Due to the surprising success of my previous two articles on the subject - Replies to Gun Advocates and Replies to the NRA, and due to the gun rights/gun regulation debate still raging on, I thought I’d post yet another dialog styled article, based on actual debates I have had since the posting of my last two articles.
Gun advocate: All you liberals want is to kill the second amendment and take away our right to bare arms.
Me: Yes, that’s exactly right. We liberals care nothing about murdered children, murdered teachers, murdered moviegoers, murdered college students, murdered temple goers, and about preventing more murders in the future.
No, it’s none of that - all we want is for YOU to lose your rights in order for it to be easier to control you or kill you.
Yup, it’s all about YOU and how we can take YOUR rights away...
Gun advocate: Hitler took the guns, Stalin took the guns - taking the guns is the first step towards tyranny, since no tyrant wants an armed populace that can resist him.
Me: I’m sorry to burst your bubble but Hitler never “took the guns”. Gun laws were made made stricter in Germany in 1928 - five years before Hitler took power. In fact, Hitler actually relaxed German gun laws in 1938.
More on the subject here, if you care to inform yourself on it: http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcnazimyth.html)
You might also want to consider that both England and Australia made gun laws extremely strict in 1997, after each had suffered a horrific gun massacre the prior year. And last I checked, neither country has forsaken its democracy and fallen into tyranny. Not every totalitarian regime had restricted gun ownership, and almost no democratic nation that restricted gun ownership has fallen into tyranny. You’d be much better off if you stopped employing paranoid Tea Party styled talking points, if you ever want people to take you seriously.
Gun advocate: Well, I don’t know about all of that, but I do know that if the German Jews had been allowed to own guns, they could have resisted the Nazis.
Me: So you’re trying to tell me that even though Hitler’s military managed to conquer France, Belgium, Holland, Poland, Greece, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia Estonia, western Russia and all of north Africa, if the 200,000 Jews that were living in Germany had handguns and rifles, they could have protected themselves from Hitler.
Yup - that sounds about right...
Gun advocate: I’m tired of people calling AR-15s assault rifles. There’s no such thing as an assault rifle. It’s a term that was made up by anti gun activists in the 1990s. You can do just as much damage with a semi-automatic handgun as you can with a semi-automatic rifle. This whole assault rifle ban is a silly idea of ignorant activists.
Me: It’s interesting then that the military and law enforcement agencies that have to go into real firefights, always seem to choose these types of rifles. An AR-15 style weapon can hold magazines with 30 bullets or more. And a 5.56 bullet that comes out of one of these weapons can go through doors, walls, furniture and multiple people. And since you think that magazine capacity makes no difference, please keep in mind that Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people and wounded thirteen others (including congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords) was tackled to the ground and stopped when he ran out of bullets and tried to reload a new magazine into his pistol. Semi-automatic rifles make a very big difference when it comes to: range, bullet penetration and continuous shooting without having to reload. There’s a very good reason why government and law enforcement agencies, including special forces and SWAT units, choose these rifles over handguns. And this is sadly why mass murderers, who understand the advantage of these weapons, choose them as well.
And come to think of it, if handguns are just as effective as semi-automatic rifles, then why do you insist on your right to own a rifle? What difference does it make to YOU?
Gun advocate: Banning semi-automatic rifles is unconstitutional. Many gun control advocates miss this point when they claim that the second amendment was written at a time when all people had were muscats - so people should only be allowed to own muscats. The first amendment was written at a time when all people had by way of free expression was their voice and their ability to write on pieces of paper and parchment. Does that mean the first amendment shouldn’t include electronic media like TV, radio and internet, which didn’t exist at the time? If the first amendment should be expanded to include media that didn’t exist at the time, so should the second amendment be expanded to include weapons that didn’t exist at the time.
Me: There is one big hole in this theory. The military weaponry that existed when the second amendment was written was rifles, pistols, swords and cannons. There is no need for me to remind you that fighter jets and tanks and missiles and rockets, etc, did not exist back then. If you were to expand the second amendment to include today’s equivalent of 18th century military arms (as in - the right to bare arms), you would have to include people’s right to bare RPGs, ground to air missile, landmines, tanks, fighter jets, etc. How else would you expect to follow the spirit of this amendment and give people the means to form a well armed militia in the 21st century? The fact of the matter is that the second amendment has long ago been defanged of this meaning, and has been pretty much restricted to simple home defense. Banning assault rifles is no different from banning RPGs, landmines and cluster bomb launchers.
