Armed Teachers: Are you F#@king Kidding Me?

At 2:19 p.m. on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, a former student went on a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. When the firing subsided, 17 people were dead. 12 of the victims were found inside the school, 2 outside the building, 1 on the street, and 2 others died in the hospital. 14 others were injured and taken to local hospitals with many in critical condition. According to students, chaos ensued when a fire alarm sounded near dismissal time. The shooter started firing outside before making his way through the hallways. He wore a gas mask and used smoke grenades to start picking off people as the kids came out. One student recounted classroom windows shattering and a bullet near the shades. While hiding under a teacher’s desk, she heard 4 of her injured classmates screaming in pain. As SWAT officers escorted students out of the classroom, she saw them covered in blood. One teacher told CNN that she hid her students in a closet until law enforcement arrived. TV footage showed students running single file with their hands in the air, throwing backpacks into a large pile and huddling under trees across the street. SWAT officers entered classrooms with guns drawn and escorted shaking and crying students. Worried parents crowded around the school, frantic to know whether what happened to their child.

Arrested a short distance near a home was 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. A former student, he’d been expelled for “disciplinary reasons” but was once a member of the school’s Junior Reserved Officers Training Corps. Some students and teachers said they knew him and that he had guns. Though a quiet kid who usually kept to himself, he was uniquely troubled since had once attended a school for emotionally and disabled students. One former classmate said Cruz would joke about shooting people or establishments. He’d talk a lot about having guns and using them in different situations. He also had some anger management issues. His math teacher told a newspaper, “We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him. There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.” Even the Broward Sheriff’s Office showed concerns about Cruz for more than 2 years before the incident took place. In 2016, deputies went to his home more than 3 dozen times. That September, a “peer counselor” reported that Cruz might’ve attempted suicide via gasoline, was cutting himself, and wanted to buy hunting guns. His mother Lynda said her son “wrote hate signs on his book bag and had recently talked of buying firearms.” In September 2017, his comment with his intention to become a “professional school shooter” on a YouTube video was reported to the FBI in Mississippi. After his mother’s death in November, her cousin Katherine Blaine reported that Cruz owned rifles and asked the BSO to collect them. Later that month, she called the BSO again to report him fighting with her 22-year-old son. She also shared details that Cruz, “bought a gun from Dick’s last week and is now going to pick it up.” She added that he “bought tons of ammo,” and had “used a gun against (people) before” and “put the gun to others’ heads in the past.” In January 2018, the FBI received a tip “a person close to Nikolas Cruz,” alerting them to “Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”

Nikolas Cruz’s arsenal consisted of an AR-15 style rifle and countless magazines, legally purchased from a Coral Springs gun store. When arrested, he had 180 rounds of ammunition left. Given that his behavior signaled red flags and local law enforcement response, it’s clear that this guy shouldn’t be able to buy a gun like that. However, if the Trayvon Martin incident should tell us anything it’s that Florida has notoriously shitty gun laws. Martin’s killer George Zimmerman was still allowed to carry a gun despite an arrest record and a history of violence. He also got away with killing a black teenager thanks its “stand your ground” which lets a person shoot an assailant if they’re attacked in a place where they have a legal right to be and avoid criminal prosecution. Despite that Martin was an unarmed teenager minding his own business when Zimmerman went after him. Orlando Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen was still able to legally purchase a Saur SIG MCX semi-automatic and a 9mm Glock handgun despite a history of domestic violence and had been investigated by the FBI twice for terrorism connections. In addition, you don’t have to be a Florida resident to get a concealed carry handgun permit from its Department of Agriculture. But you don’t need a permit or license to own a gun or even conceal carry a rifle or shotgun. Nor do you have to register a firearm either. In Florida, you can buy as many guns as you want at one time. They don’t regulate assault weapons, .50-caliber rifles, or high capacity magazines either. Hell, they don’t even require a state license for gun sellers to sell firearms. It’s easy to imagine how Cruz could get weapons from a gun store to shoot up his high school. But surely local governments can enact their own gun control rules? Actually, Florida prohibits cities and counties from doing exactly that. In fact, elected officials who dare implement new gun restrictions can be fined or removed from office by the governor.

These students experienced what will be most traumatic event in their lives. It’s no surprise that several have criticized the usual “thoughts and prayers” condolences and have urged politicians to take action to prevent more children from getting killed in shootings. Some of them have demanded stricter gun control measures, organized a group called Never Again MSD, and condemned lawmakers who’ve received contributions from the National Rifle Association. On February 17, they held a rally at Fort Lauderdale attended by hundreds. On February 20, dozens of Stoneman Douglas High School students marched to the State Capitol in Tallahassee, where they watched the Florida House of Representatives reject a bill that would’ve banned assault weapons and high capacity magazines in a 71-36 vote. More than 3,000 attended a rally at the Florida State Capitol the following day while state’s students orchestrated a mass walkout. Never Again MSD and other groups have also played in pressuring corporations into revoking their NRA sponsorships and discounts to NRA members.

But these students’ crusade has attracted considerable backlash from the NRA and its allies on the political right. Conspiracy theorists claimed they’re “crisis actors,” left-wing puppets, or just kids. Some pundits see these students’ reactions as emotional and immature, which the media is taking too seriously. As the National Review’s Ben Shapiro wrote, “What, pray tell, did these students do to earn their claim to expertise?” The NRA and its allies have also pinned mass shootings on mental health, violent media, the mainstream news, and anything else but guns. Yet, what concerns me are what the NRA and its allies propose to do to prevent mass shooting epidemic. Instead of challenging the National Rifle Association’s grip on American gun politics or an assault weapons ban, some conservatives have suggested measures like putting armed drones in schools, using Homeland security technology to create barriers against potential shooters, arming retired police and military personnel to guard classrooms, or using the same security mechanisms as airports. All these policy ideas bring the “police state” into the classroom. As someone who grew up in the wake of Columbine with transparent backpacks, metal detectors, security cameras, and morning security checks, I don’t want to encourage any of it. Some of them are utterly ridiculous, expensive and impractical. Armed drones were designed to kill, cost as much as $30,000, and would be extremely dangerous in a school setting. Even conservatives have decried the Transportation Security Administration’s ineffectiveness and heavy-handed policies (like missing 95% of weapons and explosives in 2015). Not to mention, its annual budget is $7.5 billion for 15,000 airports, let alone 98,000 public schools. Oh, according to the National Association of School Resource Officers, around 40% of public schools have at least one full-time or part-time SRO. MSD High School and every single high school in its district had one. Only 12 states have laws specifying requirements for law enforcement officials working in schools which may or may not involve preparing for mass shootings. Besides, SRO and student confrontations have increased in recent years. Metal detectors have also proved ineffective.

However, the most crackbrained idea in the NRA school of mass shooting prevention is arming teachers, which Donald Trump has endorsed even if it means paying “a little bit of bonus” to do so. Apparently, this is an extension of the “good guy with a gun” myth, which states that if more people are armed, they can stop violence before it gets worse or prevent it altogether. However, this is just a mere fantasy you see in action movies. There’s no good research on the effect of arming teachers or putting armed police or security in schools, which by itself should raise red flags. But based on the evidence we have, there’s enough to suggest that putting more guns in schools could make gun violence worse. The notion of arming teachers is so completely insane that even teachers don’t want anything to do with it.

The fundamental problem with gun violence in the United States is that there are so many guns in circulation already. As a result, it’s easier for any conflict to escalate into a form of gun violence. And that’s why the US has more shootings than its developed peers. Add more guns, you get more gun violence and more gun deaths. Sure some people have successfully defended themselves from attacks with guns. But arming more people typically does more harm than good. Apply that lesson to school, then Donald Trump’s armed teacher proposal could be downright dangerous.

The United States has way more gun deaths than other developed nations and far more guns than any other country in the world. It also has by far the highest number of privately owned guns which was 88.8 per 100 people, followed by the quasi-failed state of Yemen which had 54.8 guns per 100 people. Though mass shootings only constitute less than 2% of such deaths in 2013, the US holds 31% of global mass shooters. Of course, guns aren’t the only contributor to violence. But when researchers control other confounding variables, they’ve repeatedly found that America’s high levels of gun ownership are a major reason why the US experiences far more gun violence than its developed peers.

A 1999 Berkeley study found that the US doesn’t have more crime than other developed nations. It’s that the prevalence of guns largely drives more lethal violence. As Professors Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins wrote, “A series of specific comparisons of the death rates from property crime and assault in New York City and London show how enormous differences in death risk can be explained even while general patterns are similar. A preference for crimes of personal force and the willingness and ability to use guns in robbery make similar levels of property crime 54 times as deadly in New York City as in London.” People all over the world get into arguments and fights with friends, family, and peers. But in the US, it’s much more likely that someone will get in an argument and be able to pull out a gun and kill someone. Now imagine a school scenario where some kids or teachers get into an argument while there’s a gun in class. When someone reaches for it, what may have turned into an otherwise feisty argument escalates into a fatal clash. Considering that shootings have erupted over cheeseburger and taco disputes, people can do stupid things in the heat of the moment. Americans don’t have a monopoly on arguing about stupid shit. But what it does have is an easy access to guns, making escalation much more likely. Being on the autistic spectrum, an increased presence of guns in schools is the stuff of nightmares. Arming teachers will only increase the presence of guns, which could lead to more gun violence and school shootings.

While the NRA likes to promote the idea of owning a gun as a way to defend oneself against criminals, statistics show that for every justifiable gun homicide, there were 34 criminal gun homicides, 78 gun suicides, and 2 accidental gun deaths. An FBI report on active shooter events between 2000 and 2013 found that armed civilians stopped only 3% of them. By contrast, unarmed civilians actually stopped 13% incidents. 56% of them ended on the shooter’s own initiative when they killed themselves, simply shot shooting, or fled the scene. Since there’s no good research for answers, it’s difficult to say whether more access to guns could’ve prevented these shootings. But since the US already has a lot of guns, it’s likely to make the overall gun violence problem worse, not better.

