Rushing to Be Part of the Gun Problem


There are other countries, other cultures where guns are owned and handled more responsibly than they are here. There could be a healthier gun culture here I think. I see bits of it among friends who own guns. I think my household is part of it, mostly.

Still, it’s something that lives largely only in its potential. Good culture, good gun practices and attitudes can only grow so much in isolation. The more minds dedicated to building a healthy culture, the faster and better it will grow.

We don’t have many minds dedicated to a healthy gun culture in our country. Those there are don’t have many opportunities to get together and share ideas, which is also required for growth. Why? Because every time the conversation starts, people jump up to defend and reinforce one of the unhealthiest gun cultures in the world.

In the last couple of days, I have seen some of the most bizarre threads of argument coming from people who really should know better. I’ve seen anecdotes that have had shrines built to them. I’ve seen the most ridiculous slippery slope arguments. I’ve seen mind reading. I’ve seen conspiracy theories. I’ve seen tissue-thin analogies. I’ve seen utter, blatant non sequiturs. And they’ve all been directed at telling me we can’t change the world.

Bullshit. The world has been different than it is now. The world is different in other places than it is here. We can change, and we should change. The only question left is whether we get dedicated to changing the culture or whether we give that up as a bad job and go straight for the law.

Guess which one bad, emotional arguments make me think is the better choice.

When your first impulse after yet one more mass shooting is to tell me one more time that guns are the answer, I seriously doubt that you’re responsible enough to own one. See that dead shooter over there? He thought guns were the answer too. I don’t know what he thought the problem was, but his answer is damned obvious. If you tell me the same thing he did, I don’t want you and guns together anywhere near me.

The same is true when someone brings up regulation and your response is to talk about toasters and automobiles. That you don’t understand how much cars are regulated makes me sad. That you can’t or won’t understand the difference between something that is incidentally dangerous and a weapon designed to be deadly makes me want to take the weapon away until you do. A gun has one purpose: to kill things. You should never touch one without understanding that implicitly. If you do touch one without that awareness, you are a danger to those around you, and we are well within our rights to protect ourselves from you.

Then there are those of you who talk about freedom and tyranny. I’m not even talking about those of you who think that black guy in the White House is at stage one of his takeover plot. I’m talking about those of you who think the threat of armed rebellion is how we avoid dictatorship. Yeah, no. You I sometimes fantasize about taking guns from long enough for you to get involved in politics (no, I don’t just meant voting) so you can get them back.

When you tell me that your gun makes you safer, you tell me you don’t understand safety. You don’t understand your risks without a gun, and you don’t understand the risks that a gun adds. You don’t understand how desirable a robbery target a gun is. You don’t understand how hard it is to kill someone standing in front of you or how likely you are to misapprehend a threat if you don’t take the time to find out who you’re dealing with. You don’t understand that you’re telling me how ready you are to make bad decisions in tight spots when you have a gun in your hands. 

You certainly don’t understand that threatening me with rape or murder (from some anonymous source, of course) if I don’t have a gun at my side makes me want to make sure you never, ever have access to guns again. I know, even if you don’t or pretend not to, that guns don’t equal any playing field. I know who owns guns and who gets shot. I know how unequally gun laws are written and enforced to keep the status very, very quo. When you don’t acknowledge these inequalities as you cling to your guns, I tend to think you like things just the way they are, and I do not want you to have more power to make the world in your image.

When your response to the idea of more regulation or taking certain kinds of guns out of circulation is “Come and get mine…if you dare”, that is exactly what I want to do, as soon as possible. You are the last person on Earth who should have a gun.

We could have different conversations about gun culture and about making it safer to own and use guns. We could make a better world by agreeing to put our heads togther and think. Every time, however, that we can’t do that because of gun owners who demand that their irrationality be part of the discussion, I don’t get closer to giving up the conversation. I get closer to shutting those gun owners down until they prove to me they can be rational enough to own killing machines.

This weekend has been no exception.

Update: See also this.

Comments

  1. says

    Coming off the FGM conversations of last week I see something of a parallel. A deeply ingrained cultural problem that isn’t going to be solved over night but with a strong consistent push building from a grassroots level up can lead to a change. Not as soon as we’d like unfortunately but if we work at it maybe in 50 years time our grand children can grow up in a very different world.

  2. Sercee says

    My boyfriend and I have been arguing a lot this weekend about gun control. After shooting down all his reasons why gun control is bad, the ones he was left with were: 1)”it’s too late to do anything anyway since there’s already too many guns in that country. Since criminals don’t obey gun laws you might as well not have them.” and 2) “”Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither”. Taking away everyones guns is yes another sacrifice of liberty.” I simply can’t get him to understand that 1) it’s never too late, especially since so many people are already voluntarily turning in their guns, and 2) your liberty to own a weapon ends where my liberty to live in a world without fear of bullets begins.

