A couple of days ago, a man with a gun walked in to a public place and started shooting. By the time he was done, many were dead, (including the gunman himself), and many were wounded. The country reacted with shock, anger and grief, and by re-igniting the already hot gun control debate.
The worst thing about the paragraph above? It applies equally well to every single mass-shooting event that has occurred in this country over the last 7 years. In that time, over 900 people have died. The reactions are always the same. As a community, we are all shocked and saddened, and we react with horror and disbelief that our world and our precious country has come to such a pass. Our president steps in front of the cameras to frame our grief in eloquent words and to push for more gun control, so that we can prevent these tragedies from happening again, and he laments the fact that his previous attempts to cajole Congress in to action when these things have happened before has never produced any results.
For all of the things that the Orlando nightclub shooting has in common with its predecessors, it stands out in one alarming way: it is the deadliest mass-shooting incident in US history. The gunman killed 49 people an injured as many more before being shot and killed by police.
As much as I’d like to believe that this time, because so many were killed, something is going to change, I know better. If the deaths of grade school children during the Sandy Hook shooting wasn’t enough to force our government into taking real steps to combat this issue, then I find it impossible to believe that this is going to be any different. Our soul as a nation is just too cynical and too hardened, (and too fucking crazy…people actually believe that the Newton shooting was staged for fucks sake…), for that.
Then of course, there’s the fact that every time something like this happens, both sides of the gun control debate jump up and start clawing at each other. Never mind that 49 people are dead this time. Never mind that victims have been children, and church-goers, and movie lovers and just people out to have a good time. Never mind that there are real victims here…Now’s the time to make some grand political point! Now’s the time to get our two cents in, only to lament the fact that nothing can or will get done, so long as the other side can’t see reason.
Having said all of this, I know that nothing I say makes any real difference. I know that I’m just shouting in the void, and that if I’m lucky maybe a dozen people will see this, and that dozen people will have neither the inclination or the power to change anything. As such, I guess this is just me venting my frustration at the number of times I have to wake up to news like this.
To the gun people:
Obama is not trying to take your guns. The government is not trying to take your guns. Nobody wants your fucking guns! Just relax, take a Xanax and go polish your bullets, or whatever it is you do when you’re not day-dreaming about saving your entire shit-hole backwoods Montana village from the Ter’rists with your badass AR-15.
Calmer now? Great. Now, the gun owner’s favorite argument is that outlawing certain kinds of guns would only guarantee that law-abiding citizens would be unable to obtain them legally. The bad guys, on the other hand, would continue to purchase them out of the back of trucks, or something to that effect.
You might have noticed that I’m not exactly a gun rights advocate, so it pains me a little bit to admit this, but they actually have a point here. It’s just common sense to realize that if a bad guy wants someone else dead, they will find a way to kill that person, and in some cases, that way will be to get their hands on a contraband automatic assault rifle that will allow them to kill lots of people, apparently for the sheer hell of it. Even if these weapons are illegal, that could happen, and it would be naive to pretend otherwise.
However, it’s equally naive to assume that letting everyone and anyone have these guns in some way helps to solve this problem, or indeed serves any other legitimate purpose. This idea that you have the right to have any kind of gun you want, just because the Constitution says you have the right to bear arms, is patently ridiculous. Missile launchers are “arms” by the broadest definition. You could even argue that they are, fundamentally “guns”. Are you really going to argue that a civilian has a legitimate self-defense case for the use of a missile launcher, or perhaps more importantly, that a missile launcher would be a valuable and useful item for this purpose?
Sure, you can defend yourself with these weapons — but you can also defend yourself with a shotgun or a pistol, both of which are, (and always have been), perfectly legal and effective, especially in the most typical self-defense situations. Jesus Christ, you’re not walking through an active combat zone on your way to work, you don’t need a 30-round clip and a high fire rate! In most situations, self-defense takes the form of one or two assailants in a home-invasion or mugging type scenario. If you’re going to survive an armed assault of this kind at all, (and sorry Rambo, your chances are slim as fuck, even in the best-case scenario), your chances are equally good with a pistol or shotgun as they would be with an assault rifle, regardless what the attacker is carrying.
That being the case, if law abiding citizens are equally served by weapons that don’t have the same potential for mass carnage, why should we be making it easier, (hell, entirely fucking legal), for weapons with high fire rates or large magazine capacities to be sold? Just because the bad guy could get them illegally anyway? That’s the definition of stupid and lazy. These weapons exist to kill a lot of people, and no law-abiding citizen should have it in their head to kill a lot of people. In other words, whether they’re legal to get or not, only criminals should want the damned things, and law-abiding citizens should be trying to make that more difficult — making them illegal may be a weak first step, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Unfortunately, I get the feeling that deep down, most gun rights people only “need” them because the government tells them that they don’t want civilians to have them. More people than want to admit it really are afraid that the government is going to come for them one day, (either this government or a future government, or a foreign government), and they imagine that they are going to be faced with an active combat situation involving multiple enemy targets. So, they keep their camouflage, survival kits, ammunition and guns primed and ready for that occurrence.