Finally, and most importantly, Donald Trump and the NRA’s comments about arming teachers suggest that this would be an easy and quick way to end mass shootings. According to a tweet last week, “History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!” Except that arming people doesn’t mean they can properly respond to a mass shooting. As Pennsylvania police investigator Chris Benton told ABC News, “Video games and movies, they glorify gunfights. [People] get that warped sense that this is true — this video game is exactly what I can do in real life. That’s not reality.” Multiple simulations have demonstrated that if placed in an active shooting situation while armed, most people wouldn’t be able to stop the situation. If anything, they may do little more than get themselves killed in the process. More recently, The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper put this theory to the test in a more comedic simulated segment. As a correspondent at the time, he trained in the basics of using firearms and received a concealed carry permit valid in 30 states. He then participated in mass shooting situations to see how he’d hold up in such a scenario. He failed miserably. In his final test simulating a school shooting, he shot an unarmed civilian and was shot multiple times by active shooters and even law enforcement who mistook him for the bad guy. He never took down the active shooters. Let’s just say that he would’ve been much better off if he waited for the cops while hiding under a desk.

What gun rights activists sold on the NRA’s “good guy with a gun” fantasy ignore is that mass shootings are traumatizing, terrifying events. Without dozens to hundreds of hours in training, most people aren’t going to quickly and properly respond to mass shootings, As Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training senior instructor Cobey Briehn told Klepper, “There’s never enough training. You can never get enough.” According to an FBI analysis of active shooters between 2000 and 2013, “Law enforcement suffered casualties in 21 (46.7%) of the 45 incidents where they engaged the shooter to end the threat.” These people trained to do this kind of thing full time. Yet, nearly half of these incidents resulted in at least one officer getting wounded or killed. Teachers with limited training would fare much worse. Of course, that’s if armed personnel even respond.
Yet, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s resource officer Scot Peterson was armed and trained for a mass shooter scenario. According to the NRA’s convoluted logic, this good guy with a gun should’ve been able to stop Nikolas Cruz from shooting up his school. But when Peterson heard actual gunfire, he ran towards the building but didn’t go in. Instead, he waited for 4-6 minutes until the gunshots stopped. It’s like he didn’t know whether to shit or wind his watch. That doesn’t mean that “a good guy with a gun” wouldn’t ever be able to stop a shooter. For there are high-profile cases where it’s been the case. But most findings from news organizations to The Daily Show heavily suggest that this idea often plays out very differently than what the NRA and Trump supporters envision. Sometimes that could result in more innocent people caught in the crossfire.

The research makes it perfectly clear. If the United States wants to confront gun violence, it should consider reducing the number of guns in circulation, not arming teachers. What people do with their guns at home is their business. But there is no place for guns in a public space, especially a school. While many may think that gun free zones make people defenseless in an active shooter situation, unarmed civilians have stopped 13% of mass shootings. Besides, your odds of survival in an active shooter scenario are much higher if you try to avoid getting killed like hiding in a closet or under a table. No student should have to die because some middle age white guy wants to play Rambo with a brand-new assault rifle. If he wants to play Rambo, he should buy a semi-automatic nerf gun from Toys R’ Us like his kids do. Or a super soaker. At least you won’t kill anyone with either. Oh, those guns don’t look real enough for a big, brawny tough guy? Well, use your imagination like most kids do when playing with their toys.

Arming teachers to prevent future massacres in the classroom is a ludicrously stupid idea, especially since a Georgia high school teacher blockaded his door and proceeded to shoot. According to Donald Trump and his allies, teachers should be capable of “neutralizing” “threats.” In other words, killing their students. If you’re a teacher, imagine waking up every morning knowing that you might have to take the life of a young person in your care, should the unthinkable happen. Imagine this being part of your job like assigning extra homework or detention. Should Jimmy pull a knife and you or your students feel sufficiently threatened, could you point a gun at him and shoot him until he’s dead? Even if at the risk of accidentally killing his classmates? Besides, while there are plenty of fine teachers in our nation’s public school system, you’ll also find plenty of idiots and perverts. Some white teachers may be racist who might feel threatened if a student of color acts up. Would you trust them with a gun? Some teachers may not have the eyesight or the physical capability to handle weapons. Some teachers may not be emotionally able to handle such responsibility of taking a student’s life due to nervous breakdowns. Some teachers might be irresponsible with their instruments of death that their piece might somehow end up in a student’s hands. Then what? A student getting a gun can present lots of terrible possibilities. Others may not want anything to do with guns at all. Not to mention, what if guns in the classroom keep children from attending school? There are many ways this can go horribly wrong.

It’s distressing that people in this country think putting weapons in teachers’ hands is the only way to prevent students from killing each other with guns. Yet, arming teachers is a way for these people to ensure children’s safety without making sacrifices for the greater good. And by sacrifices, I mean buying a semi-automatic they don’t need to play soldier with, give a false sense of security, and assure their toughness and masculinity. A society with armed teachers isn’t one that promotes freedom or safety. Since you’re one social faux pas or trigger away from getting your head blown off by a stranger. That is not a society I want to live in. Nor do most Americans, in that matter. Teachers shouldn’t have to pack heat knowing that they may have to kill a student in a mass shooting situation. If we want to keep students safe in school, then we need to keep guns out of the classroom.

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Don’t Tell Me It’s Now’s Not the Time To Talk About Guns

At around 10 pm on the night of Sunday, October 1, 2017 during a Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, a gunman from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino opened gunfire on the outdoor crowd of 22,000 people below while country singer Jason Aldean performed on stage. The firing lasted for 11 minutes resulting in 59 dead and over 500 injured in what became the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. The shooter was a 64-year-old white man named Stephen Paddock who lived in a Mesquite, Nevada retirement community. By the time police reached his room, he was found dead, having shot himself in the head shortly before. Though he acted alone, Las Vegas police couldn’t find a motive. He had no criminal record or any investigative history showing he was dangerous. But what they did find was an arsenal of 23 guns and a large quantity of ammunition in his hotel room that he had occupied since September 28. The guns consisted of a handgun and 22 rifles including AR-15s, Kalasnikovs, AR 10s, and other .308 caliber rifles. Two of the rifles were mounted with bipods and equipped with telescopic sights. Over half of the guns were modified semi-automatic weapons with bump fire stocks which can simulate full automatic fire. As for the ammunition well, there were numerous high capacity magazines holding up to 100 rounds apiece. Paddock transported all this weapon stash to his hotel suite in over 10 suitcases during his stay and installed hidden cameras inside and out to monitor others’ arrival. Along with 24 other firearms found in Verde and Mesquite, Nevada, they were legally purchased from Nevada, Utah, California, and Texas as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives determined. Several pounds of fertilizer was found in his car. Though we don’t know why Paddock decided to fire upon concertgoers, all the evidence screams he had meticulously planned the whole thing in advance.

Yet, this is one of several major mass shootings the United States has experienced within my own lifetime. I’ve seen the whole scheme play out too many times in the same tragic and senseless song and dance routine. First, you have a gunman fire upon unsuspecting individuals at a public venue resulting in a high death and injury count and feelings of tear jerking shock and horror. What follows is the public in grips of mourning as further details of the shooter unfold along with tributes of victims such as thoughts and prayers. You might get plenty of public figures calling out for gun control. Only for those supporting gun rights decry how it’s inappropriate to debate about gun control in a tragedy’s aftermath. As time goes on, the story starts to fade and everyone moves on. Until the next shooting occurs to start the whole cycle over again. But whether it’s a black church, a movie theater, elementary school, workplace, nightclub, military base, college, or outdoor concert venue, too many Americans refuse to learn the harsh lessons of the costs lax gun laws. In fact, many states have enacted pro-gun legislation that make guns more readily available. Whenever it comes to causes of gun violence, gun rights advocates usually find some other excuse like mental health, violent video games, moral decay, sanctuary cities, and anything else. Anything but guns. Then they say how the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms which shouldn’t be infringed. And that gun control restricts freedom by giving the federal government license to seize firearms from law-abiding citizens. Such concepts are blatant lies. But they’ve resulted in devastating consequences. The Centers for Disease Control has been banned from researching gun violence since 1996. President Barack Obama’s Surgeon General received outcry for framing gun violence as a public health issue. Attempts to pass even the most minimal gun controls laws have gone nowhere in Congress.

Meanwhile, gun violence touches every segment of our society endangering Americans every day. There have been 1,500 mass shootings since the 2012 Sandy Hook Massacre. On average the United States experiences more than one mass shooting a day. Gun violence claims 31 American deaths and 151 injuries every day. For every American who dies from a gunshot wound, two others are wounded. And for each American shot, people’s lives are forever changed by their loved ones’ deaths and injuries. Annual costs for gun violence amount to at least $229 billion including $8.6 billion in direct expenses like emergency medical care. Gun violence increases likelihood of deaths in domestic violence incidents. It raises the chances of fatalities by those intending to injure others and among those attempting suicide. It places children and young people at special risk. And like most of America’s social problems, it disproportionately affects communities of color. If gun violence isn’t a public health crisis in the US, I don’t know what is.

Too many times we’ve been told after a mass shooting that discussing gun control is taboo. Too many times “thoughts and prayers” has proven too insufficient for the real action to prevent mass shootings. Too many times has the Second Amendment been viewed as a sacred cow by gun advocates and the National Rifle Association. Too many times our leaders have done nothing to prevent future mass shootings that it’s only a matter a time when the next one takes place. It’s already been way past time to talk about gun violence, especially for the hundreds of Americans who died at the pull of the trigger. Or all those who struggle with disabilities, lingering injuries, and PTSD thanks to some guy with a gun he shouldn’t even have. Whenever there’s a national problem that’s put Americans at risk, our nation has done something about it. Politicians have worked tirelessly to instill regulations to protect people from further harm and make sure those deaths and injuries don’t happen again. But somehow whenever there’s a mass shooting it’s different when it shouldn’t be.

Regardless of what Bill O’Reilly said, gun violence shouldn’t be the cost of freedom in America. Even in a country as gun obsessed as the United States, our society should never accept or normalize mass murder as a price of freedom. We should never accept the meaningless slaughter of children, loved ones, friends, and other living their peaceful lives for those who want to possess military grade weapons in the name of their personal freedom. It’s not freedom when you can’t go to a public space without worrying about how some psycho can easily buy semi-automatic weapons with high capacity magazines showering bullets to kill scores of innocents within minutes. True freedom is knowing we’re reasonably safe from such nutcases with these weapons. If more guns resulted in less gun violence, then the United States would be one of the safest nations in the world and we wouldn’t need to worry about mass shootings. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t work that way since the latest validated statistics confirms that more guns leads to more deadly violence. So the fact the US has one of the highest rates of gun violence and leads the world in mass shootings shouldn’t be a surprise. There is no legitimate reason why semi-automatic weapons with high capacity magazines and bump stocks should be available to the general public and carried around all over the place. If we want to ensure people’s true freedom and safety, we must work hard to make sure these killing machines are out of civilians’ hands. And ensure that those prone to violence don’t have access to a gun in the first place. We can prevent the next mass shooting and the tragic loss of life. The question is whether we’re willing to do so. But as far as I’m concerned, we need to discuss gun violence and implement common sense gun control measures now. Because if we don’t, then how many senseless tragedies must we have to bear before we do something?

