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Commentary GUNS_AMERICA

Published on January 14th, 2013 | by James Schlarmann

4

Stop Telling Me Not To Punish Law-Abiding Gun Owners

Now that there have been a few weeks since the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, perhaps it’s a good time to talk about the real victims in all of this: lawful gun owners.

If medical insurance covered these, I bet gun ownership would go way down in this country.

What’s that? You think it’s preposterous to look at something like what happened at Sandy Hook, an event that cost twenty small children their lives, and then call gun owners victims in any sense? You say it’s obscene to think of gun owners as a protected class of citizens but small children aren’t? You say that putting the wanton desires of gun enthusiasts to own the most devastating firepower they can get their hands on over the needs of society in general is disgusting and we should all be embarrassed for ourselves.?

I agree. Completely.

However, just because you and I might agree, that doesn’t stop me from regularly seeing it time and again. We can’t have a discussion in this country about guns without being reminded that we can’t punish gun owners by daring to even discuss new laws that might actually have a positive impact on gun violence in this country. The NRA has ingrained in some gun owners the mentality that regulation and restriction are the same as prohibition. They point to things like alcohol prohibition, and the fact that cars kill more people than guns every year as evidence of no need to regulation at all. Those arguments are straw men if there ever were men made of straw, and I’ve debunked them mostly already, but we’re still left with this “don’t punish good gun owners” bullshit. 

The all or nothing approach, no guns or every gun under the sun, is exactly what has completely poisoned the dialogue about firearms in this country. Sensible adults routinely come together and decide to set boundaries on other adults. They’re called laws, and they can run a whole range of effects from completely forbidding an activity – think murder – or just heavily regulated it for the sake of safety without completely barring the activity, like driving a car. Gun control may be a tainted term because of the two extremes of the issue holding it for hostage.

But it’s time to stop pandering to the extremes on both sides. For starters, the Supreme Court has said time and again that the Federal government cannot under any circumstances come to your house and take your guns away. So any time someone warns you that it’s the next stop or a step that’s to come, you can laugh as hard as you can in their face. Unless of course that is you’re a paranoid person to begin with, but in that case I’d really prefer you not handle a firearm anyway. The fact remains though that Feds have no legal grounds in which to break into your house and take your guns, and frankly if some evil asshole takes the oath of office, orders our armed forces to march into our homes and take our guns, and then holds the country hostage to a tyrannical new era in America, all the firepower cached by all the nuts wouldn’t make a lick of difference, and that’s just assuming that the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard are all full of robots, trained killing machines without sentient thought. 

Next, the Supreme Court has also made it clear that the U.S. government can in fact place restrictions on the types of guns a citizen can own. This may seem like a direct infringement on our Second Amendment right to own guns, and it very probably is. But then again we repealed the prohibition of alcohol in this country over seventy years ago and you still can’t make and sell moonshine. In a lot states full-proof grain alcohol, like Everclear (if they even make that wretched Demon-Piss anymore), are illegal. So even though we gave Americans the right to buy and consume alcohol, we still put rules and restrictions as the kind of booze you can drink.

Then there’s the car argument. While I’ve decided that anyone who brings up cars, knives, yo-yos, boats, hand grenades and bombs as a way of demonstrating another way in which people can kill is just abdicating any credibility in the argument, let’s for the sake of argument, use the car analogy. My California’s driver’s license gives me the right to operate a consumer class, passenger vehicle. It doesn’t give me the right to fly a commercial airliner or drive a tank. Why? Because it wouldn’t be safe for me to do either of those things, and it only makes sense for those who have a need via their job requirements and years of serious training to be able to operate those kinds of vehicles.

The point is to be reasonable, not absolute. Absolutism leaves no ground for discussion, or common sense. There is not a single earthly reason why someone not in an active combat zone needs to have magazines that hold thirty to a hundred rounds. And yes, gun lovers, I know that there are handguns that have the ability to shoot fifteen rounds and speed load. Whoopty-fucking-do. I’m also no longer going to entertain the “you don’t know the specs so therefore we have no need for gun control” argument. You want to know all I need to know about guns? It’s very simple.