    These are times that remind me how glad I am to live in Canada. We have issues and shootings too, but I still get to feel safe walking where I do.

  3. bubba707 says

    America is a very different place from when I was growing up. I grew up in a home where guns were simply a fact of life since most everyone hunted, fished and camped. I was taught strict gun safety early and forgetting could be painful when you got a smack up side the head for doing something stupid with a firearm. Today there just isn’t the multigenerational family training there was then and society in general has become a more hostile environment. Gun laws are a complete failure as it stands now, being wildly different from State to State, and even from locality to locality. What’s needed is a uniform set of gun laws nationally that make rational sense along with a better focus on mental health. It won’t be perfect but things could certainly be improved. I doubt anything sane will be done, at least in what’s left of my lifetime, but I guess hope springs eternal.

  4. says

    When you say, “A gun has one purpose: to kill things,” you fall into the same mindset you are criticizing. A gun has a purpose to put holes in things, and almost all of them are used for nothing more than target shooting. A gun can also have the purpose of threatening to kill, which can come in handy in certain situations.

    Unless you acknowledge the other purposes, you’re engaging in the same “emotional arguments”.

  5. NotAnAtheist says

    Normally I hear two arguments against an increase in gun control.

    The first is that it basically won’t matter. Either its pointed out that in the case in question, the guns were legally obtained, or its argued that criminals / bad actors / whatever aren’t going to care about the law. They will get a gun illegally if they want to.

    I can somewhat understand that argument. I mean, say that tomorrow we completely outlawed all possession of all firearms. Would that not simply lead to an illegal trade in guns that perhaps rivals the (at least for now) illegal trade in drugs?

    The second argument is what you stated earlier, that more guns might have actually protected against such violence. I would think that there would be some statistics out there that could either confirm or deny this claim. How often has a gun actually stopped a shooting/robbery/whatever from occuring?

  6. says

    I use a gun for target shooting. I’m quite good at it. That doesn’t mean I mistake the use I put the gun to and the use the gun was designed for. Nor do I ignore the fact that one is practice for the other or that there are plenty of other things I could use to put holes in paper targets.

    Nor is a gun going to be useful as a threat unless its purpose is to kill.

    Don’t be obtuse.

  7. says

    A gun is a tool with an incredibly short list of reasonable uses, a long list of unreasonable/irresponsible/illegal uses, and a small number of styles that reasonably satisfy those uses for a civilian population. When you lose sight of those facts, and especially when you start projecting abstract ideas about “safety” and “freedom” and “opposing evil” onto a tool, you’re using it the wrong way and we get to consider whether or not you’re fit to wield that tool.

    AT BEST, a gun is the best of a bunch of bad choices… and it is all downhill from there.

  8. says

    @Sercee in #2: why does your boyfriend think everyone’s guns will be taken away? Also, relevant article with an interesting perspective on guns and liberty: The freedom of an armed society.

    @ahcuah in #5: if you want to put holes in things, use a drill – they are much safer. And if you think guns are for target shooting, then you shouldn’t have any problems with bans on high-capacity clips, or assault rifles, which are next to useless for target shooting, or regulations that require you to leave your gun, your ammo or both at the gun range. “Guns are for target shooting” is a very poor excuse for opposing gun regulations.

  9. NotAnAtheist says

    I did follow some of the links, but it seems inconclusive.

    If for instance, the number of violent crimes that were resisted with firearms was not just 2%, but much higher, then that “best case analysis” in of your links becomes.. well a lot better. At least to me.

    Also, what of the first argument?

  10. says

    Stephanie, it looks like you could add a whole other paragraph about “if you are dishonest with yourself or others about the main purpose of a gun”…

    Pellet guns put holes in targets. Firearms that you rent at the range and that you don’t take home with you also put holes in targets. Black-powder rifles that take a minute or more to reload put holes in targets. Single-shot target pistols and rifles put holes in targets better than anything else. You don’t get to shift from target shooting to general gun ownership as it suits you.

  11. says

    WithinThisMind, that was the painful kind of laugh.

    NotAnAtheist, the first “argument” isn’t one. It’s simply asserting that making a change won’t have any effect because…reasons.

    Joe, I suspect there will be plenty of comments that would qualify for their own paragraphs.

  12. bubba707 says

    #11 Deen, leaving your gun at the gun range in this society is just begging for it to be stolen. I do agree, however, that high capacity magazines have little value for hunting or target shooting. When I still hunted I never had more than 3 rounds in the shotgun or 5 rounds in the rifle. Anyone needing more than that shouldn’t be in the woods in the first place. Since I quit hunting I gave my guns to two of my sons that still hunt and I took up kayaking for the peace and quiet.