Worst Arguments for Not Enacting Gun Control

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Disclaimer: The following might contain a lot of highly controversial political views about an issue that many Americans have strong opinions about. It runs a high risk of inciting outrage, anger, trolling, and hostile retaliation. Viewer discretion is advised.

As a Catholic liberal, I’ve been a long advocate for gun control. I’ve was nine years old during Columbine which was one of many mass shootings in the United States I’ve seen on the news. Not to mention, the fact so many people have been killed, injured, or scarred for life due to gun violence has cost taxpayers at least $100 billion annually as well as become a major public health concern. So I’m fully aware that certain gun control measures are badly needed and a lot of Americans would agree with me. And it’s not just liberals since we have to remember that the late James Brady was an official for the Reagan administration. Yes, the late great conservative Ronald Reagan whose fiscal conservative policies led him to raise taxes, had something to do with the Iran Contra scandal,  as well as had an openly gay son whom he freely accepted. But despite the urgent need for gun control I should not have to remind anyone about, GOP and NRA interests have made sure that their Second Amendment rights are protected at all costs. Even if it leads to a lot of innocent lives being slaughtered, high health costs, full emergency rooms, and an overworked criminal justice system. Not only that, but many states have passed gun laws that Americans don’t need, but also make this problem worse. Yes, I know that gun control is a highly contentious issue. But come on, do I really give a shit about gun rights? Now I’m fine with people owning guns as long as they’re law abiding citizens who don’t have personal issues that might endanger others. But do I think anyone has the right to own an AK-47 with a 30 round magazine? Absolutely not. Why? Because I can’t think of any reason why a civilian might need it save maybe in an event of an alien or zombie invasion. Here I list many of the arguments gun rights advocates make when it comes to doing nothing to necessary gun control.

  1. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” – This is the most common argument gun rights people make in regards to gun violence. It basically says that people are responsible for their own actions and what they do with guns doesn’t mean that we have to enact any gun control. Yes, people kill people. However, guns are weapons specifically made to kill people with firearms technology designing weapons to kill as many people as possible. Thus, when it comes to killing people, guns are usually the weapon of choice. And most criminals will use other weapons when they can’t get a gun. Firearms were intended to kill people from the very beginning. To make a gun that doesn’t kill would be like removing a gun’s reason to exist. Yes, people kill people. But guns kill since it’s their point. Besides, when a gun is used incorrectly, someone or something doesn’t get shot. Let’s just say that we can’t talk about gun violence without acknowledging what guns are actually used for.
This is a diagram stating how gun laws would be if they were regulated like cars. Not that in the US it's harder to get a driver's license than it is to buy a gun depending on your jurisdiction.

This is a diagram stating how gun laws would be if they were regulated like cars. Not that in the US it’s harder to get a driver’s license than it is to buy a gun depending on your jurisdiction.

2. “________ kill people, too. You want to outlaw that?” – Gun rights activists love to point out how so many other things tend to kill people as well. Cars and alcohol are usually the most prominent examples. I’m well aware that cars kill more people than guns each year. However, in the US, it’s said to be more difficult to obtain a driver’s license than a firearm. Besides, we have a lot of regulations on cars like seat belts, speed limits, license and insurance requirements, and bans on drunk driving. If you cause an accident resulting in fatalities, you might do time for manslaughter. If you’re caught driving drunk, you might spend time in jail or lose your license. Besides, most people use cars for transportation, not to kill people. We also have regulations on alcohol and tobacco. Not only that, but there are plenty of things that could kill people but also fulfill other purposes like chainsaws and knives for instance. Guns, on the other hand, exist for one function which is to kill. And firearms technology has advanced in order to kill more efficiently, particularly people. I mean why was the AK-47 even invented in the first place? As for outlawing them, it’s highly unlikely that would even happen. Oh, by the way, the US has more gun stores than grocery stores, which is incredibly disturbing if you ask me.

3. “Guns save lives.” – Now there are plenty of stories pertaining to defensive gun uses. However, most of these usually exist in the mind of Hollywood screenwriters hired to write an R-rated action movie. A study in 1993 determined that there were 2.5 million defensive gun uses every year. This involved calling 4,977 people across the country, asking them a few gun questions and adjusting the number to fit the population of the whole nation. Now the 2.5 million number is highly cited and highly disputed. However, this number doesn’t translate to “lives saved thanks to guns.” In fact, they refer to guns being involved in the presumed person or thing’s protection. This can apply to life-threatening situations pertaining to people who were in actual danger as well as to people like George Zimmerman. So to say whether guns save lives is a mixed bag. Sometimes gun use might kill a criminal or stop a crime. Other times, gun use will fuck up everything. Nevertheless, there’s nothing defensive about gun use since it’s meant to attack and always will. Defense is protection such as a security system, mace, or a bullet proof vest. But whether guns save lives, it’s fairly hard to say at least when it involves civilian gun owners.

4. “Well, the Second Amendment says……” – Gun rights activists love to cite the Second Amendment which actually says, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Now there’s a lot of debate about what it actually means. Some people think it pertains to individual gun ownership. Others think it refers to people in a militia. Still, either way, asking the Founding Fathers their opinion of contemporary American gun culture would be like asking Pope Francis on what he thinks about NFL football (then again he probably knows it’s not “football” as he knows it but not much else). To the Founding Fathers, the only guns available were single shot muskets which had a more complex loading process and weren’t very accurate. I mean the American Revolution gave rise to the term “minuteman” meaning a Continental soldier who was ready to fire at a minute’s notice. Then you have the saying “don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” meaning “don’t shoot until they’re close enough for a sure hit.” Weapons that fire multiple times without reloading didn’t come until the mid-19th century with the American Civil War. Besides, we all know that some of the Founding Fathers also thought slavery was an economic necessity and they weren’t right about that. So maybe relying on them for gun issues isn’t the best idea.

While gun rights activists continually say that

While gun rights activists continually say that “an armed society is a polite society,” we should all learn from the impact of “Stand Your Ground” laws that this isn’t the case at all. I mean look what happened to Trayvon Martin. He was just a teenager minding his own business but gets shot anyway. So much for a polite society.

5. “An armed society is a polite society.” – Gun rights activists like to use this argument which states that people with guns encourage others not to mess with them. Sort of like a “scared straight” approach in which a lethal threat or fear of untimely death can be used to keep people in line, deterring prospective criminals. And through such, an armed society will ensure lasting peace and security within a community. However, this notion ignores a lot of things about human nature, especially when it pertains to gun violence. For one, you never know what can set somebody off to view you with suspicion as a possible threat to their lives despite all evidence to the contrary. In other words, the trigger could be just about anything. Second, some people are easier to piss off than others and for very trivial reasons. Yes, an armed society might scare people from insulting or offending gun owners. However, you can easily insult or offend somebody even if you have no intention to. Third, people have been killed for very stupid reasons, especially in states under “Stand Your Ground” laws. Trayvon Martin was just an unarmed teenager minding his own business when George Zimmerman picked a fight with before shooting him dead. A retired cop shot a unarmed man in a movie theater for allegedly throwing popcorn in his face. Another guy shot a bunch of unarmed teenagers for playing their music too loud near a gas station (and after they turned down the music as he requested). Fourth, armed societies don’t protect or respect the rights of non-gun owners as well as vulnerable populations that might be viewed with suspicion. And these “Stand Your Ground” laws demonstrate this, especially since Florida’s mostly benefits white gun owners charged with shooting racial minority victims. Finally, sometimes the consequences don’t discourage people from committing crimes. In fact, some criminals might be fully aware of implications but choose to break the law anyway. For instance, an armed society wouldn’t deter anyone in the drug gangs on The Wire, because they practically live in one as a business environment. They know they’re criminals and commit their crimes fully knowing what’ll happen to them if they piss off their superiors or their enemies. And it could pertain to almost anything. Such notions give me serious doubts on whether an armed society is a polite one after all. To me, living in an armed society is more of a “walking on eggshells society” in which you have to be in public every day of your life afraid of committing the slightest offense that might give a stranger a reason to shoot you. This is not the kind of society I want to live in because scaring people straight by threatening their lives is no recipe for lasting peace and security and more of constant tense and tenuous standoff between warring parties. I’d prefer to live in a gun-free zone any day.

6. “Guns aren’t the problem. Our poor mental health system is the problem.” – Yes, our mental health system needs reform. But many gun rights activists think that reforming our mental health system might make all out mass shooting problems go away. However, they overlook two major things. First, like the general population, most mentally ill people are harmless. Second, while some mass shooters might have a mental illness, most do not. Third, they fail to take into account other factors play into the gun violence issue besides a poor mental health system like poverty, drugs, and gang activity in bad neighborhoods. In many ways, guns give people a sense of power and in the wrong hands it’s a deadly combination. Thus, even if the US mental health system is reformed and improved, there are other factors pertaining to gun violence that we have to deal with. Even if better mental health systems do prevent mass shootings, gun violence will still be a problem. Besides, as gun violence is concerned, mass shootings are only the tip of the iceberg since it’s a multifaceted problem with multifaceted solutions. And part of the solution is tighter enforcement and tighter regulation.

Opponents of gun control love to point out how Chicago has a very bad problem with violence despite its tight gun laws. However, little do they know that Chicago's gun problems have more to do with its laws being at city level, lack of stronger national gun laws, and geography. Besides, it was later found out that most firearms involved in Chicago gun crimes were legally bought in Indiana.

Opponents of gun control love to point out how Chicago has a very bad problem with violence despite its tight gun laws. However, little do they know that Chicago’s gun problems have more to do with its laws being at city level, lack of stronger national gun laws, and geography. Besides, it was later found out that most firearms involved in Chicago gun crimes were legally bought in Indiana.

