Monday 14 January 2013

Grumbles about Gun Control

Some say I moan too much. It is probably difficult for me to disagree with that, especially given the nature of this post. The gun control debate is an interesting one. Once you get rid of the, and excuse my frankness, nut-jobs who think "1776 will commence again" or that 9/11 was an inside job, for example, I think there are arguments on both sides. Let's be clear, I do not for a minute support having armed guards outside schools, but some of the "Gun Control isn't the answer" arguments have some strength - namely that the cause of gun murders (whilst not helped by guns - duh!) are not solely caused by the ease of getting guns, necessarily. Things like mental health checks, better background checks and a programme to change the gun culture in America are all policies which can be implemented without actually restricting the sale of guns to people that "the right" believe are entitled to them (although we can argue all day long about whether anyone needs a semi-automatic rifle, for example). And if anything, I think these are all policies which will be much more effective than banning certain types of guns or all guns, in America at least.

The point of this blog, however, is not to argue for or against gun control but it indicates 12 major grumbles I have with the pro-gun arguments. It is attempts at arguments like these which make me support Barack Obama in America because the alternative is the sort of people who think the below points are good ones. It says a lot about the state of the American right that I support Barack Obama almost out of pity because he has to put up with such irrational, moronic and patently absurd opposition. Anyway:

1. "Handguns are the major cause of gun murders, not semi-automatic rifles, why don't you ban those?" which is usually preceded or followed by "You are anti the second amendment".

Look, you can wave your stats at me (or, rather, Ben Shapiro can wave them at Piers Morgan) all day long, we can have a debate about that if you want, keeping in mind, all the while, what Disraeli said about statistics: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics". What infuriates me is when you try and argue that people who support a ban on semi-automatic rifles but not handguns are anti-constitutional. It does not say anywhere that Americans have a right to semi-automatic rifles. In fact, the reason most people aren't in favour of banning handguns is exactly for the opposite of what you seem so relaxed about accusing them of. They aren't anti-constitutional, rather they are pro the constitution - they support the right of Americans to own a handgun (and thus bear arms). They just happen to think that a semi-automatic rifle is not necessary. And you know what? It probably isn't. But either way, accusing someone of being anti-constitutional for wanting to ban semi-automatic rifles and then asking them why they don't ban handguns is ludicrous. You simply cannot have it both ways - stop trying to paint some of these people as anti-constitutional when really they just want fair and proper gun control all the while supporting what I, as Brit who feels able to solve his problems with a good dose of sarcasm and not pissing people bigger than me off, think is a ludicrous right to bear arms.

2. "How can you support gun control, you support abortion"

This is usually followed by a number of abortions carried out in the USA. I understand why people do this - if you're so concerned by the death of innocent children, then you should be pro-'life' (why the anti-abortion campaign is labelled as 'pro-life' when it is a) in no way pro the life of the women forced to have a baby and b) simply anti-choice - the right would not like that!) because life begins in the womb. However, the whole point about pro-choice people is that they do not believe this and to base an argument on this premise being accepted when it simply is not is plain lazy. Ignoring that, it is also irrelevant. They are two separate arguments and, frankly, I'm tired of people trying to get in a case for abortion being illegal when arguing about gun control. Stop changing the subject. 

3. "Barack Obama has bodyguards, why shouldn't our children?"

On the face of it, this seems a reasonable point. When you have a little think, you will realise just how absurd the link made to make this point is. When someone goes off to kill innocents for whatever reason, he does so without due care and attention to whom he kills - armed guards at a school, children, bystanders - it really doesn't matter to him or her who ends up dead. However, when someone attempts to kill the President, killing 3 secret service staff and a butler really does not send the same message. Therefore it makes sense to protect the President to ensure that this *target* survives. Armed guards, however, cannot protect every target of the mass murderer which is simply "anyone". Try harder. Make better arguments for putting guns in schools. By children. 

4. "But we need our guns to defend ourselves against the government"

This is usually followed by some reference to either Hitler or a collection of mass murderers who took the guns before embarking on their programme of mass murder. It is comments like this that make me think humanity is a lost cause and the only way it is redeemed is if there are just a huge amount of internet trolls about. Aside from the fact it is simply incredibly disrespectful to the millions who suffered at the hand of the Nazis, let's take a moment to consider what this comparison means. Essentially, gun control is what led to 6 million Jews dying. Not Hitler. Not hateful ideology. But gun control. How ignorant, disrespectful and frankly disgraceful. Sigh. But yes, back the point. Let's ignore the reference to history and people like Hitler and concentrate on the absurd notion that a semi-automatic rifle will be a defence against the military power of the United States. Even the most insane right-wing American idiot must realise that this is a ludicrous reason to have guns. Putting aside the fact that Obama is not going to start a civil war against America (no matter what the American right may believe), if he chose to and really wanted to, I think he'd win. Semi-automatics banned or not. So please stop it.

