I recently made the point that unbalanced power, control and influence is a bad thing. That kind of inequity leads to extreme positions, injustice and unfairness. This opinion is based on the principle that power corrupts.
The NRA is the most influential lobbying group in the United States. Wikipedia says the NRA has 4.3 million members. But what groups exist to counter the NRA? To offer opposing points of view? To provide a little balance? I found one called the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Wikipedia says they have less than 28,000 members.
It’s my opinion that when it comes to gun control there are many statements thrown about that sound like truisms at face value but are actually logical fallacies. Groups like the NRA use this to create confusion and misunderstanding to their advantage.
In this post I’ll ponder some of these nuggets of debate and offer my take. It’ll be a pistol-whippin’ good time.
Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People
Remember that this is just my opinion now, but I maintain that guns make it a hell of a lot easier to kill. By about a billion percent.
“They say that ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’ Well I think the gun helps. If you just stood there and yelled BANG, I don’t think you’d kill too many people.”
— Eddie Izzard
Think about it. If I decide I want to kill you and I have a gun, I point the gun in your direction and pull the trigger. My non-scientific estimate is that I don’t even burn a single fucking calorie while doing it, either. That means that killing people would be a truly horrible way to lose weight. I don’t even have to stand up or physically cross the room, perhaps a distance of 12 to 25 feet. I can stay put. What could possibly be easier?
With a gun I don’t have to be within arm’s length of my victim. That makes the act of killing a hell of a lot safer to me. It makes it very low risk. Hell, I don’t even have to be in the same room. Hell, I can be thousands of miles away. With the right rifle and scope I can be miles away and still kill you. Now that’s convenience.
Now what if I didn’t have a gun? Well, then I’d be in a world of shit. I’d have to brainstorm and use some old-fashioned American ingenuity. I could use a knife. That’s still a fairly efficient way to kill. But it’s not as foolproof as a gun. And I’d most likely have to burn at least one calorie to get the job done. Maybe more. I may even have to get up off my ass and put the remote control down. I might even have to physically cross the room. And I’d have to get close enough that my target could retaliate in some way. Perhaps hit me or stick the knife in my own throat. I don’t like those things at all. I could also choose to stand back and throw the knife, but then the probability of a critical hit goes way down. Ain’t decision making a bitch?
The point is that practically all other forms of killing require something less immediate, either in terms of planning, efficiency, effort, etc.
Truth: Guns make killing easier. Way too damn easy. Killing another human being should require actual effort. Killing should require you to burn more calories than required to chew a piece of celery.
The Only Thing That Stops a Bad Guy With a Gun is a Good Guy With a Gun
Well now, this is is just a flat out lie. That’s the thing with these folksy truisms. They love to throw in words like “only.” That makes the statement binary. True or false. So this one is too damn easy. As written it’s easily provably false.
Consider the story of Kip Kinkel. On May 21, 1998, Kip walked into Thurston High School in Eugene, Oregon. He was a few months shy of his 16th birthday. His parents were not gun enthusiasts but Kip was. They had “reluctantly” bought him a Ruger .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle. On the day he walked into that school he was also carrying two hunting knives, a 9mm Glock 19 pistol and a .22-caliber Ruger MK II pistol. He was carrying 1,127 rounds of ammunition.
Before driving to the school Kip killed his father with a shot to the back of the head using the rifle his parents had purchased him. He then waited for his mother to come home:
About 6 p.m., as she walked up the stairs from the garage, Kinkel shot her twice in the back of the head, three times in the face, and once in the heart.
After walking onto the high school campus, Kip opened fire and expended 50 rounds of ammunition. Kip’s accuracy was 37 “hits” out of 50 rounds including two “kills.”
One wounded student, Jacob Ryker, saw Kip in the act of reloading after the rifle had emptied of ammunition. He tackled Kip before he could finish reloading. Kip pulled the Glock handgun out and shot Ryker one more time, but not before six more students were able to subdue him.
Because of the actions of Ryker and the other students, no one else died that day. The shooter was taken alive. (He’s now 30 years old and in prison for the rest of his life.)
None of them were armed. They were not “good guys with guns.” They were true heroes in the finest sense of the word.
Sorry, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA. Your statement is a bald-faced lie.
Truth: You don’t have to have a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.
Remove Their Gun, and a Dangerous Person Will Find Another Weapon Nearby
Really? Always? Every single time? You mean not once in a million years will a dangerous person simply run away? Or say, “Aw, fuck it. It’s not worth the risk.”
Never? As Yoda might say, “So certain are you, hmmm?”
The primary advantages of guns are their efficiency and their low-risk to the user. Take away those advantages and you claim that the kill decision-making process remains completely unaffected. Well, I don’t think that sounds very reasonable. Most assholes, even murderous ones with guns, are usually out to protect their own skin. Take away the best things in their favor and it seems like they might pause to rethink their course. Isn’t that what you would do?
And, even if they do find some other way to kill with a non-gun weapon, it’s almost a certainty that they’ll be slightly less dangerous. Their target will have a better chance at survival.
Truth: Sometimes things might be different. Not always, but sometimes.
Propaganda has to contain some portion of truth in order to be believable. It is the partial truths that make it so effective. If the NRA said, “Guns never harm anyone” we’d all call bullshit. That’s why their messages have been so carefully crafted, but if you really think about them you can see ways in which they don’t make sense.
Next time you see some piece of propaganda tell you how things are while claiming 100 percent certainty, take a hard critical look at the statement. Use your critical thinking skills. Try to determine if you are being lied to or if the statement is really true. You might be surprised. Don’t always accept at face value what the partisans are trying to sell you. Is it to your advantage or theirs? Why are they trying so damn hard to convince you?