Have Gun Advocates Won the Argument?

Reviewing Oscar Pistorius’ testimony got me to thinkin’. If we are to believe him and if this case happened within a social vacuum, Pistorius’ account might be the perfect cautionary tale to point at as a reason not to have a gun as protection in one’s home. He was intensely fearful of intruders…in fact, downright paranoid…and he slept at times with a gun, just in case. One night, he panicked when he heard noise, cornered an intruder in his bathroom, and accidentally shot his girlfriend several times instead. Now, he has sworn off firearms and never wants to hold a weapon again. He has become emotionally unstable, and his regret has no limits.

This story could be used as a “see, I told you so” moment for gun-control advocates, except for the following: 1) This is Pistorius’ defense! Hard to endorse testimony designed to get a man off for what could be potentially cold-blooded murder. 2) This occurred in South Africa, which automatically exempts it from Americans’ social concern…guns might not operate the same on the other side of the equator, like the flushing of a toilet. 3) This is not occurring in a social vacuum. Blaming the gun, or using any case involving guns as evidence, has been stifled in America. Pistorius’ case is sensational and garners attention, but mostly for its “entertainment” value, a la O.J. Simpson. The idea of supporting gun control in our national media has been neatly suppressed in post-Sandy Hook America.

Consider the Fort Hood tragedy. No, not the first…the second tragedy that just occurred. The fact that we have to designate which one is atrocious enough. Fort Hood should be further evidence that we have a proliferation problem with guns everywhere, not just on military bases. Guns are in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them—mentally unbalanced Americans in a country that is becoming more mentally unstable—but the only repeated lesson we hear is to arm more people. This news cycle produced yet another set of gun-advocates stating we need to arm everybody to prevent further tragedy, but gun-opponents have mostly abstained from the argument in this case. Most journalists meekly stated that there is a problem and something needs to be done, and then moved on to the next story. Americans in general just shake their head at another tragedy, give it its appropriate indignation, and then move on with their lives, resigned to the idea that this most certainly will happen again, but hopefully not too soon (and hopefully not in their own backyards).

I think Sandy Hook has proven one thing about this argument: there is no gun atrocity that can dissuade gun-enthusiasts from thinking irrationally. When 20 five- and six-year-olds are shot in their classroom, there can be no stronger statement to advocate gun control. Yet, family members of the victims were heckled, gun control advocates were drowned out by sheer numbers, and gun-control legislation was rejected down bipartisan lines.

Any person who wants to advocate gun control certainly understands this, and no one can blame them for feeling defeated and weary. Standing against the tide of public opinion can do that to a person, no matter how noble or dedicated one’s circumstance might be. It’s difficult to communicate with a populace that aggressively defends its selfish inclinations: It’s MY right to have a gun…says so in the second amendment…God, glory, and guns! Don’t you tread on me…and all that nonsensically self-involved rhetoric.

I have a selfish inclination myself: I don’t want to be shot, and I don’t want my neighbor to be shot. I certainly don’t want my children shot, or anybody’s child shot! I would really very much like it if nobody had to experience a gun-shot wound, thanks very much. Apparently, I need to man-up and stop talking like such a sissy.

The gun-control argument seems to be over. Gun advocates have simply worn out the opposition. Resignation in America has set in: Guns are here to stay, whether you like it or not. Be comforted by the fact that true Americans are working to make sure everyone out there has a gun for your protection! Pay no attention to the increased gun violence in your workplaces, schools, and shopping centers. We are on it! Whenever good guys spot a bad guy shooting other people, there will be plenty of people to shoot the bad guy dead before he can get to you! What’s that? Oh no, you don’t need to be frightened about leaving your house. In fact, why don’t you have a job, you lazy couch potato? Go out there, and get to it! Be a good American, and hit the pavement!

I’m bothered because this same opposition strategy seems like it is successfully working against climate change science. I have reached a point of resignation myself, a point of depression and frustration. I see a populace that doesn’t want to listen. I see a populace that wants to ignore atrocity. I see a populace that wants to remain ignorant while claiming to be wise. I see dangerous denial all about me, and I am embarrassed for my country. America has become selfish, uncaring, and dismissive.

I’m positive I will have my detractors. I can foresee a potential response already, based on what I read from the internet every day: “How dare anyone insult me, a second-amendment supporting, true patriot! Calling me ignorant…you left-wing nuts sure got nerve calling me ignorant!” I will get a small degree of satisfaction from the fact that I’m the one who is attacked, while NRA advocates likely work to convince Oscar Pistorius that there is no need to blame the gun for his situation…

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  1. I am horrified to see the headline “Up to 20 Hurt in Pennsylvania School Stabbing Spree.” I blame the knife as much as the gun. I want an end to this trend of violence, especially in our schools. I also want people to stop arguing about semantic differences when it comes to guns, knives, or whatever. At least admit we have a serious problem, America. That’s the first step…

  2. “…there is no gun atrocity that can dissuade gun-enthusiasts from thinking irrationally.”

