Posts Tagged With: stupid

Stop Being Stupid about Guns Part II

It’s been about 4 years since I pointed out how stupid this country has been about guns. Since that post, nothing has changed.

And its not like the American can’t agree on what needs to change or talk civilly about this issue, because in the periods between shootings, we can. For instance, most people, whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, gun owner or not, agree that we need a good system for background checks for gun sales. Every time I have brought up my plan for gun control, the audience, no matter if they are liberal, conservative, pro-gun, or anti-gun, have all stated that this is something they can get behind and support if it were ever to be implemented.

So we actually can have a civil conversation and agree on how to balance gun owner rights with safety and life. We can actually do this.

But we don’t.

And the reason is stupid.

You see, every time there is a shooting, rather than bring up all the civil conversation we had been capable of, everyone goes to their corners and regurgitates the same stereotypical talking points and shout them at each other. These tropes are so predictable that it could probably be turned into a drinking game or a bingo game. Rather than remembering what we have agreed upon, we end up arguing the semantics of the term “assault rifle,” asserting whether the first half or the last half of the second amendment phrasing is the most important, or we just degenerate into insulting each other. Everyone is yelling and no one is listening.


And none of this actually does anything to solve the problem that the majority of Americans agrees needs to be solved.

And many are quick to point out that this is the intention of the NRA and their pocketed politicians, that they purposely release a slew of distracting strawman arguments so that people can’t come together and pass the laws that will effect gun manufacturer’s profit margin.

But even if that is true, we don’t have to stupidly play their game. We don’t have to follow their fallacious arguments and chase their distractions.

Even if it is true that they are being greedy or evil, we are still empowering them, and therefor we are being stupid. And if we stopped being stupid, they wouldn’t be able to win.

So here is how we can stop being stupid about guns:
1) Keep having the conversation even after it has stopped being a social media trend. We should not only talk about it because it has become popular due a recent terrorist. Instead, actually commit to the conversation.
2) Find the points of agreement in this discussion. If you find yourself arguing over 99% of your opinions, make note of that 1% and build on it until you have a decent plan that people can civilly talk about and agree on. This will become the smart and constructive conversation.
3) The next time there is a shooting, and there will always be another shooting so long as we continue to be stupid about guns, only talk about the points of agreement. Every time people try to bring up the stereotyped and polarizing talking points, make the smart choice to redirect back to the constructive. Don’t chase the distractions and don’t play with the strawman, but rather only let the conversation be about what everyone is already agreeing on.

To do anything else would just be stupid, and we need to stop being stupid about guns.

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Stop Being Stupid About Guns

This post was originally written after the Dark Knight Rises shooting tragedy in Colorado. But it is currently being updated after the Newton CT school shooting, because once again, the gun control debate has gone into full gear. I would like to say that what has resulted is a reasoned and informed argument on the subject.

I would like to. But I can’t. This is the age of the internet, and the debate is turning into masses of uninformed arguments thrown the way monkeys throw their feces.

To begin, I should disclose that I am a gun owner, I was on my high school’s varsity rifle team, and placed in the top 10 of the league. I enjoy the art of target shooting, and don’t think guns need to be totally banned. I do believe that there are reasonable limits that should be in place. I also believe that the current gun rights debate has become stupid.

1) Banning guns would not have prevented the crimes and arming everyone would not have stopped it.

James Eagen Holmes planned his attack well. He used confusion and body armor to protect him. If he didn’t have access to the guns, he had access to home made explosives. More armed individuals may have caused more casualties due to stray gun fire, especially in that confusion.

In Newton, the shooter was the son of the teacher he targeted. No amount of arming would have enabled a mother to easily kill her own son, so arming her in a classroom would not have prevented this.

2)  Guns don’t prevent crime.

If you want to prevent a crime you address its precipitating causes like income inequality, gentrification, social expectancy stressors, etc. Violent deterrent only leads to violent escalation. Criminals use violence instrumentally, using enough to get the job done. If they perceive that their target is capable of more violence, they will adjust accordingly. They will work in larger groups to assure they can’t be outgunned, or they will shoot first to prevent their victim from using the gun they assume they have.

