I have been dragged through this debate so many times that the talking points have been ingrained into my neural pathways like the well worn action of Grandpa’s old Remington shotgun. For the record, I am pro-gun, but for infinitely simpler reasons than the typical pundit: I just like guns. To put this in liberalspeak, if two consenting gay adults wanna use a loaded AR-15 as a sex toy, that’s their business, and you religious bigots had better keep your intolerant noses out of their bedroom. The only thing they’re hurting is their alimentary canals and possibly the muzzlebrake on that Colt. Of course, to be fair, both pro-gun and gun control advocates make some predictably stupid points in this discussion, so let’s lock and load the primary examples of bad premises and shoddy thinking:
1. Guns are about self defense/hunting/killing things/massacring helpless schoolchildren
No, they are not. A gun is just a device used to accelerate a projectile. (Depending on how much I had to drink the night I was making ammunition, that projectile may not even make it down the barrel.) There is no Platonic “gun essence” which establishes the sacred purpose of all firearms for killing school children and murdering Trayvon Martin. This is actually where the pro-gun crowd unwittingly shoots their own foot off by framing their argument on utilitarian premises which their opponents eagerly abuse. By agreeing that guns are about self defense and practicality, they enable detractors to simply observe that firearm ownership is correlated with worse safety outcomes, thereby running contrary to the stated purpose of increasing safety by providing a defensive option. If you are pro-gun, don’t even agree to this idea. Just say you like owning guns. Like many things in life there are negatives associated with said ownership, but these negatives do not outweigh the pleasure owning a firearm brings you. Should someone never drink alcohol or own a Corvette because of the statistics on DUI fatalities?
2. The Second Amendment says…
Look, I honestly don’t give a damn about the second Amendment. It is true that the Second Amendment was written to ensure private gun ownership and the Federalist Papers back this concept up. It is true that anyone who cannot understand that citizen militias would be impossible without private gun ownership is being willfully stupid. It’s furthermore true that “well-regulated” does not mean what gun control supporters think it means. Regardless, repeating Franklin quotes like a broken record isn’t going to get you anywhere. Clearly vast legions of ignorant proles in this country do not know or care what the Constitution says unless Officer Friendly is about to uncover their weed stash. You can make better arguments than Appealing to Law.
3. We can regulate automobiles and require registration and insurance, why not guns?
Because you don’t hop in your gun and drive it down public highways in plain view of patrol officers, you jackass. The thing is, guns are typically kept in a drawer somewhere or haphazardly thrown on a night stand where I can knock them on the floor while reaching for a glass of water, fatally injuring myself and ending any further commentary on this issue. Unlike a car, guns are not typically displayed in a manner where a government agent of any sort can inspect or view them. Furthermore, a Farm Use truck kept on private rural land is about as regulated as the rusty old shotgun hanging from its rifle rack. The biggest problem here is one we will return to over and over with the gun control zealots: Practicality. How do you enforce registration or insurance of guns? Does the gun owner collect all his guns, throw them in a sack, and drive them down to the DMV for inspection? If I fail to renew my gun registration, does the SWAT Team come crashing through the window? If I privately sale or trade a gun, how does anyone ever find out? I could simply report the gun stolen, stop paying the registration/insurance/Racist Hillbilly Gun Owner Fee and trade it to my young African American friend for some Skittles and Arizona Tea, and no one would find out until the youngster committed his first armed robbery. Most gun control proponents haven’t thought this far ahead though, and will just allude to some nebulous, vague idea of “regulation” without the slightest inkling of what it really entails.
4. I know nothing about firearms, but we need to do something about Military Style Assault Weapons!
This one is a foolproof litmus test for gauging how idiotic and gullible your opponent is. Chances are, if they’re bleating about MSAWs, they’ve got the same amount of brains as your average Glock owner. (Sorry, I had slip in a disparaging remark about Glock owners somewhere) It doesn’t take someone with the intelligence to prefer their handgun has more aesthetic value than a flat-black cinder block to note “Military Style” is just a trivial observation to make, and “Assault Weapon” seems a tad bit redundant. In terms of how Assault Weapons have been legally defined, it is true that cosmetic appearances seem to over-ride quantifiable differences in performance, since “barrel shrouds” and “pistol grips” are considered “Military Style,” officially making this more about fashion sense than logic. The idea this is an “Assault Weapon” as opposed to a “Non-Aggressive Weapon,” or perhaps a “Defensive Weapon” certainly raises a lot more questions than it answers, but we can forgive the redundancy for now. We’re once again trying to ascribe human intent to a non-human object. Furthermore, the idea that some weapons are “designed for combat” raises the question of how would one rationally discern this? Are bolt action .308 rifles also a “military weapon” since sniper teams use them? What about SIG P226 handguns, is that a “Military Style Assault Weapon” because Navy Seals carry them? Generally comments about MSAWs are brought up in the context of how deadly and dangerous they are, a point thoroughly confirmed by vast amounts of statistical research–oh wait, it would appear that in all shootings including the high score mass casualty school-room variety, handguns,not rifles are preferred. This is a rather Inconvenient Truth, feel free to bash your enemy over the head with it repeatedly.