1. Guns kill.

2. Guns kill quickly and efficiently.

3. Some guns kill so quickly and so efficiently that their only use should be in a field of combat.

4. Those types of guns are routinely used in these mass shootings.

5. Therefore we should do everything we can to keep as many of our places of congregation slaughter-resistant as possible.

I know we’ll never be able to completely ban all firearms in this country, at least not until Darwin’s law has had a few more generations to work its magic perhaps. But that doesn’t mean we have to victimize gun owners or make them all seem like innocents in this fight to find solutions to our gun problem. And we do have a gun problem in this country. If mass shootings aren’t enough to show that to be the case,consider the fact that we have the highest per-capital murder by firearm rate in the world.  We can argue about the causes all we want, but shouldn’t it be a point of pride to get to where we don’t lead the world in either of those statistics?

Law abiding gun owners are not the victims in the gun control debate. Law abiding, rational citizens should understand the responsibility to society at large and recognize the need for regulation. Sensible gun owners can understand that restrictions are not prohibitions, and that plenty of protection can be acquired from a shotgun, without the need for a rapid-fire weapon. If you don’t get enough forewarning before being attacked, it wouldn’t make a difference if you had a dirty bomb under your bed. 

Those who will suffer the most when it comes to gun restrictions are the gun manufacturers. And that is why the NRA deigns to give a shit at all. The statistics I’d most like to see is among lawful gun owners, how many actually own an assault rifle. I have a feeling that most see no need, and therefore don’t even bother with them. So we find ourselves mired in a culture war over a very small minority of people who feel that they are above polite society’s requirement of prudence and wisdom over rhetoric and “I want”ism.  Of course, all of the work is moot until rational gun owners start speaking louder than the NRA, we may be stuck in neutral.

Here’s hoping that group wakes up soon, it would be nice to hear from them.

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About the Author

James is the founding contributor and editor-in-chief of The Political Garbage Chute, a left-leaning satire and commentary site, which can be found on Facebook as well. You definitely should not give that much a shit about his opinions.



  • A Female

    Argument 1: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”

    AKA: ”Did your toaster make breakfast for you?”, “Do you blame your keyboard for typos?”, “Do you blame spoons for making people fat?”

    Why it’s bad: You can’t just ask “who”, you need to ask “how” , and by “what means” and “did that means make the murders that much easier”?. Yes, the gunmen who perpitrate all these shootings are the ones who killed all these people. But they didn’t kill them with telekinesis. They killed them with a gun and bullets. Could you kill people without a gun? Could they have killed people without guns? Of course, but this is the wrong question. The word “could” is meaningless, it simply means that it doesn’t’ defy the laws of physics. Could they cause just as much harm, with just as much ease? That is the right question. You can’t guarantee a law will stop them, but you can make it much harder for them to succeed.

    Argument 2: “Cars kill people, should we out law them too?”

    Why it’s bad: It’s bad because it’s a ridiculous comparison. There are many rather important differences between a car and a gun. Most vehicle related deaths are the driver or passengers and most are tragically accidental. Most firearm related deaths are of course, not the shooter. Most vehicular deaths are accidental, most gun deaths are not. Car’s are designed to transport people. Guns are designed to kill people. Both are very good at what they’re designed to do. If you wanted to commit mass vehicular homicide, it would be a lot harder than committing mass murder with a gun.

    Argument 3: Defense against the government (Yes, their own government)

    AKA: “Defend against China, Russia, NWO”, “The people were disarmed before genocide, a takeover, etc.”

    Why it’s bad: It’s paranoia, plain and simple. There is absolutely zero evidence from which you can draw a logical conclusion that anyone would fairly and morally require a gun to defend themselves from their own (almost invariably American) government at any point in the near or far future. The government is not planning a totalitarian takeover, the NWO is not real, China is not going to invade, you’re just paranoid. You should not be trusted with a firearm if this is your main reason for wanting one as your faculties of reason are severely in question if you think shit like this is true.