  13. says

    @dean in #11: to quote Stephanie, “Don’t be obtuse.” Of course you are well aware that doing it with projectiles is actually fun. Additionally, there is also the issue of satisfaction in getting better at a skill. Regarding assault rifles, almost all the stuff that was made illegal was cosmetic (e.g., the shape of the stock makes not a whit of difference to lethality). Regarding large capacity magazines, they do mean that one does not have to reload as often at the range, but I’m not hung up on it. If they were banned it wouldn’t particularly bother me. But I do ask whether banning them would really make a difference, or simply be a feel-good measure. After all, with a semi-automatic handgun you can drop and reload a new magazine pretty easily.

    But what I am seeing here is very little thought and a whole lot of emotionalism, which ought to be surprising coming from a bunch of skeptics (but I guess not all that surprising, coming from a bunch of humans :-)).

    I wouldn’t mind measures that might actually be effective, but I sure haven’t seen anything, particularly from those who are most vehemently anti-gun. Most “common-sense gun control” I see is along the lines of “but it sure looks designed” if it came from the god-infested.

  14. says

    But what I am seeing here is very little thought and a whole lot of emotionalism, which ought to be surprising coming from a bunch of skeptics

    Uh-uh. None of this vague, “oh, you’re just being emotional” bullshit. People are making arguments here. Deal with them or go away until you can see what’s in front of you. I’m really not in the mood to be dealing with hand-waving.

  15. NotAnAtheist says

    NotAnAtheist, the first “argument” isn’t one. It’s simply asserting that making a change won’t have any effect because…reasons.

    “Because a criminal is not going to care about the law”.. does not seem like the worst reason to me.

    Take the drug war. If you think the drug war has failed, and that we should legalize drugs, does that not also imply that you think that legislation/regulation/laws that try to restrict or eliminate drug posession simply don’t work? (Yes, there are other good reasons to be against the current drug war.)

    People who want marijuana, or cocaine or whatever.. how hampered are they.. really by current laws that don’t just restrict their posession, but downright make it illegal?

    Also, at best, laws can only deal with the purchase of, or posession of, something. In the current case, the person who bought and possessed the guns had (as far as I know), full legal rights to do so.

  16. says

    Excuse me? I did deal with them, in a rather lengthy response actually. (And, despite your dismissal, when you say that guns have one use, but there really are others, and then you make excuses for why those really don’t count as uses, it sure sounds like an argument from emotion, not rationality.)

    And what I’ve not seen here is anything that might effectively deal with the issue.

    Trick question: would the rather strict gun control of Norway be acceptable?

  17. says

    If you think the drug war has failed, and that we should legalize drugs, does that not also imply that you think that legislation/regulation/laws that try to restrict or eliminate drug posession simply don’t work?

    Yeah, that’s it. We want to get rid of drug laws because nothing happens because of them. Try again.

    This argument that laws have no impact is bizarre at best.

  18. bubba707 says

    My personal opinion is we should treat gun ownership like we do automobiles. Require training to get the license to buy them and make it renewable periodically. That might be a good start.

  19. says

    And, despite your dismissal, when you say that guns have one use, but there really are others, and then you make excuses for why those really don’t count as uses, it sure sounds like an argument from emotion, not rationality.

    Here’s what I said:

    That you can’t or won’t understand the difference between something that is incidentally dangerous and a weapon designed to be deadly makes me want to take the weapon away until you do. A gun has one purpose: to kill things. You should never touch one without understanding that implicitly. If you do touch one without that awareness, you are a danger to those around you, and we are well within our rights to protect ourselves from you.

    Oh, look. It’s a statement about design. If you need to take it out of context to fap over it, go somewhere else.

    Trick question: would the rather strict gun control of Norway be acceptable?

    You know what? Someone who wants to play tricks about guns has no part in an adult conversation.

  20. says

    @bubba7007:

    leaving your gun at the gun range in this society is just begging for it to be stolen.

    If it’s locked up properly, and there is a proper security system in place, it shouldn’t be much more vulnerable to theft than at your own home. Guns stores somehow manage to keep guns in a well-known location, after all. But if theft really were a concern, I’m sure we could have a reasonable discussion about that and work something out, for example like allowing you to take the gun home, but having to leave the ammo at the gun range, as I mentioned.

    @ahcuah:

    Of course you are well aware that doing it with projectiles is actually fun.

    So? How is that not an emotional argument? And it still doesn’t address why we shouldn’t just confine the most dangerous guns (and/or their ammo) to gun ranges only.

