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Archive for the ‘Guns’ Category

The Second Amendment was created so that the newborn United States could avoid creating a hateful standing army and instead turn domestic security over to militias. The amendment had little to do with the unhindered gun rights of an individual (lots of gun control existed back in the late 18th century, just as it does now, as every literate person knows). And yet today, a Fox News host brought us full circle, demanding we create a standing army of ex-military people in public places to thwart mass shooters so we won’t have to challenge the imagined right of rageaholics to possess mass murder weapons (or the gun industry’s right to sell them). So we are now using the amendment as an excuse to enact the very thing it was meant to avoid … so we can protect the misinterpretation of those who can’t read the entire sentence.

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If you are trying to make sense of two mass shootings in a weekend and you want to see change, I applaud you, but there’s bad news ahead. As we who have been fighting this issue since Sandy Hook know, in the next few days people you know and love and respect are going to start telling you horrible lies about this issue. They are going to tell you 2.5 million people used their guns defensively last year (not true, not even possible). They are going to tell you mass shootings are often stopped by good guys with guns (not true).

They are going to say more Americans own guns now, which is why crime has dropped (household gun ownership has shrunk to a third of Americans, and if you think a shrinking number of Americans are stopping most of the nation’s crime, you have serious math and logic problems).

You are going to hear that armed Americans are the foundation of social stability because they can rise up against tyranny (an idea that, given the strength of our military, ranges from the ridiculous to the treasonous, since it suggests a single nonconformist is allowed to nullify laws and societal changes he doesn’t like).

You are going to hear that assault weapons either don’t exist or that they are the same things as six shooters. Actually, they were defined by law in the 1990s; they have higher muzzle velocity and can be easily converted to full auto with a few tweaks, something gun nuts like to laugh about on YouTube as they gaslight the rest of us and say “No such thing.”) You are going to hear that the Founding Fathers didn’t want gun restrictions. That is categorically false. The people who say otherwise learned history in a backyard from a person with anger management problems, not from actually reading history.

They will also tell you gun control laws don’t work (just because you don’t understand the way they work or don’t like the way they work doesn’t mean they don’t work).

People you love tell these lies for obvious reasons: It helps them defend their choices and behavior. Nobody wants to be told they are doing something harmful, especially if they were raised to think it was right. If they were to change, it would hurt their identity and it would hurt their parents. I have seen some people change on this issue but many people can’t because the psychological wound it would cause is too deep. But this is where we are: We call murder weapons defense weapons even though it is an insult to the concept of physics. Almost every gun fan talking point is a lie rooted in the real defense mechanism–the psychological one.

The NRA fought its war for “gun liberation” (i.e., murder weapon marketing) on the ground–in the state legislatures, places in which most people would be at a loss to name their representatives and where lobbyist bullying is greatly effective. But since Sandy Hook (and especially since the Parkland, Fla., school shooting), there is now a gun sense lobby and it has made representatives increasingly accountable to it–or at least not as totally beholden as they once were to weapons manufacturers.

If you are feeling distraught and feel like you need to do something, you can: march in any anti-gun marches you see planned near you. And give money to Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords or Sandy Hook Promise. These groups are on the front lines and have thrived despite death threats, disinformation campaigns, online bullying and harassment from the “good guys with guns.” The wheel is turning slowly, but it is turning. I have personally seen stubborn people switch sides on this issue and embrace gun sense, and that has given me a great deal of hope as these horrific news stories unravel. There is no need to think we are going to have to forever endure putting our families–our children, wives, husbands, mothers, sisters, fathers–at risk of sudden horrific death to satisfy a value system based entirely on falsehoods.

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A recent story about a legal win for DIY makers of murder weapons:

The psychopath in this video doesn’t care if criminals, children or the mentally ill can make homemade assault rifles as long as it comports with his vision that everybody should get a weapon by natural right. He calls it the end of gun control and we are supposed to shrug, arm everyone and hope that everybody being armed will work itself out. It won’t. Guns favor angry people who shoot first, not defenders. They escalate fights into murders. They do not defend anywhere near as much as they kill innocents and no legitimate study says otherwise.

Guns do not give the same advantage to defenders because we do not honor old dueling rules when we shoot at each other. The most essential talent of a gun, which has no shield and no way of stopping other projectiles, is to shoot an unwary person in the back from 50 yards away. Its function: treachery, not defense. That is physics. And that is the reason we’ve had gun control laws in this country since its founding.

There’s a childish insistence among gun fans that the Second Amendment framers must have foreseen a future of citizens running around with mass murder weapons and thought it was OK. That is a dumb misreading of one half of one sentence of the Constitution, devoid of the context in which it was created, yet endlessly repeated by Americans for peer approval in their backyards. It is also a purposeful misreading by those with a pecuniary interest in selling the guns.