    Argument 4: Criminals Don’t follow laws anyway

    Why it’s bad: It’s true, but it’s just tautology. It’s completely beside the point. The point being of course, that stricter laws would make it harder to get the gun in the first place, regardless of if the planned use is legal or not. Criminals steal 500,000 guns a year from law-abiding citizens, we’re their supply. There’s no gun fairy, whatever we have is what they get. If we don’t have assault rifles they don’t have assault rifles. Yes, criminals don’t follow laws, but if certain weapons are removed from the public, it will be extremely difficult to obtain them, even illegally. Please go get some military-grade plutonium. Oh wait, you can’t because it is illegal for the public and therefore extremely difficult to obtain and for good reason. Also every law scenario is different. Law is a little more complex than some people clearly realize. Now as an addedeum to this argument:

    But…BUT they would just get guns illegally then……!

    Why it’s still a bad argument: This is only partially true, and it’s also short sighted. Is some gang member in LA going to get a handgun illegally and relatively easily? Sure. Is he going to get an assault rifle easily, cheaply, or in any great quantity? No. Is some potential school shooter going to get an assault rifle illegally at all? No. Are most of your school shooters and the like absent a criminal record prior to the incident anyway, and do they get their guns legally? Yes.

    Why is it short sighted? Because it doesn’t look at why the guns are so relatively easy to get illegally. Why can you illegally buy a handgun from your local drug dealer that easily? Why don’t you need contacts with the Russian mafia, the cartels or the Real IRA, especially for arms like combat shotguns and assault rifles. Because gun laws are so lax. The companies that make the guns are all legal, the gangs don’t have their own smiths and factories. If it was harder to get a gun, there wouldn’t be so many in the hands of the criminals. There will always be guns in the hands of criminals if the laws are lax.

    This is also related to the old self defense against criminals argument which isn’t in the list as it isn’t as terrible as the others. There may in fact be times when having a gun with you to protect yourself is the best possible scenario. Those scenarios are rare however, and most gun advocates drastically overstate how much a gun toting hero would save the day – probably unintentionally – how much help it would be. Guns are one of those items that you would wish you’d have if you really needed it at a particular moment. That is the logic behind handgun ownership. If you are confronted with a burglar, you’d wish you had a handgun! But then again, if you fall off the edge of the Grand Canyon, you’d surely wish you had a parachute, too.

    Is buying a parachute (and wearing it at all times) a good idea to prevent a dangerous fall from high places? The question is not as ridiculous as it seems, as the odds of being confronted with a life-and-death situation with a criminal are about the same as you falling from a high place. In the U.S., the chances of being murdered are about 1 in 20,000. If you’re not a member of a gang, not selling illegal drugs, and not engaging in other criminal acts, the chances of being a homicide victim are far lower than that. If carrying a certain tool was all about a survival instinct, you’d want to carry a portable, automatic defibrillator, rather than a gun, since you are over thirty five times more likely to die of a heart attack than a criminal assault. But you probably wouldn’t get that tingly feeling telling people about your Philips HeartStart Home Defibrillator. No, for that you’ve got to tell them about your “.45 cal. Glock.”

    So yes, having a handgun could make you “safer”, but so could wearing a parachute at all times, or a helmet for that matter. But the odds are very long against your ever needing any of these items. Also if some deranged fuck is ready to slit your throat, they aren’t going to wait for you to go get your gun. Nor is a mugger likely to give you a heads-up as to his intentions. He’s going to pull a knife or gun on you and take your money before you have time to react well. If you reach for a gun, he’s going to try to kill you before you can kill him. That’s how what could have been nothing more than a robbery turns into a homicide.

    Maybe some of you really ardent pro gunners should carry a high-powered rifle in case a bear escapes from the zoo and attacks you. You should carry a gas mask in case of a nerve gas attack. You should wear a helmet when walking because it’s likely to prevent death if you’re tripped and hit head-first. Because, no matter how improbable, you seem to think you have to be prepared for it.