    Regarding assault rifles, almost all the stuff that was made illegal was cosmetic

    That just shows that prior legislation was watered down to the point of being ineffective, not that effective regulation can’t work or shouldn’t be attempted at all.

    After all, with a semi-automatic handgun you can drop and reload a new magazine pretty easily.

    That would be closer to an argument to ban those too than to an argument to not ban high-capacity clips.

    For someone who accuses others of “very little thought”, your arguments sure are weak.

  21. NotAnAtheist says

    Yeah, that’s it. We want to get rid of drug laws because nothing happens because of them.

    That’s not what I said. Its not that “nothing happens” its that they don’t work. They haven’t stopped the drug trade, and they are used in a blatantly unfair manner. They don’t do what they were designed to do (stop the flow of drugs) and they have adverse consequences.

    How could one craft gun reglations to avoid one, or both of these problems?

    What ideas do you have? I agree there should be a conversation. Well, let’s start one. Should we just outright ban all semi-automatic / automatic weapons? Well.. marijuana is currently illegal in most states. How’s that ban working out?

  22. says

    How could one craft gun reglations to avoid one, or both of these problems?

    Carefully and with reference to gun law and history here and elsewhere, of course. Preferably excluding the people who make stupid arguments from the process or giving them a chance to have their say then ignoring them. How else would you expect it to be done well?

    You understand you’re making an argument from incredulity here, right? And trying to draw our attention to one type of law while ignoring the vast body of law that works pretty damned well, yes? I mean the rest of us can see what you’re doing. I just thought you should know it doesn’t look so good.

  23. says

    @NotAnAthiest: you may want to look how other countries with more strict gun laws are doing. I’m sure they have a black market, and I’m sure organized crime can still get automatic rifles if they want to, but I doubt you will find anything even resembling the dysfunction that is associated with the war on drugs in any of those countries.

  24. says

    “Regarding assault rifles, almost all the stuff that was made illegal was cosmetic” is a rational argument to expand the assault rifle ban to cover almost all semi-automatic rifles, not an argument against the assault rifle ban.

    “After all, with a semi-automatic handgun you can drop and reload a new magazine pretty easily” is a rational argument for restricting semi-automatic handguns, not an argument against restricting assault rifles.

    ahcuah, someone here is making piss poor arguments… looks like it is you!

  25. bubba707 says

    Deen, around here none of the ranges are like you might envision. They consist of a parking lot, some shooting stations and a good high backstop. There’s no place to lock up anything. The primary purpose is a place to sight in hunting weapons, nothing more elaborate. On the other hand I can see limiting the amount of ammunition stored at home. I can’t recall ever having more than one or two boxes for each gun, being different shells and cartriges. When I hear about people stashing thousands or rounds off ammo I start wondering if they don’t need psychiatric help.
    As I said, I gave my guns to my sons because I simply lost my enjoyment of hunting. It got to be more work than it was worth to me. I get much more enjoyment out of spending a couple days kayaking in the wilderness these days.

  26. sbuczkowski says

    @ahcuah in #5:
    A gun can also have the purpose of threatening to kill, which can come in handy in certain situations.

    Threatening to kill and carrying out that threat are not separate purposes. The power of the threat only comes from the target’s knowledge of the lethality of the weapon. You really can’t separate the two.

    Threatening injury with any weapon without having the skill and wherewithal to finish the action is a foolish bluff waiting to be called. Such a demonstrated lack of understanding of the basic self-defense scenario to which you seem inclined to add a gun makes you dangerous but, not in the way you think.

  27. says

    Stephanie, what I did was criticize a factually false statement. Very simply, there is more than one purpose for a gun, and I gave examples.

    Now, if you had responded, “You’re right. But would you agree that the primary purpose of a gun is to kill, and that other uses are pretty much subsidiary to that?”, my response would have been a simple, and rational, yes. But your response was instead non-rational and emotional. You just dug deeper.

    False statements do not help a rational argument at all, and one should always be willing to correct them.

    As for Improbable Joe saying, “ahcuah, someone here is making piss poor arguments… looks like it is you!”

    I wasn’t making an argument—I was critiquing another argument, and providing information. You are making unwarranted assumptions.

    And when you say, “‘After all, with a semi-automatic handgun you can drop and reload a new magazine pretty easily’ is a rational argument for restricting semi-automatic handguns, not an argument against restricting assault rifles,” I agree with you. Factually, that is correct. Rational, even. I’m glad my comment helped you think of it. (There is a separate argument about whether those most likely to cause trouble are also the ones least likely to hand in their existing semi-automatic handguns. I don’t know a ready solution to that one.)

