American Rhetoric: The Gi-GUN-dous Elephant In The Room

Peeling back the surface debate...

Peeling back the surface debate…

     Lately, I’ve been getting very weary of the rampant over-simplifications plaguing the national debate on gun control. For instance, the left’s assertion that “guns kill people”. To my way of thinking, this is over-simplifying an otherwise complex issue. Guns kill people like pencils fail tests…and, since guns kill people, they need to be banned. (I should give you, my fine young readers, some modicum of “fair warning” at this point. This article is about to go into “SOAPBOX” mode, and might even flirt with the “TLDR” envelope!)

     Let’s say that I snap an icicle off of the eave of my house, and stab someone to death. Or, you drive your car over a patch of black ice on the highway, and slide off of a cliff. Oh crap, ice kills people! Let’s ban ice. Anyone who makes, manufactures, imports or sells ice will now be guilty of a felony. (I’d love to know which judge will issue the arrest warrant for GOD…)

     I grab a rock, and bludgeon someone to death. Oh crap, rocks kill people! We’d better ban all rocks. (What about the one we LIVE on? You know, the big BLUE one, which falls toward the sun, but has enough angular momentum to maintain an orbit?) Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, hurricanes, floods…Oh crap! Nature kills people! A ban on NATURE?

     I grab a Louisville Slugger, and clock someone across the temple, resulting in their death. Oh crap, baseball bats kill people! Ban all baseball bats! (There goes the national pastime!)

     I take a No. 2 pencil out of my desktop caddy, and run it right through someone’s temple, into their brainpan. Oh crap, pencils kill people! Ban all writing utensils! (Millions of grade school kids will LOVE this one!) No more kids doing classwork with pencils and pens, they all have to use computers now. But wait! I grab a computer tower off of the desk, and slam it right into someone’s cranium, knocking them dead. Oh crap! Computers kill people! Ban all computers! (There goes my access to YouTwitFace!)

     I strangle someone to death with my bare hands. Oh crap! Hands kill people! Let’s cut off everyone’s hands! (Great, now no work gets done.) Then, I kick someone to death with my booted feet, now that my hands are gone. Oh crap! Feet kill people! Cut off all feet! (Great, now no one goes anywhere, and even less work gets done than before.)

     Does everyone see where this is going? Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Even my nine-year-old daughter gets this concept. (I know she does, I asked her.) Since it’s people who are killing people, do we ban people? No, because even the idea goes so far past ridiculous, that it’s ridiculous! Still, since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, as after every national news-making school shooting, (Columbine, West Paducah, etcetera,) the liberal politicians go into “ban mode”.

     The problem that I have with every mention of a ban on this weapon or that, is that the vast majority of people committing gun-related crime in this nation are criminals. Do the powers-that-be honestly think that criminals care one iota about gun control laws? They don’t even care about the people that they’re killing with those guns, so go ahead, ban every single weapon on the market. Criminals will still get the guns and commit the crimes, while honest, law-abiding citizens become defenseless.

     Now. That being said, (and this is the point where I turn my pen, being mightier than the sword or the gun, toward the neo-conservatives on the right!) I’m also pretty disdainful of people who spout this rhetoric of needing things like AR-15s to…how do they put it? “Defend ourselves against the government”? I think it’s high time for a reality check here. Could someone please tell me what chance that little AR-15-armed Joe Citizen has against things like Reaper UAVs and FA-22 Raptors? You see, the U.S. armed forces enjoy and exercise a nice advantage in any battle, a thing called “air superiority”. Point made, my fine young readers?

