Of Guns and the Holocaust

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An ongoing argument among pro-gun activists I’ve often heard is the Nazi Gun Control Argument, which claims that Third Reich gun regulations rendered victims of the Holocaust weaker to such an extent that they could’ve effectively resisted oppression if they had been armed or better armed. Gun rights proponents and organizations like the National Rifle Association use this notion as part of its “security against tyranny” argument. They’ve also cited other authoritarian regimes that committed atrocities like Khmer Rouge, Stalinist Russia, and whatever totalitarian regime. Since the Parkland students have called for gun control legislation after 17 of their classmates were killed, the argument that a “well-armed populace is the best defense against tyranny” has been proliferated with a vengeance. During a debate shortly after the February shooting, Alaska’s Rep. Don Young said, “How many millions were shot and killed because they were unarmed? Fifty million in Russia because their citizens were unarmed. How many Jews were put in ovens because they were unarmed?” During a Florida Senate debate over an assault weapons ban, Sen. David Simmons claimed, “Adolf Hitler confiscated all the weapons-took all the weapons, had a registry for everybody,” before murdering his political opponents. This week, Iowa Rep. Steve King posted a meme noting Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez’s Cuban heritage and attacking her for ignoring “the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence, the right to self-defense.”

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Sorry, but Adolf Hitler and his Nazi friends weren’t exactly gun control fans. In fact, they loved their guns. They encouraged children as young as five to march with them and told them nursery rhymes that glorified weaponry. To them, as long as you were a member of the German Master Race, you can stockpile as many firearms as you wanted in order to terrorize all the undesirables at your pleasure. Wikipedia lists the Nazi gun control argument as counterfactual history because most scholars believe that the disarming and killing of Jews had nothing to do with Nazi gun control policy.

However, the very notion that a widespread genocide, totalitarian regime, and other human rights atrocities could’ve been prevented by more private gun ownership is completely wrong. Even today, there is little evidence to suggest that widespread private gun ownership leads to more to more democratic societies. According to the Small Arms Survey rankings from 2007, while the US leads the world in civilian gun ownership (88.8 firearms per 100), but it’s followed by Yemen (54.8). You can argue its well-armed population overthrew an authoritarian leader, but civil war and humanitarian catastrophe following that undermine the case. While Switzerland (45.7) and Finland (45.3) also make the top 10. But also does Saudi Arabia (35), the world’s largest absolute monarchy with rules derived from Wahabist Islamic fundamentalism. And, until recently, famously prohibited women from driving. Iraq is also up there (34.2) which had a well-established gun culture under Saddam Hussein’s rule, which didn’t prevent him from committing genocide and mass murder. Yet, it did contribute to the chaos that ensued after the US overthrew him. Another country with a high rate of gun ownership is Bahrain (24.8) which didn’t help the failed uprising against its autocratic government in 2011. Nor did high gun ownership rates prevent a string of military coups in Thailand (15.6) or keep Venezuela (10.7) from descending into authoritarianism and economic chaos. By contrast, while North Korea virtually has no guns in private hands, neither do South Korea and Japan. Then there’s the sub-Saharan Ghana, one of Africa’s most peaceful and democratic countries which has one of the lowest rates of gun ownership. Another is Tunisia who not only overthrew its dictator in 2011 (with military assistance), but is the only one of the Arab Spring countries that has remained relatively democratic and stable since then. From what the data shows, countries with lots of guns consist of democracies and dictatorships, peacefully orderly societies, and failed states. Same goes for nations with few guns. It shouldn’t even be a debate talking point.

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Here’s a picture from the Stroop Report during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Notice the Nazis basically forcing these people to put their hands up. Yes, it’s simply horrifying.

Furthermore, claiming that the Holocaust could’ve been prevented if more people were armed is misleading and offensive. Just ask the Jewish groups, Holocaust scholars, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum who have all repeatedly called for Nazi analogies to stay out of the gun control debate. Because no serious scholarship of the Holocaust points to the lack of guns as a serious factor. First, it ignores the Jews taking part in armed resistance efforts like the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Jewish partisans creating their own units after escaping the camps. In fact, the US Holocaust Museum has an entire page dedicated to other examples of armed resistance to the Holocaust while Wikipedia lists over 100 of them. But all had little chance of stopping the mass slaughter carried out by a major industrialized power like Nazi Germany since the odds were overwhelmingly. In the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, after the massive deportations to forced-labor camps and killing centers, people remaining in the ghetto organized and resisted with pistols, grenades, rifles, and automatic weapons. It was the largest Jewish armed revolt during WWII yet only managed to kill from 20 Germans. The Nazis quashed it in less than a month which resulted in 13,000 Jews killed and the remaining 50,000 sent off to concentration camps. Mostly because it was profound mismatch of manpower, the difficulties of smuggling weapons in the Ghetto confines, and a shortage of arms in Poland in general.

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And here’s what happened to some of the Polish Jews who took arms against the Nazis during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Notice how they’ll soon be shot at.

The German public was already disarmed in 1919 at the behest of Great Britain, France, and the United States due to a provision in the Treaty of Versailles which severely limited private firearm ownership to reduce Germany’s ability to re-arm itself. Though post-World War I Germany was awash with weapons. Many in the hands of the wrong people. Far-Right militias called the Freikorps stashed thousands of rifles and machine guns under the Allied Control Commission’s noses and used them in repeat armed attempts to overthrow the democratic Weimar Republic. And while mainstream scholars agree that a German gun registry law that created a permit system to own and sell firearms, it was established in 1928 under the Weimar. There were provisions that exempted “officials of the central government, the states, as well as the German Railways Company” and “community officials to whom the highest government authority has permitted acquisition without an acquisition permit.” This law was an attempt by the Weimar regime to disarm nascent private armies like the Nazi SA (a.k.a. Brownshirts) as an attempt to bring some stability to German society and politics. At the time, violent extremist movements were actively attacking the young and very fragile democratic state with the most prolific being the violent Beer Hall Putsch. So according to Dresden Technical University’s Dagmar Ellerbrock, “this order was followed quite rarely, so that largely, only newly bought weapons became registered. At that time, most men, and many women, still owned the weapons they acquired before or during the first World War.” A government that can’t maintain some degree of public order couldn’t sustain its legitimacy. Nor were the German people well-grounded in Constitutional, republican government as evidenced in their ballot box choices. Gun control wasn’t initiated to benefit the Nazis, but to prevent them and others of the same ilk from executing a revolution against a lawful government. In the strictest sense, the law succeeded since the Nazis didn’t stage a coup. But the 1928 provisions didn’t weaken the existing SA that pervaded German political life at the time. Ultimately, the Nazis ignored them with near impunity, engaging in terrorism on the streets as they expanded their political support. Eventually, they got elected in 1933 on promises to end economic poverty, reconquer “lost territories,” and end political paralysis at the Reichstag.

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Here are the 1938 Nazi gun laws, which actually expanded gun ownership to most Germans. As long as they weren’t foreign, Jewish, gay, gypsy, disabled, or left-wing, of course. Because the Nazis wanted them dead.