There is no more reason to accept that we must now live with untraceable guns anymore than we have to accept the fact of meth labs. We have laws for those labs and we can certainly make laws to stop people from making their own guns at home with tooling machines.

Gun laws work because they change the way weapons move around and change hands and often, yes, laws can stop a murder at point of sale (more than 3 million sales were stopped since the Brady Bill passed in the early 90s, something beyond the understanding of your average gun fan).

The only things stopping us from further controlling weapons are mental constructs: a misunderstanding of the Constitution, a misunderstanding of our history, a misunderstanding of what freedom is and who gets to have it, and a sense of nihilism and hopelessness that gun nuts are so determined that there’s nothing we can do to stop them. Or we can give in to the fallacy that guns are part of America, always have been and that we’ll always have to live with an increased risk of sudden violent death as the price of freedom. That’s not idealism. That’s medievalism: Tolerating horror to preserve somebody else’s traditions.

Gun nuts are putting our lives at risk for things they don’t know, won’t know, don’t understand, can’t read and won’t read. They put our children’s lives at risk because their curiosity and any normal intellectual inquiry about the harm they might be causing stops if it forces them to question their own behavior and (even more ridiculous) their identities.

Gun liberty has nothing to do with preserving what America is. This is like any other place: You fix things when they are broken and you don’t use folk traditions as an excuse not to. People like this have no right to make us live in fear.

 

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The issue is not mental health. The issue is not violent video games. The issue is not a culture of death. The issue is not the breakup of the family. The issue is not black trench coats or goths or Marilyn Mason or whatever straw man that irresponsible people want to make up to defend their irresponsible behavior.

The issue is that we freely hand out weapons designed for mass murder and then hope nobody will mass murder with them.

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Want to know a way you can help the world right now? Something you can do with very little effort? (I did it while folding my laundry.) You can call 202-224-3121 and speak with your senators and representative in Washington and tell them to oppose the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity” bills floating through Congress. These bills, if enacted, would force states with strong and effective gun laws to recognize permits from states whose laws are much weaker. It sounds like an innocuous, clinical name, “concealed carry reciprocity,” but it’s very dangerous. It allows the NRA to override and nullify local laws and rob people of the ability to make their own local safety decisions. It is the exact opposite of states’ rights. At the same time, it gives the gun lobby a way to pursue its real agenda, which is to put guns everywhere, when every study with any rigor and reproducibility says more guns equal more violent crime.
 
That’s more risk your family takes on for going to the movies, going to a concert, going to church and going to school. Soon, it could mean extra risk for New Yorkers going to Times Square, where they will have to confront less vetted or unvetted gun carriers.
 
The congressmen who introduced this measure are well funded by the NRA and know that it’s the organization’s top priority. The bills languished temporarily after the recent Las Vegas and Texas mass shootings, but they are moving forward now–this week.
 
Spokespeople in the offices of both my senator and House representative told me the same thing:
 
The best thing to do is call them! 202-224-3121. It takes very little time.

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Gun rights advocates say there are 2.5 million defensive gun uses a year. That’s 6,849 times a day. That’s how they justify ignoring the mass shootings of children.

To give their numbers context, let’s look at crime statistics:

In 2016, the FBI recorded 95,730 rapes. That’s 262 rapes a day.

The bureau recorded 17,250 murders. That’s about 47 murders per day.

There were 332,198 robberies nationwide in 2016. That’s 910 per day.

There were 803,007 aggravated assaults in 2016. That’s 2,200 per day.

If you add all these up, gun owners claimed to have stopped almost twice as many of the biggest crimes the FBI recorded actually happening in 2016. And if you consider that only about a third of American households have guns, you must come to the conclusion that the overwhelming amount of U.S. crime is actually being perpetuated against gun owners–in such vast amounts that if I were them, I would be afraid to leave the house.

There’s an easy way to avoid that paradox: They can admit their numbers are fraudulent. They are, in fact, 20 years old and based on a phone survey of Floridians whose stories were not externally validated by the study’s author. The reason gun owners tout these figures is a miscible concoction of fear, folk wisdom, peer approval and inherent trust in family members. In other words, the same qualities Bernie Madoff preyed upon.

If this were an insurance scam, it would work the same way: The unethical salesperson exaggerates the risk of failure, sells you a product that is actually riskier, then tells you to share that risk with others by telling them to buy it too. The problem with gun rights advocates, even if their hearts are in the right place, is that they have asked non-gun-owning two thirds of Americans to share risk that the unethical salesperson has laden them with (the heightened risk of getting shot), and help them participate in a demonstrable fraud.

Incidentally, there is a real number of defensive gun uses, and there’s little reason to believe it’s much higher than toddlers shooting themselves. It is easily canceled out by murders many times over. There are common sense physics reasons that guns are very limited as defensive weapons, but if you can’t understand that, I doubt you read this far. And if that’s the case, you’ll never know that the monster at the end of this story was you.

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