Now a lot of the people who make the “more guns, less crime” argument are basing it on the correlation that there has been an increase in gun ownership and a decrease in violent crime. But this conclusion is flawed. Why?

Repeat after me: “Correlation does not prove causation.”

First of all, the drop in crime has occurred across the board in this country in gun loving and gun fearing states alike. If the arming of the populace were the reason, we would see the drop only in the gun loving states. In fact, what we see is that there  is little correlation between gun ownership and crime in cities. Also, there are other variables which could better account for for the drop in crime, such as the aging of the baby boomer population (the majority of Americans are less violent due to age), better policing to prevent crime, and abortion access reducing the stresses on the impoverished. The data does not  allow for an indisputable connection between gun ownership and crime reduction.

3) Gun control does not address the causes of crime.

Limiting gun access will reduce violence in many ways. Of the mass shootings in America, about three quarters of shooters acquired their guns from legal sources. Common sense regulations can close these loopholes. Also, when it comes to violence from legal gun owners, a pissed off guy on the street is far less dangerous than a pissed off guy on the street with a gun. And when it comes to responding to violence, society is better served by learning how to de-escalate the pissed off guy on the street than it is by shooting him.

That being said, the argument about gun control ignores and distracts from the real causes (like this, for instance). Gun violence is a symptom, not the disease.

4) Guns kill people.

Before you start chanting that stupid slogan like chorus of mindless drones, realize the immense irresponsibility of denying a gun’s lethality. Guns were invented to kill. Target shooting has developed as an additional use for firearms, but it hasn’t removed the lethality. It is that acknowledgement that motivates me to be damn careful with my firearm. I know it kills, so I make sure that I use it safely and responsibly. I don’t wave it around, fire it randomly, leave it out when not in use, or do anything else that could cause it to unintentionally be misused because I know that if I am irresponsible with my firearm, it could kill someone.

Gun owners need to own up to this. Too often, guns are being introduced to prove virility, score political points, and intimidate in arguments. This is irresponsible. If you want to win any argument for gun rights, you need to understand this. Every right, after all, bares with it a responsibility. Remove that responsibility, and you are arguing entitlement. And I cannot support gun entitlement.

It also should be noted that on the same day as the Newton shootings, there was a mass stabbing in a school in China. None of the 22 children who were stabbed died. A difference in weaponry does make a difference in the severity of injury. If guns did not make killing more efficient, they wouldn’t be used in combat, hunting, etc. To deny this is to deny common sense.

5) Common sense gun control will keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

Only about 10-15% of guns that criminals have access to are the result of gun thefts. The rest are a result of acquiring guns through loopholes, straw buyers, and other means of manipulating the lack of regulation. Tougher regulation and monitoring will result in fewer sales to criminals.

6) Being stupid about guns will cause gun violence.

Why do people go on killing sprees?

Because they think they are entitled to kill.

We have a culture obsessed with violence. We have TV shows, movies, video games, internet sitesetc, that use guns and violence to as the solutions to the problems, the way to win and collect points, or the way to get attention. An yet we act surprised when someone then goes out and uses violence for attention or as a way to deal with their problems.  What has resulted is a real problem in this when it comes to mass murder. In 2012 alone, there were 16 mass shootings. When one of these occurs, we shout out the same stupid slogans, but ultimately change nothing. But let’s talk about the messages sent. When you make an argument based on gun entitlement and using violence as a solution to problems, expect people to get shot. Guns may not be the problem, but the argument you are making for your guns is.  And because contradiction is not argument, merely calling for tighter laws does not present any sort of solution, addressing the root causes of our need to be violent will.

So let’s stop being stupid about guns. They are lethal weapons that need to be respected, and as such, used responsibly. They are not solutions to arguments, nor are they the answer to crime. At the same time, they are not the causes of crime. We don’t need AK 47’s, but we also don’t need absolute bans. What we need is to get smart and address the causes of the violence instead.

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