When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, the Nazis used whatever gun records they had to seize weapons from perceived enemies of the state like Jews, Communists, Social Democrats, union members, or anyone else refusing to affiliate with the Nazi Party. Because the Nazis were intent on killing them and used the existing gun laws and regulations to further the genocide. As SUNY-Cortland professor Robert Spitzer told Mother Jones, gun policy, “wasn’t the defining moment that marked the beginning of the end for Jewish people in Germany. It was because they were persecuted, were deprived of all of their rights, and they were a minority group.” Yet, according to Ellerbrock, the files included very few guns in circulation and the registry was so incomplete that many Jews kept their guns well into the late 1930s. However, they also introduced a collective gun license for Nazi organization members whose main beneficiaries were the thuggish Brownshirts. After the German Parliament, the Reichstag gave Adolf Hitler emergency powers, he had a free hand. As Ellerbrock noted, “Under totalitarian rule, it took just a few weeks to drastically increase the number of Germans who held private weapons.” In other words, these looser gun rules were meant to encourage citizens to terrorize Nazi opponents and oppress minorities like Jews, gypsies, and gays. In 1938, the Nazis adopted a new law that loosened gun ownership rules by deregulating the buying and selling of shotguns, rifles, and ammunition. It made handguns easier to own by allowing anyone with a hunting license to buy, sell, or carry one at a time. Also, it extended the permit period from a year to 3, lowered the legal purchase age to 18, and gave local officials more discretion in letting people under 18 get a gun. Of course, there were exceptions such as Jews who weren’t allowed to own guns at all along with other dangerous weapons. But for everyone else, Hitler made it easier to get guns and used mass gun ownership for “Aryan” Germans to trash Jewish-owned businesses, rough up Jewish pedestrians on the street, and engage in what were called pogroms in Russia. As Ellerbrock told Politifact, “The gun policy of the Nazis can hardly be compared to the democratic procedures of gun regulations by law. It was a kind of special administrative practice (Sonderrecht), which treated people in different ways according to their political opinion or according to ‘racial identity’ in Nazi terms.” Therefore, disarming and killing Jews had nothing to do with Nazi gun control policy. Thus, during the Third Reich gun registration was spotty, confiscation was selective, and Nazis found it easier to get guns.

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Even if Germany’s Jews were well-armed, they couldn’t have stopped the Holocaust. Since they made up of less than 1% of its population and subject to systematic persecution implemented by a modern bureaucracy, enforced by police state, and supported by most of the population. In fact, armed revolt would’ve made the situation worse for Germany’s Jews by validating all the bad stuff the Nazis said about them. At least as far as its propaganda machine was concerned.

But if Germany’s Jews were well-armed, could they have stopped the Holocaust? The fact they constituted less than 1% of the country’s population makes it ridiculous to argue that private firearm possession would’ve enabled them to mount resistance against a systematic persecution program implemented by a modern bureaucracy, enforced by a well-armed police state, and either supported or tolerated by most of the German population. Its highly unlikely that armed Jews (or any other target group) would’ve weakened Nazi rule, let alone a full scale popular rebellion. In fact, it seems more likely to strengthen the Nazi support they already had. For such actions would’ve substantiated any foul Nazi lies about Jewish perfidy as well as hasten Jewish demise. The German Jews detained and deported after 1938 tended to be older and less well-off since most Jews with any resources left Germany much earlier. And the deportation took place with the open or tacit approval and complicity of most of the German people. Any act of armed resistance would’ve been completely futile.

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Here’s a Jewish business smashed on Kristallnacht, or “Night of the Broken Glass” from November 9-10, 1938 where Brownshirts and German civilians terrorized Jewish buildings, businesses, and synagogues while authorities looked on. It’s estimated that 91 Jews were murdered that night, though the death rate was much higher. Also, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Still, Germany’s Jews were in no way prepared for what awaited them. Nor could they imagine taking arms against their own country’s soldiers and police officers.

Even so, hypotheticals aside, gun ownership wasn’t widespread enough in Germany for a serious civilian resistance to the Nazis. Nor were Germans, particularly Jews, predisposed to violent resistance to their government. Anti-Semitism wasn’t new in Germany or anywhere else since they had been persecuted throughout history for centuries. Jews had survived previous pogroms before but not without suffering. They’d expect the barrage of anti-Jewish discrimination and violence would eventually subside and permit a return to normalcy like those in the past. Still, they considered themselves “patriotic Germans” for their World War I service who remained good citizens of the state they trusted beyond Hitler’s power seizure in 1933. As an overwhelmingly professional, urban and middle class, and strong in professions like law, medicine, and the arts, the notion these conscientiously law-abiding people would or could’ve taken to the streets and shoot down Hitler’s thugs is ludicrous. Those who didn’t flee into exile faced escalating barrage of discriminatory laws and were systematically dehumanized for years. Yet almost all obeyed to the letter. Even after their businesses, homes, schools, and hospitals were trashed and synagogues torched during Kristallnacht, and even when facing deportation and death, most Jews obediently reported to the holding centers with their suitcases as instructed, and were taken from there to the cattle trucks that hurried them to their deaths. They didn’t know the true horrors that awaited them in the concentration camps. In fact, as bad as things were for them in Nazi Germany, most Jews couldn’t imagine their fellow countrymen establishing an industrialized and scarily efficient mass murder system to kill them. The Nazis also used deception by telling their Jewish captives would be “resettled” for forced labor in the East. The death camp stops on railroads were disguised with signs showing they were regular train stations. The gas stations were referred to as “showers.” If they knew their fate, they probably wouldn’t have resisted. Since they’d be unable to bring themselves to fire upon their own nation’s soldiers or police officers. And what could they do about it. Though most of the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust came from Poland, the Soviet Union, and other conquered territories in Eastern and Central Europe. Yet, all were surrounded by an indifferent, hostile, or terrorized population. Other than a few exceptions, there was no place to run or hide.

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In Nazi Germany, propaganda was everywhere. Also, despite that they’d be forever remembered for committing genocide as a totalitarian regime, Adolf Hitler and his Nazis were genuinely popular among the German people. And that’s truly scary.

Besides, the Nazis controlled the media during the Third Reich, they could censor and spin the news at their discretion. They were masters of propaganda which saturated every level of their society at every age stratum. Not surprisingly, the Jews were a primary target who were systemically demonized. If most German citizens didn’t come to Jewish defense to fight off Nazi tyranny, it was because they didn’t want to. For they had been persuaded that what was happening was best for their country, and that the Jews deserved what they got. Or at least didn’t want to lose their privilege, alienate their friends and family, or be carted off to a prison camp and executed. Because the Communists tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler several times before the Nazis stamped them out. Even if Europe’s Jews fought back, which they did several times over, it would’ve been almost impossible for them to attract the rest of the world’s attention, let alone draw sympathetic reinforcement that could’ve toppled Hitler. But the Jews didn’t need guns to draw attention or sympathy from people in other countries were concerned what was going on with them. After all, many Jewish Americans were refugees or had relatives in Europe at the time. And Kristallnacht sent shockwaves around the world with the British Times writing, “No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday.” Yet, the Nazis also had financial or rhetorical support from numerous American tycoons and businesses like Henry Ford, William Randolph Hearst, Kodak, Coca Cola, Standard Oil, Chase Bank, Dow Chemical, Woolworth, Alcoa, Brown Brothers Harriman, General Motors, and IBM. Let us not forget the Nazi sympathizers on the America First Committee like Charles Lindbergh who didn’t want the US to welcome Jewish refugees. Across the pond, Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Windsor were also in the Hitler fan club along with Unity and Diana Mitford. French fashion designer Coco Chanel lived with a Nazi officer while WWI hero Marshal Philippe Petain led the collaborationist Vichy government during WWII. Norwegian politician Vidkun Quisling seized power in his country through a Nazi-backed coup and his regime contributed to the Final Solution. Let’s just say you had a lot of influential people outside Germany who didn’t want their countries to do anything about what was going on there.

