Posts Tagged ‘Guns’

I grew up with at least three guns in my house in Oklahoma, including long guns and handguns, and learned to shoot them when I was young. So I’ve been hearing the flawed reasoning of gun rights supporters my whole life. We are hearing them again after the mass murder of children in Uvalde, Texas. I myself didn’t care much about the gun issue until 20 children were slaughtered, along with six adults, in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. Then I realized kids were dying every day unnecessarily because people like me were not speaking up about what we knew.

The following is a list of things gun enthusiasts will say to you in the backlash as most Americans demand sensible gun laws. The assertions are going to include outright lies about history and physics, logical fallacies and cute bumper sticker slogans that talk around the substance of the argument. (“Guns don’t kill people” is irrelevant to the question of whether people should be allowed to have them.)

But you can answer these things, because in the end, the words are almost always rooted in childhood defense mechanisms. And that’s because gun fans have been taught to say these things (and not think about them) since childhood.

Them: “Gun laws don’t work. Criminals will just get guns wherever.”

You: “Three hundred thousand gun purchases were blocked in 2020. That’s 300,000 people who were so unable to get guns ‘wherever’ that they risked going exactly to places where they would fail.”

Them: “The founding fathers wanted us to have the strongest weapons so we could fight the government.”

You: “The Second Amendment was written amid a discussion about the best way to put down rebellions against the government. Which is why the militia wording is in there. And founding father Thomas Jefferson curtailed gun rights in his successive drafts of the Virginia constitution. So there is actual written proof that the founding fathers didn’t believe in limitless gun rights.”

Them: “Why do people want to punish good, law-abiding gun owners after a shooting?”

You: “Why do ‘good’ gun owners pursue policies that protect the worst gun owners? Let’s put it another way: If you hate the idea of watering down of schools’ test standards because you think it’s unfair to students who make an ‘A,’ apply that logic to yourself. If gun laws are watered down, it really doesn’t matter how “good and law-abiding” you think you are–because you’ve asked to have no standards in the first place. And thus the rest of us don’t have to treat you with the respect you’re craving because you’ve basically asked us to give you a participation trophy.

Them: “Most liberals won’t tell you, but most gun deaths are suicides.”

You: “Yes, statistically speaking, you have reminded us what these weapons are mostly good for.”

Them: “There are too many guns in this country and you can’t confiscate them all.”

You: “You don’t need to confiscate them. Tough gun laws change the way these guns flow through society, the same way federal monetary policy changes the way money flows through the economy. Good policy affects the points at which guns are allowed to be sold, moved and transferred and the extent to which they are allowed to be loaded and modified. Bad actors are usually caught tripping over these invisible wires because they are often doing something else illegal. When the guns are illegal, they can be seized. When they are seized, they don’t put bullets in children’s bodies.”

Them: “I read about a guy who defended his home with a gun on Monday.”

You: “Great! Now tell me about 30 more guys who defended their home with a gun on Monday and you will be tied with the people who used guns to murder.”

Them: “When seconds count, the police are minutes away. … In other words, better to have a gun.”

You: “Your gun is also minutes away. Because nobody has a few seconds to stop bullets already flying, a struggle already in place, an ambush in progress. In fact, given how much hindsight is involved in gun fans’ explanation of how violence works, the gun always seems to be days, months or years away.”

Them: “The left always demonizes law-abiding gun owners after a shooting!”

You: “If you try to force murder weapons into the hands of teachers to try to hide the fact your solutions are a failure, then forgive people who might think you are an actual demon. You don’t know exactly what kind of monstrous thing you’ve asked somebody so that a questionable belief you have can be preserved.”

Them: ”People have a natural right to defend themselves with a firearm.”

You: “Guns are designed to shoot someone in the back at 100 yards. No one has a natural right to that power. No one has a moral right to that power. The legal right to that power in the United States has always been complicated and is not what you think.”

Them: “We should just arm teachers.”