    Finally, all the emotionalism and poor reading doesn’t help things out. I really do prefer to look at this stuff scientifically/rationally/skeptically. And the best scientific question out there is, “What would make me change my mind?” Stephanie, in your analysis elsewhere, what if the numbers had come out with the ratio in the other direction. Would you have changed your mind? Or would you have dug deeper for a better rationalization of what you already wanted to believe?

    There’s the rub.

    I’d prefer something that actually worked and is based on cold hard facts and rationalism. I don’t think I have an answer (and will admit to some degree of analysis paralysis), but I also know what I’m seeing isn’t leading to one.

  28. says

    Now, if you had responded, “You’re right. But would you agree that the primary purpose of a gun is to kill, and that other uses are pretty much subsidiary to that?”, my response would have been a simple, and rational, yes. But your response was instead non-rational and emotional. You just dug deeper.

    Whereas what I said was:

    I use a gun for target shooting. I’m quite good at it. That doesn’t mean I mistake the use I put the gun to and the use the gun was designed for. Nor do I ignore the fact that one is practice for the other or that there are plenty of other things I could use to put holes in paper targets.

    Nor is a gun going to be useful as a threat unless its purpose is to kill.

    You really should think about stepping out of the conversation until you can see it.

  29. bubba707 says

    No weapon should be used with just the intention to threaten, ever. Never, ever pull a weapon unless you fully intend to use it and if you shoot, shoot to kill. If you have ANY doubt about it don’t draw a weapon. The very idea of waving a gun around as a threat makes me queazy.

  30. says

    @Stephanie: “‘Trick question: would the rather strict gun control of Norway be acceptable?’

    You know what? Someone who wants to play tricks about guns has no part in an adult conversation.”

    Really? You put me on moderation because you don’t want to consider serious issues? Interpreting my comment as wanting to play tricks about guns? That is just plain old dishonest. It is a very serious question in that Norway does have rather strict gun control, and yet had a similar massacre. It is only a “trick question”
    (not “playing tricks”) in that if the answer is yes we have to consider just how much stricter gun control we’d have to implement. (And again, how can we possibly handle all the guns already out there, in the hands of those who almost assuredly would squirrel them away and not report them.)

    You know what, I don’t care if you let this through or not. You’ll have seen it. But you really are knee-jerking all over the place. (And if you somehow do decide to let this post through moderation, I don’t mind if you remove this paragraph. But I also get the feeling you don’t care what I mind or not.)

  31. NotAnAtheist says

    @NotAnAthiest: you may want to look how other countries with more strict gun laws are doing. I’m sure they have a black market, and I’m sure organized crime can still get automatic rifles if they want to, but I doubt you will find anything even resembling the dysfunction that is associated with the war on drugs in any of those countries.

    Most likely true. Is that due to their strict gun laws? Is it due to cultural thoughts about guns and gun possession? Is it a combination thereof?

    I honestly don’t know.

    If other countries have fewer cases of gun violence due to regulations/laws and due to some cultural taboo about guns, just looking at the regulations/laws may miss the point completely.

    You understand you’re making an argument from incredulity here, right?

    Perhaps I am making an argument from incredulity.

    I don’t see an argument from you at all.

    You said you want a conversation about guns. You want to improve a gun culture you see as unhealthy. Both fine, laudable goals.

    How would you go around doing it?

  32. says

    No, I don’t care what you mind. After all, you’re making stupid arguments about how, if we can’t eliminate a problem entirely, we shouldn’t do anything about it–even as you label your own questions as dishonest rhetoric. That doesn’t exactly command my respect. Nor does it make me think you’re grown up enough to own deadly weapons.

    Starting to see the problem yet?

  33. NotAnAtheist says

    No, I don’t care what you mind. After all, you’re making stupid arguments about how, if we can’t eliminate a problem entirely, we shouldn’t do anything about it

    I’ve never said that. I have said that conservatives make the argument that just increasing the amount of gun regulations/laws is not going to solve things. One would think that if its as stupid an argument as you seem to imply it is, you’d be able to refute it. All you’ve given me is hot air.


    Starting to see the problem yet?

    Yeah I see it. For all your talk you have no actual ideas.

    Well its been fun, but again its become quite evident to me that one cannot engage atheists and skeptics in a rational debate about well.. any issue it seems.

    I ask a simple question, and I get called childish for doing so. I have better things to do than continue with this.

  34. says

    You know, NotAnAtheist, you might want to figure out what I’m responding to before you tell me I’m responding to something you didn’t say. As it turns out, I was responding to someone else.

  35. says

    For who ever brought up Norway, From wikipedia:

    Norway: 1.78 gun deaths per 100,000 people (2% of which were homicides) vs USA 9.0 gun deaths per 100,000 people (a third of which were homicides).