7. “But gun control won’t stop criminals from getting guns and committing crimes.” – Yes, but that’s like saying that enacting laws isn’t worth it because they won’t stop people from committing crimes. But such laws against crimes help ensure people’s safety or they wouldn’t be on the books in the first place. Nor would we have punishments for breaking them either. So yes, they’re worth it. Then there’s the matter with how gun rights activists point out how Chicago has more violent crimes than Houston. Now since Chicago has tight gun laws and Houston doesn’t, then gun control isn’t very effective. However, they don’t note how US gun laws aren’t uniform between or within states and are rather inadequate at the national level. Take Chicago’s problems with gun violence for instance. Now while the city itself might have tight gun laws, the rest of Illinois does not and neither does Indiana. It was later found that many of Chicago’s guns come from surrounding areas like Indiana. Why? Because lack of a uniform gun laws allows firearms to travel from loose law areas to tight law areas. Weak national gun laws make it inadequate to crack down on illegal firearms circulation with most gun violence occurring with such weapons. Such weak national laws undermine attempts at gun control everywhere. Thus, any form of gun control Chicago implements will be ineffective not because of the laws themselves, but because Chicago has no legal authority to regulate firearm circulation outside its limits.

8. “Guns aren’t the problem. Exposure to violent entertainment is the problem.” – I’m well aware that violence in entertainment is endemic in our culture whether it be movies, TV, video games, and other media. However, while violence in the media might make viewers somewhat less sensitive to what goes on in real life, most of the time it doesn’t lead people into committing violent crimes. Yes, the US has a lot of violence in the media which appeals to a wide range of people. But most industrialized countries also consume a lot of violent media as well. Yes, I know that they watch and play the same violent stuff Americans do. But they also produce a lot of violent stuff of their own. Japan is known to produce a lot of violent movies and video games. Audition and Battle Royale are Japanese movies famous for their gore. But they have a lot movies featuring samurai and Godzilla. Oh, and they’re home to Nintendo and Sony, by the way. Great Britain produces a lot of murder mysteries and crime shows. Of course, you’d expect that in a country which produced Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. But many recent British crime shows have death counts of 1-4 victims per episode. A British show called Midsomer Murders has a higher body count than The Wire. Sweden brought us series like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Wallander both of which are disturbingly dark, violent, and gory. And then there is the Spanish Pan’s Labyrinth which has some cold blooded torture scenes that would make Jack Bauer wet his pants. Now if violent entertainment led to violent crime, these four countries would be in very deep shit. However, none of them have the level of gun violence prevalent in the United States. So the argument that exposure to violent entertainment encourages violent behavior is weak. Well, Britain may have a higher violent crime rate than the US but its gun crime rate is low. But even so, Britain still experiences far less murders than its crime shows depict, particularly the ridiculously violent Midsomer Murders.

This is a handy infographic explaining the nature of gun violence. And yes, it goes to great lengths to say that it's definitely about the guns. Yes, it's a cultural thing but we can't really dismiss guns from the equation.

This is a handy infographic explaining the nature of gun violence. And yes, it goes to great lengths to say that it’s definitely about the guns. Yes, it’s a cultural thing but we can’t really dismiss guns from the equation.

9. “Other weapons are just as bad.” – Yes, I get that guns aren’t the only weapons that kill people. I’m aware that people die of stab wounds, strangling, bludgeoning, poisoning, or what not. And I know that terrorists could make their own bombs. However, these methods usually take a certain amount of effort to kill somebody. Stabbing, strangling, bludgeoning, and other physical means usually take a certain amount of physical effort and sometimes knowledge of the anatomy. And many of them aren’t always lethal, especially if victims seek proper medical treatment as soon as possible. Poisoning somebody tends to take some degree of planning and preparation as well as has a great potential to backfire in many ways. Murders via poisoning are almost always considered premeditated, especially when the poison can be traced to the source. As for making a bomb, well, you have to pose some degree of knowledge in explosives and chemistry as well as produce it without attracting suspicion. And let’s just say building a bomb without attracting suspicion is a very difficult thing to do if you live within civilization. Besides, even making a bomb would lead to a quick arrest and a long jail sentence. When it comes to killing somebody with a gun, all you have to do is aim and pull the trigger. And even if shooting doesn’t always kill, it will at least send the victim to the emergency room with wounds that might not be easily treatable. The fact guns are deadly weapons even idiots can operate explains why so many people get killed by them.

10. “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” – Just because such concept works in Hollywood doesn’t mean it’ll work in real life. But after the Sandy Hook shooting, there was a call by gun rights activists for armed guards in schools as well as possibly arming the teachers. However, they didn’t consider the fact that Columbine High School had an armed guard in 1999 and Virginia Tech has its own campus police force. And we know that neither case had these good guys stopping the shooter. And during the mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, an armed man nearly shot the unarmed individual who disarmed Jared Loughner when he was reloading. Not to mention, shouting “fire” in a crowded theater is a classic example of endangering others and it’s possible that more people would’ve been killed in that movie theater in Aurora if more people had guns. We should understand that the gun lobby has a vigilante mentality and their supporters usually view the “good guy with a gun” as themselves. But despite what you see in the media, vigilantes might take the law in their own hands on how they interpret it (which might depend on their own agenda). And they may claim to justify their actions as a fulfillment to the community’s wishes. But this doesn’t make vigilantes good people you’d want around during a mass shooting. In fact, it’s understandable why law enforcement loathes vigilantism and why it’s illegal under most circumstances.

11. “Gun control hurts law abiding gun owners.” – Of course, you hear this argument all the time from the pro-gun lobby. However, most gun control measures hardly ever apply to law abiding citizens. And even so, the worst thing law abiding gun owners would be subjected to under tougher gun laws would consist of a background checks and other bureaucratic inconveniences. But other than that, as long as gun owners obey the law and don’t pose a danger to others, it’s very unlikely that gun control will hurt their rights. Under gun control, the people most likely to have their guns taken away are criminals. Besides, gun violence hurts victims, their families, and survivors every day of their lives. Don’t their lives matter, too?

In recent years, the belief that widespread gun ownership as a defense against a tyrannical government has been an alluring idea among Americans. However, this has led to some right wing loons to form citizen militias to defend themselves against government intrusion. As if they'd even have a chance if they'd really have a chance of staging a successful uprising (not).

In recent years, the belief that widespread gun ownership as a defense against a tyrannical government has been an alluring idea among Americans. However, this has led to some right wing loons to form citizen militias to defend themselves against government intrusion. As if they’d even have a chance if they’d really have a chance of staging a successful uprising (not).

12. “But we need guns to protect ourselves against a tyrannical government.” – Government corruption is nothing new that even the Founding Fathers understood it that they came up with checks and balances. Competition between branches in the bureaucracy has assured that no one person or group became powerful. Now the US government has a total of 456 reported federal agencies, all with their own bureaucracy. Despite what small government minded Republicans might say, the size of the government is actually a check rather than a sign of it. And as government grows, so do the regulations and bureaucracy. More bureaucracy means more people. More people means more competition. And competition within government means security. We also have to account that the American political culture is deeply rooted in a 200 year tradition with democracy. And Americans tend to be extremely wary of government infringing on individual liberty which is traced back to the American Revolution. So as far as the US is concerned, there is absolutely no way in our system for one person or party to consolidate power. Now the paranoia that the government’s going to take people’s guns away and the president becoming a tyrant is said to be reminiscent of the Republican Party’s Southern Strategy. In other words, it’s simply right-wing propaganda meant to instill fear. Such paranoia has increased since Barack Obama’s election even though Obama isn’t the first president to support gun control measures (despite having the strongest excuse to do so) and is only different from his predecessors in one superficial way (being black).

The open carry movement is one where people openly carry guns into public places as a way of

The open carry movement is one where people openly carry guns into public places as a way of “exercising their rights.” Of course, they also manage to scare the hell of reasonable people. Yes, they’re probably loons.

13. “Carrying a gun makes you safe.” – Well, it’s possible that carrying a gun might make you feel safe, but that doesn’t mean other people will. Unless you wear a badge or in a uniform, then carrying a gun in public will make people suspect that you’re a dangerous criminal, an outright loon, or both. If you’re a young man who’s black, Latino, or of Middle Eastern/South Asian descent, then carrying a gun in public will make people suspect the former and possibly call the cops on you due to widespread racial profiling in the US. Seriously, if it was Trayvon Martin shooting George Zimmerman, “Stand Your Ground” would’ve not have gotten him out of a prison sentence. Many gun rights activists think carrying a gun around will make them able to defend themselves and others (a vigilante complex if you will). However, there is no credible evidence that the carrying loaded weapons decreases crime. And studies supporting this notion have been frequently debunked by a range of academic researchers. But that doesn’t stop states from implementing “Stand Your Ground” laws in recent years, which state that civilians can shoot without a duty to retreat, even in public places. Those in the gun lobby states that such laws are needed to decrease crime. But these laws are mostly based on the gun lobby’s vigilante mentality. Researchers at Texas A&M say otherwise.

Contrary to what the gun lobby says, self-defense is rare during crimes. And it's especially less common for a person to defend oneself with a gun. Not only that, but this chart from the Bureau of Statistics and the National Crime Victimization Society reveal that most property crime victims weren't even present at the time.

Contrary to what the gun lobby says, self-defense is rare during crimes. And it’s especially less common for a person to defend oneself with a gun. Not only that, but this chart from the Bureau of Statistics and the National Crime Victimization Society reveal that most property crime victims weren’t even present at the time.

14. “Having a gun at home makes you safe.” – Studies show that a gun in the home is more likely to be used to commit suicide or to threaten and/or kill an intimate than to defend against an attacker. There’s also a chance for accidents which most gun owners are familiar with. Not to mention, leaving a loaded gun out in the open is one of the most irresponsible things a gun owner can do. It’s a recipe for disaster. This is especially true in a home with small children. There’s a reason why you find stuff on gun safety. But you hear a lot from the gun lobby stating how having a gun might help protect you and your family during a home invasion. However, what they get wrong is that home invasions are rare and usually occur when the either residents aren’t home or sleeping. Because they’re mostly robberies. Now a home invasion might be a traumatic experience but the chances of one resulting in homicide are rare. Why? Because burglars want to avoid contact during home break-ins and try to steal stuff as quickly and quietly as possible. Make any noise to wake up the family or the neighborhood and they’re screwed. Still, most people are usually killed or attacked by somebody they know which is why most home homicides usually pertain to family disputes or domestic violence.

In the United States, women are more likely to be killed by someone they know, particularly a current or ex-significant other. A woman runs an even greater risk of being killed if she's in an abusive relationship with an intimate partner, especially if there's a gun in the house. Therefore, most of the time having a gun for self-defense will not help her.