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We must keep in mind that Nazi Germany managed to defeat armies from Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and France. And though they didn’t fare so well in Russia, they managed mow down 7 million Red Army soldiers.

As Warsaw Uprising illustrates, the notion that the Jews could’ve used rifles and handguns to stop the SS from herding them like cattle to their deaths is offensive. Inside Germany, only the army possessed the physical force necessary for defying and overthrowing the Nazis. But the generals already threw their support for Adolf Hitler early on. The Nazi Germany war machine was one of the most powerful military systems ever constructed, especially prior to and during the early years of World War II. The Nazi regime had managed to conquer all of France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Poland, along with huge swaths of the Soviet Union and northern Africa in the face of determined resistance by large, properly trained militaries equipped not just with handguns but also tanks, warships, airplanes, and other heavy superweapons. The Red Army lost 7 million fighting the Wehrmacht despite its tanks, planes, and artillery. Adolf Hitler deployed military-trained units to destroy Europe’s Jews so handguns and rifles wouldn’t have made a dent. Suggesting it would implies that the Jews had a path to resist the Nazis’ Final Solution when they didn’t. Arming every European Jew wouldn’t have made any difference.

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We must understand that atrocities like the Holocaust have happened not because of gun control or lack of guns. But when a large swath of the population doesn’t see them as a dealbreaker and are willing to embrace a totalitarian strongman in order to get what they want. The Holocaust was caused by anti-Semitism along with moral failure and indifference. To think it could’ve been avoided if people have been armed is a very offensive way to remember this unimaginable tragedy.

It’s all too easy to forget the allure that fascism presented to those in the West during times of social and economic upheaval. The Nazis were master manipulators of popular emotion and sentiment while disdainful of people thinking for themselves. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power not through force of arms, but through success at the ballot box, propaganda, illegal violence, and Hitler’s political cunning. They didn’t just rise to power by intimidation and imposing totalitarianism, the Nazis were genuinely popular with enough of the population to prevent a coup. Nor did they need gun control to retain supreme and unlimited power. Shortly after being granted emergency powers, Hitler issued the Reichstag Fire Decree which suspended civil rights, banned the left-wing press, and authorized the mass arrest of Communists and Socialists (a move allowing Nazis to take seats of the arrested delegates and assume a Nazi majority). A month later, the Nazi majority Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, giving Hitler and the German Cabinet the power to enact laws without its involvement. These 2 acts transformed Hitler’s government into a legal dictatorship within 2 months. Within the next 6 months, the Nazis banned Jews, non-Germans, and political opponents from public service, outlawed trade unions, and barred all political parties aside from the Nazi Party. The success of Nazi programs like restoring the economy and dispelling socio-political chaos and the misappropriation of justice through terror assured the German people’s compliance. Else, they wouldn’t have loosened gun restrictions in 1938 as an effect a façade of legalism around exercising naked power like most of their actions. The 1938 weapons law wasn’t a part of normal governance since the Third Reich had demolished the rule of law. And while Jews were prohibited from owning guns, they weren’t allowed to many other things. They couldn’t vote, work in professions, attend school, go to the movies or theater, visit public parks or “Aryan” areas. In fact, Jews weren’t considered citizens of Nazi Germany or even human beings. To focus exclusively on gun control is to lose sight of the bigger picture. And suggesting that the only thing keeping Hitler in power was gun control only exonerates the many Germans who supported him.

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Here’s a cartoon depicting the Night of Long Knives where the Nazi regime killed their most prominent political enemies. Most were Brownshirt leaders. And yes, they were armed and the Nazis knew it. Most gave up without a fight.

Despite that while the Nazis confiscated weapons from people they didn’t like, Adolf Hitler didn’t need to seize weapons to get rid of perceived political enemies. Their gun laws weren’t the major part of the process to suppress political dissidents and round up German Jews for extermination. Take the Night of the Long Knives, for instance, which involved a series of extrajudicial executions to consolidate Hitler’s absolute hold on German power. Paramilitary organizations were part of the Nazi organization from its earliest days in the mid-1920s. A founding Nazi street fighting group were the Sturmabteilung or Brownshirts who were known for street violence tactics. Its leader Ernst Rohm was one of Hitler’s oldest allies and comrades. Another outfit called the Schutzstaffel or SS protected Nazi officials as they moved around the country. After Hitler won office, the SS under Henrich Himmler became part of Der Fuhrer’s inner circle. But Rohm was eager to consolidate his power, setting him on a collision course with established German military leaders and Hitler’s top advisers. They persuaded Der Fuhrer that the Brownshirts were difficult to control so he and that Rohm was plotting a coup. From June 30-July 2, 1934, the SS and Gestapo killed at least 85-200 Brownshirt leaders and other perceived enemies. Though the final death toll could be as many as 700-1,000 along with thousands of arrests. Most but not all were associated with Rohm. The incident had more to do with infighting among the Nazi community than with going after disarmed citizens. Quite the opposite for the Nazis knew full well they were going against a group with plenty of weapons. Hitler himself oversaw the Rohm’s arrest, which went down in the middle of the night with a truckload of armed Brownshirt troops driving up to a hotel. Not a shot was fired and Rohm complied. He was executed 3 days later. Those at the German Historical Institute wrote that with this operation, Hitler had managed to “legitimize outright murder on a large scale – without any legal proceedings whatsoever – and that the country largely accepted the Nazi propaganda that presented this strike as necessary.”

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Dictators don’t rise to power by taking away people’s guns. But rather through popular support and public purges to send a message to anyone who disagrees with them. If soldiers come to your door to kill you or take you away for speaking out against a Dear Leader, your private arsenal will not save you. In fact, it might even condemn you.

Nonetheless, the notion that if Jews were armed and could’ve prevented the Holocaust is ridiculous is an old claim the NRA and other gun rights people push to show that who are trying to show that when a civilian population is armed, it can prevent tyranny and that tyrants begin their rise to power by disarming the population. However, the fundamental problem with these claims is that they have no idea how and why dictators like Hitler and the Nazis come to power. Dictators come to power through a more gradual process aided by large swaths of citizens eagerly supporting the strongmen in charge and public purges of dissenters to send a message anyone still supporting the regime. By the time soldiers come marching to your door to kill or drag you away, it’s because they’ve been chosen and groomed for this task. And you’ve been demonized as a traitor who must be punished. Keeping a weapons stockpile will only be used to justify overwhelming force or murder. There’s a very long historical record of regimes hell-bent on crushing dissent seeing them as little more than nuisances which won’t even be recorded once the dark deed is done. If a military coup is involved, then it would’ve been made possible with the wide availability of guns along with widespread support for the insurgents from the people as was the case with the Communist takeovers of the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba. Tens of millions of people became victims in the 20th century because they were members of groups targeted for eradication over ethnicity, religion, or ideology by ruthless military dictatorships. While these massacres had concurrent efforts to disarm targeted populations thanks to gun registration requirements, to say those millions died because of gun control is bad history. It’s nothing short of delusional to think that small groups of untrained civilians could defeat some of the most powerful armies in the world. History shows that civilians are often powerless to militarily resist an oppressive dictator. We can only prevent genocide by strengthening democracy as well as supporting a free press and non-government organizations. Thinking gun control in the United States will lead to genocide abandons reality for a fantasy world.

