Don’t Let the Gunloons Win

I have been advocating for stricter gun laws for more than 30 years, in part because it’s an issue that is very personal to me. More than 30 years ago,  someone I knew and loved was gunned down senselessly in a robbery committed by someone who should never have been able to buy or carry a gun. A few years before that, another friend was selling Bibles door-to-door and some asshole shot him for the money in his pocket and also stole the Bibles he was carrying. In the intervening years, guns and ammo have become far more efficient in their lethality, but the laws haven’t taken that into account. Based on the way the laws have been written, it seems the Republicans in charge thin all guns are shotguns these days. In fact, with Republicans having far too much power in all levels of government, the situation has gotten progressively worse. Some people simply have no business owning or carrying any sort of firearm, but a solid case can be made that no one should be able to own a military-style weapon and carry it around.  

Owning and carrying a gun requires a level of responsibility that many people are simply not prepared to accept. It’s really that simple. It’s like driving a car. Sure everyone should have the right to drive a car, but only if they can demonstrate their ability to do so responsibly.

Whenever I write about guns, I get the same profoundly stupid responses from the people I call “gunloons.” To clarify, the vast majority of gun owners are responsible and take care of their guns, which means their guns will likely never lead to harm. That said, we don’t create laws and regulations for the vast majority of people; we create them to protect ourselves from the exceptions, meaning those who are not responsible.

In this post, I want to talk about the dumb arguments all gunloons make when it comes to the modest common-sense gun regulations I always recommend, which include basic registration of all guns, licensing of all gun owners and insurance on all guns, with rules to enforce greater responsibility. None of this is controversial, really.  I know a lot of you have been snowed into believing that the gun “debate” is enormously polarized, but it’s really not. Almost everyone, including most gun owners, are in favor of greater regulation. The only people against gun regulation are a small minority who represent the Tea Party and who put Trump over the top. The problem is, they run a major political party, the Republican Party. Unfortunately, our side of the debate, can’t seem to get our shit together enough to stop them.

How is that possible? I mean, have you heard some of the arguments gunloons make? Well, following are the ones they use the most with me, and why they are phenomenally stupid. Use this as a wake-up call. We can win this argument; it’s not hard. But we also have to win elections for Democrats.

Here are a few of the most ridiculous myths surrounding firearms:

Regulation of guns is a violation of the Second Amendment.

I do radio programs about the gun issue quite often and, no matter how much I want to, I’m not allowed to say, “Fuck the NRA,” despite the fact that I have freedom of speech under the First Amendment. The FCC says I can’t say anything I want on a broadcast and the FBI would also warn me against threatening politicians. In other words, there are limits to all rights because everyone has rights, not just you, and there has to be a balance. It’s why I can’t stand on your front sidewalk at 3 a.m with a bullhorn and advocate for Hillary or Bernie and why the government can regulate arms. In fact, in Article I, Section 8, Congress (and with the 14th Amendment, the government in general) is charged with regulating the militia, which is the basis for the Second Amendment.  None other than the Late Justice Scalia, in the DC v Heller case, admitted that states and municipal governments could regulate weapons.

Hell; we already do, right? I mean, you’re not allowed to set up a rocket launcher in your backyard or place a missile silo on your ranch. No one can make a rational argument that banning ownership of cruise missiles in residential neighborhoods is a violation of the Second Amendment, so you can’t rationally claim that all weapons control violates rights, nor that the line can’t move. You have a right to protect yourself and your loved ones, you do not have a right to be able to fire 700 rounds in the space of a minute or two. Besides, the rest of us have a right to life, which means we have the power to protect ourselves. Got it?

Registration and licensing will lead to even greater confiscation

There are an estimated 300 million legally owned firearms in this country. If the government has a goal of confiscating all guns, they suck at it. Under no circumstances could our government confiscate 300 million guns, any more than they could deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. In other words, it’s not happening. In fact, because of our Constitution, if they banned some guns, the most they could do would be to offer to buy them back. That’s right; the government can’t legally take anyone’s guns. They can order them registered, but they can’t just confiscate them without a hearing. Can you imagine hearings to confiscate hundreds of millions of guns? And since only a scant few delusional people are talking about banning all guns, in any case, the argument is doubly asinine.

Registration of cars has not prevented any law abiding car owner from driving a car, so there is no rational reason to believe that registration would lead to mass confiscation of guns that you feel you need to protect yourself. If you have 30 guns, they might make an offer to buy 28 of them. If you demonstrate a lack of responsibility for the 30 guns you own, they might take them away after a hearing, but they won’t just collect them and melt them down.