In the United States, women are more likely to be killed by someone they know, particularly a current or ex-significant other. A woman runs an even greater risk of being killed if she’s in an abusive relationship with an intimate partner, especially if there’s a gun in the house. Therefore, most of the time having a gun for self-defense will not help her.

15. “Guns make women safe.” – I know there are plenty of gun rights activists who say this since women aren’t as physically strong as men. However, a woman’s safety has less to do with whether or not she has a gun in the house than the quality of her relationships. This is especially true when it pertains to intimate partners such as husbands, boyfriends, fiances, and what not. Besides, when gun rights supporters say this, they’re usually referring to women being attacked and/or killed by strangers. But most violent crimes involving women usually pertain to people they know whether they be victims or perpetrators, especially intimate partners. And they’re almost always linked to domestic abuse. Now it’s one thing for a woman to have gun to protect herself on the street against a possible violent stranger. But if you’re a woman living with an abusive partner, owning a gun won’t help your case because that person will try to control you through any means necessary. Besides, when you’re living with someone, it’s much more difficult to keep certain things to yourself, especially if you’re in an intimate relationship with them. Guns are among these things. Your abuser will find that gun and will somehow gain access to it. And there’s a strong chance that they might use it to kill you. After all, in 2010, women were 6 times more likely to be shot by their husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than by male strangers. And if a woman’s domestic abuser has access to a gun, she’s more than 5 times likely to be killed by them. It should surprise nobody that there have been calls for implementing gun laws restricting firearms access to spousal abusers. Not to mention, even if a woman successfully shoots her abuser in an effort to defend herself, this doesn’t mean that she’s out of the woods yet. We have to be remember that there are plenty of women in prison for killing their abusers, too, especially if they’re poor women of color. So if you have a little girl, you should probably spend less time teaching her how to shoot and perhaps teach her how to spot a potential domestic abuser and how to get out of it before it gets more serious. Because she’ll be more safe if she’s willing to dump a guy who’s been nasty to the waiter.

This is a diagram on how gun trafficking works in the United States. Because 40% of all gun transfers don't require background check, this allows criminals to legally purchase weapons through hiring people with clean records to buy the guns for them, one-on-one pass offs, gun shows, and black market transactions. Not to mention, it's not unusual for some criminals to buy guns in areas with looser gun restrictions as well.

This is a diagram on how gun trafficking works in the United States. Because 40% of all gun transfers don’t require background check, this allows criminals to legally purchase weapons through hiring people with clean records to buy the guns for them, one-on-one pass offs, gun shows, and black market transactions. Not to mention, it’s not unusual for some criminals to buy guns in areas with looser gun restrictions as well.

16. “We don’t need more gun laws. We just need to enforce the ones we have.” – Yes, we do need to enforce the laws we already have and even law enforcement agrees. But even law enforcement believes that stronger enforcement without stronger gun laws isn’t enough. Remember that most mass shooting victims were killed with legally purchased weapons such as military style assault weapons with high capacity magazines. Many existing gun laws at the federal level are riddled with loopholes and gaps. And federal enforcement action has been constantly hampered thanks to gun lobby efforts that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is now under-funded and without permanent leadership. Not to mention, 40% of all legal gun transfers don’t require background checks.

17. “Gun control won’t stop gun violence.” – I’m very well aware of that. However, while there have been more mass shootings than there used to be, they’re still relatively rare and very unlikely to happen in most American neighborhoods. Nevertheless, while gun control measures may not be 100% effective, that doesn’t mean they don’t work. Take gun-free zones, for instance. Yes, I know they’ve been sites of plenty mass shootings, but they don’t happen every day. But gun-free zones are everywhere and have rather wide appeal not just among public and civil establishments as well as churches, but also among businesses. Why? Because most people generally don’t like being around guns in public since they don’t feel safe around civilians carrying firearms (law enforcement is a different story at least in the US since they are supposed to know what they’re doing). Guns in public make people very uncomfortable, sometimes to the point of calling the police. Why? Because most people are fully aware that guns are dangerous and can kill people. A stranger with a deadly weapon is often feared, especially civilians whose natures may be unpredictable. And all the mass shootings, armed robberies, and other armed incidents on the news kind of reinforce that fear. So instead of trying to determine which civilians can openly carry a gun, it’s much easier to ban all civilians from carrying guns on the public premises. And even when guns aren’t banned, the gun-free zone mentality still manifests in our social mores. So any open carry activist “exercising their rights” will be viewed as threat no matter whether the establishment permits guns or not. While they might not work all the time, gun-free zones are very effective policy since it prevents an unsafe situation involving lots of people with loaded guns. Besides, unarmed civilians have survived mass shootings and other incidents involving gun violence. The point is that despite gun-free zones being scenes of mass shootings, the practice of banning guns in public places isn’t going away because it’s a policy that’s effective, popular, and smart.

This is a chart from a Catholic magazine from Philadelphia. But though it doesn't have the same poll results I wrote down, it does show that a sizable chunk of the American public support some gun control. Not to mention most Americans don't want guns in school, church, or in government buildings.

This is a chart from a Catholic magazine from Philadelphia. But though it doesn’t have the same poll results I wrote down, it does show that a sizable chunk of the American public support some gun control. Not to mention most Americans don’t want guns in school, church, or in government buildings.

18. “Americans don’t want meaningful gun reform.” – Here in America, you’d be surprised how many issues people viciously fight about that they secretly agree on. Now gun control is a highly contentious issue in American politics as well as polarized among party lines (mostly because the NRA bankrolls a lot of Republican politicians. Not to mention, that the gun lobby tends to run propaganda with an appeal to fear). However, the Joyce Foundation has noted that various public opinion polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support specific gun policy solutions. 92% of Americans support requiring universal background checks on all potential gun buyers while 63% support banning assault weapons. 74% of NRA members also support universal background checks as well.

19. “Guns are essential for self-defense.” – Reports on mass shootings and other violent crimes have led many to believe that fighting crime requires to fight fire with fire. However, according to the Violence Policy Center (based on data by the FBI and the Bureau of Statistics), there were only 258 justifiable homicides involving civilian gun use in 2012. Compare this to 8,342 criminal homicides and 22,000 suicides and accidental shootings. In 2011, nearly 10 times more people were shot and killed during arguments than by civilians trying to stop a crime. Sorry, but the numbers don’t lie. I also hear from many that a mass shooting would’ve been prevented if somebody had a gun on them. However, they forget that whenever you’re in a mass shooting situation, armed civilian confrontation with the shooter is generally not recommended. Rather it’s best advised that you call the cops and let them confront the perpetrator. In the meantime, you’re better off either trying to escape, hiding, or playing dead until the cops show up. Trying to confront the shooter is a quick way to get shot (as well as should only be done as a last resort). And if you use a gun, you might risk endangering others in the process.

Many people think that trained armed guards would be able to prevent mass shootings since many take place in gun-free zones. However, they tend to forget about the mass shooting at Fort Hood. Still, gun-free zones may not prevent another tragedy, but I'll take my chances with them than in an armed society.

Many people think that trained armed guards would be able to prevent mass shootings since many take place in gun-free zones. However, they tend to forget about the mass shooting at Fort Hood. Still, gun-free zones may not prevent another tragedy, but I’ll take my chances with them than in an armed society.

20. “Switzerland and Israel seem to do okay without gun control.” – Gun rights advocates like to think that Switzerland and Israel to prove that gun control doesn’t make much difference. However, while both countries have a tradition of military service, they also limit firearm ownership and require a permit renewal 1-4 times annually. That may not be as restrictive as other countries, but it’s still gun control. So saying they do okay without gun control resoundingly false.

21. “Other countries are different.” – Yes, US history may differ from those of other countries. And yes, the US might contain American cultural exceptionalism, pioneer spirit, and a history of racial tension. However, having a violent national history is actually the norm among most nation states. Seriously, you’d be hard pressed to find a country that hasn’t experienced some degree of conflict or civil unrest in its past. And there are plenty of countries that have existed in the world longer than the US. Far longer, in fact. Let’s just say world history has no shortage of violent incidents and that people would kill each other on just about anything. And just because many industrialized nations have strict gun laws, doesn’t mean violent crime is non-existent. It just that their violent criminals are less likely to use guns, which results in less people getting killed.

Many people who think American gun violence has to do with illegal immigration are dead wrong. In fact, most of the guns used by Mexican drug cartels were American made. So it's American guns being trafficked into Mexico.

Many people who think American gun violence has to do with illegal immigration are dead wrong. In fact, most of the guns used by Mexican drug cartels were American made. So it’s American guns being trafficked into Mexico.

22. “US borders are too open.” – For God’s sake, undocumented immigrants aren’t the problem in the gun debate. Besides, it’s hard to imagine it would be easy for criminals to obtain weapons that had to be smuggled through ports, airports, or across the Mexican border. Besides, most illegal gun trafficking in the US is within the country itself that most American criminals wouldn’t see the need for importing guns from Mexico. Why would a Chicago gangster go through the trouble of smuggling guns through the Mexican border when he could easily buy one legally in Indiana? It’s just within driving distance and inspections by US Customs are virtually nonexistent. It’s also significantly cheaper. Besides, a lot violence in the world is conducted by American weapons. Seriously, think of all the guns the US has sold to the Middle East and look what happened there. So it wouldn’t make much sense for any American criminals would smuggle guns into the US, especially since Texas lies along most of the Rio Grande. If anything, it would more likely be Latin American drug cartels smuggling weapon across the Mexican border from Texas, which contributes to another problem entirely. Well, at least as far as the US is concerned.

23. “School shootings are a national epidemic.” – I’m aware that a lot of famous mass shootings have taken place in schools like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook being the most famous. And I’m well aware that the gun lobby has called for school teachers to carry guns, which I think is insane. However, according to FBI crime statistics, the odds of a school shooting in your neck of the woods are statistically rare. More homicides occur in homes, especially if they involve multiple victims. Not to mention, more mass shootings happen in restaurants than in schools. But nobody’s asking the wait staff to carry guns. In fact, it’s said that children are almost 100 times more likely to be murdered outside of school than at school (with odds being 1 in a million). So child gun homicides are more likely attributed to severe family dysfunction (like abuse) than having a classmate who’s a homicidal nutjob. This makes massive school spending on building security seem like a waste in taxpayer money.

This is a good cartoon from Facebook highlighting the ways people can fall victims of gun violence. Many gun rights activists tend to believe that more guns lead to less crime. However, there's a positive correlation between gun crimes and gun ownership rates.