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Blaming the Holocaust on the lack of guns allows people to ignore the real causes of the genocide like Nazism, Anti-Semitism, moral failing, and indifference. And it allows people to ignore how the Nazis stripped the Jews of more basic rights. Not to mention, it misrepresents history which isn’t just intellectually dishonest but also dangerous.

Blaming the Holocaust on the lack of guns allows people to ignore the Nazism and anti-Semitism along with the humanity’s moral failure and indifference that made its atrocities possible in the first place. The fact that gun culture considers the Jews’ lack of guns of more consequence than their lack of more basic rights says a great deal more about America’s gun culture than it does about the Nazis or the Jews. And even if they get it right about what the German gun laws did, they misrepresent the significance and consequences from those laws. Misreading history to suit one’s views is as intellectually dishonest as it’s dangerous. As Brown University historian Omer Bartov told Salon in 2013, “Their assertion that they need these guns to protect themselves from the government — as supposedly the Jews would have done against the Hitler regime — means not only that they are innocent of any knowledge and understanding of the past, but also that they are consciously or not imbued with the type of fascist or Bolshevik thinking that they can turn against a democratically elected government, indeed turn their guns on it, just because they don’t like its policies, its ideology, or the color, race and origin of its leaders.”

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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.

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

Thoughts on Charleston

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On the night of Wednesday June 17, 2015 at 9:05 p.m., a 21-year-old white gunman named Dylann Storm Roof fired upon a Bible Study group at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. All the victims were black which included 9 killed, particularly senior black pastor Clementa C. Pinckney who’s also a Democratic state senator as well as a one wounded but survived. And they were all black. It was the deadliest attack on an American place of worship since the 1991 mass murder of Wat Promkunaram Buddhist temple in Waddell, Arizona in which nine people also died. And it was the largest American mass shooting since the 2013 Washington Navy Yard shooting. My thoughts, condolences, heart, and prayers goes out to the survivors as well as members of Emmanuel A. M. E. Church, the victims’ families, and the African American community.

What happened in Charleston was a senseless act of terror resulting in 9 senseless deaths and an entire community engulfed in tragedy. What’s even uglier about this tragedy is that it was motivated by racial hatred which was born out of the sad American legacy of slavery that gave rise to white supremacy as an ideology. Even today, though racism is no longer seen as acceptable, it still remains embedded in our systems and institutions as well as in the minds of many of America’s citizens. It’s a toxic ideology that has plagued so much of our culture that as much as I try to fight what I see as hatred plain as day, sometimes even I feel that I’m not above the destructive influence of our infectious racist climate. I am aware of white privilege and probably have benefited from it, even though I may not even know it. But whatever racist thoughts I may have, I am well aware of how unjustifiable they are. Just because I may have it better than some blacks due to the color of my skin does not mean that I am any better or worse than any other black person. And that blacks should be considered as human beings and able to enjoy the same rights as any American citizen. Unfortunately, too many whites don’t seem to see it that way, especially in South Carolina and that’s a problem.

Founded in 1816, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the oldest black churches in the United States as well as a key hotspot for African American activism during the Civil Rights Movement. It was also marred by racial violence in its early years not at all helped by the fact one of its founders was linked to a slave revolt in 1822.

Founded in 1816, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the oldest black churches in the United States as well as a key hotspot for African American activism during the Civil Rights Movement. It was also marred by racial violence in its early years not at all helped by the fact one of its founders was linked to a slave revolt in 1822.

This is not the first time Emanuel A.M.E Church has experienced racially motivated violence and I’m certain it won’t be the last. From its founding in 1816, it had seen a long share of violence in the name of white supremacist hate. It began as an illegal church at a time when black churches were outlawed in Charleston and South Carolina prohibited black literacy. It was subject to raids by city officials in 1818, 1820, and 1821. In 1822, one of the church’s founders named Denmark Vessey was implicated in an alleged slave revolt, was arrested and subject to a secret trial along with five other alleged organizers, and executed. The original building was then burned to the ground by white supremacists. By the time it was rebuilt, Charleston had already banned all black churches compelling the congregants to meet in secret until the end of the Civil War in 1865. And as far as black churches go, Emanuel wasn’t the only one subject to white supremacist terrorism either since other black churches have had their share, especially in the South where they have been pillars among the African American communities they served. Many black churches were involved in the Civil Rights Movement as well as acted as sanctuaries from racism and for civil rights rallies. Churches were prime targets by white supremacists terrorists. One of the most famous is the 1963 Klu Klux Klan bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama which killed 4 young girls and called by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.” Add this to the fact that many blacks were victims of white supremacist violence during the Civil Rights Era mainly because they simply dared to demand equal rights, which many whites didn’t want to happen. White supremacist terrorism was seen as a way to punish black communities and maintain control by creating a climate of terror and fear that would make black political organizing of demonstrations, sit-ins, and other forms of protest impossible.

For much of American history, black churches have played significant roles in the African American community, especially since they were often hubs for political organization during the Civil Rights Movement. This made such places key targets for white supremacist violence. Shown here is Birmingham, Alabama's 16th Street Baptist Church which was subject to a Klu Klux Klan bombing in September 16, 1963 which killed 4 young girls and wounded 22.

For much of American history, black churches have played significant roles in the African American community, especially since they were often hubs for political organization during the Civil Rights Movement. This made such places key targets for white supremacist violence. Shown here is Birmingham, Alabama’s 16th Street Baptist Church which was subject to a Klu Klux Klan bombing in September 16, 1963 which killed 4 young girls and wounded 22.

It should be obvious to everyone that what happened in Charleston was nothing but a premeditated white supremacist terrorism, which every citizen in this country should take very seriously and part of a long and painful history of politically motivated white violence against blacks. Even if you’re a foreigner who knows absolutely nothing about American History, the mere details in this case should entail that Roof’s nefarious deed was a hate crime. For one, Roof was in the church an hour before he started shooting and reloaded his gun five times. This indicates that he came prepared. Second, one survivor recalled one of the victims asking Roof why he’s doing this in which he reportedly replied, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” Anyone who understands race relations in the southern US should know that the image of a black man raping a white woman is a very pervasive one that had been used as an excuse for whites to systematically justify their racism against blacks, especially when it involves the worst forms violence such as lynchings. But this image is seen in Birth of a Nation in which the scene of the Klu Klux Klan lynching a black man is seen as a noble act of heroism (of course, the racism in this movie is extremely vile). And it’s also unfortunate that it led to a KKK revival explaining why its membership numbered to 6 million in 1925 despite being highly racist even by the standards of 1915). It’s present in the minds of the whites of Depression era Maycomb County, Alabama in To Kill a Mockingbird despite the fact that Tom Robinson was 100% innocent of doing anything to hurt Mayella Ewell besides being too nice to her for his own good but is wrongfully convicted by an all-white jury anyway. Not only that, but Roof was said to be shouting racist epithets while gunning down each of the victims and those who managed to survive played dead. Roof might’ve intended at least one person to survive and tell the tale, but I’m not exactly sure. Third, Roof’s Facebook page contains pictures of him with very white supremacist imagery such as the flags of Apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) as well as a Confederate flag license plate. Fourth, even the people who knew Roof can recall how he expressed his support for racial segregation, his intention to start another civil war, his claim that, “blacks were taking over the world,” and his intentions to kill people, including a plot to attack the College of Charleston. He also had a criminal record prior to the incident as well. All this establishes the fact that Roof was a bonafide racist and his crimes were racially motivated. We should never think otherwise. If the Klu Klux Klan’s racial violence against racial, ethnic, and/or religious minorities should be considered terrorism, then so should Dylann Roof’s as well as anyone else who does the same. The motivation on the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting was to terrorize black people.

