Sunday, December 16, 2012

More Guns? Then Expect More Gun Deaths as a Result (And Other Examples of Logic Completely Rejected by Second-Amendment Enthusiasts)

Why the Gun Lobby’s Claims that Concealed Weapons Laws Prevent Mass Shootings Are Utterly Unfounded


Over the years, I’ve concluded that there are just two types of people you cannot reasonably argue with. One, of course, are hyper-religious folks, predominantly of the evangelical Christian variety. The other? Hardcore gun lobbyists and advocates.

A lot of times, you hear about their “argument” against gun control, which to me, is a complete and total misnomer, because, simply put, the pro-gun lobby doesn’t HAVE an argument to speak of. Their perpetual war cry is a mixture of tautology and metaphysics, a two-pronged, reason-immune platitude that’s so circular, it almost resembles an infinity sign.

No matter what, the NRA lobbyists say the same thing, over and over again: “The problem with gun violence is that we just don’t have ENOUGH guns.” That’s their default solution, a completely logic-proof equation that they will NEVER change their minds about. You see, they think that the only way to combat gun violence is to make it so that people have greater access to guns, so that they can possibly shoot people that may embark upon a murderous rampage. Prevention, they think, shouldn’t begin until at least ONE bullet gets embedded in someone’s skull, and any measures to combat gun violence before that is constitutional rape.

Just two days before the Newtown Massacre, a dude over at Gunowners.org named Erich Pratt published an article called “Sadly, Another Gun-Free Zone ‘Success’ Story,” which was written in response to an Oregon mall shooting earlier that week. Pratt’s “argument” is just about the best example of the anti-gun-control mantra that I can possibly imagine.

“The lesson is clear,” he writes. “Good guys with guns save lives. And while bad guys may be evil, they are not stupid. They don’t typically target gun stores or police stations to perpetrate their crimes. No, they consciously select areas where their victims are disarmed by law.”

Needless to say, there are just a few, peculiarities, with Pratt’s perspective (which I will get back to in just a bit), but where things get interesting is when he lists a number of shooting incidents in which he cites armed citizens to have prevented  mass violence from unfurling.

His first two examples should give you a pretty good idea of how iron tight his argument is, as he cites instances in which armed robberies - which, last time I checked, aren’t the same things as “mass shootings” in terms of motives and criminal sociology - were halted by senior citizens just lugging around firearms.

Pratt then goes on to mention both the 2007 Trolley Square Mall Salt Lake City massacre and a 2007 Colorado Springs church shooting as incidents where citizens packing heat prevented “mass fatalities.” What Pratt doesn’t tell you is that in the Salt Lake City incident, the man that fatally shot the gunman was a policeman, and that in the Colorado Springs case, the individual that shot the gunman was an ex-police officer serving as official security personnel at the church. And even then, she didn’t mortally wound the attacker, and couldn’t prevent the shooting deaths of two churchgoers, much in the same way the SLC police force didn’t prevent the gunman from killing five others before being brought down.

While NRA lobbyists go on and on about how Concealed Weapons Carry permits are the only way to deter mass shootings, one of the things they tend to under-publicize is the fact that 49 states ALREADY have concealed weapons carry laws, which give individuals the right to lug around firearms anywhere where metal detectors aren’t, and of those, only 16 have state legislation that gives private businesses the ability to opt-out - rather counter-intuitively, I might add, since such businesses are required by law to post “gun-free zone” signage, which, by the tautology of open-carry proponents, MAKES them more likely “targets” for mass shootings.

A relatively sparse entry on Wikipedia lists reported “defensive gun use incidents," primarily a list of robberies and home invasions “thwarted” by individuals that pulled firearms on the assailants (and try not to LOL too hard, but in at least three of said incidents, said attackers just so happened to be escaped zoo animals.)

By comparison, here’s a list of mass shooting incidents that have transpired in the U.S from July 2012 until LATE October 2012 ALONE.

And then, there’s some other data that doesn’t really bode well for the “more guns, in more places, equals less death” argument.