    But let’s assume for a second though, that someone being armed in the theater in Colorado, for example, would have prevented the tragedy. We’ll assume for the sake of argument that despite being in a dark, tear gas filled theater packed with running and panicking people, the armed civilian doesn’t cause collateral damage, doesn’t miss, doesn’t simply draw attention to themselves and get shot. They kill, wound or scare off the shooter. Why is the discussion on how to minimize loss of life when firearms are abused when it happens? Why isn’t the discussion how to prevent the event from even starting?

    Yes, It’s certainly true that any kind of ban or law won’t be 100% effective, and that some criminals will continue to use assault type weapons and extended clips in the presence of a ban. But a ban doesn’t have to be 100% effective to save lives. Even if it’s only 50% effective, that’s still more lives saved then what otherwise might’ve been.

    There can also be no denying there is something wrong with how guns are treated in the States, not just by laws, but by people. The country has the most firearm related deaths of any industrialized country by a long shot. It has the highest firearms per capita of any country, but even the countries with similar stats for firearms per capita have far fewer firearm related deaths. In my opinion it’s not so much the guns but the rampant fear and paranoia we have in this country that is the biggest issue.

    We’ve created a country of cowards that flinch at the sight of their own shadows. They think everyone is out to get them especially the people who are or seem “different” from how they are. This country is beyond paranoid. Unless the person comes after you or tries to physically assault you, there is no need for self-defense. It’s not self-defense just because you are afraid of everyone and the media has turned you paranoid. If you have to confront the person, then confront them, but not with guns blazing first. If you are afraid then just leave, without confrontation. We place the blame on all the wrong things and will end up creating a country with paranoid people who have no freedoms, and still the crime will persist. The guns aren’t the problem, the laws aren’t the problem, the PEOPLE are the problem. Until you can fix that, nothing will change.

    As Bill Maher once said:

    “Arming panicky [vigilantes] and telling them that it’s okay to shoot whenever they’re afraid is like dumping all the Milk Bones on the floor and telling your dog, just eat when you’re hungry.”

    Here is my experience with 2/3rds of gun carriers: they think murder rates are far higher than they are. They are afraid of half the people who look at them (e.g., A relative of mine had a flat tire and shooed away a group of black men slowing down to help us thinking they were going to attack us at the side of a busy highway downtown in broad daylight).

    When SOME people have a gun, it somehow becomes their immediate solution to every confrontation. Their brain seems to stops working as they even look for confrontation. I keep hearing about people who leave the safety of their automobiles to pursue unarmed people and then claim ‘self-defense’!

    Along with the ‘right to bear arms’ should come the ‘responsibility to exercise all reasonable efforts to avoid armed conflict’.

    I’m not anti-gun, but when a society gets to the point no one feels safe until there’s a gun or an armed guard nearby then society has a problem. I love my country, but we need take off our “We’re the best!” cheer-leading costumes, start taking a hard look at our problems and admit that maybe we haven’t gotten everything right in this country.

    • sasquatch

      Just as a matter of logic, and not because I disagree with your argument in general, I have to take a little issue with your Argument 2 car comparisons. First, I believe that a fairly high percentage of gun deaths are suicides. In other words in many, if not most, cases firearms related deaths ARE the shooter. Second, mass vehicular homicide is rare, but not difficult. Drive a car into a crowd at high speed and you will quite probably kill more people than died at Sandy Hook. I think this would be even easier than committing mass murder with a gun (and further “a good guy with a gun” probably couldn’t stop you).

  • http://www.facebook.com/ZombieAssassin Ryan Goddard

    Newsflash: Being a veteran DOES give someone free reign to act like an asshole. We still have that right in this country and you being in the media should respect it more than anyone else.

    • James Schlarmann

      Of course. You can behave any way you choose. But that doesn’t excuse you from having the fallacies in your thinking exposed. We still have that right in this country, to expose fallacies.

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