Despite that the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. was certainly a deliberate act of white supremacist terrorism,  South Carolina's State Capitol continues to fly the Confederate flag at full mast. This is very disrespectful  to the black victims, their families, and the Charleston black community. This banner has been used to legitimize widespread racism even if such acts were violent, illegal, and dehumanizing.

Despite that the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. was certainly a deliberate act of white supremacist terrorism, South Carolina’s State Capitol continues to fly the Confederate flag at full mast. This is very disrespectful to the black victims, their families, and the Charleston black community. This banner has been used to legitimize widespread racism even if such acts were violent, illegal, and dehumanizing.

However, as far as American racism is concerned, the Charleston shooting is just the tip of the iceberg. Even today, the discrimination and injustices against African Americans are just too innumerable for me to describe in detail. And even if I could, then I’m sure whatever I say about them can never do justice for so many African Americans who have been harmed by them. But all too often I’ve heard of how blacks have been disproportionately and negatively affected buy such things as mass incarceration, Stand Your Ground laws, police misconduct and brutality, redlining, environmental discrimination, voter ID laws, misconduct by the criminal justice system, racial profiling, gerrymandering, the War on Drugs, destructive stereotypes aimed at poor blacks, rap artists being called out on promoting violence, sex, and butchering the English language (as well as having their songs being marketed like that), a lot of forms of workplace and education discrimination, having their accomplishments downplayed or outright ignored in the American history books, being depicted as either violent brutes or unable to save themselves without white intervention in Hollywood movies, being underrepresented in all spheres of American life, gentrification,  being subject to police intervention and media derision even in their most legitimate protests, inadequate public schooling, and the list goes on. Now the American South isn’t the only place in the country where blacks have experienced racism and injustice by hateful whites, but it’s basically the worst offender, especially South Carolina. It’s well known that slavery treated blacks less than people whose only purpose was to serve their masters without expecting much in return and no prospect of being freed. And we all know that the South seceded from the Union and formed the Confederacy so most of the African American population can be considered property, not people, which resulted in a bloody 4-year war over it (a lost cause that was never in any way honorable). It’s also well known that racial segregation and Jim Crow laws were put in place so that blacks would be kept separate from whites and not have any political or any other power to assert themselves. They were also terrorized and lynched by white supremacists in the South if they ever dared to vote, demand their rights, purchased land, or owned successful businesses. Sure, racism might not be as blatant or acceptable as it once was, especially when we have a democratically elected black president, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there and that it’s not a problem. Because if the Charleston shooting has taught us anything, it’s that racism still exists and that it’s a problem. And in the South, it’s particularly bad.

D. W. Griffith's epic 1915 groundbreaking film The Birth of a Nation is the most racist film in American history, even by the standards of the time. The anti-black sentiment in this film is extremely vile in which the African Americans are played by white actors in blackface and the Klu Klux Klan members are seen as the heroic saviors of white Southern honor. Unsurprisingly, it managed to get enough fans that it's attributed to a KKK revival which peaked at 6 million members in 1925. But please, unless you're a film student, I'd strongly encourage that you avoid this disasterpiece of film.

D. W. Griffith’s epic 1915 groundbreaking film The Birth of a Nation is the most racist film in American history, even by the standards of the time. The anti-black sentiment in this film is extremely vile in which the African Americans are played by white actors in blackface and the Klu Klux Klan members are seen as the heroic saviors of white Southern honor. Unsurprisingly, it managed to get enough fans that it’s attributed to a KKK revival which peaked at 6 million members in 1925. But please, unless you’re a film student, I’d strongly encourage that you avoid this disasterpiece of film.

How do I know this? Because the United States is suffused with perverse symbolism that legitimizes anti-black violence and no place in the country is more notorious for this than the American South. This being because it’s the area most likely to embrace the nostalgia of the antebellum Old South and the ideology of the Neo-Confederate “Lost Cause” which portrays the Confederate struggle against the Union as noble one that had absolutely nothing to do with slavery (despite evidence to the contrary). Thus, this leads to white Southerners glorifying and possibly revering their American past as well as perpetuating racist ideas, instead of actually learning that subjugating an entire group of people into involuntary servitude on the basis color is inherently wrong. Sure your average redneck might not mean any harm if he puts a Confederate flag on his pickup truck, other than perhaps showing his love for Lynyrd Skynyrd. And of course, he may not even intend to send a message to impressionable or perhaps disturbed young white men like Dylann Roof that African Americans are less-than-equal members of the political community and that using illegal violence against their interests is justified or that it’s noble to fight and die for the purpose of enslaving black people even if it means betraying your country. In fact, he might not be racist against black people at all (or so he says). But your average redneck might not know that like words, symbols carry meanings that stand independently of any individual’s subjective intentions, which can lead to even the most non-racist but nevertheless passionate Lynyrd Skynyrd fan be mistaken for a racist or believing that lawless pursuit of white supremacy is not necessarily wrong and may at times be worthy of celebration.

Among Southern whites, Nathan Bedford Forrest is a very popular figure, especially in Tennessee where he has several stuff named after him, 32 historical markers dedicated to him, and his own state holiday in July. However, Forrest was a former slave trader best know n for allegedly being the first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan and accused of war crimes for allowing his men to massacre hundreds of Union black and white Southern Unionist  POWs after the Battle of Fort Pillow. Not someone you'd want to have a state holiday for.

Among Southern whites, Nathan Bedford Forrest is a very popular figure, especially in Tennessee where he has several stuff named after him, 32 historical markers dedicated to him, and his own state holiday in July. However, Forrest was a former slave trader best know n for allegedly being the first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan and accused of war crimes for allowing his men to massacre hundreds of Union black and white Southern Unionist POWs after the Battle of Fort Pillow on February 12, 1864. Not someone you’d want to have a state holiday for.