     Aside from that, could someone please tell me for what reason could an honest, everyday law-abiding citizen actually need something like an AR-15 or an AK-47? These types of weapons are geared for one thing, and one thing only; making war. Take it from me, a six-year Army veteran. The only real advantages to these guns are offensive in nature; full-auto and three-round-burst modes sacrifice accuracy for quantity, and are for the purpose of laying down covering fire. In addition, having a higher muzzle velocity and / or a greater maximum effective range is not a home defense consideration, either. No, I suspect that Joe Neocon’s true motivations for hugging on to that assault weapon (we’re about to get into the use of that term as well!) are based in his wants, as opposed to his needs

     “Assault Weapons”. This seems like a fairly nebulous term, bandied about by the politicians and the media to describe a wide array of gun types, depending on who is trying to apply the term. When the average person contemplates the term, things like AR-15s come to mind. When politicians apply the term, they tend to use a different standard, which includes almost every semi-automatic (which describes just about every pistol and rifle being manufactured these days!) weapon on the market. This is where I have an issue with government. If people like U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein have their way, the citizenry would indeed be disarmed, while those who care nothing about gun control laws…the criminals, remain armed, and still quite dangerous.

     Here at 947 words, I should attempt to get around to the true subject of the debate, right? It’s the real “elephant in the room” that no one seems to want to address; the human element. You see, making the assertion that “guns kill people” and not that people kill people, is like blaming the pencil for failing the test, or blaming the light saber for the killing of the younglings in the third installment of the “Star Wars” saga. No, just like anything else, it takes a person to wield that weapon, and the motivation of that person to take that life. That’s what we as a society should be addressing, not engaging in this misguided attempt to contravene the second amendment of our constitution.

     If only our government paid attention to history, they would recall the lessons learned during Prohibition. The government tried banning the device, without addressing the real issue…the human issue. Their approach worked so well in fact, that we now have two amendments to our constitution dealing with alcohol, the second one repealing the first one.

     That’s the point here. The issue of gun control is not a simple issue, and does not have any simple remedy, because the true nature of the issue is just simply…not that simple. It is a complex issue, because we humans are a complex bunch. Maybe instead of attempting to disarm the citizenry, our government should be looking at the ways in which it deals with things like law enforcement, justice, the prison system, mental and physical health and other human aspects of the debate.

To be continued!


15 comments on “American Rhetoric: The Gi-GUN-dous Elephant In The Room

  1. truelibertarian says:

    I have a few opinions on the subject. Left-wingers constantly mention that the murder rate in America is much higher than murder rates in countries with more strict gun control. I view this as a meaningless statistic. Why? Because culture differs from country to country. Some might disagree that culture plays a role in gun crime. But they’re morons. Why? Because there’s a much more meaningful statistic that supports my claim. And that is the statistic that American violent crime rates are much lower in places where gun control is more lax. Some may claim that’s simply because places with less crime need fewer gun laws, but if more guns=more violent crime, then they can’t be right.

    The obvious conclusion is that guns don’t cause violent crime. And while tragedies like Sandy Hook are awful, the sad reality is that they simply don’t occur enough to deserve the attention, resources, and policy changes that accompany them. When there are much worse issues that claim the lives of far more people and are so much easier to solve, this should not be a priority. The issue with Adam Lanza was that his mother was irresponsible enough to allow her guns to fall into his hands. But should we change gun laws that seem to have more benefit than harm? If 80 people a year die from these incidents, and many more individuals are able to save lives and prevent robberies (take, for example, the shopkeepers that were able to save themselves from looting during riots due to the AR-15), then as tragic as those 80 deaths a year are, the gun laws do more good than harm.

    There’s a lot more I could go into now, but it’s late and I’m tired.

    • lwk2431 says:

      You wrote:

      “Left-wingers constantly mention that the murder rate in America is much higher than murder rates in countries with more strict gun control.”

      Actually most of America is as safe, or safer overall than many of the countries mentioned. My town in Texas is almost certainly safer than _anywhere_ in the U.K. The problem is that we have certain areas with huge murder rates, for example, places like New Orleans, Washington D.C., and Chicago to name a few.


      Because of the violence associated with the illegal drug trade and gangs there.

      The places were Americans are safe have a much higher incidence of legal gun ownership. The inner cities have little legal gun ownership, but obviously enough illegal and criminal ownership to make up for it.

      Also I have not seen any evidence that gun banning in the U.K. and Australia led to lowered crime at all. The U.K. may have a low gun murder rate, but Brits still manage to kill themselves a lot more frequently than my heavily armed little town in Texas.