Gun advocate: The problem isn’t with guns, it’s with irresponsible or criminal individuals misusing these tools in order to kill innocent people.
Me: There is no doubt that irresponsible and criminal individuals should not be allowed to get their hands on weapons, but please keep in mind that when a handgun or a semi-automatic rifle is used to kill a person, it is NOT being misused, it is, in fact, being used for its exact purpose - to kill human beings. That there are innocent people who should not be killed with these weapons is a whole other matter, but let us not delude ourselves into thinking that a weapon has any purpose other than to kill people. This is what sets weapons apart from cars or swimming pools that also kill many people. Weapons have no other purpose other than to kill.
Gun advocate: The statistics are very clear - more guns = less crime.
Me: That’s fantastic news. Thank you for clarifying this point and providing so much supporting evidence for it. I’m so happy we now have such a simple formula for reducing crime. Why don’t we start right away with lowering the crime rates in some of the worst neighborhoods in the country by arming the entire population in them.
Come to think of it, why stop there? Why not export this fascinating idea to other troubled regions in the world, and make sure that those entire populations are also armed to the teeth?
Gun advocate: Why are you so arrogant about this whole subject? I’d be more than happy to debate gun regulation, but I’m not going to debate anyone with such a condescending attitude.
Me: I’m sorry if I’m coming through as arrogant but when it comes to taking the feelings of gun advocates into account, in light of the massacre of first graders and college students and temple goers and moviegoers, my sympathies and respect are not with the people who advocate for their right to own the exact same high capacity weapons that were used to commit these atrocities.
Gun advocate: There is no point in talking about an assault weapon ban, these weapons only account for a tiny fraction of deaths each year.
Me: Interestingly, this exact same line of defense (that one specific thing only accounts for a relatively small percentage of overall deaths) is also used by car manufacturers every time they try to stop a mandatory recall of a faulty mechanism that is “only responsible for a small percentage of deaths”. It’s a losing argument for them, and it’s a losing argument for you - not to mention a heartless and immoral one.
You are literally saying that because those children and teachers and moviegoers and mall shoppers account for such a small percentage of overall deaths, they are not important enough in order for us to make any changes. You are literally promoting the idea that many many more innocent people need to be massacred in order for you to endorse better measures to prevent future massacres. We can’t be bothered to change things on account of only 20 dead first graders, someone’s going to have to kill WAY more first graders for that, right?
Gun advocate: You see? This is what I was talking about - no respect. How dare you offend me by claiming that more children need to die in order for me to change my mind? How dare you offend good, honest, law abiding citizens that are simply trying to protect themselves within their hard fought constitutional rights?
Me: Ordinarily, I might apologize for offending you, but this is no ordinary case. I’m actually glad you’re offended.
For starters - welcome to the club. Now you might realize how the rest of us feel when gun advocacy groups hold gun appreciation days a few weeks after one of the most horrific mass shootings in American history. Maybe now you will get a better glimpse into how it feels to see so many gun advocates screaming about their right to bare the same exact weapon that was just used to massacre 20 first graders. Maybe now you’ll understand how offended, not to mention horrified and disgusted, so many of us are when we see the long lines of shoppers outside of gun shops, demanding the exact same weapon that was so successfully used to slaughter all those children and teachers.
How offended would you have been if a few weeks after 9-11 there was a boxcutter appreciation day? How offended would you have been if after the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995, there was an outcry about people’s right to own and manufacture Ammonium-Nitrate based explosives, and people would be lining up to purchase sacks of fertilizer?
Welcome to the club. If you’re so sensitive, maybe you should think twice before screaming about your gun rights and toting your AR-15 after 20 children and 6 teachers were just splattered to pieces by one.
Gun advocate: Maybe you didn't realize this but our well armed populace is one of the biggest reasons no one was stupid enough to invade us. There is a famous quote of the Japanese emperor during World War II, who said “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass”.
Me: Let’s start with the fact that our military might, including the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet, is much more of a deterrent than your Glock and AR-15.
