Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's the Guns, Stupid...

Here's a topic no one expected me to dust off the keyboard for: guns. Where did this come from? I just had a disturbing conversation with someone I love very much. As we were talking on the phone, I brought up an article I had just seen about a father who shot his teenage son and killed him, having mistaken him for an intruder. I'm not sure what I said exactly, but this person started going on about how it's not guns, but stupid people who are using guns wrong (we've never heard that before!) who kill people with guns. She wants her husband to get a gun, because something about it being a crazy world. I asked her to explain to me--rhetoric aside--what purpose having a gun would serve. What actual good would it do? She became incredibly defensive, spouting unlikely scenarios where an intruder breaks in and her husband has time to go the back of his closet or whatever safe place he's safely keeping his gun, put it together, load it, point it at the intruder and scare him away. Wow. Yes, she thinks this is logical. And she's not alone. She also told me, "I'm never going to be on your side on this." Because this is about sides? And because if it were, the side of logic and reason isn't the side you want to be on? You want to be on the side of irrationality and fear? Hence, my feeling disturbed and upset enough to feel like addressing this topic right here, right now.

First, let's get this out of the way. You owning a gun because you want to own a gun is not a constitutionally protected right. The constitution protected the rights of southern states to use armed slave patrols ("well regulated militia") to keep the slaves from rising up against the barbarians who thought it was their right to own and use and abuse other human beings. Check out this article, and this one, too.

Now, let's get down to it. Why the fuck do you need to own a gun? Really. Do you think you're safer with a gun? You're not. Not at all. Sure, you'll hear stories about the guy who scared away the would-be burglar or convenience store robber. That's what they call "anecdotal evidence," the exception that is always inevitable, but does not disprove the rule--it just gives you a way to rationalize your irrational beliefs. Studies have shown that gun ownership makes you less safe. If you believe having a gun makes your home safer, you are believing a fairytale written to purposely mislead you. Check out this article, which links to a whole bunch of studies brought together to completely debunk The Myth of the Good Guy with a Gun. So no, you're not safer. Quite the opposite.

Okay, so... why the fuck to you need to own a gun? Are you protecting yourself from a police state? The government? Aw, that's cute. When's the last time you remember reading about some innocent Joe Citizen winning a shoot out with the police? I'm pretty sure you haven't. I'm also pretty sure nobody in the government is breaking a sweat over those crazy militia guys in the woods with their rifles, ready to take down "the government". Cuz the government's just gonna carpet bomb your ass and call it a day. And speaking of protecting ourselves from the police: Did you know that several far more progressive countries than ours do not have a militarized police force? Yep, in England, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and Iceland, police officers are unarmed and actually see their job to be to protect and serve their fellow citizens. Look it up. And seriously, imagine how much safer for people of color to not have a bunch of racist white guys who literally have a license to kill (aka a badge) seemingly lurking around every corner.

Maybe you're about to tell me you're a hunter. I'm vegan, and clearly have other feelings about that aside from this issue. Whatever. You hunt for your food. For purposes of this little discussion let's allow hunting rifles for that. There aren't that many people who hunt anyway, and you don't need a handgun or a semiautomatic weapon for that. Moving on.

Guns make us less safe. Their purpose is to kill. That's it. They're not just like any other weapon. Lots of things can be used in harmful ways, but the one purpose that guns are created for is to harm. A guy with a knife can't do the same kind of damage that a guy with a gun can. And you can't really believe people will just find other weapons to use, like bombs (I actually heard this one today!). A dude gets in a fight with his wife, he's not gonna go build a bomb in a fit of rage (usually). And he's not gonna go for the dirty bomb in his glove box because you cut him off in traffic. But he does go for his gun because it's oh-so easy. Guns are unique in their ease of use and capacity for destruction. (And yes, I'm saying "guy" and "dude" and "his" purposely because on a separate but related topic, it's male violence that's a very real and pervasive problem in our society.)

Guns make stupid people do even more stupid things. Bad things. Deadly things. Even not-so-stupid, otherwise good and well-intentioned people with guns make way for really bad things to happen. Like little kids accidentally shooting each other. Guns are not good. How does this even need to be said? "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." What a load of crap. When's the last time you heard someone say, "Heroin doesn't kill people, people kill themselves!" Come on now.

Why do you want a gun? Really. Ask yourself why you want a gun, why you think you need a gun, or deserve a gun. I'm not talking about what I think laws should be or how much regulation there should be or anything like that. I'm asking why a good person would want to own a gun. What makes a good person think they need something that puts themselves and their family at greater risk for homicide and suicide? What makes a good person want to own something created for the sole purpose of doing harm? What or who is making people so fearful for their safety that they think they need to own something that actually makes them less safe? Can we please get a little common sense up in here?