Saturday, October 3, 2015

Guns, Guns, Guns

I have not researched gun control or gun rights or gun anything.  I am just a frustrated, saddened blogger who finds the status quo appalling: an individual shoots up a church/school/mall/theater/whatever, lots  of condemnation, nothing substantial changes, rinse, repeat.  Obama's statement after the latest shooting in Oregon reflected his own frustration and sadness over the lack of progress.

What is always annoying are the responses to the concerns about guns, so I thought I would come up with a listicle of the usual responses and my quick response to each:
  1. "Too soon!"  Well, it is always too soon to discuss this stuff because there is always another shooting a few days or a week later.  If we wait for a decent peaceful interval, we will never have a discussion of this stuff.  Also, this is wonderfully cynical: "hey, you guys are mobilized by outrage and might do something.  How about we all wait until the anger fades and you guys have less passion to organize a response?  Kthxbai."
  2. "It is about mental illness, not guns." Why are these opposed?  Obviously, when an individual decides to kill a bunch of people, it combines motive and means.  The motives are often hard to understand and may often be the result of mental and emotional problems.  Yes, we need to do a better job of treating those with these problems, but, no, doing something on the mental health front does not logically exclude government from doing anything else such as regulating guns.  
  3. "If the disturbed don't have guns, they will use knives."  Well, that would be progress.  Far easier to run from a knife than from a bullet.  It is also harder to kill many people with one knife than with a semi-automatic handgun or rifle with a magazine of 15 or more bullets.
  4. "If the disturbed don't have guns, they will escalate and use bombs."  Again, that would be progress, as it is not easy to build bombs.  It is not impossible either, but it is not easy.  And the government already does a fair amount to make sure people don't have easy access to bombs.
  5. "Gun control does not work." The handy charts this week of states with and without gun control and the rates of murder via guns is suggestive.  Yes, the causal arrow could go the other way--states with less violence develop more gun regs.  Yet other countries have guns and have disturbed citizens but yet don't have the same incredibly high level of violence.
  6. "Most gun deaths are not caused by sprees by whites but are among/between minorities."  Oh really.  So, we should not do anything about spree shootings because it is only one form of gun violence.  That is like saying we should not fight all cancer but just focus on the one or two forms that are related to the most deaths.  It also suggests that gun control might not make a difference in such places.  Or that we need to solve racism or poverty or intra-African-American problems or "culture" before we turn to guns.  Which is another classic way of kicking the can down the road so far that it cannot be seen.
  7. "Liberals just want to take everyone's guns away." Maybe some do.  I think most folks just want sensible gun regulation--that anyone buying a gun from any source should have a good background check, so that those who are most likely to use them as they are designed (to kill lots of people) don't have easy access.  My particular focus would be to bring back restrictions on weapons that can kill large numbers of people quickly.  One does not need a Glock with a 19 bullet magazine to defend one's house or an AR-15 to go hunting.  These weapons are designed to kill many people quickly.  I don't expect that we can eliminate murder, but I would like sincere efforts to reduce the carnage.  Yet, I know that this would be closing the barn door but ...
  8. "There are already so many guns out there that gun regulation would not make a difference."  Maybe, but most of the spree shooters were able to get their guns at stores quite easily, rather than having to buy or steal them from some gray/black market.  I wonder if the anti-gun control people support legalization of drugs because the argument here seems similar--the stuff is going to get out, so why bother?
  9. "This is just part of an attempt to increase the power of the state."  I am pretty sure that most gun control advocates would not be advocating gun control if gun-related death and destruction was a minor problem.  It is on political agendas because of the damage guns do.  Far more than terrorism as Obama made quite clear, far more than many sources of death and far more than most preventable causes of death.  
  10. "The Second Amendment means that guns cannot be regulated, just as the First Amendment says that speech or assembly cannot be regulated."  Um, no.  The Bill of Rights establishes rights that are rarely but sometimes abridged, when there is a compelling public need.  One cannot yell fire in a crowded theater if there is no fire, for instance.  Assembly is regulated in a variety of ways.  Freedom of religion does not permit murder or cannibalism or whatever.  So, the idea that there can be no regulation, especially when the 2nd amendment mentions a "well-regulated" militia, well, there you go.
  11. "This is the first step in an effort by the government to become totalitarian." Give me a fucking break.  Of course, as Barney Frank once said, talking to a conspiracy theorist is like talking to a piece of furniture--what is the point?
Note I am not discussing the arguments about having guns--that they are for protection (when guns in the home are far more threatening to the kids and spouses in that home).  All I am saying is that we get these same tired arguments after each shooting.  And they are dumb, dumb, dumb arguments.


Anonymous said...

Sir: I do not own an AR15 or a Glock. If you were giving them away I would be glad to take them off your hands. I echo this though... If an AR15 is the best tool to protect my family... Then I want one and if something else comes out that is better I want that too.
I would ask you to live in Chicago or Camden N.J. for a month and not see if you don't feel the same way.

Steve Saideman said...

An assault rifle is never the best way to protect your family. The best way has and will continue to be not to have a gun at all. If you have kids in the house, chances are far higher that they will be killed by the guns in the house than by some other threat.

The kind of crime in Chicago or Camden is not rampant home invasions....

Anonymous said...

If being armed is not the solution, then why has shootings and crime gone down in Detroit? I am speaking from first hand problems. I had a guy try to come through my front door at 2:00am in the morning. I held him at gun point till the police showed up. When they arrest the guy the police officer said he wished I had shot him, they had arrested this guy 11 or 12 times now.
I will leave you with this thought: why do nations want a strong military? I would say to you they would save a lot of money and time if they just posted gun free zones.
I pray that I never have to shoot anyone in a home invasion. I am not willing to give up my god given right to protect myself and family. I support the constitution of the United States.
Steve, it is easy to say what you would or would not do, I find that actions speak louder than words.