But it’s not just Lynyrd Skynyrd fans who have a problem with white supremacist symbolism or even ideas. To this day, South Carolina continues to fly a Confederate flag on the grounds of its state capitol. In the city of Charleston itself, you will find Emanuel A.M.E. is on Calhoun Street, named after antebellum politician and political theorist John C. Calhoun, best known for defending slavery as something positive, distrusting majoritarianism, championing the idea of nullification which states that individual states have a right to declare federal laws null and void if they viewed them unconstitutional, and helping to escalate Southern threats of secession in the face of mounting Northern abolitionist sentiment. Not exactly a guy you’d want to name a street after but despite dying 11 years before the Civil War, he’s fairly influential in American politics, mostly for the worse. A mile and the half of Emanuel A.M.E. is a public park featuring a monument “to the Confederate Defenders of Charleston” commemorating, you know, a bunch of guys who broke off from their country as well as fought and died to keep blacks under involuntary servitude. In Tennessee, you have no less than a high school, a state park, and a university ROTC building named after Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest best known for allegedly being the first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan (a fact even namesake Forrest Gump admits) as well as being accused of war crimes for allowing forces under his command to massacre hundreds of black Union Army and white Southern Unionist POWs, an incident surrounded in controversy to this day. Prior to the war, he was slave trader. But even this doesn’t keep Tennesseans from putting his bust at the State Capitol in Nashville, dedicating 32 historical markers linked to him (more than resident US presidents Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson), and celebrating July 13 as “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day” which is an official state holiday. Confederate President Jefferson Davis has not only a statue in the US Capitol Rotunda, but also a highway in Northern Virginia as well as counties in Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Texas named after him. And this guy owned a Mississippi cotton plantation of over 100 slaves, believed every state was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union (and continue to do so for the rest of his life), did a terrible job as president of the Confederacy and was highly unpopular, fled the country for a time after a two year imprisonment on the charge of treason, and flushed his own shit into the street of his Richmond home (not exactly relevant or his fault, but true). Davis was no hero and defended the South’s actions until the day he died as well as believed in a Southern social order, according to historian William Cooper, “a democratic white polity based firmly on dominance of a controlled and excluded black caste.” And that doesn’t even bring me to discuss the more than dozen public schools named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee and others save maybe James Longstreet who became a Republican, led an African American regiment against white supremacists during Reconstruction in 1874, and supported civil rights for blacks (but he’s not among the South’s most liked Confederate generals and is usually the one whom most Southerners blame for the Confederate loss at Gettysburg, possibly the war). Or the streets of Charleston being named after Confederate generals as well with the exception of James Longstreet if his name is even on a street sign.

As first and only president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis proved to be a weak and ineffective leader as well as very unpopular by Civil War's end in 1865. He's seen as a hero by many Southern whites today because his writings after the war which contributed to the

As first and only president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis proved to be a weak and ineffective leader as well as very unpopular by Civil War’s end in 1865. He’s seen as a hero by many Southern whites today because his writings after the war which contributed to the “Lost Cause” myth, which was used to perpetuate widespread violence and discrimination against African Americans for decades. He saw absolutely nothing wrong with controlling blacks and excluding them from any political decision making. And he was never sorry for betraying his country. Yet, he has a highway named after him in Virginia. And you don’t want to know where his bodily waste went in Richmond.

Unfortunately, despite that the Charleston church shooting was 100% racially motivated terrorism, some whites Americans go to great lengths to say why this isn’t the case for various reasons. For one, much of the Republicans’ success depends on a lot of support from conservative Southern whites, many of whom are either believers of the “Lost Cause” narrative or at least tend to have a nodding appreciation for the Confederate side of the American Civil War. For a Republican to say that this tragedy was an act of white supremacist terrorism would be to alienate a considerable portion of the electorate who don’t want to be seen responsible for it. Sure Dylann Roof might’ve been a nutjob but he wasn’t an island onto himself and any mental illness he may have doesn’t excuse his actions. Besides, it’s as clear as day that he was a white supremacist who flaunted it (though he was probably influenced by his family and the culture he grew up in). Secondly, the white South doesn’t want to change or own up to anything pertaining to periods of race relations they’d rather nostalgize and romanticize. And even Southern whites who may not have anything against blacks might feel that taking down a Confederate flag or a name like Calhoun or of a Confederate Civil War general would be an affront to Southern pride and Southern culture. But such nostalgia on the “Lost Cause” and the Old South is very toxic when it comes to a group of people who were once subjugated to one of the worst human rights abuses in history during that same time.

The

The “Lost Cause” myth in American history is a mix of Confederate nostalgia and romanticism that paints the South secession as legitimate, noble, and totally not about slavery. Further, it gives the impression that slaves were happy to be working under involuntary servitude with absolutely no rights of their own. Such idea has a very pervasive influence in American history which has led to widespread discrimination as well as violence against African Americans. Unfortunately, this is the kind of fictitious nonsense that’s very likely taught in Texas public schools.

So conservatives tend to say that the church shooting was an Anti-Christian terrorist attack while trying to appeal to the Fundamentalist Christian persecution complex. Sure the shooting took place at a church, but it was at this historic black church known for its involvement in the Civil Rights Movement as well as associated with a man implicated in a slave revolt. If Dylann Roof really hated Christianity, he could’ve just fired upon any Christian place of worship he wished and I’m sure he didn’t have to be too picky on potential Christian victims, especially in South Carolina. Race is the heart of what went on in Charleston and it’s very clear that Roof’s a white supremacist who probably sees blacks as no more than dirt. While persecution of Christians isn’t unknown in American history, it usually applied to a particular denomination like Catholics, Quakers, Jehovah Witnesses, or Mormons among the most targeted groups since their religious practices didn’t conform to the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant ideal to the dismay of some Americans, not Christianity in the general sense of the term. Besides, when it came to attacks on black churches, the white attackers were probably as faithful churchgoing Christians as their black victims despite having a funny way of showing it (and used their faith to justify why blacks were inferior). So no, the Charleston shooting had absolutely nothing to do with religion.

The

The “Black Lives Matter” protests of Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore were formed to address the systematic discrimination and violence against blacks by the criminal justice system. However, it’s been met with a lot of backlash from Fox News and their white allies, pointing to how most black people are killed by other blacks. While this statistic may be true, it doesn’t address why blacks victimized by whites and/or authority figures don’t seem to receive any justice whatsoever. For instance, in Florida, whites were more likely to be acquitted under Stand Your Ground laws if the victim was black than vice versa. This is why the case with George Zimmerman shooting Trayvon Martin was a judicial travesty. So if you were a black living in Florida who shot a white guy in self-defense, I’m afraid Stand Your Ground won’t help you.

But what I think can be even more toxic in the United States is the idea of racial apathy. A lot of white Americans may have racist attitudes because they benefit so much from white privilege and were never subject to racism themselves. Thus, these white Americans are more likely to deny that racism still exists and consider it a thing of the past. But this also leaves them vulnerable to believing a lot of highly racist things and negative stereotypes whether told by Fox News, the mainstream media, Hollywood, family members, the education system, or other areas. Because racism infects the people in ways they wouldn’t recognize. So when a racially motivated act of violence makes front page news, these whites either go out of their way to argue why it wasn’t about race or will simply be peeved when somebody addresses race as a factor. Sometimes they’d simply wouldn’t care and view what went on in Baltimore as nothing more than a meaningless riot or just get sick of the words, “Black Lives Matter.”  To them, racism isn’t currently a problem because it’s not their problem. But many of them would be willing to play the reverse discrimination card whenever a person of color is luckier than them (such as super entitles whites suing over affirmative action because they didn’t get into a particular college they wanted) or if racial minority person is either more successful than or promoted over them. Sometimes when they themselves are called out for their racist comments (if their response isn’t that a certain negative racial caricature is grounded in fact). And if a person of color is elevated to a high position of power or leadership, well, these people would unconditionally hate them for absolutely no reason other than the color of their skin. I know people like this and I’m appalled at they believe in such ideas as well as sometimes feel guilty of not calling them out on it to avoid making a scene. But such racial apathy doesn’t solve anything and gives a silent license to ignore problems and continue the systematic and institutional discrimination blacks and other persons of color experience every day of their lives.