      • truelibertarian says:

        Nothing you said argues with anything I said….

        • (Maybe that was by design…)

        • lwk2431 says:

          I guess you didn’t understand the point that the murder rate problem in the U.S. is largely concentrated in certain areas. When people talk about the U.S. being unsafe compared to those other countries they don’t realize that most of the U.S. is in fact as safe, and often even safer. It is these “hotspots” of inner cities that skew the overall rate of the U.S.

          You started off in your comment mentioning the murder rate compared to other countries. My comment was an attempt to enlighten you of the real focus of the problem.

          My point was not to argue. My point was enlighten.


  2. Brad Hopkins says:

    My entire stance on this gun control debacle has been about strict regulations in getting one, not in which ones you can get. Initial and annual psych and drug screenings, mandated training on proper maintenance, safety, handling, cleaning, etc, standardized background checks, and tougher rules for those background checks. Quite frankly, there are restrictions with the 1st Amendment, so why not the 2nd?

  3. Mark Caesar says:

    I cannot speak with first-hand knowledge about the American situation since I live in Australia, but I’ll share my observations of the situation.

    Here, in Australia, it is illegal to own a gun without a license, and to obtain a license you need to show just reason why you NEED a gun. Granted, shooting as a sport is considered a valid reason but then, those shooters are generally very responsible people I am led to believe.

    You also have other reasons like sports shooting and shooting of vermin and the like, and I understand they are generally quite responsible people.

    There is a level of the criminal element where guns are a way of life and are obtained through the black market, that will never change. But with that being the case, the fact that the criminal element have guns, you must ask why there are so few shootings in Australia?

    There are many reasons that constitute an answer to that question but I think that it can be summed up like this, because guns aren’t ingrained into an Australian’s psyche, it is not necessary to demonstrate a gun’s potential rather than just show the gun. The criminals with the guns know this and because of that they aren’t predisposed to shoot people.

    That comes to the crux of the situation, as I understand it, with the American case relating to guns.

    Because Americans are so used to guns and I think half expect others to be carrying guns, it’s a matter of shoot first and ask questions later. I must stress that this is purely hypothetical to me going on what I’ve seen and heard, not what I’ve experienced.

    I think when it comes to guns the cat is out of the bag in America and I really can’t imagine any way to get that cat back in the bag.

    Of course, I agree that weapons designed as maximum effect weapons, many victims, many rounds, long range, have no need to be a part of any household anywhere, so I can’t understand why people are so desperate to hold onto their right to own a gun of this nature.

    But John, I would pose this question to you: If it is okay to own guns, because it is people that kill people and not the guns, why can’t I own a nuclear device? It’s not the nuclear device that kills people, it’s the person that detonates it. If we want to think about something other than nuclear devices lets think about chemical weapons. Why would I not be allowed to own 50 tonnes of TNT? The TNT doesn’t kill people, it’s the person that detonates it.

    • I would venture that it’s fine for the average, law-abiding citizen to own guns, for purposes that include legal hunting, defense of home and hearth, sport shooting and such. In addition, our constitution guarantees the citizenry the right to “keep and bear arms”, so every citizen that wishes to avail themselves of that right, should be able to. (I’m not a gun owner personally, as I don’t feel the need to own one.)

      Nuclear devices and explosives…I’m not entirely sure what we’re on about with this one. Is it the “WMD” nature of these items that you’re alluding to? (Yes, I’m thinking this through on several levels and from several angles, as you obviously knew I would when you mentioned them! 😀 )

      • Mark Caesar says:

        When I was referring to nuclear devices and the like, I was drawing the comparison between things that have the potential to kill, and really no other purpose, and guns.

        The purpose of a gun can be no more than killing/maiming things. Okay, there’s sport as in target shooting. The purpose of a WMD is to kill/maim things. So what’s the difference between the 2? To me they are both devices that don’t kill, it’s the operator of that device that does that, so I don’t understand why I shouldn’t be allowed to have one.

        Anticipating your response brings me to another part of your post.

        This one could be split up into many categories but I’ll try to lump them all together.

