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 GUN, that require our attention.