Gun Control wouldn’t have stopped (name of incident), so why bother? Gun Control Doesn’t Work

Again, can you imagine if that first one was a standard for passing laws? There would be none. No one in their right mind thinks basic gun control would reduce the number of gun deaths to zero. However, if we could reduce the number by 10%, we’d save nearly 4,000 lives per year. If we could cut them in half over time, as these measures become part of the culture, we’d save 16,000 lives per year and 80,000 every five years. If we tighten gun laws, eliminate the “drug war,” replaced the “gun culture” with a “gun respect culture,” and improved mental health treatment, and cut the rate by 60-70%, we might save 24,000 lives a year and a quarter million every decade. How could anyone be against such a thing? Does it really make any logical sense to refuse to enact regulations that could save thousands of lives because we can save everyone?

As for the second one, I’ll just point out that every other industrialized country with gun control has a rate of gun deaths that is minuscule compared to ours. About 20 years ago, Australia saw a single mass shooting with a military-style weapon and they banned their sale and held a buy-back. Since then, the number of homicides Is far less than ours. Just over our northern border, in 2012, Canada had 172 homicides, whereas there were 8,813 here. Even accounting for population difference, that means we had roughly seven times as many. Therefore, it defies logic to claim that gun control doesn’t work when we have examples of it working fine.

Besides, given that we’ve never tried gun control here, we don’t know that it won’t work.

Having a gun makes you safer.

Except for those who live in extremely rural areas, the only way a gun could conceivably make someone safer would be if they expect to use it and most never need to use theirs. The only purpose of a gun in a city or a suburb is to kill another person and, while having a gun may give some people a heightened sense of security, it gives others a heightened sense of false bravado. Gun ownership can indicate an irrational fear, and irrational people rarely make responsible decisions at crucial times.

The statistics bear this out. According to one study, “(f)or every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.” (Source) According to another, “People with a household gun were 3.7 times as likely to die by an unintentional gunshot injury as those living in a home without guns.” (Source) Yet another study suggests there is a far greater chance that a firearm will be used in a homicide, suicide or accidental death in a home with a gun than one without. (Source) And if guns make us safer, ask yourself why there are nearly 50 times as many murders as justifiable homicides. (Source) and (Source)  There were only 260 justifiable homicides in 2011. According to a gunloon favorite,  the Kleck Study, there are “between 500,000 and 3 million” instances of gun self-defense every year, so how were there only 260 justifiable homicides that year?

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people

Gun control isn’t about guns. It’s about people. More specifically, it’s about getting. A handle on who has guns and making sure people who shouldn’t have guns have a difficult time getting one. Again, it’s like cars. Cars don’t crash into other cars, people do. That’s why we register cars and license drivers. The goal is to do what we can to make sure fewer accidents happen.  Without gun control, anyone who buys a gun can resell it to anyone who wants it in most states, and no law is broken. Just as troubling, guns can go across state lines, be shipped from state to state and there is no tracking process to stop it, even if such a thing is technically illegal without a permit. A gun can be purchased legally in Georgia, move through many hands in many states and end up being used in a shooting in Chicago, and there is no way to know who’s responsible for it at the time of the shooting. Gun control is about gun regulations that make it harder for people who want to kill to use a gun to do so.

If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns

Virtually no one is trying to outlaw guns. There are rational reasons for some people to own guns. Farmers need to get rid of predatory animals, for example. And rational people who are being targeted for harm are legally entitled to carry one for protection. Gun control is about keeping track of firearms. There is no rational reason why we shouldn’t make sure those who are carrying them have a basic knowledge of their safe use, and to be able to show financial responsibility, should anyone be harmed through negligent use of that firearm.

There are already plenty of gun laws. We just need to enforce the laws we have

With 32,000 gun deaths per year, obviously gun laws are deficient in some way. The number of laws is irrelevant, if key laws are missing. There are basic laws preventing people from owning guns if they are convicted felons, but there are no regulations on the books to facilitate law enforcement in knowing who these people are. Obviously, our current gun laws aren’t working. Look at how easy it is to get a gun. The asshole who shot 100 people at a gay bar over the weekend was on the terrorist watch list, he was a domestic abuser and may have been treated for mental illness. Yet, there was nothing in the law that would stop him from buying as many guns, extended clips and ammo as he wanted. We can’t enforce what we don’t have.

Gunloons, your arguments are tired and stupid. And gun control advocates, if we can’t win on this issue, we’re pathetic.

Also published on Medium.

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