental health care.  Giving enough of a damn about your neighbor to help when he’s hurting or warn someone if he’s about to act out.  Certainly additional laws will not have an effect.

After all, what’s the use of placing a hurdle in our road when these people walk a different path?

I think I’m going to lose my conservative cred for this…

When considering the matter of gay marriage, I realize there are many out there who feel homosexuality to be at odds with morality, or at least an abnormality. To be honest, I believe homosexuality to be an aberration, as it is against nature’s plan for reproduction. Males are designed to be attracted to and impregnate females while females are meant to be attracted to males and to bear offspring. What bonobos, porpoises, and little green men from Mars may do or be observed doing is irrelevant. The purpose and function of males and females is to attract a mate of the opposite gender and reproduce. It’s an irrefutable fact; feel free to find a biologist who says differently.  Whether they can or not, whether they do or not, those are different matters. However, I don’t and can’t make the claim that homosexuality is immoral. My morals aren’t universal and apply to precious few people aside from myself. Come to think of it, they apply in full only to me. I believe it’s both immoral and abnormal, thus I don’t partake. Gay ain’t my way.

Now that we have that out of the way, let us take a crack at the whole gay marriage thing. There are three categories I feel are vital to determining the legality of gay marriage. I’m going to hit them one by one and see what happens.

  1. First, can redheads get married? I mean, my God, they’re gingers! Yes. Gingers can tie the knot, too. How about people with green eyes? Blue eyes? People with one blue and one green? Yes on all counts so far. But what about blacks? Whites? Albinos? Yes again. Can blacks marry whites or vice versa? Seems so. Race doesn’t appear to be a barrier to marriage any more, but what of people born without limbs? Or with Down’s syndrome, autism, ADHD, or the like, assuming sufficient mental capacity to make such decisions? Can they get married, too? Yup. So far, so good. Wait a second. What about people born blind or with bad vision? The deaf or mute? Hm. Looks like they’re good to go, too.
  2. Second, can liberals marry? Or conservatives? Yes, indeed. Christians? Jews? Muslims? Buddhists? Atheists? The answer is “yes” to all the above. How about capitalists or communists? They’re good to go, just like socialists, tribalists, or anarchists. It seems the ability to marry transcends political or religious affiliations.
  3. Finally, can someone get married if they’ve undergone voluntary sterilization? Of course. What if someone is infertile due to disease or accident? Or if they’re born sterile? Yes, they can, just as an elderly couple who have passed their child-bearing years.

Well, now, look at that. We seem to have successfully shot down the three main arguments used against gay marriage. First, it doesn’t matter if gays are born gay: people born with a variety of deviations, mutations, tweaks, quirks, and conditions get married. Second, it doesn’t matter if gays choose to be that way: people of political, religious, and ideological leanings the world over get married. Lastly, the ability to procreate is no barrier to undertaking the bonds of deadlock wedlock.

So with respect to those who oppose gay marriage on religious or moral grounds, there seems to be no valid legal reason to deny gays the right to marry on either the state or federal level. For what it’s worth, I’m of the opinion that the federal government’s involvement should be limited to asking a couple’s state of residence (or state in which they got married) if there’s a valid certificate on file. Uncle Sam only needs to know if X and Y are married, and if they are, badabing, badaboom. Done. Once a marriage has been proven to be legal, it is valid for purposes of taxation or extension of benefits. Genital compatibility and use is irrelevant.

If you personally are opposed to gay marriage, then so be it. That’s your business and your right. However, your morals fall into the same category as mine. They’re applicable in their entirety only to you and to a much lesser degree to everyone else. Eventually you’ll find people to whom they apply only barely, or not at all.

To be fair, there are some morals that humanity has found to be beneficial to society and has adapted into legal code, such as laws against murder or theft. (Whether those are actually morals or places where conscience intersects with legality, or if they’re laws that have morphed into morals is another topic entirely.) Gay marriage, however, doesn’t fall into the same category as murder or theft—or of any crime at all, for that matter—nor should opposition to it be counted as virtuous as opposition to true crimes against humanity. Gay marriage is simply two adults entering into a legal contract with each other with the state as a mediator.

Is it objectionable? To some, yes. So is interracial marriage or flag-burning, yet both of those actions are allowed. Is it injurious? Only in the sense that it offends some peoples’ sensibilities, but not in that it causes physical injury (but if the thought of gay marriage does cause you physical discomfort, I suggest you pop open the yellow pages and start looking under “psychiatrists.”) The trouble is we’ve already determined that for the majority of the population, genetics, ideology, and fertility are no grounds for denying or allowing someone the right to marry, so whether your argument is that gays should not marry because it’s abnormal, because they’ve chosen a lifestyle you don’t like, or because they can’t have children, your contention holds no merit. Marriage is allowed regardless of birth, politics, religion, or biology; it cannot be legally prohibited simply because a segment of society, no matter how large, finds it “icky.”