To those people, I say — if Russia invades the US, or the US invades Montana — just go get your assault rifles illegally. Apparently all these scary gun-toting criminals are going to be able to get their hands on them regardless of the weapon’s legal status, and they rarely represent our best and brightest, so it should be a piece of cake for you, right?
There’s another subset of “give me all the guns” advocates — the ones that stand on their ‘liberty’ and talk about how nobody can tell them what kind of guns they can have, because they live in a free country, and the 2nd amendment, and God Bless America! For them, I ask…is your “right” to own any gun you please more important than over 900 human lives? Isn’t bad enough to fear that a whack job with a rifle might be right around the corner ready to kill you, without also knowing that the guy might have bought that rifle, legally, with a nod and a smile at a shop owner, just a few days earlier, and nobody would have looked twice at him? Does it sit well with you that some insane, jihadist asshole, or backwoods white supremacist, has the legal right to purchase and own a weapon that is purpose built to do exactly what he wants it to do — that is, kill a lot of people? And does, “Well, I’ll just go buy me a rifle that kills a lot of people too!” sound like a viable way of combating that threat? The last time more than one or two terrorists attacked this country, they flew a plane in to a building — no amount of assault rifles would have changed that.
Okay, I’m done with the gun guys…To sum it up…nobody wants your guns…keep your guns, but be reasonable about which guns you need, so that we can make it harder for the bad guys to get guns that allow them to kill lots of people at once. Only bad guys want to kill lots of people at once, and that shouldn’t be you. Tin-foil hats are available as you exit the building, have a nice day…which brings me to…
The anti-gun people
All right — while I’m not “pro gun” per se, I’m not really anti-gun either, and I think it would be totally unfair to jump on the gun people without being equally stern with my left-wing brethren who tend to look at the world and at crises like this one in a way that makes them just as guilty of ignoring actual reality as the gun nuts.
So — gun haters! You will never, ever get rid of all the guns, and you don’t really want to, no matter how great you think it is in [Country X where they have no guns]. You will never be able to entirely solve all of the social, economic, political and ideological issues that lead people to want to cause harm to one another, and you will never be able to build a system where you can guarantee the safety of every citizen without allowing each citizen the power and the right to defend themselves. If the bad guys are going to have guns, (and they will), then it’s logical that the good guys need to have guns too. They don’t need to have the same guns, but even if they are evil, guns are, (unfortunately), a necessary evil.
Now, many of you believe that guns wouldn’t be necessary, if only we could invest in mental health…help these people, figure out what’s really wrong, and prevent these things from happening in the first place. That’s a noble goal, and in some, (maybe many), cases, a focus on mental health and prevention of psychological crises will prevent these things from happening.
Just now in Orlando though, a man who lived a perfectly normal life and seemed entirely sane and logical walked in to a nightclub and shot over 100 people. We humans are a funny, varied lot of crazy apes, and it’s just not possible to fix everyone. Some of us are just entirely fucked in the head, and no amount of “mental health services” is going to be able to find all of these whack jobs, much less cure them all before it’s too late.
So — we can’t get rid of all the guns, and we can’t fix all the crazy people. We can’t even find all the crazy people, or hope to keep them out of our country with walls or wars or anything else. Where does that leave us? In a world of shit, unfortunately, and the solutions aren’t obvious or easy.
The solutions certainly don’t start with “take away all the guns” or “demonize gun owners”. The simple fact is that most gun owners, including the ones that own the dangerous guns that probably shouldn’t be owned by anyone, are decent, law-abiding citizens who would like nothing more than for you and everyone else to respect their right to be left the fuck alone.
Whether you like their guns or their attitudes or not, they are not the bad guys, and turning every single mass shooting in to an opportunity to attack them as if they are is counterproductive and completely unfair.
Want to engage with a gun owner in the hopes of accomplishing anything? First, stop behaving like you think they’re responsible for the actions of insane, extremist assholes. Admit that, at the end of the day, it’s okay for them to have their guns — they’re not shooting up malls with them.
Until liberals get off their holier-than-thou soapbox, (such as the one I’m currently standing on — I know…), and freely admit that not only are most gun owners not the problem, but that most gun owners are also just as invested in finding a good solution as anti-gun people, we’re going to be fighting the wrong fight, against the wrong people.
In light of a situation where so many people have died, (and we have no way of knowing what they thought about the gun debate), we need to start putting our arguments into perspective and being accepting and understanding of our individual points of view. We need to sit down and have a talk about this instead of standing on either side of artificial battle lines and lobbing verbal grenades at one another. “Gun person” or “anti gun person”, when someone — when anyone, attacks and kills our citizens, we all have to be on the same side, and we have to stop fighting over the wrong thing.