    Definition of “irrationality” – people who disagree with me.

    “Consider the Fort Hood tragedy.”

    Consider that some of the most highly trained soldiers in America are forced to go around unarmed in what is literally a “gun free zone” where only MPs have guns to protect themselves. Soldiers are allowed to actually handle and use guns on military bases under the most controlled conditions (on the firing range, for example, and quite honestly they don’t get a fraction of the time there they need to be prepared).

    ” The idea of supporting gun control in our national media has been neatly suppressed…”

    Baloney. The national mainstream media is hugely in support of gun control and have no qualms about lying to advance that agenda. Saw it myself in person. Before the Assault Weapons Ban in the 1990s they broadcast videos on the news of people firing real, fully automatic machine guns and told the audience that was the gun being banned. I could tell you of many of other instances of institutional lying by that media over the years.

    “Pistorius’ account might be the perfect cautionary tale to point at as a reason not to have a gun as protection in one’s home.”

    Another way people like you and the media “lie” is to take the incredible exception and try to project it as some sort of norm to be expected. Dr. Gary Kleck back in the 1990s (when crime, violence, and murder were about twice what they are today) found that somewhere over 2 million times a year Americans defended themselves with a firearm and upwards of 400,000 lives were saved with firearms (probably lower today due to the sharply downward trend in crime and violence0.

    The fact is that many, many people have a firearm for self defense in the home and do so safely, and sometimes use it to scare of an aggressor. The fact is that people do have guns and use them, but hardly _ever_ fire them. They almost _always_ threaten or display a firearm and the bad guy leaves the area. The actual discharging of a gun, let alone wounding or killing a criminal, is statistically very rare in the use of firearms for self defense.

    “… Sandy Hook has proven one thing…”

    You are right – it has proven something. It has proven again that “gun free school zones” attract mad killers who know they can commit an atrocity before anyone can stop them and they can be on the evening news in the fully glory they imagine.

    School killers are not Rambos or Navy Seals. They are absolute cowards who chose a place where they do not expect to have face deadly force in retaliation before they can achieve their goal (killing more people than the last killer they saw on the news – Adam Lanza obsessively studied the records of previous killers).

    They want to die. But the do _not_ want to die by someone else’s hand. That is why most of them will either kill themselves, or surrender to police when real deadly force arrives on the scene to stop them. The one’s who surrender usually meant to take their own life, but lost the nerve to do so at the last moment.

    If there is any one thing to learn from Sandy Hook it is that if we love our children then we must resolve to protect them with deadly force. Period.

    We protect our money in banks with armed force, people with guns. Is our money more valuable than our kids? Think about it.

    Sometimes I think people like you hate guns more than you love children.


    1. First, I want to thank you for reading through my article and responding so thoroughly. You seem to think my rhetoric might be persuasive and spent quite a bit of time working through to refute it. Sincere thanks, even though I obviously pissed you off thoroughly.

      Much of your comment is intended to be shaming and offending; I admit utilizing that very tactic in much of my writing, so no qualms there. However, I am offended by two insinuations:

      1) You say I’m lying to meet the needs of my argument. Calling someone a liar is the easiest—and least effective—manner to counter someone. I could just as easily insinuate you’re lying when you indicate that the lack of guns at Fort Hood resulted in more deaths (the first Fort Hood shooting occurred in the armory), or when you suggest our schools should mimic those “under-armed” military bases to protect the children (or banks…I don’t recall my bank-teller ever having to pack heat. I have no problem having credible armed guards protecting our children in school; it’s the teachers and administrators that I do not want compelled to arm themselves.). I’m not going to call you a liar; instead, I will regard your argument, based on its rhetorical merits. Recently, I watched an episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO that focused on gun advocacy as sport for the youth of America. Reviewing the comments on the internet, the majority of posts were gun advocates accusing the show of lying and journalistic fraud. Yet, the report was full of interviews of people involved, youths who shot guns, proponents of guns for youths, parents who support guns for their children as educationally valuable (like Adam Lanza’s parents). There was certainly commentary inserted that advocated gun control, but there was no lying in the report. You say you have seen so many cases of lying, but you only designate one, which indicated a media report used false footage, that it was the wrong gun targeted in the legislation. This seems like weak evidence, semantically designating what the terms “gun” and “assault weapon” mean. You must admit that even the smallest gun can be deadly for human life, which is the impetus of my primary argument: a lesser amount of guns would lead to less violence.