    Some ideas non fixing gun culture. Looking at guns as a privilege to have instead of a right (similar to how people look at driving), you could repeal stand your ground laws to give such actions less merit, you could add insurance or legal burdens for accidentally discharging guns particularly in cities. Just a few ideas off the top of my head.

  36. A Hermit says

    Apparently for some people the right to put holes in paper is more important than everyone else’s right to not have holes put in them with an assault rifle…

    Americans need to stop treating guns like some kind of harmless toy. Responsible gun owners shouldn’t have a problem with safe use laws.

    Reasonable laws restricting the ownership and use of certain classes of weapons shouldn’t be controversial. You can’t drive a car without registering it, insuring it, being trained and licensed to drive that type of vehicle and some kinds of vehicles just aren’t allowed on public roads at all…you have to go to a track to drive them.

  37. says

    This whole thing about assault rifles being “for protection” frankly is the biggest load of crap I’ve encountered.

    If you want a weapon for personal protection, you want one thing and one thing only — a shotgun.

    The less aiming needed to hit your target, the better.

    A nice double-barrel will do fine. Although the unmistakable “snick-snick” of a pump action will surely make the person hearing it crap his pants if he isn’t expecting to hear it and has ill intentions.

    Assault weapons are made to ASSAULT someone. And not just some “one”, but some “lots and lots of people.”

  38. says

    People who think they own their gun to defend themselves are kidding themselves.

    I say that as someone who has used her gun to defend herself, and in doing so, killed the target she shot at. It was a scary situation, and it tore me up inside. There are times I wish I hadn’t had the gun on me, so that in the heat of the moment I would have found another solution. I still have bad dreams about it sometimes, and I still wish it hadn’t happened.

    And what I shot was someone’s DOG! I don’t even want to imagine what it would have been like had I shot someone’s friend, loved one, neighbor, etc….

    Responsible gun owners don’t have a problem with safe gun laws. They don’t have a problem with being required to register their guns or attend safety courses. They don’t have a problem with being told they can’t bring their guns to certain locations because it never would have occurred to them to bring the gun in the first place. I have a concealed carry permit because of people who are stupid about guns. When I open-carried, I actually had people pull their *LOADED* guns out to do comparisons and other such shit, as well as idiots who actually tried to remove my gun from its holster.

    There are actually people who think having the safety on makes it okay to wave a gun around or point it at a person! We need to get it through the heads of those people that they are not entitled to possess a gun because they can’t be trusted with it. It’s like tossing cigarette butts into the forest during fire season. Sure, plenty of times nothing happens, but when it does, it is devastating, so DON’T FUCKING DO IT OKAY?

    I swear, one of the biggest reasons I’m moving primarily to archery is I can’t go to the gun range without wanting to beat half a dozen idiots to death with a clue by four. At least the owner of the gun range is very intolerant about lax gun safety and will revoke membership for those that don’t knock it off after the first warning.

  39. says

    WithinThisMind, that was the painful kind of laugh.

    I know. Almost makes me wish I was sure I was joking. Maybe I’ve finally crossed the line from cynic to pessimist.

  40. says

    Is it really the case (as Ahcua’s #16 suggests) that people who want guns to use to put holes in targets because it’s fun are going to assert that their right to fun is worth the lives of 20 first graders? Really?

    Because in this conversation, that’s a jerking knee that requires some serious interrogation.

  41. Nepenthe says

    @Dr. Free-Ride

    Several people were pretty explicit saying just that over at PZ’s place. A friend of mine also said it explicitly, an he doesn’t even own a gun; he just thinks that the “right” to have one in abstract is worth the inevitable death toll. (And he openly admitted that people die, including children, because of that right.)

    So, I dunno, some people do. Some people, like Stephanie and myself, don’t.

  42. says

    I guess when “knee-jerk” reactions are being pointed out (or at least asserted) that the folks making those claims are so often apparently unaware of the jerking of their own knees. (Because it’s warranted for those knees to be jerking? Or because they fit better with the status quo, which there’s no point in upsetting?)

    But, as Stephanie points out, these default assumptions do tell one something useful about the people making them. Just maybe not what those people think they’re saying.

  43. bubba707 says

    I’m about to speak heresy. At the time the Constitution and amendments were adopted the general population was the primary means of national defense and therefore needed to be armed with the same weapons as the rather small army. Times have changed and we no longer depend on citizen militias. Today we have the reserves and National Guard to supliment the regular military so the need for an armed general citizenry just doesn’t exist anymore. There needs to be regulation of firearms in civilian hands and treating firearms in the same manner as motor vehicles would be a good step in the right direction. Fully automatic weapons are already restricted to licensees who have passed extensive background checks. Where the problem arrises in the mish mash of gun laws on the books that wildly vary from place to place. We need a uniform national standard to bring all of it into line and create a rational system of regulation.

