Disclaimer: I am neither conservative nor liberal. I criticize both heavily. I never, ever vote for either Republicans or Democrats (and frankly, you shouldn’t either).
I have purposely waited a few months to post this, for reasons that will hopefully become apparent.
On Tuesday, December 12th, 2012, my 70 year-old mother and my 14 year-old daughter were in the car headed to the mall. They were going to go Christmas shopping to buy presents for me and other family members.
My daughter wasn’t in the mood. She complained to my mom that she didn’t want to go but my mom pushed it. My daughter complained some more, and eventually my mom caved. (My daughter is a pretty tough cookie.) They skipped the mall and went to a local Starbucks instead.
An hour later, at that same mall, Clackamas Town Center in Portland Oregon, a madman with an AR-14 rifle walked in and opened fire, killing two people and severely wounding one other. One of the people killed was a man from the town I grew up in as a child.
My daughter, or my mother, could have been one of the shooter’s victims. Only by a twist of fate did they avoid getting shot, wounded, killed, or at least being in a mall while other people were being killed, something that would have scarred both of them for life.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about the horrible Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut just four days later where another madman killed a bunch of kids.
In tragedies like this, once you get emotional and feel horrible, or scared, or sad, or angry (I was angry), you need to eventually calm down and think rationally. This blog post is an attempt, perhaps a useless one, to help you do just that.
The big political debate lately is all about guns. The banning of assault weapons is the big topic but there are others, like background checks.
Okay. Let’s be logical and rational for a minute and walk through this.
Let’s say we had banned all assault weapons and made them illegal to purchase. Just one problem. The Portland shooter didn’t purchase his assault weapon; he had stolen it from someone else. Same deal with the Sandy Hook shooter; he had stolen the gun from his mother. Banning assault weapons doesn’t make the millions (and there literally are millions) of assault weapons people already have instantly vanish.
Want proof of this? Connecticut already had an assault weapons ban.
Therefore making assault weapons illegal at the federal level wouldn’t have changed a thing. Both of these shootings would have still happened.
So what do we do now? Do we we make it “illegal to steal guns”? Do we have the cops bust into everyone’s home and make sure they don’t have any assault weapons a crazy person might steal?
That’s just assault weapons. What about handguns? The deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in U.S. history, the Virginia Tech massacre, was done by a guy with two little handguns, one of which was a Walther P22, one of the weakest handguns you can buy.
So should we ban all handguns too?
I’m not making a joke here. I’m very serious. What exactly should we do and how exactly would it work in the real world?
It’s a very interesting question and no one really has an answer, including and especially the people who hate guns. Screaming about “more gun control” is useless. You need to be very specific about exactly what the government should do so that no insane evil people (who are always described as “quiet and reserved” before they commit their crimes) can illegally steal a gun and shoot someone.
Let’s continue with our rational analysis. Maybe you’re thinking that security at schools needs to be increased. Just one problem. Sandy Hook was in an upper class neighborhood that had just installed a brand new security system far beyond what is required by law. Doors to the school are locked and you must be ID’ed and buzzed in to get in. Yet the guy was able to breeze right on in despite all of that and kill kids.
I don’t think the school had metal detectors, but let’s say that it did. Just one problem. During the 80’s there was a rash of school shootings by people on the playground, totally bypassing any metal detectors. People so easily forget that guns have range. That means they kill from far away. You don’t need to be in a school to shoot kids, you just need to be somewhat near one. This guy in Connecticut went into the school with the intent to kill children (the students of his mother, whom he had just killed). So let’s say the security system was so fantastic he couldn’t get inside the school. What was going to stop him from waiting outside near the playground until the kids went out to play at recess and start picking them off at a distance?
Seeing the problem yet?
So what do we do now? Station a platoon of armed cops and have them encircle all 150,000 schools in the United States during school hours? Install foot-thick 10 foot-tall concrete castle walls rimmed with barbed wire around all schools like prisons? Should schools now become airports where you walk through an X-ray machine that takes a naked picture of you (and your child)? And if you refused you get a full-body frisk where your private parts are patted down?
Shit, I don’t even want to bring up the topic of who is supposed to pay for all of this stuff, especially considering major U.S. cities like Stockton, Boise, Harrisburg and others have filed for bankruptcy because they’re out of money.
Again, I’m not making a joke. What do we do, specifically, and if your idea doesn’t work and kids still get shot, then what do we do? Where does it end?
What if we just go full bore lefty and ban all guns? Just one problem. The same day of the Connecticut shooting, a guy in China stabbed 20 children with a knife. This is just the latest in a string of knife attacks on children over there.
So what do we do now? Make anything made of metal illegal? What specifically do we do, and where does it end?
I HATE these shootings. The fact that my own daughter could have been a victim makes me very angry, and I don’t get angry. The deaths of these kids in Connecticut made me sick. But that doesn’t mean that “banning assault weapons” or making “more people license handguns” or limit the “purchases of ammunition” are going to prevent more kids from getting shot by psychos. I wish it would. Seriously, I really do. But I always formulate my opinions from the basis of how the real world works, not how I wish or hope or think it should work. In the real world, within more violent cultures like the United States, psychopathic bastards are occasionally going to get guns, illegally if they have to, and use them to kill innocent people.