        You mention “ice, rocks, nature, baseball bats, pencils, computers, hands and feet” as potential killing devices and posed the hypothetical that because they are they should be eliminated.

        There’s a HUGE difference between those and guns, they are not designed to kill people, it is not their primary function. While it is true they can be used to kill people, that could be said for practically anything. Because these things are useful in many ways, good ways, apart from the killing/maiming of others they are very beneficial.

        Guns, on the other hand, are designed to kill/maim things. It IS their primary function. Apart from sport shooting, at targets, I can’t think of any other use for a gun. Apart from the killing of vermin I can’t think of a productive use of a gun outside of wartime, where it would be productive to kill people.

        The “ice, rocks, nature, baseball bats, pencils, computers, hands and feet” all have primary uses which do not involve the killing/maiming of others. They are used in productive, beneficial ways for mankind, not against mankind. To “ban” anything which has a possibility of being used to kill/maim a person is just ridiculous, but those things designed to do just that as their primary purpose makes perfect sense to me.

        • And there is the difference! (See? I knew you would get what I was on about, Mark! Vive la difference!) A gun’s primary purpose is what that part of the debate is really about, yet so many people either forget that, or willfully omit it.

    • lwk2431 says:

      Mark Caesar wrote:

      “Here, in Australia, it is illegal to own a gun without a license, and to obtain a license you need to show just reason why you NEED a gun.”

      Is self defense an acceptable reason for needing a gun in Australia? If you can’t own a gun for self defense then in my view – a common view in America – you are not a free man. You are a subject – subject to the will and decisions of authorities and not your own free will and conscience.


  4. lwk2431 says:

    You wrote:

    “I’m also pretty disdainful of people who spout this rhetoric of needing things like AR-15s to…how do they put it? ‘Defend ourselves against the government’? I think it’s high time for a reality check here.”

    Two points. My son is a U.S. Marine and it is not absolutely certain a lot of these military guys would fire on their fathers and brothers, and yes, maybe even sisters and mothers.

    Secondly it is obvious no 21st century militia is going to go head on with some of the modern weapons you mention. You might also notice that some ragtag fellows in the mideast have been pretty successful in the socalled “Arab Spring” without all those weapons.

    How about this scenario? The “rebels” manage to get the names and addresses of Federal workers living in their area and give them an ultimatum: “Get in your car and head to Washington, D.C. If we see you again you will be summarily executed.” Then burn down their house. What do you think? Do you think a government could rule if they had to send a squad of Marines with every government worker to keep them alive?

    No, every government that sets out on tyranny confiscates weapons because they have to. Civilian firearms ownership is the “canary in the coal mine” of freedom.

    And you wrote:

    “Maybe instead of attempting to disarm the citizenry, our government should be looking at the ways in which it deals with things like law enforcement, justice, the prison system, mental and physical health and other human aspects of the debate.”

    I largely agree. What I would really like them to look at is the possibility that the huge trend to drugging kids with SSRIs and Ritalin and other psychotropic drugs for ADHD, autism, and the whole gamut of disorders that kids are increasingly being treated for may in some cases turn kids into violenty aggressive monsters that have their sense of right and wrong and empathy totally suppressed.

    The drugs companies make billions on these and you know they “own” politicians. The manufacturers of firearms for personal civilian use are “small fry” in comparison.


    Assault Rifles

    Who Needs An Assault Rifle?

    • @lwk2431 – You wrote, “Civilian firearms ownership is the “canary in the coal mine” of freedom.” That strikes me as a particularly astute observation! (Can I steal that for a follow-up article?)

      Thanks for the input, and for keeping things on a civil level. I know that gun control in the U.S. can be a very contentious issue, and a lot of people on both sides have very strong feelings about it. Kudos!

      • lwk2431 says:

        You can absolutely steal the “canary in a coal mine” line. I stole it from something I read years ago, and don’t remember where. 🙂 As far being civil, I try as best I can. Sometimes I do ok, and sometimes I slip up. I actually liked your article as it looks “outside the 9 dots” in many respects.

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