Houses with firearms are a staggering 22 times likelier to experience suicides, seven percent likelier to experience homicides and four times likelier to experience an unintentional shooting death or injury than homes without guns. A 2009 study finds that individuals possessing guns are about 4.5 times likelier than people without guns to be shot in an assault. And while the FBI estimates that about 200 legally justifiable self-defense homicides were enacted by private citizens with firearms in 2008, the CDC say that about 31,000 people total were still gunned down in 2009. That means for every justifiable self-defense homicide that happens in the U.S., guns are involved in roughly 155 fatal shootings that aren't.

In a total disregard for how mathematics work, anti-gun-control lobbyists still insist that open carry laws are the ONLY way to prevent gun violence, when the statistics clearly indicate that, somehow, the presence of more firearms mysteriously results in more instances of firearms-related violence.

There’s probably some irony to the fact that gun lobbyists are ALWAYS droning on and on about their Second Amendment freedoms, when many of the policies they advocate are clear cut violations of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process clause.  As much as they moan and whine about gun licensure (not really a problem in the U.S., since almost half of gun purchases are made on second-hand markets), they don’t seem to pick up on the fact that open carry laws are impositions on private businesses and individuals at public functions. Never mind the logical fallacy, the very fact that gun owners are demanding that they be allowed to bring firearms into privately held businesses and forums is, in and of itself, unconstitutional and a major example of special interests backed statism. Let us mince no words about what open carry proponents are actually advocating: the use of government force to MAKE individuals allow people to bring potentially lethal objects into private and publicly-held forums, regardless of the consent of the private parties or public participants.

If I didn’t know any better, it seems to me that the gun lobbyists are now vouching for something of a paramilitary state in which kindergartner teachers are armed with handguns and surgeons conduct operations with semi-automatic weapons at their hip. Permitting lethal weapons in schools and hospitals and bars that serve alcohol will actually reduce the likelihood of violence occurring at said establishment, they say, as self-ordained defenders of the public “good” (recall Pratt’s quote from earlier, with his abstract talk of who “good guys” and “bad guys” are) will surely only use such weapons for defensive purposes (although the data clearly indicates that said individual is only about 155 times likelier to use it in a non-defensive act, however.)

I once saw a bumper sticker that said that blaming guns for murder is like blaming pencils for handwriting errors. Of course, there’s also that famous maxim, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” While it is true that guns aren’t the essence as to why murders take place, the statistical reality here is that firearms make murders much more efficient and likely to produce fatal outcomes. The very same day 20 children were shot to death in Connecticut, some dude in China went on a rampage, stabbing an almost equal number of children. The crimes were almost staggeringly similar, with two exceptions: the methods of attack, and the ultimate outcomes. In one case, a knife was used, and in the other, firearms. One event produced zero fatalities (and only a few severe injuries) while another resulted in the cold blooded murder of 26 individuals. And of course, the pro-gun folks respond as they always do: “Well, if them teachers had guns, nobody would’ve got stabbed in the first place.”

By the way, I’m not what you would call an individual that’s in favor of “banning” guns outright, either. Despite the incessant fears of many an NRA member, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a SINGLE gun control advocate that said he or she was in favor of totally disarming citizens. And the less said about those fringe lunatics that think mass shootings are “false flag” operations as part of some mass de-arming campaign, the better.

What I do think is important, especially in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, is an honest to goodness debate about gun policies in the U.S. For far too long, the entire national debate has been framed by a special interests group numbering a paltry five million individuals, whose lobbying ties are so closely connected to conservative legislators that House chairs have consciously avoided things like “FBI data” and “CDC statistics” that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the “more guns, less gun deaths” argument is complete and utter hokum.

Why not make gun owners in the U.S. take exams the same way we make motorists re-up for driver’s licenses, anyway? To operate semi-trucks, and especially trucks containing hazardous materials, drivers generally have to pass a litany of tests, exams and receive constantly updated certifications. The logic there I think is clearly applicable to firearms owners; if you’re going to be entrusted with potentially lethal devices, and you’re going to be in the public sphere, maybe it’s for society’s best if we make sure you’re not a sociopath before we hand you the Desert Eagle. And if guns aren’t culpable for mass mayhem, then why don’t gun lobbyists and advocates put their money where their mouths are and pump more dollars into psychological testing of school children, mental health care services and public security infrastructure?

If you’re looking for a response, you’re not going to find one, sadly, other than the constant refrain of  “more guns prevent gun deaths from happening” -- an utterance, I think, that’s a little hard to pick up over the sounds of five year old children being shot to death.

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