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.
- “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.
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 “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.
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.
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).
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 “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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 “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.
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