5. We need Universal Background Checks, no gun show loophole, and an end to straw purchases.
You can tell someone making this argument has never experienced the boundless joy of waiting for an hour surrounded by overweight camo-patterned rednecks while an overloaded database thoroughly checks your criminal record at a gun show. If someone repeats the Universal Background Check mantra, ask them exactly what they mean by this. Usually this will lead to some discussion about ending the dreaded “gun show loophole,” by which they mean private individuals selling guns next to licensed vendors. Of course the problem here is that gun show private sales are not the leading contributor to illegally owned firearms. Once you finally broach the subject of straw purchasing, the true stupid colors of the pro-gun control advocate finally unfurl into the breeze, waving their idiocy for all to see: “We should just make straw purchases illegal!” they proclaim, completely ignorant to the fact straw purchases are in fact quite illegal already. If there was a reliable way to prevent straw purchases, the ABC commission would absolutely love to know about this new development, since it would keep alcohol out of the hands of millions of teens. Generally the idea being proposed here comes around to the concept of inventing a new class of criminal, in this case the “private gun seller,” who commits the “crime” of privately selling an object to someone without going through Official Channels.
6. But Sandy Hook!
Sandy Hook stands in progressive liberal history as their own personal 9/11 tragedy. It is a day to never be forgotten even though Virginia Tech had more casualties, and the scope of this event justifies any invasion of privacy whether it be TSA groping or a mandatory gun registration or yearly licenses and home inspections. Sandy Hook is a talking point because it involved both a crazy white shooter and a baby slaying AR-15, whereas Virginia Tech involved a representative from whitey’s Great Racial Blindspot, the Asian Community, and that shooter utilized a pair of boring small calibre handguns. One might also observe this tragedy involved white schoolchildren and cast aspersions on the sour faced liberals talking about it accordingly, but that would be rather lowbrow, wouldn’t it? Expect to hear Sandy Hook repeated like a mantra until your ears and eyes are bleeding though, since politically motivated groups do so love to leap onto tragic events as rhetorical springboards.
7. Magazine limits
You will also find that conversations about Sandy Hook inevitably come back around to “high capacity magazines” which literally means these idiots are worried about the size of a plastic box with a spring in it. That’s what a magazine is. It’s a box that holds bullets. The debate is over the size of the box, because, you know, it’s not like someone isn’t just going to just print these things out in their basement. You might wonder if there’s anything other than anecdotes about whether a larger magazine allows you to kill more victims, but the research here is quite lacking. Astute observers will recognize that it is the rapid interchangeability of the magazine itself which makes more of a difference than the number bullets stacked up inside, but to realize this you have probably handled an actual gun before, which makes your chances of being pro-gun control somewhat remote.
8. Anything to reduce these casualties!
One of the more common premises is that any sort of regulation that could save even one life in a mass shooting would be worth it. This is obviously exactly the same as claiming that any invasion of privacy is worth preventing a terrorist attack, but it would be worthwhile to examine the real cause of high numbers of casualties in a mass shooting for a moment: You have high numbers of people packed into a confined space. That’s it, that’s all there is to it. The killer could use a shotgun, a pair of handguns, a large machete, a flamethrower, a home made bomb, or even just lock the doors and set the place on fire, and it would still have the potential for multiple fatalities. To use military terminology, this is a “target rich environment.” I don’t see how one could reasonably affect the possibility of massive casualties without telling humans to stop associating in such large numbers, but this hasn’t stopped people from making all sorts of unhelpful suggestions. For the record, saying we should remove guns to stop these incidents makes as much sense as saying more guns would prevent them.
So what’s the conclusion here? Essentially owning a gun is a personal preference with some risks and occasionally people use firearms to kill other folks in all sorts of sensational ways ripe for grandstanding by politically interested parties. I personally don’t see how firearm ownership is much different from owning a Corvette. One could very well claim that Corvettes are designed only for illegal purposes and have no practical utility except as penis compensation for cishet white men, oh wait, that argument sounds familiar. Similar arguments could be made against all sorts of things that actually impose a substantial social cost, are definitely of little practical utility, but are readily enjoyed by most Americans.