      2) You state at the conclusion, “Sometimes I think people like you hate guns more than you love children.” You assume much, making an “ass” out of “u” and “me.” You are right about one thing: I hate guns. I hate guns BECAUSE I love children, and I certainly love my children more than I hate anything on God’s planet. I even love your children more than I hate guns. I sometimes think that gun advocates love their guns too much, preventing them to see how guns might be a threat to children.

      I remain convinced that further proliferation of guns will not make us safer, but instead create more violent episodes. If you could provide any evidence, instead of your insistence, that putting more guns into more citizens’ hands would make us safer, then I would consider your argument. I find no point in your argument that provides such evidence.

  3. “If you could provide any evidence, instead of your insistence, that putting more guns into more citizens’ hands would make us safer, then I would consider your argument.”

    For one thing a little over two decades ago there were very few Americans outside of government or law enforcement who could legally carry a concealed handgun. Today millions of Americans do so legally, including me. In that same time the crime rate and homicides have been cut about in half. We are approaching crime statistics that we haven’t seen since the 1960s when I was a teenager.

    No, I am not claiming that is proof that those concealed handguns caused that result (I don’t believe that myself). There are numerous possible factors including even the possibility that the discontinuance of leaded gasoline might have had an impact.

    But the fact is this. Millions of Americans today are walking around in public with loaded handguns with no significant detriment and some studies show that there might even be a possible reduction in some kinds of public violence and crime (criminals displacing their crimes to areas that are less confrontational). The fact is though that the number of people so far carrying is probably not enough to yet make a startling difference.

    It seems a ton of guns have been sold in the last decade or so. Clinton (more than a decade) was certainly a good salesman as is the current President. Yet violence and crime according to the lastest FBI stats are still on a downward trend.

    Back in the 1970s you rarely saw women at a gun range. Today I see many queueing up to practice with new handguns they have bought, or signing up to take concealed carry classes.

    Given the rather huge gun sales of recent years it would seem obvious that if more guns led to more crime and violence the FBI stats should be going in the opposite direction. But they are not. That is certainly indirect evidence that guns per se do not lead to crime or violence.

    However some things clearly do lead to crime and violence. The War of Poverty and the destruction of the black family have had a significant influence on the epidemic rates of violence in the black community. Per FBI stats for 2011 for homicide where the race of the offender was known it was black at little over 52% of the time despite blacks being less than 14% of the population at that time. Some of the most violent areas in America, and those areas that account for a huge percentage of our overall violence, homicide, rape, robbery, and various other crimes typically have two common denominators: a high percentage of blacks and a high concentration in a relatively small area.

    There was a study on that a while back – don’t have the link handy right now but you could probably find it. It looked at voting districts and it really didn’t matter so much if they were “red” or “blue.” What counted was lots of blacks, poverty, and inner city concentration.

    Liberals and those who have pushed the government programs that destroyed the black family own a huge apology to black people in this country. But the Demoncrats won’t do that – they depend on them for votes. Here in Texas the President help celebrate Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s achievements the other day. This is the same LBJ who was quoted as saying tthat he would “have them niggers voting Democrat for the next hundred years.” It looks like his prediction might be accurate, but at a huge cost in human suffering.

    The fact is gun violence in the U.S. is highly localized (in the above mentioned areas). A lot of America has rates of violence and crime quite comparable with many parts of Europe.

    Finally Dr. Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz did important research on the use of firearms in self defense back in the 1990s (when crime was much higher). The real problem is that many in the media try to ignore the good that guns do and the lives they save. At that time according to this research as many as 400,000 lives were saved every year with guns, and most often – the vast majority of the time – no gun was fired. Just the threat saved a life:

    Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Northwestern)
Guns and Violence Symposium,
vol. 86, no. 1, 1995: 150.

    Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz



    1. Thank you for your objectivity here. I can concede that there is a legitimate reason to own a gun. I respect responsible gun-owners that want to own for purposes of protection. However, my experience has proven that many gun-owners are not responsible with their guns. As you indicate, impoverished areas have problems of gun violence, like on the South Side of Chicago, where I live and work. I also worry that problems of mental illness are increasing, as problems of poverty, unemployment, and educational division also increase proportionally. Perhaps some gun crimes have reduced, like armed robbery or murder, but there is an upward trend of mentally-ill people causing violence, gun or otherwise, to large groups of people. My sincere concern is that compulsory (not elective) arming of the public would cause these occurences to increase. You might be right: if everyone is armed, then people might think twice about attempting violence. I’d worry about more accidental shootings, though, or increased vigilantism or racially-motivated shootings. I would think twice about letting my kids out of the house in such a world (not that we haven’t thought about this in light of Sandy Hook or the recent Pennsylvania knife spree). It just seems to make more sense, to me, to reduce gun ownership in order to reduce violence, as Australia has managed to do with difficultly-fought-for gun legislation. Thank you for your response, your respectful retort, and expressing a different opinion.

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