On Guns

Last weeks mass murder in Charleston has, once again, brought out the crazies on both sides of the gun control debate. I say debate, but it isn’t really a debate – mostly it is incoherent screaming and the endless posting of facebook memes.


gun control

None of this helps and none of this is a discussion, debate or even a real argument. It is nothing more than mental masturbation, heavily supported by statistical pornography.

The anti-gun people talk about how many people are killed by guns, and how other western industrial democracies have so many fewer murders. The pro-gun people claim that guns don’t kill anyone, only people do and that lots of people in Switzerland have guns.

It’s all bullshit, of course, as anyone capable of critical thinking can see. Let’s address some common arguments about guns:

1. Guns kill people/Guns prevent crime. No, they don’t. Guns are inanimate objects and don’t actually do anything on their own. No gun has ever prevented a crime of any sort and no gun has ever committed a crime of any sort. Only people can do those things. However, guns are an extraordinarily dangerous inanimate object specifically designed to kill things. (Yeah yeah, target shooting, blah blah). Those things may be deer or squirrels or elephants or humans, but all of them are living things  and guns are designed and intended to kill them. That’s why guns exist. On a related point …

2. Knives/rocks/sticks/ballpoint pens kill people too. Yes, sometimes, they do. Landslides, falling trees, volcanoes, earthquakes, meteorite impacts all can kill people without out human intervention. Oh wait, that not what they mean? They mean people sometimes commit crimes using these non-gun inanimate objects, and therefore those non-gun inanimate objects are every bit as dangerous and deadly as a gun? Well, yes. Sometimes people commit murder with knives, sometimes even mass murder. It just happens at a level that is orders of magnitude lower than with guns. Because guns are specifically designed to kill things and knives usually aren’t. This is why the army is armed with guns and not with knives. (yes, I know soldiers carry knives – I certainly did – but when it is time to actually kill the enemy, they use guns).

3. Criminals won’t bother people with guns. This is patent obvious bullshit. I am a criminal prosecutor, and one common crime that I prosecute is burglary. You know, when someone breaks into someone else’s home to steal stuff? In the hundreds of burglary cases I have worked, the three most commonly stolen items are jewelry, pills, and guns. Yep, guns. The ones that people buy to protect themselves from burglary. Why, you ask? Because guns, like drugs and jewelry, are easy to turn into cash. So, burglars specifically target houses that they know have guns.

4. Homes with guns have more gun suicides/gun murders/gun accidents than homes without. Yes, but so what? Homes with chainsaws have more chainsaw suicides/chainsaw murders/chainsaw accidents than homes without chainsaws. The issue here is reasonable safety precautions. Guns, like chainsaws, are dangerous objects that must be treated with respect and caution. I had guns and chainsaws in my home growing up, I was taught how to properly handle the guns and chainsaws. I was taught that these things have jobs to do, and to do that job they must be handled properly.

The problem comes from treating guns like magic talismans and fetish objects. Guns won’t make you safe and they won’t make you a criminal. They will, however, make it possible for you to be more effective at protecting yourself in certain circumstances, and they will likewise make it possible for you to be a more effective criminal.

What is the answer? I don’t know. Outlawing guns won’t happen, and wouldn’t work even if it did happen. The genie is out of the bottle – there are hundreds of millions of guns in the USA and anyone with a 3D printer can make a gun in their basement right now. Add access to a machine shop and it’s a piece of cake. People who want guns will get guns, so banning them in the USA is a non-starter. Maybe it’s licensing people to carry guns, maybe its registering the actual guns. Maybe it’s just encouraging everyone to start packing heat in the hopes that some sort of magic will occur and all crime will stop.

I simply don’t know.


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