Friday, December 14, 2012 :: Tagged under: pablolife culture rants essay. ⏰ 5 minutes.
Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄
Note: I originally wrote this on December 14, the day of the Newtown shootings, but didn't publish it because I needed some time to cool off, and let this sit. Here it is, unedited, in all its rage-ey glory, actually published January 4th.
Today, in light of the news, I've been feeling pretty much this. Seriously, fuck everything.
But part of what made the whole thing so maddening was the same stupid-shit things people were saying in response to suggestions of gun control in light of this, one of so many mass shootings we get here.
Here are some pretty basic concepts people need to get into their skulls about gun control and these shootings. First, stop saying the following:
"It's not about guns, it's about people."
Oh shut the fuck up already. Nobody promoting a discussion on gun control reform is absolving "people," whatever that means. We know evil, violent, and unstable people exist in the world (they always have, and they exist even in places without so many mass shootings!). Everybody I've spoken who supports more restrictive gun control would be thrilled if we had a more robust, available system for people with violent tendencies, and is more than ready to have that discussion too.
Nobody at any point suggested otherwise, to use this and related phrases at this point is just a way to deflect a conversation you don't want or are afraid of having.
To quote someone else:
"Guns don't kill people - people do. By the same token, planes don't kill people
- people flying them into buildings do. And yet, I recall that we immediately and decisively worked to keep deranged people from gaining possession of planes when a handful of those people used them as tools of mass murder; indeed, we made it much more difficult for the overwhelming majority of peaceful, law-abiding citizens to board a plane."
it should come as no surprise that a device built to ease killing does precisely what it was designed for.— Lauren Johnson (@laurelita) December 14, 2012
"Don't politicize a tragedy."
Again, spare me. By silencing a challenge to the status quo, you are politicizing it. Don't tell me when a military-grade assault rifle used to gun down 20 kindergardeners, that the "assault rifle" part is off-limits.
"The solution is more guns/the victims could have protected themselves with guns."
Jesus, NO. In 61 mass killings, none of them were stopped by civilians with guns. Do you really suggest students at Virginia Tech (and by extension, every school in the country) should always bring a gun to every class they attend for the very remote chance someone will barge in and fire? That Gabby Giffords (and by extension, all elected officials or people who attend their events) should keep their hands at her holster at every appearance, and always be vigilant? Kindergardeners? Kindergarden teachers?
Even if everyone carried concealed weapons and we were all properly trained and the resulting accidents from having everyone carrying so many guns so much of the time was magically miniscule (there were 23,237 accidental firearm injuries in 2000, imagine if every student, teacher and moviegoer had guns instead of the few that currently do), the shooters still have the advantage because they know the attack is coming. They can put on flak armor, they can wear masks.
For fuck's sake.
Again, nobody is denying that mental state is a factor, nobody is saying a discussion on gun control should exclude or ignore more comprehensive mental health programs.
Now that that's been mentioned, let's look at some facts:
- Where there are more guns, there tends to be more homicide. Correlation, not causation, but noteworthy.
- Places with stricter gun laws tend to have fewer gun deaths. Correlation, not causation, but noteworthy.
- Of the 20 most violent mass shootings of the last 50 years, 11 happened in the USA. Finland takes 2nd place, with 2.
And because we're not the only country in the world, let's see how others do it:
- German police fired 85 bullets total in 2011. That's all of Germany's police, for the entire country, for an entire year. Meanwhile, the article reports that we fired 84 at a murder suspect in Harlem, and about 90 at a fleeing unarmed guy in LA.
- In Japan, to own any firearm (including air rifles), you have to take a day-long class, pass a written test, pass a shooting range class, get a mental test, a drug test, and a background check. In 2008, when the US had around 12,000 firearm-related homicides, Japan had 11 (from the article).
- Australia's right-wing prime minister passed exhaustive gun control for semiautomatic and automatic rifles, and shotguns. Firearm homicide went down 60%, firearm suicide down by 65%.
Again, none of these facts can demonstrate a causal link or prove anything, and as mentioned previously, there's a lot more to this problem then guns (and these examples, too -- e.g., Japan has fewer people than we do. Not 1000x fewer, but fewer). That said, not everyone has these problems at the scale we do (I was pointed to this article of a mass stabbing in China by someone to show other countries have violent people too. As stated previously, that's not the issue, and never argued against. Nobody died in that attack, guns exacerbate/amplify the lethality the violent people can inflict).
At the very least, USA: quit acting like even asking the question of whether or not guns have anything to do with this is some kind of irrational, freedom-hating response.
I'll end with a bit of an anecdote that came to mind after this tweet, with a similar message to this Onion article:
The hard truth is that children need to die, and must die, for your right to bear arms. Just pray they are someone else's children.— Jeff Atwood (@codinghorror) December 14, 2012
Personally I'd rather give up the right to bear arms. But it's never going to happen.— Jeff Atwood (@codinghorror) December 14, 2012
Recall the Twilight Zone story Button, Button. Summarized: a couple is given a box with a button in it from a stranger. If they press the button, they will be given $200,000, no questions asked, though someone they've never met will die. After days of excruciating debate, they press the button. A man shows up, gives them $200,000, and takes back the box. On the way out he says "time to give this to the next person... don't worry, it's someone you've never met."
Gabby Giffords isn't an abstraction, a symbol. She's a person, with a family, who loved and cherished her in their lives. The victims in Colorado weren't abstractions; they were people out to see a movie, like you probably did sometime this year. The 20 kindergardeners shot today weren't abstractions.
When you consider the question of whether or not it should be legal to own 10 assault rifles without ever getting background check or psychologically evaluated, I suggest you really ask yourself how you'd feel about such a right if it was your child, brother, sister, or parent who got shot by some deranged person when they were going about their lives. Because for 27 families today, that's what happened.
(An interactive map on mass shootings in America.)
To go back full circle:
- You'd have to be deluded (at best, more likely stupid and/or ignorant) to get offended at the notion that discussion of gun control reform may be in the best interest of the citizenry.
- Let's also fucking get some decent mental (hell, general) health resources in this country.
And oh yeah, fuck everything.
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