I'm sorry but the Confederate flag isn't a symbol of Southern pride or an emblem that shows love for Lynyrd Skynyrd. It's a symbol of racism and one that has been used to justify lynchings and countless violent crimes in the name of white supremacy. Many of which were never brought to justice. And it was mostly done to terrorize blacks through fear if they ever dared to exercise or demand equal rights as well as purchased land or had a successful business. It had nothing to do with preserving any form of sacred honor despite what you might've heard otherwise.

I’m sorry but the Confederate flag isn’t a symbol of Southern pride or an emblem that shows love for Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s a symbol of racism and one that has been used to justify lynchings and countless violent crimes in the name of white supremacy. Many of which were never brought to justice. And it was mostly done to terrorize blacks through fear if they ever dared to exercise or demand equal rights as well as purchased land or had a successful business. It had nothing to do with preserving any form of sacred honor despite what you might’ve heard otherwise.

But I believe white Americans can fight racism not but not by being white saviors that Hollywood thinks. The Civil Rights Movement was primarily one led by black activists and organizations while antislavery movements wouldn’t have the kind of legitimacy they did unless the voices of former slaves and free blacks were heard. However, if whites should stand up to racism, then they must acknowledge our racism filled past for what it is and dispose all notions of nostalgia and romanticism of times when racial minorities were subject to systematic and institutional discrimination. We must also acknowledge the racism entrenched in our society as well as how it’s a serious problem in our country that needs addressed. And we must acknowledge and fight any racists attitudes we harbor within ourselves. Now none of this will be easy but I can’t exaggerate the urgency necessity of such actions, especially when a guy not much younger can me can open fire on a church filled with black people. We can’t turn out backs on that and say that racism isn’t a problem just because it doesn’t affect us. Thus, we’d be not much better than the white supremacists who carry out the violence themselves or how our culture gives racial minorities the short end of the stick. As long as whites continue to glorify and celebrate the Old South and the “Lost Cause,” racism will continue in very nasty ways. As long as whites don’t acknowledge that displaying a Confederate flag at your house is a very, very bad way to show your love for Lynyrd Skynyrd, there will be some nuts there interpreting such symbols at their worst connotations as well as committing violent acts of terror against African Americans. And as long as whites side with white perpetrators on behalf of “Stand Your Ground,” instead of their innocent unarmed victims as well as feel that the mantra, “Black Lives Matter,” and protests against systematic racial injustice is a meaningless waste of time, then there will be another Charleston. We can’t let this go on and we can’t let white people not to care.

Black people may not have the same problems white people do. But we should care about the racial discrimination African Americans encounter every day because such actions are unjustifiable by any means, especially if they pertain to white on black violence. As Jesus said,

Black people may not have the same problems white people do. But we should care about the racial discrimination African Americans encounter every day because such actions are unjustifiable by any means, especially if they pertain to white on black violence. As Jesus said, “”The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'” –Matthew 25:40 NASB

And the fight against racism can start when we pressure South Carolina to take down that racist Confederate flag for it’s a symbol of white supremacy, not a symbol of pride. Any white person wishing to express Southern pride or love for Lynyrd Skynyrd should use something else.

How Guns Work (According to the Movies)

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I am no fan of guns. I don’t feel safe with them unless they’re on display in a museum nor would I wish to be either in front or behind one. Not to mention, I think they’re dangerous since they’re designed to kill. Besides, I’ve never owned one in my life nor do I intend to in the near future. Of course, in fictional outlets like movies and TV shows, guns are everywhere and are seen as awesome weaponry used to defeat bad guys. After all, violence is usually the answer in Hollywood in these kinds of situations. However, guns don’t work in the same fashion in Hollywood as they do in real life. Here I compile a list of how guns work in movies and TV shows you know and love as well as an explanation why some of these concepts wouldn’t  work in real life. Still, I’m going to exempt science fiction or fantasy since they don’t go by the same rules in real life anyway unless otherwise noted.

1. A muzzle-loaded black powder blunderbuss can fire three consecutive shots in under a second, without reloading. (Believe it not, this happens during the “Gaston” number in Beauty and the Beast where Gaston fires three shots in the barrels at the tavern. Perhaps no one shoots like Gaston but while firing three consecutive shots in under a second without reloading may be realistically possible for many of today’s firearms like an AK-47, such feat would certainly not be with a muzzle-loaded black powder blunderbuss. I mean even the fastest shooters (such as soldiers) could only get three shots off in a minute during Gaston’s day. For one, muzzle-loaded weapons can’t fire consecutive shots, which is why one Revolutionary War officer told his troops, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” Second, loading these weapons was a multiple step process such as pouring the powder, dropping the ammo (sometimes ripping the cartridge), securing the contents far back in with a rod, letting the wick in the flint, and lighting the flint before pulling the trigger. And to be a Minuteman in the Revolutionary War, you had to do all but the last in under a minute. Of course, the loading process explains why our Founding Fathers saw no need to mention gun control in the Second Amendment since it was only since the mid 19th century where guns fired multiple rounds.)

2. Almost every firearm in existence has an unlimited ammo only as long as ammunition count doesn’t have anything to do with the drama. (When it comes to ammunition counts, it depends on the weapon. Revolvers and long arms usually hold up to 5-8 rounds. Semiautomatic handguns have magazines that usually hold 10-15 rounds. Detachable magazines for semi-automatic or automatic rifles usually contain 20 to 30 rounds. The classic Thompson submachine guns holds a magazine of 100 rounds but has been retired due to other issues.)

3. Silencers make firing a gun completely silent. (They’re more or less “suppressors” than silencers since they don’t make guns completely silent but and usually only as quiet as “hearing safe.” It’s like more like putting your phone on vibrate.)

4. Homemade silencers are just as effective as real ones. (They are not. On the other hand, real silencers are highly regulated and illegal in several US states, so what does that tell you?)

5. Being in a heavy firing zone won’t bring any kind of damage to your hearing. (If you ever seen a gun range, everyone is wearing hearing protection for a reason. A gunshot is the loudest normal sound a human being is likely to hear. I mean firing one gun can damage your hearing significantly, let alone hundreds. Not to mention, many shooting enthusiast suffer from some degree of sound-induced hearing loss due to their hobby. You can also experience tinnitus as well as feel pain from such a sound. Some high powered guns can still hurt one’s hearing far away even with a silencer. Still, many Hollywood movies today are involve heavy gunfire as well as countless explosions while many of the characters don’t really seem to have any issues with their hearing and yet none of them are wearing any kind of protection. Out of all the movies I’ve seen relating to heavy fire, only Adrien Brody’s character in The Pianist experiences any kind of hearing loss from gunfire {which was temporary and due to a close range explosion that nearly killed him}. Sherlock Holmes may count as well, but only when he’s very close to the gun. Then again, gunshots in movies aren’t very loud to begin with mostly due to movie sound systems not being typically designed to output noises above the human pain threshold.)