  44. Anthony K says

    Of course you are well aware that doing it with projectiles is actually fun. Additionally, there is also the issue of satisfaction in getting better at a skill.

    It’s fun to take guns away from gun-owners with legislation. There’s also the issue of satisfaction in crafting better and more restrictive legislation.

    Surely you’re not emotionally against fun, are you?

  45. machintelligence says

    Since this is to be a conversation I’ll put in my two cents worth. There are 3 legitimate uses for civilian owned firearms, target shooting, hunting and self defense. (Armed rebellion, i.e. taking on the government, is not one of them. If you think it is, you need to get your head candled to see if there are any brains in there.)
    In order to reduce murder and mayhem it is reasonable to restrict weapons and ammunition to those suited to the above three. As mentioned in previous comments, hunting and target weapons do not need high capacity clips. In fact they do not need interchangeable magazines at all. A permanently attached box magazine which must be loaded through the open action is fine. Semi-automatic pistols could be restricted to 10 round clips, or outlawed entirely. Revolvers are plenty adequate for self defense and are more goof proof.
    Some cartridges are not suitable for anything but target and Varmint shooting (.223 and all of its variants) so firearms that are semi-automatic should not be sold for them. Armor piercing bullets should be banned (if they are not already.)
    Also bullet proof clothing and body armor should be restricted to those who can show a legitimate need for it, since these seem to be becoming more popular with those running amok.

    The above would be a good and relatively painless way to reduce the lethality of firearms in circulation. If necessary, current owners could be allowed to keep their nonconforming weapons, but sale or transfer could be prohibited (with a mandatory government buy back.)

  46. says

    Another thing we can do is simple watchdog programming. Look at the Aurora shooting: The shooter spent months gathering what he wanted from both internet and in store purchases.

    If we started aggregating data like that and relaying it to local law enforcement, local law enforcement starts to get an idea that something is up. Anyone massing that kind of firepower needs police scrutiny.

  47. says

    Cars aren’t just made for transportation.
    They have radios in them, you can sit and listen to music in the driveway.
    You can start up the engine just to rev it. You can change the oil and windshield wiper fluid.

    Also they are very useful if you want to have something large to wash on a sunny day. Plus you can admire their paint.

    Anyone who says cars are primarily transportation just can’t be taken seriously, they’re jumping to an emotional conclusion.

  48. says

    ahcuah #5:

    A gun can also have the purpose of threatening to kill, which can come in handy in certain situations.

    err, wait a second. you want guns so you can have the ability to force others to do your bidding lest you kill them?

    there are seriously no words. I don’t understand how anyone can think that this is remotely okay. that this isn’t “look at me, I has power, I can do what I want and you can’t stop me”.

    no wonder you seem to hate gun control — you’re the exact sort of person that shouldn’t be owning a gun =/

  49. goidaym8 says

    I used to enjoy shooting, as a child, a friend and I would shoot objects held in the other’s fingers with BB Guns. We were both crack shots and even without using the sights, since my sight fell off after only a couple of weeks.
    I became a crack shot from the hip and if a rat or mouse moved into my view, it was hit almost the instant I noticed it, as we had to reduce the rodent population in our chicken sheds.
    Later we took to shooting high powered and automatic rifles, where we could hit rabbits easily from the hip.
    A person we knew died from a stray bullet while driving his tractor, some people (unsolved crime) were shooting at road signs with high powered weapons and he inadvertently copped an unintentional bullet.

    This got us thinking, we hadn’t realized that our stray bullets could kill somebody a mile away, even those ones we used to skip off the surface of channels and rivers. We both dumped our high powered weapons and went back to just shooting the mice and rats in the chicken sheds with BB guns. We didn’t want to be responsible for anybody’s death nor injury from stray bullets.
    Though now, I don’t own any gun, I feel far more comfortable without one and so does my wife.

    Aye M8! :D

  50. jesse says

    Ahcuah: I’m late to this party but I am going to pile on you a bit here and offer some real, concrete suggestions for getting a handle on the gun problem.

    — No more concealed carry, ever. The only reason to conceal the fact that you have a weapon is to get the drop on someone. Cops don’t even do it (plainclothes cops are expected to carry guns in the first place and they aren’t often the ones who get surprised by attackers — and they are cops). If you want to deter an attacker, carry that gun loud and proud. I’ll know to stay away from you too.