Let me continue by correcting you about that quote. It was actually attributed to admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, and not to the emperor. This quote has never been substantiated, and is probably bogus, but let’s just for argument’s sake say that Yamamoto actually did say it. Isn’t it strange that you are more afraid of what a Japanese admiral supposedly said 70 years ago than of mass shootings here and now? Isn’t it funny that a supposedly red blooded patriotic American as yourself prefers to base his decisions on the supposed words of a Japanese admiral 70 years ago rather than on what so many of your fellow Americans are saying right here and now?
Gun advocate: The idea of the second amendment is to empower the population to fight against tyranny - foreign or domestic. It’s not just about invading militaries, it’s also about safeguarding that our own government doesn't turn on us.
Me: If you actually want to own the effective means to fight against the most powerful military on the planet, you’ll need quite a bit more than handguns and assault rifles. Just look at how the Syrians are fighting against their domestic tyranny.
As for citizens being armed and capable of showing the government their displeasure with it, we actually have a good number of cases where this has, in fact, taken place. Just consider Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Gabrielle Gifford.
Gun advocate: We have 20,000 existing gun laws. We don’t need any new ones, we just need better enforcement of the existing ones.
Me: That’s actually a fair point. Moreover, we actually have a federal agency that is specifically tasked with enforcing firearms laws - it’s called the ATF.
The problem is that NRA backed senators and congressmen have done everything they can to all but dismantle this gun control agency. In 2006, congressman James Sensenbrenner (R) Wisconsin - a recipient of the illustrious NRA Defense Of Freedom award - had, at the prompting of the NRA, successfully inserted a provision to the Patriot Act that required the director of the ATF to be confirmed by the senate (which had not been the case till then). Since then, NRA backed senators like Charles E. Grassley have blocked the nomination of every single candidate to date; leaving this federal gun control agency leaderless.
As if this was not bad enough, congressmen like Todd Tiahrt, (R) Kansas, have added more restrictions, like not allowing the ATF to create a federal registry of gun transactions, which would have helped track illegal gun purchases; restricting the ATF from inspecting gun dealers more than once a year; restricting the ATF from mandating that gun dealers keep track of their own inventory; and even requiring the ATF to destroy the records of background checks 24 hours after they were issued. I should add that all of these ATF crippling provisions were reviewed and edited by the NRA itself before being put into law.
So the short answer to why we cannot simply enforce all the gun laws we already have is because NRA backed legislators have purposely taken away the government’s ability to do so.
Gun advocate: More regulations, restrictions and background checks are only going to keep guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens. You will create a situation where only the criminals (who don’t go through background checks and don’t purchase weapons legally) will have guns, while all the rest of us will be left defenseless.
Me: Well, let’s agree that nobody wants that. But how do you know this will happen? It hasn’t in other countries, can you please show me what you’re basing this claim on?
Yes, there are risks, and yes, there are laws that will need to be changed, and yes, we need to proceed carefully, and no, we will probably never find a complete 100% fix for everything, all of the time, in every place, but this is absolutely no reason to give up trying and to accept a status quo that includes so many shootings and mass murders. Just because some people might still violate future regulations, this is no reason to dismiss the regulations in the first place. In the same exact way we should not abandon laws against murder and theft because some people still commit these crimes, we should not abandon gun control laws and regulations in fear of future infringements.
Gun advocate: The problem is that the media only covers gun murders. It never shows the bigger picture that includes all the cases where people successfully deter crime, and use weapons in a responsible manner.
Me: You might have a point about limited media coverage of cases where no shots were fired, and criminals were successfully deterred by an armed civilian or law enforcement agent. But we do have pretty clear stats that show deaths from self defense (what we might consider rightful killings) are not even in the same ballpark of deaths from murder, accidents and suicides (what is considered wrongful killings). You might say that this argument is invalid because I am talking about the related field of gun deaths whereas you are talking about cases where no one died. And no, I do not have the stats about cases where no one died - BUT NEITHER DO YOU.
I am at least basing my argument on the closest related data, what data are you basing yours on?
Gun advocate: Gun free zones are the most dangerous idea you can think of. All it is, is an open invitation for a gunman to come and attack; knowing that there's no one to stop him there.
Me: To be honest, I'm not sure where I stand on the idea of gun free zones. There have been some gun murders in gun free zones and there have been some murders in non gun free zones. Columbine High School had an armed deputy sheriff and Virginia Tech had their own armed police department on campus, which still didn't prevent the massacres there. In short, I don't really have much to say about the effectiveness or non effectiveness of gun free zones because the data is unclear. And since the data about it is unclear, I prefer to suspend judgement on the issue - and so should YOU.