You: “The gunman you armed will shoot the teacher first. Probably while that teacher is showing a child how to glue something together. And why are you mobilizing the world and all the people in it to dangerous behavior they don’t want to follow and doing so mainly to accommodate the fact that your reasoning has not worked thus far?”

Them: “They did a study and found more than 6,000 people defended themselves with guns yesterday.”

You: “There is no database of 6,000 gun defenses yesterday. There is no newspaper microfiche repository of 6,000 gun defenses. There are a couple of phone polls of very small numbers of people done by researchers who didn’t validate whether the people bragging had actually used their guns in a legal or illegal way–or really did anything other than yell ‘I have a gun.’ The researchers then amplified these mistakes into 2.5 million gun defenses a year, even though this would suggest that gun owners are experiencing a crime wave like nobody else is and that it’s been going on continuously for a quarter century through the Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama, Trump and Biden eras. The fact that the pro-gun figures don’t take year-to-year crime into account is dispositive that they are fraudulent.

Them: “A good guy with a gun stopped the church shooting at Sutherland Springs, Texas in 2017.”

You: “The NRA instructor who shot Devin Kelley did not stop a mass murder. He put a barely happy coda on it when the killing work was largely done. Kelley successfully killed 26 people and wounded 22 others, doing exactly what he’d set out to do. It really didn’t matter at that point if a bystander or a cop wounded him or ended his life. If the NRA instructor had been in the church, he would have likely been another victim or just as likely shot another congregant in the confusion, which is what usually happens when the good guy with a gun is fighting in close quarters. This is another, gaping hole in the ‘good guy with a gun’ theory. It requires dozens of people to act as a physical distraction so that the hero can get a clean shot.”

Them: “It doesn’t matter what liberals say about guns. They murder babies through abortion.”

You: “The idea that you are ready to turn your backs on slaughtered children as a kind of intellectual trade means your argument is a tactical one, not a moral one, and thus morally indefensible.”

Them: “Knives kill more people than guns.”

You: “That’s a lie. You probably meant to say knives kill more people than rifles, in which case you left out handguns on purpose (a distinction without much difference) and so you were still lying. The bigger point you are trying to make is that knives are just as lethal as guns. If that were the case, you would be OK just having knives. You aren’t because your premise is, again, untrue.

Them: “There’s more crime where there is more gun control.”

You: “That’s another lie. It’s based on a book whose author was caught lying. Quoting a liar makes you a liar also. We have every other developed country to show us how well gun control works, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned. The reason we say it doesn’t work in the U.S. is not derived from a scientific analysis. It stems from a desperate defense of culture. And you can use culture to defend almost anything, even human sacrifice. Which really is how you should be considering your argument right now.”

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–*You’ll never guess how this kitten lost all his money.

–*Everyone but you is wearing their phones on the sides of their heads.

–*What Marie Osmond’s teeth look like today is insane!

–*This woman put what in where?

–*You didn’t love possums, so look what they did to your house.

–*See what happened when this man tried to take a bath in bitcoins.

–*This guy had a drill and you know exactly what happened to his hand.

–*This guy had a gun and you know exactly what happened to everyone around him.

–*This man used an anti-pirate slur. Look what the pirates did to him.

–*Ewwww! A pile of greasy pennies!

–*This actress stepped away at the height of her career and that’s why her name is completely baffling to you.

–*We kept asking this 93-year-old woman if sex is really over for her.

–*Could this headline launch a “stuff the doorknob in your mouth” challenge?

–*This man tried to own Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It backfired.

–*Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got into a car. It backfired.

–*This guy lives in a state with lots of gun owners. He hopes what he just heard was car backfire.

–*After this cleanse, your body will collapse into a heap of skin.

–*Travelectomy says your appendix will most likely explode in these cities.

–*I’m going to win the lottery, said this statistical illiterate.

–*You won’t get pregnant if I pull out on time said this statistical illiterate.

–*New York is a crime ridden sewer, say these statistical illiterates.