This is a good cartoon from Facebook highlighting the ways people can fall victims of gun violence. Many gun rights activists tend to believe that more guns lead to less crime. However, there’s a positive correlation between gun crimes and gun ownership rates.

24. “More guns equal less crime.” – This is a very common argument by gun rights activists, which was given rise by a controversial book by John Lott Jr. called More Guns, Less Crime. It has been debunked by peer review since its publication and Lott has also come under scrutiny for ethics violations regarding his research. Other studies arguing about high rates of gun usage in self defense have also come under scrutiny. The Harvard Injury Control Research Center has determined a positive correlation between gun ownership and violence (especially in impoverished neighborhoods). Since the 1970s both have been in decline though there’s been an uptick in recent years. Nevertheless, since the US has one of the highest gun ownership rates, it’s no surprise that 15 of the 25 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years have happened here. Not only that, but the American South is the most violent region in the country as well as has the highest prevalence of gun carrying. Furthermore, The Johns Hopkins Center For Gun Policy and Research have found that expanding concealed carry laws increase aggravated assaults. So contrary to what the gun lobby says, more guns lead to more crime.

25. “Dictators take away guns from their people and look what they do.” – Gun rights activists love to talk about how dictators like Hitler and Stalin took guns away from their own people before they began committing genocide. However, the notion of Hitler and Stalin taking people’s guns away is historically inaccurate. And if Hitler took any guns from people, they were from groups he wanted to exterminate anyway like Jews and Gypsies. As with everyone else, he actually expanded private gun ownership. But you hear many pro-gun activists say that if the Jews and the Gypsies were armed, there would be no Holocaust. But there is no historical basis of this. If anything, arming them might’ve “hastened their demise” according to SUNY political science chair Robert Spitzer. So how did Hitler gain control and remained in power? Well, we have to concede that prior to World War II, Hitler was extremely popular among the German people and throughout the world. I mean he had to be popular enough to be appointed chancellor by President von Hindenburg in 1932, shortly before the Nazi propaganda machine gained full steam. Of course, he also had Brownshirts beating people up but that’s beside the point. Suggesting that the only thing keeping Hitler in charge was the control of guns exonerates many who truly supported him and helped him gain power in the first place. It’s also very bad history that teaches us a terrible lesson. Same goes for the Bolsheviks in Soviet Russia and the idea that an armed populace would’ve stopped them or Stalin is nothing but a fantasy. Ask any White Russian who knows. Stalin was also extremely popular in his country as well. Nevertheless, we should understand that dictators don’t gain control through taking people’s guns away. They do it through propaganda and ruthlessly suppressing dissent in order to secure lifelong popularity. Besides, there are plenty of Third World dictatorships that break into civil war with both sides carrying AK-47s.

Many gun rights activists may say that legal gun owners don't commit crimes. However, many criminals buy their weapons at gun shows because they don't require background checks. So what does that tell you?

Many gun rights activists may say that legal gun owners don’t commit crimes. However, many criminals buy their weapons at gun shows because they don’t require background checks. So what does that tell you?

26. “Legal gun owners don’t commit crimes.” – Yes, most gun crimes are committed with illegal guns but that’s because in the US, a legally bought gun in Indiana can easily become illegal when sold on the Chicago black market. And federal gun laws are so weak that such acts can go off without a hitch. But even then, the number of legal guns increases and so does the likelihood of a gun falling into the wrong hands. Besides, Mother Jones found that most mass shootings involved legally purchased guns. Also, 40% of legal gun transfers don’t require background checks which makes it easy for criminals legally obtain weapons through hiring people with clean records to buy the guns for them, passing them off one-by-one, gun shows, and black market transactions. Sometimes they can even legally purchase weapons in places with less gun restrictions. Not to mention, there’s a movement to prevent domestic abusers from accessing firearms. And domestic violence is not just a crime, but can also lead to murder, especially if guns are in the picture. So what does that tell you?

27. “Assault weapons aren’t frequently used in crimes.” – Yes, assault weapons aren’t used a lot in crimes since most gun violence is perpetuated by handguns. But whenever an assault weapon is used in an attack, there are 54% more deaths. It’s no surprise that most of the deadliest mass shootings in the US have involved assault weapons like an AR-15. Many tend to use high capacity magazines which allow for higher casualties. Since the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban expired, mass shootings have been on the rise, particularly since 2007.

So if the Second Amendment is absolute, that means I can have my very own fighter jet, right? I mean the gun lobby says Americans have a right to bear arms which shall never be infringed. But they never say anything about my right to own a fighter jet.

So if the Second Amendment is absolute, that means I can have my very own fighter jet, right? I mean the gun lobby says Americans have a right to bear arms which shall never be infringed. But they never say anything about my right to own a fighter jet.

28. “The Second Amendment is absolute.” – Really? Well, let me put it to you, constitutional rights aren’t always absolute either. Take the Second Amendment for instance, which gun rights activists say that it gives people a right to own a gun under any circumstance which must be protected. However, “the right to bear arms” can also pertain to owning a weapon. So if Second Amendment rights were absolute, then I should be able to own a tank, a bazooka, a bomber plane, a fighter jet, a hand grenade, a howitzer, an anti-aircraft gun, and all those cool military weapons that I’m sure are illegal for civilian ownership or use. And I’m sure that the Founding Fathers never intended the Second Amendment to give civilians the right to own a cannon either. Strange that gun rights activists don’t campaign for that because authorizing such weapons for civilians would be downright insane (as you can see how the military put an anti-aircraft gun in a civilian’s back yard in 1941). Still, the fact that even law abiding American citizens can’t privately own these weapons for civilian use should demonstrate that gun control is constitutional. Hell, even Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said so himself in Heller v. DC“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

This is a billboard in Illinois that highlights the convoluted ideas of American cultural heritage. One of these is an assault rifle which is a weapon of choice among mass shooters. This is appalling.

This is a billboard in Illinois that highlights the convoluted ideas of American cultural heritage. One of these is an assault rifle which is a weapon of choice among mass shooters. This is appalling.

29. “Guns are a part of America’s heritage. Gun control is not.” – You tend to see American history in movies as quite violent. But the as gun possession is as old as the country, then so is gun control. During the time of the Founding Fathers, state and federal governments conducted several arms censuses (like officials going door to door to ask now many guns you had and whether they worked). Besides, contrary to what the western movies depict, establishments in the Old West did practice some degree of gun control. For instance, guns were often banned in saloons for very good reason. Not to mention, Tombstone had far stricter gun control during the gunfight at the O.K. Corral than it does today (deterring the number of Old West saloon shootouts which is a very common feature in westerns). Also the US implemented gun control policies to crack down on mob violence during the 1920s, particularly when it came to confiscating Tommy Guns. Thus, to not implement gun control because it’s not part of the American heritage is absurd.

30. “Background checks don’t work.” – Actually background checks do. Since its inception the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has blocked more than 1.9 million permit applications and gun sales to felons, the seriously mentally ill, drug abusers, and other dangerous people prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms. However, because 40% of gun transfers occur without background checks, more comprehensive gun background checks are needed to curb gun violence and trafficking. Besides, people disobey speed limits all the time. Does that mean we shouldn’t have them?

31. “Gun laws don’t work.” – Actually aside from background checks, other gun control measures work as well. The 1994-2004 Assault Weapons Ban, while riddled with loopholes allowing gun manufacturers to evade, led to a decrease in gun seizures with high capacity magazines by Virginia law enforcement. Seizures spiked after it expired. And mass shootings have been on the rise since assault weapons equipped with high capacity magazines have become the weapons of choice in mass shootings. So despite its faults, the Assault Weapons Ban worked. Not only that, but state laws designed to regulate gun dealers, including regular compliance inspections have been effective in reducing gun trafficking within their jurisdiction.

32. “Gun ownership is on the rise.” – Gun ownership is actually in decline in the US and has been since the 1970s. A vast majority of Americans don’t own firearms. However, those who own guns, own more of them.

33. “It’s more dangerous now than it used to be.” – Of course, crimes stories have a high tendency to get on the news which might make one think that there’s more crime out there than there used to be. And the prevalence of mass shootings has also reinforced that notion. However, since the 1970s, American crime has steadily declined. Gun violence has declined as well. But this doesn’t mean it’s not less of a problem or a public health concern since it kills 30,000 per year.

This is a pro-gun picture depicting how gun-free zones don't prevent mass shootings and how police don't stop massacres. However, if you're in a mass shooting situation, it's generally recommended you don't try to confront the shooter with firearms. It's best advised that you leave the defensive shooting to the police in these circumstances.

This is a pro-gun picture depicting how gun-free zones don’t prevent mass shootings and how police don’t stop massacres. However, if you’re in a mass shooting situation, it’s generally recommended you don’t try to confront the shooter with firearms. It’s best advised that you leave the defensive shooting to the police in these circumstances.

34. “Police don’t show up on time and don’t stop massacres.” – A lot of gun rights activists tend to have a dim view of society and claim that every second counts so it’s better to act now. After all, the shooter could kill, escape taking something, or what not. However, while it takes time for police to get to the scene of a crime when called, this doesn’t mean self-defense is the best option. For instance, for civilians, using a gun to confront a mass shooter is generally seen as a very stupid idea. Besides, when it comes to subduing criminals, the police are professionals who’ve been rigorously trained to stop active shooters. Stopping a mass shooter requires extraordinary skills honed under acute duress which most law enforcement officials have. Most civilian gun owners don’t possess such skills, which most gun rights activists like to ignore and think anyone with a gun can stop a mass shooting. However, that’s really not the case since police can stop massacres and do. It’s the civilians who can’t. So if you’re in a mass shooting situation, it’s better to leave the shooting to law enforcement.

35. “To prevent violence we must be able to predict it.” – Now this argument is tied with the idea we can prevent mass shootings if we provide adequate mental health services to high risk individuals. Sorry, but mentally ill people are no more at risk for violent behavior than anyone else. Besides, prevention by prediction isn’t 100% effective because predictions aren’t always accurate. Seriously, just watch your local weather forecast on the news. Chances are the weatherman has been wrong at least some of the time. Same can be said about gun violence, which many people see as a public health issue. Public health programs have dramatically reduced problems like smoking-related deaths and car accidents. Approaching gun violence the same way should be a no brainer. In fact, numerous studies report that school-based counseling and violence prevention programs are very effective at teaching students how to resolve conflict and problems without escalating to violence. Community mental health services oriented toward prevention are also helpful, especially when it pertains to helping larger populations of people in distress.