6. You can fire a gun and hear tiny noises or whispers at the same time. (No you can’t unless you are at some great distance away. In fact, in a heavy firing zone, you may not be able to hear yourself shout, let alone anything else.)

7. All gunshots go “boom.” (Only shotguns go “boom.” Smaller guns usually sound like a firecracker. Other guns have distinctive sounds as well.)

8. Guns make a clicking noises whenever they’ve run out of ammunition. (Only pistols and some semi or automatics do.)

9. Being hit with a gunshot won’t cause bleeding. (Oh, yes it would, even when shot in the head when it’s certainly not pretty at all. Those shot in pre-1960s movies don’t bleed much because of the Hays Code but many do.)

10. There were no guns in the Middle Ages. (Gunpowder was introduced to Europe after the Crusades while guns were practically invented during the 1300s. The first recorded use of shooter lit wicks that ignited gunpowder loaded in a gun barrel in 1364. It was called the matchlock arquebus.Thus, guns and knights have existed side by side for over 300 years. Still, they weren’t very reliable, were very expensive, and had a limited production.)

11. The recoil will either send the shooter flying or have no effect at all. (Usually the recoil will result in no more than a bruised shoulder or a sprained wrist at least with most weapons. There may be physics involved in this so it’s complicated.)

12. Being shot can cause you to fly across the room. (Please, bullets may be powerful enough to kill you but to fling you across the room, you got to be kidding. When shot, people usually drop. Explosions may do the trick, on the other hand.)

13. One bullet can bring instant death. (The question of whether you’ll die from getting shot depends on where the bullet is or whether the surgeon can get to it, how much time passes between the shooting incident and the arrival of medical assistance, and the quality of the medical treatment. The advancement of technology and medicine at the time is also a factor.)

14. Lethality of bullets is usually dependent on the character’s importance to the plot. A redshirt or mook with no lines will be dead in one shot while it will take flood of bullets to kill the main villain or hero. (Actually bullet lethality doesn’t work that way in which a myriad of factors can play out.)

15. If you’re shot in the leg or right shoulder, you might be in pain but you can otherwise engage in the fighting since they’re pretty safe spots. (It is impossible to shoot someone and know they will survive the wound. When most people shoot, they shoot to kill, not wound or disarm. Still, if you were hit in outside shoulder, the  thighs, or ass, there are good chances you’ll survive and make a full recovery. Also, older softer bullets did much more damage.)

16. Armed henchmen can’t hit anything. (Though Imperial storm troopers may not shoot straight, they are sure to hit something or someone.)

17. Jammed guns are useless guns. (A gun jam is only a glitch that can be corrected within a second or two, though I guess some jams are harder to correct than others.)

18. A dropped gun will always discharge. (Most guns are made not to do this and a dropped gun discharge usually presents grounds for a recall. However, such recalls are voluntary in the US.)

19. Some bullets work like guided missiles. (Most of them don’t and will hit the first thing that comes in their path. However, given weapons technology advancement, this may be subject to change.)

20. Anyone with a gun can remain calm under threat of being shot or under fire. (Just because you have a gun in your hand, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to fire without hesitation. That is, unless you’re someone who’s trained to act this way in such situations.)

21. Good marksmanship is easy to master even in a life-or-death situation. (It is not, especially in a life-or-death situation where high-adrenaline makes accuracy go to pot. Though soldiers are trained to get a decent accuracy rate, but in a war zone, most magazines will empty at a 10% accuracy rate. Most soldiers in battle just fire their guns in order that it will hit somebody who’s not on their side. For instance, the average WWII soldier had to fire about 200 rounds for every hit scored on an enemy. And these guys had pretty reliable guns. Also, conditions on the battlefield was another factor. Not to mention, friendly fire has always been common in war zones.)

22. Anyone can easily recover from a gunshot wound if the plot demands it. (Gunshots will send you on a one way ticket to the emergency room and may take weeks or months to recover from depending on the medical treatment. Some people don’t recover at all.)

23. Pointing a gun at someone and placing your finger on the trigger with no intent to shoot is always a good idea as long as you’re careful and know what you’re doing. (Even those who know what they’re doing will always try to avoid this at all times. Besides, when cops do this, it’s usually in a life or death situation in which they will shoot if need be. Still, most of the time, this will set yourself for an accident waiting to happen. Still, you see cops in TV and movies do this all the time even when it’s not in a life or death situation. Yet, very few end up having an accident with their firearms. Remember, guns aren’t toys.)

24. Having a gun will help you defend yourself in a mass shooting spree. (You’re better off not armed and hiding under a table. Also, those armed will probably be among the first of those shot in a shooting spree.)

25. It’s possible to fire a good shot through the scope of a sniper rifle where the bullet will end up in the sniper’s eye. (It’s unlikely this will happen and will more or less exit through the side at an angle.)

26. Any gun can destroy a lock in one or two steps as well as does a neat and tidy job of it. (It actually takes a high powered gun to do this at close range but shooting a lock off will result in dangerous shrapnel flying everywhere. Only soldiers and SWAT teams ever do this since this task involves a shotgun, Kevlar body armor, specialized ammunition, and full face protection. Seriously, don’t try this at home, this will put you in the hospital.)

27. Shoving a pistol down your pants is a harmless idea. (Just ask Plaxico Burress who accidentally shot himself in the thigh in a night club this way.)

28. Blanks aren’t dangerous under any circumstances. (Well, not as dangerous as some forms of ammunition but can inflict its share of damage when fired carelessly. Just watch the scene in In Bruges when Colin Farrell shoots a guy in the eye with one. Thus, this isn’t 100% accurate.)

29. Bullets ricochet with sparks. (They never spark, ever. Still, it’s said that paint balls filled with fireworks would.)

30. It’s easy to shoot accurately with a handgun. (It’s actually incredibly difficult and takes a lot of training to master.)

31. Firing while jumping is always a good idea and looks awesome. (Firing while jumping reduces accuracy, is a serious waste of energy, and can cause injury to your shoulder upon landing. May look impressive, but please don’t try it at home.)

32. To be shot in the ass is highly embarrassing. (Sure but in a war zone, to be shot in the ass, is actually quite lucky since it’s referred to as “the million dollar wound.” Out of all the places on the body, the butt has the greatest chance of not being life-threatening and causing any permanent damage when treated properly. Also, for someone in the war zone, it’s serious enough to get a medical discharge and shipped home.)

33. Gun duels usually involve both participants who stand back to back, walk ten paces, and turn around to shoot at one another. (Actually almost never used in real duels while distances were usually agreed upon by the participants. You could also fire to miss before drawing blood but you can accidentally shoot a second or bystander. However, I bet there was plenty of cheating taking place in duels. Still, it’s a pretty stupid idea, though congressmen were doing this to each other in early America.)

34. Squeezing the trigger can turn anyone into an instant marksman. (Marksmanship can take years of training and practice.)

35. You can always hear the bullet before it hits you. (You can hear the gun but you don’t really hear the bullet hitting you. You know that you’re hit when you see a bloody gash at the site.)

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.