Let me let all the gun zealots in on a little secret — we all completely understand what you mean by “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” We’re not idiots. Yes, a gun does not kill anyone of its own volition. So congratulations. In the debate over whether inanimate objects can kill people without some help from a willing human, you win! Yay! Now, let’s get to why this elementary statement of fact is not in fact a valid counter-argument to gun control, and more importantly why you look like a heartless jackass when you use it, shall we?
Of course the people pulling the trigger are the ones guilty of committing the crime. I have yet to hear one single, solitary advocate of tighter gun laws advocate indicting the weapons themselves. We’re a violent species, warring on each other since the very first time a caveman told another caveman to get out of his cave and go find a cave of his own, and no one is denying that humans will find a way to kill humans regardless of the tool they choose to use, but nothing changes the fact that it is in our best interest to tightly control tools of wanton murder.
What those of us who want to see a renewed assault weapons ban, universal background checks, and limits on the size of ammunition magazines, cartridges and clips are asking for is an adult conversation, and an acknowledgment from the other side of what we all know to be true — there is no logical reason for a citizen not in a militia or branch of the armed forces to own an assault weapon. If they were to be honest, they’d admit that it’s a tantrum they’re throwing and nothing else. A tantrum over being even asked to be inconvenienced, and in terms of the assault weapons ban, a tantrum over whether or not we should allow these kinds of guns to hit the black market, or whether we should at least attempt to stem the tide of their flow into the black market.
Banning guns will not stop all the killing everywhere. Of course it won’t, but that’s not what gun control is about, and it’s not about taking guns away from everyone. The truth is that for every Sandy Hook there are dozens and dozens of every day gun crimes that are perpetrated with handguns. Of course an assault weapons ban wouldn’t stop those crimes, but that’s what other laws are for. It’s as if the gun lobby’s stance is that if you can’t fix the gun problem with one sweeping law, you have to take them all off the books for fear of impinging someone’s Constitutional freedoms.
Over and over again gun zealots try to hijack the argument and make it about outright banning of all guns. No matter how many times advocates of tighter gun laws tell them that they understand there’s no Constitutional grounds for confiscation, that’s the only point of focus the gun lobby wants their people focused on. It’s all about avoiding the big “gun grab” by the government at all costs — all the while ignoring the fact that society is becoming increasingly discontent with the notion of innocent bystanders being the collateral damage in our struggle to responsibly and reasonably abridge our Constitutional right to a gun.
We don’t want to take away your guns, we just want to do everything possible to make sure only people we all trust get them.
We are a nation that loves its guns and while we continue to operate under those auspices we’ll never be able to rid our society of guns altogether. Considering that guns sure do make the job of killing someone that much easier, it only makes sense from the standpoint of peace and stability to limit just how much firepower one citizen has access to. That notion may sound treasonous to some, but it’s certainly not in anyone’s best interest for civilians to own any kind of weapon they want. Supreme Court Justice Scalia himself has noted that the Second Amendment is not unlimited, and all we on the side of gun control want is to have a talk about the boundaries and limits, nothing else.
Ultimately it’s not about whether the gun kills people or people do the killing; it’s about being reasonable. It’s about looking at gun ownership under the auspices of personal protection, and deciding as a people what we consider to be reasonable restrictions on gun ownership. That’s why using the “guns don’t kill people” mantra makes you look like such an asshole. No one is arguing with you about that. No one is insisting that guns kill people of their own accord. Of course they don’t. But in two of the six mass shootings last year, the killer chose the Bushmaster AR-15.
Both the Aurora and the Sandy Hook shooter found the AR-15 good for their purposes, and those purposes were to slaughter as many people as they could as quickly as they good. Had the Aurora shooter’s AR-15 not jammed, how many more people would have lost their lives in the theater that night? It doesn’t take a ballistics expert to see that novice shooters would prefer a gun that’s light, has very minimal recoil, and will allow you to fire pretty much however many rounds your finger can squeeze off in any given time period. Then we have to ask ourselves if unhinged people are using these weapons we have to ask ourselves if that they are something we the people — not the Founding Fathers and not the gun lobby — consider to be sensible for home protection.
In other words — it’s about Democracy.
The reason that the gun lobby loves to trot the “Guns don’t kill people” line out is that it’s a cute little bumper sticker slogan. It’s easily repeated and remembered, and again from a very elementary standpoint, it’s true. Then once they get you agreeing that guns are just a tool, they can bring out their other whopper, comparing regulation of guns to things like drugs and cars. They’ll ask if we should ban all hammers because they can be used in a murder. They’ll ask if we should ban all cars since cars kill more people every year than guns do.
What the gun zealots don’t quite grasp is that guns are not like cars, hammers or even drugs. There is no benign purpose to a gun. It’s designed intent is one of killing another living thing, and to conflate guns, cars and drugs is just wrong; it’s a false comparison. Sure, cars and drugs aren’t mentioned as specific Constitutional rights, but that doesn’t mean that laws cannot or should not be written to better frame what we consider a valid expression of our Second Amendment rights — a shotgun or a handgun — and what is out of bounds for us. But one thing that gun control is not about, nor will it ever be about, is an outright disarming of the populace.
A government that trusts its people to own any guns at all is not a government of tyranny, period. So once you strip the Second of that false narrative — protection against tyranny — it becomes a Constitutional right to protect your property and ostensibly your other Constitutional freedoms. Thank God not everyone feels they need a gun to protect their freedoms, but let’s say you feel you do. Most of us wouldn’t quibble with that assertion. What we’d like to do now is ask you why you think you need a lightweight, military-style semi-automatic rifle with lightweight large capacity magazines to defend your home. If your answer to that question is “I don’t have to tell you,” or “AMERICA!” then you’re wrong. Dead wrong. This is how democracy works. Enough people get tired of the way something is going and they get together and address it. Whether or not guns kill people, cats kill people, or people kill people, more than nine out of every ten Americans wants a background check done before you buy a gun anywhere.
Irrelevant arguments don’t make cliches, cliches make irrelevant arguments.