These are stats on American gun violence I obtained from an infographic. Despite that gun crimes have gone down, only 10% of non-fatal wounds involved guns. And gun suicides are at an all time high.

These are stats on American gun violence I obtained from an infographic. Despite that gun crimes have gone down, only 10% of non-fatal wounds involved guns. And gun suicides are at an all time high.

36. “The NRA represents freedom.” – Sorry, but living in an armed society isn’t my idea of freedom. The big problem with discussing American gun culture these days is that ideology tends to cloud the facts. The NRA spends large amounts of money to skew the debate by telling everyone that the government is coming for your guns (bullshit). And it doesn’t help that the NRA doesn’t represent the interests of most gun owners these days, even their own members. I mean the NRA is famous for opposing all gun legislation while the most of the people it’s supposed to represent support tighter gun laws. And it has supported gun control measures in the past. So why is that? Well, it turns out that the NRA  these days represents gun manufacturers on its board of directors’ nominating committee.

37. “Gun control can’t prevent suicides.” – Nearly 2 out of 3 gun deaths are suicides which is a harrowing statistic for most but this helps gun rights activists argue that mental illness is the problem, not guns. However, while restricting gun access can’t stop people from choosing to kill themselves, keeping guns away from mentally ill people can be rather effective. In fact, it’s said that firearms suicide rates are closely correlated with gun ownership as well as gun crimes. So gun control might not prevent suicides, but it might help prevent suicides with guns.

38. “Shooting and hunting are important American cultural activities.” – Yes, I know people use guns for hunting and target practice at gun ranges. However, people don’t use AK-47s and AR-15s to hunt deer and can just as easily shoot a box full of holes with a handgun. Why? Because using a military style assault weapons to hunt is just stupid. Gun control measures don’t necessarily mean outright gun bans altogether. Nor does it mean an end to sports shooting either.

39. “Gun violence is a city problem.” – Gun violence takes many forms. Gun homicides on the streets might account for a lot of city homicides. But there are plenty of gun violence incidents in rural areas as well like gun injuries, suicides, and homicides stemming from family disputes and domestic violence. There’s also a higher rate of gun ownership in rural areas, by the way.

This chart illustrate how much gun violence costs American taxpayers every year. We should also count the fact that many gun victims are poor. Yeah, I really think Second Amendment rights are getting kind of expensive.

This chart illustrate how much gun violence costs American taxpayers every year. We should also count the fact that many gun victims are poor. Yeah, I really think Second Amendment rights are getting kind of expensive.

40. “Gun control is expensive.” – It’s no surprise that many gun rights activists tend to equate gun control with big government and high spending. However, loose gun laws aren’t as cheap as you make them out to be since they tend to cost billions of taxpayer money each year on medical and legal costs. And it doesn’t help that most gun violence victims and perpetrators tend to live below the poverty line as well as are either uninsured or on public assistance. From how I view it, gun control as a means to prevent violence is probably much cheaper.

Many pro-gun activists say that so many mass shootings happen in gun-free zones because it makes victims defenseless. But the real story is that public venues most likely tend to be gun-free zones. Besides, the Fort Hood shooting has told us that mass shooters don't give a shit about a public facility's gun policy anyway.

Many pro-gun activists say that so many mass shootings happen in gun-free zones because it makes victims defenseless. But the real story is that public venues most likely tend to be gun-free zones. Besides, the Fort Hood shooting has told us that mass shooters don’t give a shit about a public facility’s gun policy anyway.

41. “Local restrictions attract mass shooters.” – You hear this a lot from gun rights activists since many famous mass shootings have taken place in gun-free zones and leaving victims defenseless. However, as I said before, gun-free zones are very effective policy regardless of whether they attract mass shootings or not. Besides, we should be aware that most gun-free zones are public venues used by a lot of people, which attract violence and crime. Because buildings open to the public normally do that explaining why we have gun-free zones in the first place as a safety measure. It’s just an obvious fact. Not only that, but the fact 43 people were shot during the Fort Hood shooting shows that mass shooters don’t give a shit about firearms policy. Seriously, Fort Hood’s status as a military base makes it far from a gun-free zone. I mean the place would have guns everywhere and people trained to use them, including armed guards. But that didn’t prevent 13 people from being killed in the shooting. Mass shooters’ choices of location usually involve other motives, especially if there’s a chance they’ll know any potential victims. For instance, the Fort Hood shooter was a disturbed army psychiatrist who worked there. The shooters at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook were students there at some point in their lives. We should also account for the fact that most mass shootings involve legally purchased weapons. Besides, despite how pro-gun activists complain about gun-free zones, confronting a mass shooter with a loaded gun is actually a very stupid idea, anyway. Not to mention,  just because a place with loose gun laws doesn’t experience a lot of gun violence doesn’t mean it’s not contributing to the problem. After all, look how loose gun laws in Indiana are contributing to gun violence in Chicago.

42. “Now isn’t the time to talk about guns.” – You tend to hear this in the event of almost every mass shooting or major tragedy involving guns. Yes, I know discussing politics isn’t appropriate after a major tragedy. But mass shootings have been on the rise since 2007 and most experts agree that gun violence is a major public health issue that kills 30,000 a year. Furthermore, gun control measures tend to have a lot of support from law enforcement as well as health care workers who specialize in emergency medical care. Besides, we must remember that Aurora and Newtown happened during the same year. A year before that, a US House Representative was shot in the head in Tuscon. So if now’s not the time to talk about gun control, when is?

43. “Criminals won’t consent to background checks.” – Yes, criminals hate background checks because they limit their ability to buy a gun. However, many of them go through them anyway and get blocked just the same. Nevertheless, if a criminal doesn’t want to consent to a background check then they won’t be allowed to buy guns legally. Thus, by closing legal avenues for them to buy guns, they’ll be forced to risk buying illegal weapons, which police can arrest them for. And if a criminal can’t legally buy a gun in one area, they’ll buy it in another with less gun restrictions.

This is former Democratic US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly. In 2011, Giffords was shot in the head by Jared Loughner in her district of Tucson, Arizona. She had to resign her seat to recover from her injuries. She and her husband are now advocates for gun control, not surprisingly.

This is former Democratic US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly. In 2011, Giffords was shot in the head by Jared Loughner in her district of Tucson, Arizona. She had to resign her seat to recover from her injuries. She and her husband are now advocates for gun control, not surprisingly.

44. “But politicians send their children to school with armed guards.” – Fox News likes to point out this one to make many politicians who support gun control look like hypocrites. However, we should note that politicians are public officials and their name recognition makes them assassination targets along with their families. Threats against politicians and their children can disrupt public policy and are a very real threat. This is why we have the Secret Service protecting the President of the United States at all times. Besides, the US has had 4 presidents assassinated. We’ve also had a US congresswoman shot in the head in Tucson not too long ago. There’s nothing hypocritical or elitist about having gun-free zones while our leaders have armed guard protection. I mean not everyone can have their own Secret Service protection, so gun-free zones are the next best thing.

45. “Regulations in gun sales are ineffective because there are so many guns out there.” – The reason why there are so many guns out there is because the US has lax gun regulations at the national level. Besides, despite the number of guns in our society, there’s no reason to make the problem worse than it already is. Guns are so plentiful today that criminals don’t keep their guns long since guns used in crimes can be evidently linked to shootings. So criminals just dispose and replace them with clean weapons. Most criminals don’t have a hard time obtaining clean guns if they know where they can buy one. Regulating gun sales at the national level will eventually lead to criminals having to either hold on to their dirty weapons and risk arrest or spend a ton of money to buy a new gun.

Perhaps these lines from Bob Dylan's

Perhaps these lines from Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” say it best. However, despite what many might say, we need gun control at a national level now. If we don’t act, then more lives will be lost or ruined.

For More:

The Brady has a handy website on state gun laws called Crimm Advisor. Helps explain the illegal gun trafficking situation within the country and why national action is needed. Crimadvisor

Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence: Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence – Gun Law Information Experts

A Statement on Gun Violence, Gun Culture, and Gun Control

As someone who harbors progressive political views (due to my liberal Catholic upbringing no less), I rarely try to discuss politics since I live in an area where my leftist political views based on my strong Catholic moral convictions have a great potential to offend people like friends and extended family. However, in the wake of a the Navy Stockyard shooting, I cannot in due conscience keep silent on the matter of  gun violence in this nation which I see as reaching epic proportions. I understand that gun violence is a highly controversial issue in these United States and I know full well that I may be subject to nasty comments by trolls, but I’d rather risk offending people than disobey my own conscience, especially on matters of great national urgency in which my silence could be a sin since violence of any kind is a grave injustice, especially if it costs innocent lives. I may not have been personally involved in a violent in my life nor lived in an area where violence is the norm. I may not understand what it’s like to know anyone who was exposed to gun violence or had their life taken because of it. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that my own life hasn’t been affected by gun violence nor that I don’t have any opinions on it. Criticize me if you may but let my voice be heard.

In the United States on average about 1 in 3  know someone who has been shot while each day guns account for 32 murders, 51 suicides, 45 fatal accidents, and 140 being sent in an emergency room for a gun assault. Nearly 1 in 4 American teens has witnessed a shooting while gun violence is the second highest cause of death of American children and teens in which on an average of 8 are killed by guns per day consisting of a third of all victims. It is also the primary cause of death among African Americans from that age group which was one of the reasons the Trayvon Martin story was such a big deal in the news, especially the fact that he was shot by a white Hispanic man named George Zimmerman. While rural kids are more likely to die from a gunshot than their urban counterparts, most of them will die from gunshots caused by suicide or an unintentional shooting while urban kids will more likely die from gunshots caused by homicide, especially if they’re poor, black, or Hispanic. However, half of all gun violence victims are between 18-35 years old while many come from poor neighborhoods where gun violence is prevalent, be either black or Hispanic, or perhaps have a criminal record. Of course, most victims of gun violence are men as well as the perpetrators. And teenagers exposed to gun violence were more likely to commit more serious acts of violence themselves, especially teenage boys of color in bad neighborhoods. White males, on the other hand, are more likely to use a gun to commit suicide since they consist of 40% of all firearm suicide victims and most mass shooters tend to be young white men as well.