Gun advocate: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Me: Well, yes - the best reactive last minute resort for stopping a bad guy with a gun is a good his guy with a gun. This is why we need to always have good law enforcement agents, and even law abiding citizens, with guns. But wouldn’t it be a good idea to try to distinguish between good and bad guys before they ever get their hands on a gun in the first place? Wouldn’t it be nice if good guys could still get guns while bad guys couldn’t? This is exactly the idea behind instating better regulations - to make sure that guns don’t get purchased by bad people.
Last minute reactive measures - like the ones that good guys with guns have - are very important and we should always have them available. But why depend solely on last minute reactions? Why should a single last minute resort also be our first - and only - resort? Why not even try to dig deeper and produce some simple preventative measures, and not just solely depend on our last line of defense?
Gun advocate: You can instate as many new gun regulations as you want, Adam Lanza would have still managed to commit his massacre because he didn’t even own those guns - his mother, a law abiding citizen, did.
Me: That might very well be the case, and congratulations for finding a situation that would have probably still occurred even with stricter gun regulations. You seem to still think that unless a new regulation stops 100% of all murders, it’s not worth instating. So let me, once again, say this - there are no 100% fixes. But this doesn’t mean we should stop trying to prevent future massacres. These regulations might have not stopped Adam Lanza but they might have prevented Jared Lee Loughner or James Holmes from getting their hands on guns. Isn’t it enough if a new regulation stops only half the cases of mass murder, or a quarter, or one tenth of them?
Gun advocate: Look, I’m not some gun nut, Ok? And I’d also like to do something about all those shootings and mass murders, but since there are already 300 million guns circulating around this country, any new restrictions would only curb new gun sales. The bad guys will always find ways to get their hands on some of the 300 million guns that are already out there. Just look at what’s going on in Chicago now with their new strict gun laws and their skyrocketing murder rate. Chicago has the highest murder rates in the country.
Me: Let me first correct you about Chicago, which isn't even in the top three cities with the highest murder rates per capita. In 2012 Chicago actually ranked 8th, after Kansas City, Philadelphia, Oakland, St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, and the number one murder capital of the US - New Orleans.
This again sounds like a defeatist call to inaction. And it also sounds like you are trying to dismiss policies that have worked in England and Australia and in many other countries because you found one misconceived exception to the rule - a single city where a gang war is raging. This is still not a good enough reason to promote inaction in the entire country.
We have solid decades long evidence to support the fact that countries where new gun laws have been enacted, gun murders/all around murder rates go down. Where is your evidence to support inaction? I hope its more than what has happened in one city - which happens to rank 8th in murders per capita.
Gun advocate: Ok, let’s forget for a second about all the stats and politics, if you hear a window breaking in the middle of the night and someone breaking into your house, you’ll wish you had a gun. Don’t you want to be able to protect your family? Aren’t you afraid you’ll be attacked without being able to protect yourself? By the time the police arrive, it’s usually too late.
Me: Of course those things scare me. And of course I want to be able to protect my family. But I am not willing to let this fear cloud my better judgement. I’m sorry, but I simply can’t forget about the stats and the politics - stats that show that a gun in the house makes it three times more likely for a family member in that house to be a victim of a gun homicide; stats that show how tiny a percentage self defense is among the ocean of murders, manslaughters, accidents and suicides inside households. In fact, people are 21 times more likely to be killed by someone they already know, rather than a stranger breaking into their house. Nor can I simply ignore the politics of gun rights advocacy that are tremendously influenced by gun manufacturers.
I prefer to base my family’s safety and security on reason and evidence because my family’s safety and security are simply too important for me to base decisions on fear and impulse.
I know how empowering it feels to be armed. As an ex soldier, I remember very well how it felt to carry an assault rifle with me - day and night. I also remember how it felt to finish my military service and relinquish this weapon; thereby becoming what felt at first like a disempowered unarmed civilian. And yes, it does at first feel like you’re naked without your firearm. But It is also important to inform oneself about the facts and to realize that as counterintuitive as it might seem, emotional fears don’t always point you in the right direction, and don’t always keep you and your family (and everybody else’s family) safe and secure.