    — Want a gun? Then pass the same kind of marksmanship tests we give the military and police. If you want a rifle or handgun you should be able to shoot at least as well as some 18-year-old who has had a couple of months — and really, much less than that — learning how to shoot and care for a weapon. If you can’t take it apart and put it back together you should not own a deadly piece of equipment like gun. After all, we make people pass driver ed. And you should be re-tested every year or so. And since a handgun is different form a rifle, then you get tested on each one separately.

    — Licensing. I can call the DMV and give a plate number, and they will come back with an owner. I can even do it across jurisdictions. Why aren’t gun registries that good? They should have a complete list of every functional weapon you have. For all you antique rifle enthusiasts, this should be a happy event, as now you can check part of the provenance of that very nice civil war-era piece.

    — I see no reason why civilians need to buy assault rifles. Hunting can be done with a bolt-action, if need be — it’s good enough for Army snipers, it’s good enough for you. To defend your home you ought to be able to do it in one shot if you’re as skilled as you say you are. What, you say, you can’t? Then you don’t have the skills to use a rifle, do you? This leaves aside that the best way to defend a home is probably a shotgun full of rock salt or birdshot. It stopped Dick Cheney, after all.

    OK, now, let’s address a couple of other things: the scenario of defending one’s home from intruders seems to fall apart when you think about it for more than a second. I mean, what, you hear banging on the door and say “Go, dear, I will fetch my gun, take the children somewhere?” In the movies, maybe. Most burglaries are done when nobody is home — duh! — and if someone is home, unless you carry a gun with you all the time it’s not terribly useful. Which means that if you leave it somewhere around your kids are not terribly safe, it seems.

    Then there’s the whole bit about killing. A soldier goes in to train precisely to learn how to kill people without getting stopped by their consciences. Even then, there are many, many accounts of soldiers refusing to fire their weapons or being unable to do so. So, folks, you think you can stand in front of someone and shoot them? Get their blood on you? Watch their brains splatter all over the room? How many of you folks having your Clint Eastwood fantasy have seen what a gunshot can do? The only way this works is if you are a sociopath who doesn’t care about killing people. If you don’t worry about it then I definitely think that disqualifies you from ever being near a sharp object, let alone a firearm.

  51. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    It is a very serious question in that Norway does have rather strict gun control, and yet had a similar massacre. – ahcuah

    Yes. One. Ever, AFAIK, certainly since 1945. How many mass shootings has the USA had in the last year?

    As for the “it’s the culture” argument first, law and culture are not separate things: it’s the power of the gun lobby that has pushed US law further and further in the permissive direction over the past decades. Second, if we look at the rates of gun death per capita we find that the second worst among rich countries is Switzerland – which, like the USA has a lot of guns in private hands – indeed, the second highest per capita rate of gun ownership among rich countries. My, my, what a coincidence. Third worst for gun deaths among rich countries is Canada – admittedly not third in per capita ownership, but well up there. Third in per capita gun ownership among rich countries is Finland – which is fourth among such countries in gun deaths. It really looks fairly simple: at least in rich countries, more guns per capita means more gun deaths per capita. The mechanism is simple: guns make killing people easy.

    Oh, and BTW, Norway has pretty high gun ownership too – 5th among rich countries.

  52. Tony ∞The Queer Shoop∞ says

    Stephanie:
    Another example of someone who should not have a gun-

    A Florida man invoked the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law after he shot another customer at a pizza parlor who complained that his pie wasn’t coming out fast enough, the Tampa Bay Times reported.


    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/19/16026752-florida-man-invokes-stand-your-ground-law-over-pizza-argument-shooting?lite

    Any Tom, Jane or Bobby can own a gun. It really seems like many people want to turn the clock back to the wild west.

  53. goidaym8 says

    I ran out of time to make my point with my lengthy anecdote concerning my friend and I who were educated by the death of a fellow farmer from a stray high powered bullet.
    My point really being having strong education at early school levels concerning the problems with guns and gun accidents. Similar to education about car accidents and emphesizing how dangerous it is really to own and use a gun. Including the high probability that if you have a gun in your house or possession it will end up in the hands of those seeking to harm you instead of in your hands.
    If a hous is broken into of a person who likely has a weapon, the first place theives will go for is where that weapon is likely to be stashed. Making is less likely they will be confronted by the weapon and more likely they will have use of it to neutralize the house occupants and force them into submission if confronted.
    Also hightens the chance of the occupants being killed by their own weapon.
    Secondly, they need to tighten gun control.
    If the education is successful, there will most likely be far less opposition or greater public support for tightening of gun control laws.
    Here in Australia where the average person is are fairly well educated about guns, there is actually a high level of support for tightening gun control laws.
    The pro-gun lobby here is only a tiny minority and has very little support.

    Aye M8z! ;)

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