Every year, gun violence costs about an average of $100 billion dollars to US taxpayers including medical treatment, criminal justice proceedings, new security precautions, and reductions of quality of life in gun violence prevalent neighborhoods due to fear, which results in economic devastation. The lifetime medical costs for all gun violence victims is said to amount to $2.3 billion with almost half of that being born on US taxpayers. From these statistics derived from the Brady Campaign it’s not hard to determine that the United States has a serious problem with gun violence, which isn’t just killing our citizens or perhaps but also ruining their lives, but also becoming a drain on our taxpayers. On an international scale, Americans are about 20 times more likely to be killed by firearms than those in any other high income industrialized nation where firearms are involved in more than two thirds of homicides according to the FBI and half of all suicides according to the CDC. And in places where gun violence is prevalent, both the victims and the perpetrators are more likely to be poor as well, which makes taxpayers more likely to cover the medical bills and legal fees. Although gun violence has decreased dramatically in the past 20 years along with other reported crimes, it’s still a major problem in this country especially in the wake of events like Aurora, Newtown, and the Navy Stockyard mass shootings.

The United States has 310 million guns and which are owned by 40% of all households, a decline since the 1960s but the number of guns has considerably increased meaning that gun ownership has become more concentrated. And by a wide margin the US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world. Unsurprisingly 80% of American gun owners are men since guns usually tend to have a great male following and associated with American masculinity and rugged individualism and are said to own 7.9 guns each. Of course the reasons for keeping firearms varies such as sport, hunting, sharpshooting, collections, and self-defense. And self-defense is usually the reason that most pro-gun activists argue that guns keep us safe as well as keeping and carrying one for self-defense, makes one safer as well as contributes to a polite society. However, recent statistics show that guns will only keep you safe only if you have the kind of firearms training given to someone in law enforcement or in the armed forces. Civilians gun owners, on the other hand, don’t have the kind of conditioning required to act quickly in the face of an assailant, be calm under fire in a hail of bullets, or take steady direct aim. So it’s no surprise that most of the civilians shooting an armed assailant on the news were either former cops or military veterans. The others were just lucky. Thus, unless you made your living shooting bad guys or putting dangerous people in prison, guns are probably not going to make you safe. And in one survey, nearly 1% of Americans reported using guns to defend themselves or their property but a closer look at their claims found that more than half of them involved using guns in an aggressive manner such as escalating an argument. If having a gun is going to do anything for you in a situation like a mass shooting, then it’s probably going to make you either a more likely target or prone to make careless and deadly mistakes such as accidentally shooting an innocent person. Not to mention, no mass shooting in the last 30 years has ever been stopped by armed civilians. Rather in 2011, people were nearly 10 times more likely to be shot and killed in arguments than by civilians trying to stop a crime and the odds of a person getting shot were 4.5 times greater if he or she owned a gun and had a 4.2 times greater chance of getting killed.

Though it is said that guns in the home are said to keep a place more secure, as Mother Jones reports for every gun used in self-defense in the home, there have been 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around the home. 43% of homes with guns and children have at least one unlocked firearm which can result in a deadly accident waiting to happen, especially if a kid of any age grabs hold of an unlocked gun. There have been far too many incidents where children have been killed while playing with an unlocked gun. Also, there have been so many domestic disputes that turned violent just because a gun was in the vicinity. Still, many would say they own a gun so they could protect themselves against a home invasion in which the chances of happening depend on location yet in reality, the time when someone is most likely to break into your house is when you’re on vacation since most intruders wouldn’t want to get caught. Locking your house would be a much better defense yet in the event in a home invasion, you’re better off calling the police. Still, the person who’s most likely to shoot you or break into your house isn’t going to be an intruder but by someone you know.

As for women, they were nearly 6 times more likely to be shot by their husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than by any male stranger, especially if they’re in abusive relationships and try to leave. Gun advocates often argue that guns make women safer but the scenario that usually plays in the minds is the notion of being attacked by a complete male stranger on the street or who breaks into the house. In reality, women are probably least likely to be killed or violated by a guy who breaks into their house or some random guy on the street except if they’re in a dangerous neighborhood. This is because for one, most men would never even think about harming a woman in either of these scenarios. Second, most of these dangerous guys usually have a strategy to win over their target before going ahead with their dirty work and get away with it either through manipulation or roofies. As in abusive relationships, a woman’s situation gets even more complicated since she might have feelings for her abuser or even had an abusive childhood herself. Not to mention, having a gun isn’t going to help a woman defend herself from an abusive spouse because the guy usually tries to control her and will probably end up finding the gun anyway. Still, a woman’s chances of being killed by her abuser increased 7 times if he had access to a gun and two thirds of homicides involving current and ex-spouses were committed with firearms. In locations where people under restraining orders were denied weapons, female partner homicide rate decreased by 7 percent. Yet, in locations with high gun ownership rates, women were 4.9 times more likely murdered by a gun than their lower gun ownership rate counterparts.

As for the notion of an armed society being a polite society, which many gun advocates argue that having a gun makes someone less likely to mess around with you. However, in my opinion an armed society is certainly not one I’d want to live in since how can you trust anyone if everyone’s threatening you with violence? Besides, isn’t threatening people with violence not very polite in the first place? I mean it doesn’t create a good social environment either. If anything, an armed society is just an inhospitable one, especially if you don’t know what qualifies as messing with someone. Sometimes guns may be used to control others or even get away with certain things others wouldn’t normally do. Still, Mother Jones reported that drivers who carry guns are 44% more likely than unarmed drivers to make obscene gestures to other motorists and 77% more likely to follow them aggressively. And among Texans committing serious crimes, those with a concealed-handgun licenses were sentenced for threatening someone with a firearm 4.8 times more likely than those without.

And of course, we got those Stand Your Ground Laws, which allow people to shoot in self-defense without duty to retreat made famous by the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman who got off on justifiable homicide. It is said that such policies have been linked to a 7 to 10% increase in homicides, which doesn’t surprise me. Not to mention, such Stand Your Ground Laws allowed Zimmerman be acquitted for Martin’s murder even though Martin was clearly just a 17-year-old unarmed black kid minding his own business while Zimmerman was clearly an aggressor who acted out of his own assumptions that seemed to be nothing but a classic case of racial profiling. Sure Martin threatened and punched Zimmerman but the guy was following him. Even worse, Zimmerman called the police but ignored the 911 dispatch’s instructions not to follow Martin in the first place. One study confirmed a racial disparity in the law that whites have been significantly more successful claiming self-defense when their attacker is black (found justifiable 17% of the time) than blacks fighting back against an attacker who is white (found justifiable just over 1% of the time). Still, the Trayvon Martin incident clearly demonstrates that Stand Your Ground Laws threaten public safety (especially in a state like Florida where a man who was arrested for battering a cop and once subject to a domestic restraining order was allowed to carry a concealed and loaded handgun), encourages vigilantism, and by tying the hands of law enforcement while depriving victims of remedies by providing blanket immunity from criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits to individuals who claim to be acting in self-defense (without thorough investigation).

So what do we do about the problem with gun violence? Well, gun advocates tend to say to place armed guards at schools so they could stop any potential school shooter like then next Adam Lanza. However, many poorer schools already have armed guards and they’re not a very inviting sight, especially in communities where it’s not unusual for minority students to be suspended frequently. Besides, there’s a 1 in 5 chance that a shooting at an ER involved guns taken away from guards in the first place. And as far as mass shootings go, Columbine was a school that had armed guards while Virginia Tech had a whole armed campus police force and we know that arming the good guys didn’t prevent the loss of life resulting from their mass shootings. Also, though most mass shootings happen at gun free zones, they also prevent a lot of other forms of violence from occurring, especially in high gun ownership states. So if arming guards doesn’t work to reduce gun violence, what does? Well, one of the more popular forms of gun control legislation is universal background checks in all gun transactions since most of these guns involved in mass shootings were obtained legally and around 40% of all legal gun sales involving private sellers don’t require one. Not only that but it’s said that 40% of prison inmates who used guns for their crimes, got them this way and an investigation found that 62% of online gun sellers were willing to sell to buyers who said they couldn’t pass a background check. Then there’s the case with the Navy Stockyard shooter Aaron Alexis who managed to pass a background check despite having a history of mental illness and violent behavior. Not to mention, George Zimmerman whose past included an arrest for beating up a cop and being subject to a domestic violence restraining order. Neither of these guys should’ve been able to get a hold of a gun in the first place.

Another piece of gun control legislation I’d advocate which may be controversial is an assault weapons ban as well as high capacity magazines on civilians since many of these kinds of weapons were used at the shootings in Aurora, Tuscon, Virginia Tech, and Newtown and many of these weapons were legally obtained (49 of 62 mass shootings since the 1980s involved legal weapons and half of those shootings involved the use of assault weapons with high capacity magazines). These weapons should only be used in the military for which they were made for and don’t serve much of a purpose for civilians other than perhaps defending oneself from nonexistent threats like aliens or zombies. I mean really, who needs an assault weapon? Besides, there’s not much sport in firing an assault rifle for target practice at cardboard boxes. However, whenever a mass shooting occurs, the NRA likes to promote these weapons and gun manufacturers tend to make a ton of money on them as well despite that these kinds of guns killed little children in Newtown. And while an assault weapons ban may not have much of a chance passing in Congress, about 54% percent of Americans support one while 91% support background checks. Yet, look what happened the last time gun control was introduced in the US Senate.

The NRA always asserts that in the matter of gun violence that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Sure people kill people there’s no arguing that, but the NRA often uses this mantra to assert that guns aren’t the problem in instances of gun violence which doesn’t get to matter at all. People may be the problem but so are guns, especially if they are nothing but killing machines. Also, guns are most people’s killing weapon of choice since it could be used at a great distance and doesn’t call for much exertion of physical strength. Not to mention, Alfred Hitchcock once said a gun was “such an amazingly simple device. An idiot can operate it and indeed many do.” Yet, the NRA would also argue against gun control by citing the  Second Amendment with “the right to bear arms bear arms shall not be infringed.” Of course when the NRA cites this they conveniently ignore the phrase “well-regulated militia.” So basically this probably doesn’t really apply to civilians other than that most men at that time probably belonged to one. Also, it’s pretty much established that “the right to bear arms” doesn’t apply to allowing a civilian to own a grenade, tank, bazooka, or even build a bomb. I mean that would be silly wouldn’t it? Thus, I think that gun control is perfectly constitutional. Still, gun violence is a problem in this nation and the role of guns and gun culture needs to be discussed because you can’t try to prevent gun violence without talking about the guns.