5. *Insert Gun Control Advocate Here* is dancing on the graves of children

Often followed by the brilliant, "I bet you are happy those children died, it allows you to advance your agenda." What?! Other than making it sound like the agenda is, wait for it, for kids not to die, this is such a horrible point to make. Let's be quite clear, not one gun control advocate wants kids to die - that is kind of the point and to claim they are happy that massacres happen so they can advance a case for gun control is ludicrous. Argue for no gun control all you want. Make salient points though, ones that don't require you to claim that people are happy kids die.


I tweeted a few hours after the tragic Boston Marathon explosions, asking how long it would be before someone tweeted something along the lines of explosives being illegal in reference to gun control. I am afraid "Making things illegal doesn't stop them happening" is not an argument. It's not a valid point. It requires a very loose definition of the word point to be one. It's barely a relevant statement. If I'm honest I cannot believe I only just remembered this one now. Sigh.

*In other news, could I just add my voice to the growing number expressing condolences and well wishes to all those affected by the tragic events that unfolded in Boston earlier today. Let's hope the perpetrators are brought to justice quickly.*

7. Ah, but the statistics show that these states with stricter gun control actually have higher gun murder rates.

Um. No. Just no. If you think this is a good argument look up the following words in a dictionary: 'correlation', 'does', 'not', 'imply' and 'causation'. We all know statistics are misleading:

Have you stopped to consider how many of those murders were with guns bought in that particular state? In other words, the issue is not gun control but the lack of it in surrounding states. Was the murder carried out by a gun holder who purchased his gun legally in a state with lax gun laws and would not have been able to purchase it in the state with stricter gun laws?

Have you done research into how many of those 'murders' were suicide? Or accidental? I.e. because of the existence of guns in the first place, not the lack of the beautifully named 'good guy with a gun'.

Have you examined the type of gun control in place against that which is being proposed? Not all gun control is the same, surprisingly, so you cannot blanket reject anything termed gun control based on statistics from a state which may have a completely different type of gun control.

Until you do all this research, your statistic is a meaningless number. You may as well tell me the number of people who purchase tomatoes in Dorset.

8. "Criminals break the law anyway."

So legalise everything? I really do not get this point. Of course, criminals break the law, that is not an argument to not have laws.

9. "Murder can be carried out with any object"

You try killing 30 people with a vegetable peeler.

10. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people"

This is akin to the above grumble and indeed can be responded in exactly the same way (i.e. guns make it easier to kill people) but let's accept the logic for a minute. I agree, people do kill people. So perhaps we should have some sort of legislation what sort of people we let buy guns? Like background checks on the people trying to purchase a gun. Revolutionary.

11. "But we are judging all *law abiding* gun owners by the actions of a few nutters"

I just saw this tweet RTed onto my timeline:

 "Don't judge all Muslims by the acts of a few nutters...but the acts of a few nutters makes it ok to judge all *law-abiding* gun owners?"

Ignoring the fact this was the sort of person who absolutely does judge all Muslims by the actions of a few, this is just a ludicrous point to try and make. Firstly, and most importantly, there is no comparison between calling for gun control and suggesting that maybe it is just little teeny tiny bit racist (or, you know, very racist) to argue all Muslims are suicide bombers or terrorists. Absolutely no comparison whatsoever. I mean, is the point this person is making that, because we do not call all Muslims terrorists, we should not have gun control? Seriously? Behave.

12. Gun Control wouldn't have stopped massacre X or event Y

First off, is it not interesting how the NRA and gun nuts in America seem to have an apparently exclusive ability to predict exactly what would have happened if something had been the case. More importantly, this is simply irrelevant. Even if I accepted that gun control would not have prevented massacre X, this does not then entail we should all do absolutely nothing about gun violence. For some reason, gun control is held to this impossibly high standard where it needs to solve all problems ever for the rest of time. It seems to me that even if a direct link between enacting gun control and ending all wars could be found the NRA would still be against it. They'd probably complain it didn't cure cancer or something. Go away.

I have edited this post a few times now. One day it might just be complete and I will have exhausted the list of stupid, lazy and frankly absurd arguments people make against the gun control case. Until then I will continue adding to this list. Whether I am pro or anti guns (I think you can pretty much guess) is irrelevant, I enjoy debating. What I do not enjoy is lazy or ignorant people throwing meaningless statistics at me or making lazy arguments to make emotive points. There is a real debate to be had about whether gun control will work in America and I think it is a good debate. Unfortunately, I think that even with banning high capacity magazines or semi-automatic rifles, the murder rate in America due to gun violence will not fall significantly nor will there be fewer mass shootings. Why? In part, because the right is correct to say people who want to kill will find a way to do so (this does not then imply "GIVE EVERYONE GUNS"), but more importantly because of improper background checks, mental health ignorance and the gun culture that exists in the US. So it is not as simple as banning guns, a select few or all of them, the three aforementioned things need to be changed in addition and as a priority.