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Eight people are gone in Georgia, six of them Asian women. We should talk about the rise in Asian-American hate crimes. We should talk about how women have been forced to define their freedom to speak, to move, to even live according to the violent and uncontrolled sexual impulses of men. The horror of this mass murder is worse because of its complication: there’s a lot to unpack, and I don’t want to see any of the many problems here obscured by one of the others.

So we shouldn’t let it all overshadow the gun talk we still need to be having. It always feels pointless to try to explain the link between murder weapons and toxic masculinity to people. But a gun gives a psychologically wounded man a feeling of agency. “I’d just like to try to see somebody break into my house.” How many people have you known who’ve said that? Guess what: It’s wrong. Why? It’s not the statement of a prudent person who wants to defend himself. It’s the statement of somebody practicing homicidal ideation. It’s someone saying that “I have the power to shoot someone in the back from across the street, and instead of stepping back and thinking about the awful responsibility of that fact, I am dreaming of how I might bring that vision about.” This kind of person is not thinking of rules of engagement. This person is not thinking of how the duty to retreat might make a situation better. This person has tied his esteem and existential pride to facing down a risky outcome in which he hopes to win but seldom does in reality.

We shouldn’t be surprised when people suddenly do bring their sordid vision of personal power about. I grew up in a house with many guns. I was taught how to fire them and how to safely use them by someone who thought he was responsible. He was. Until he wasn’t. When he was angry or afraid, he pulled out his guns and in at least two situations created unnecessary danger for those around him. I knew as a kid (without having the words for it yet) that it was ridiculous to call a gun a defense weapon. How in actual situations it was highly unlikely I was going to be even have time to point it at someone with intent to kill if necessary. It’s very seldom going to happen in the fast-moving arenas where violence happens, always with speed far beyond the fantasies of our reflexes. Being able to kill somebody by shooting them in the back from 100 yards is the essential talent of a firearm, and it does not make you a defender to own one. There is nothing inherently defensive about being able to heave a projectile through space faster than anybody can react.

Does having a gun make a lot of people feel safe? Sure. Does it really make them safe? Not according to physics or statistics. (We can save the two flawed or fraudulent studies arguing for the regularity of successful gun defenses. Those studies are ridiculous on their face and have been debunked repeatedly.) If you think of a gun as a defense weapon–even though it has no shield and no way to disperse incoming projectiles–it’s not because you’ve ever really thought about the physics of the idea but because the social conditioning rampant among toxic American fathers has led you to suspend your common sense.

So our gun laws in many states are designed with the pitiably incomplete idea that a violent people will use violence to dampen their own violent tendencies. It’s actually what I like to call a “Vote for the Worst” scheme: Our laws don’t reward or protect responsible gun owners (as advocates insist they do). Instead, weak gun laws ironically protect the least responsible, the ones with the most likelihood of acting out of passion or anger. We give speed to cretins. We pray for reflexes among victims. And we end up giving killers like the shooter in Georgia a fair shot at rearranging the world according to his fantasy of perfection. It requires our blood to work.

The coronavirus sent everybody home, sent everybody into a panic, sent everybody out to buy guns. More guns will equal more violence. There is nothing preventative about a murder weapon. That’s the world that’s been inflicted on us, those with families whom we love, the world all of us must have venture out in–leaving one spiritual coma and entering another.

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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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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 *Americans 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.

*I originally said mistakenly that this study was only of Floridians. It was a random phone national survey. However, the point remains that small sample data distorts meaningful results when you’re talking about rare events like defensive gun uses.

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Right now, Democrats in the House of Representatives are finally getting their voices heard about gun violence–they had to do it by sitting on the floor like a bunch of helpless college students.

But House Speaker Paul Ryan is trying to control the video of this event Nicolae Ceausescu-style. That should give you some idea of the pernicious hold that the gun lobby has on elected leaders’ souls. Consider that, and that extremists are telling us we must now even dance with loaded weapons to meet the safety parameters of their world, and you realize that they are not on the side that enables freedom.

When they do stuff like this, they lose the benefit of the doubt we give them that gunfire has made them deaf.

Video here:



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