Even if a magical genie made all the guns on the planet Earth vanish, these psychos would find other ways to kill kids. Want proof? The worst mass school murder in U.S. history was on May 18,1927 in Bath Township, Michigan, when a former school board member set off three homemade bombs that killed 45 people. Bombs, not guns.
“Let’s make bombs illegal then!!!”
Guess what? They already were.
See the point yet?
Want some more facts? I’ve got piles of them but I’ll just give you one more. Approximately 800,000 cops (and other law enforcement officers) killed 525 unarmed citizens in 2012. Approximately 310 million private citizens killed an estimated 10,500 people with guns over the same period of time. Do the math. That means that cops are almost 20 times more likely to shoot and kill an unarmed American than a private citizen with a gun.
So now what do we do? Start disarming cops? If guns are bad and cops are 20 times more likely to kill someone unarmed than a normal person with a gun…
I think you get the point. At least I hope you do. It’s also possible you’re so mad or sad that these facts have just pissed you off even more and reading this blog post has made you even more irrational.
That’s my fear. I am 100% certain that because of all these shootings, people will get emotional and irrational and scream for more gun laws, and in order to win elections, our corrupt, bank-owned, warmongering politicians will start passing more anti-gun legislation. I am also 100% certain that people (and kids) will get killed in more horrible attacks anyway. Then the people will scream again. Government will make even more laws. Then more madmen will kill more kids anyway. The people will scream again…and on and on the cycle goes.
Look, I’m not a conservative. I never vote for Republicans and I never will. I’m not one of these idiotic Sean Hannity types who think more people having more guns will solve the problem. I don’t even own a gun at the moment, and I frankly don’t even care if they ban assault weapons. However! I am rational enough to know that there are some problems the government can’t fix, and begging the government to fix unfixable problems leads to either a collapsed bankrupt state or authoritarianism. Neither of those sound good for me, or my children. They won’t be good for you either.
To address some points brought up in the comments when I originally posted this article at the BD blog…
Just because it wouldn’t completely solve the problem doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything. If it saved just one life, wouldn’t it be worth it?
Fatty, high carb-food kills people. Right? Shouldn’t we make all fatty, high-carb food illegal then? Shouldn’t have we have cops make sure no one eats that stuff? Even if just one life was saved, wouldn’t all the chaos and problems and restricted freedoms and corruption and government power and paperwork and increased taxes be worth it?
In the very complex un-simple world we have, sometimes having the government do nothing really is the answer.
When Saddam Hussein was waving his dick around, the conservatives said “Well, we can’t just do NOTHING!” We all know how that worked out.
When the banks were failing, liberals and conservatives both said, “Well, we can’t just do NOTHING!” Iceland let their banks all fail. Jailed their bankers. They suffered. But now, their unemployment rate is lower than almost anyone in Europe or the U.S, and their economy is rushing back.
Yes, there really are times where doing something that might save one or two people in the short run is the wrong move. In the real world, there are indeed times the government should just ignore a situation and focus on things it does well, like roads and firetrucks and stuff.
Japan has strict gun laws, no one has guns, and everything is fine. Therefore gun laws work.
What works in one culture does not work in another. Some cultures are more violent, some are more peaceful. For example, more Canadians own guns than Americans as a percentage of the population, yet the gun crime rate is far lower per capita. Violent crimes are 65% to 100% higher in the U.S. than in Canada, and always have been. To say nothing of all the wars America has started over the last 20 years…Canada didn’t start any. Why? Canada is a more peaceful culture than America.
Despite some of the violence in its past, Japan is one of the most polite, low-crime cultures on the planet. Even if they had guns all over the place it would still be so. Guns would have nothing to do with it. Otherwise your argument is if you gave a bunch of free guns to some random Japanese people on the streets of downtown Osaka, these people would suddenly go violent-crazy and start shooting people. I’ve spent a lot of time in Japan, and I’ve worked with the Japanese for many years, and I promise you this would not be the case.
We’re talking about a stark difference in cultures, not a simple band-aid solution that works for everyone.
The problem is you Americans are just gun-crazy.
That’s exactly what I’m saying. Absolutely true. I said in the post that we Americans are a violent people. We love our guns.
We’re not Japan. We’re not Sweden. You must factor in that reality when you present your solutions to this problem.
Criminals will not obey gun laws? By this logic we should have no laws at all, like murder, theft, etc.
Then why do you think drug laws are bad? Think about that for a minute.
I’ll tell you why.
It’s because murder and theft are acts. Guns are products. The same reason laws restricting guns (a strongly desired product) are so dicey is the same reason restricting drugs (another strongly desired product) is so problematic and insane.
History has shown all the chaos surrounding cultures that try to make certain highly desired products illegal. It’s always interesting to watch liberals/progressives scream for gun laws and yet beg for the repeal of drug laws. So funny. Talk about illogical. (If your answer is “But drugs don’t kill people!”, then you need to look up the death stats on people who OD from drugs and compare that to gun deaths. And don’t even get me started on alcohol, another product that kills thousands a year that is completely legal.)
An un-armed society is a peaceful society.
No, a peaceful culture is a peaceful society. Canada is extremely armed and is a peaceful society. Cuba and North Korea are both “unarmed” in terms of private citizens having guns and I would not call them “peaceful”. Same goes for many African countries. Again, the issue is not that simple no matter how much you want it to be.