Baby killing is bad. It is difficult for Americans to come to a consensus on almost anything. Some people think Kevin Hart is funny. There are people out there who believe Beyoncé is fair to middling in the looks department. The Root employs a full-blown Nazi. (She isn’t a white supremacist or anything, but she did say that Dunkin’ Donuts are better than Krispy Kremes, which is kind of Hitler-ish, in my opinion.)
If there is one thing on which we can all agree, I have always assumed, it’s that as a society, we all think murdering children is—at the very least—not a good look.
Apparently, I was wrong.
Two weeks ago, a baby-murdering white guy walked into a church and opened fire, killing people as young as 17 months old. In 2012, Adam Lanza created his own little micro-genocide when he murdered 20 first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
In response, the Republican Party, which fancies itself the unwavering, law-and-order protectors of America, addressed these recurring existential threats to the lives and safety of millions of Americans by doing absolutely nothing.
Regardless of which side of the aisle on which one sits, it is impossible for any logically thinking human being not to acknowledge that gun violence has become our national scourge. Yet the deification of guns, based on the unassailable doctrine of the Second Amendment, has evolved from a political right into our state-sanctioned religion.
These horrific tragedies couldn’t convince the congregation of the National-Rifle-Association-Church-of-Christ to move an inch closer to commonsense gun control. The die-hard believers will resist any step toward gun regulations, with counterarguments based on flawed logic, devoid of facts. So we decided to examine them one by one with an objective eye.
While this is true, an overwhelming number of people who kill people use guns. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s statistics show that 69 percent of the homicides in 2014 were from gun deaths. The rate is steadily rising. While it is true that people are causing a rise in violent crime for the second year in a row, that they are using guns to commit these crimes is an unavoidable fact.
The number of mass shootings, injuries and even unintentional shootings has risen every year since 2014, according to the nonpartisan Gun Violence Archive. There is only one common thread in all of these statistics: guns.
Until we hear about an outbreak of mass spooning incidents or the growing number of drive-by knifings, let’s acknowledge that people kill people ... with guns.
Almost always with guns.
For the sake of argument, let’s take the Second Amendment and apply its literal, fundamentalist meaning to where it states this: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
There isn’t a single mainstream politician holding office in the House or Senate who has put forth a proposal to repeal the Second Amendment. So we can eliminate that argument there. Full stop.
Having said that, every other argument is based on how we regulate Americans’ right to bear arms as we do every other freedom.
We all enjoy the right to free speech, but there are libel, perjury and slander laws that limit what we can say when it might injure others. We are guaranteed the freedom of assembly, but we must apply for parade or protest permits or risk being arrested for obstructing traffic and impeding the rights of others. Our rights to vote, privacy and even sex are all regulated by certain caveats. You must be 18 to cast a ballot. Police can search your underwear drawer with a warrant, and you can’t just grab a woman’s private parts without her consent. (Unless you’re running for president or an Alabama Senate seat.)
This might be the stupidest argument ever. The National Rifle Association would have you believe that once we allow the government to register weapons, limit the size of gun magazines or enact background checks, jackbooted thugs will kick down our doors and confiscate our firearms.
That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
You know why jackbooted thugs will never kick in your door and take your guns (aside from the fact that no one has ever told me where I can get a pair of those door-kicking jackboots)? Because lawmakers have already limited the kinds of weapons a person can own. You can’t buy an anti-aircraft gun or a Pershing tank. The government will always have bigger weapons than yours.
Plus, I’m still waiting for Barack Obama to come take my guns. I’ve always wanted to meet him.
It is true that 34 percent of mass shooters were prohibited from owning weapons. But that also means 66 percent of mass shooters used legal firearms. What if laws simply reduced the numbers by one or two mass shootings per year?
Fact: States with magazine-capacity restrictions experience fewer mass shootings, according to CNN.
Fact: States that require background checks on all firearm sales have lower gun-related deaths per capita than states that don’t, according to data from the CDC, the NRA and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Fact: A correct, thorough background check would have prevented Dylann Roof from legally purchasing the guns he used in the Charleston, S.C., church shooting. A national ban on assault weapons would have prevented Devin Patrick Kelley from purchasing the Ruger AR-556 that he purchased legally from Academy Sports & Outdoors in San Antonio, Texas.
In fact, when we analyzed the Washington Post’s list of U.S. mass shootings since 1966, semi-automatic, assault-style weapons were used in incidents that resulted in 253 deaths.
How about the small number of crimes that would be prevented if people were turned away because of mental-health issues? What about the number of potential killers who would change their minds during a three-day waiting period? What about the number of lives that would be saved by smaller-capacity magazines?
Based on the logic of “Criminals don’t care about gun laws,” why make any law? Why should there be laws against rape or murder, since murderers gonna murder and rapists gon’ rape?
Hey, I thought all lives mattered.
Chicago is white people’s No. 1 argument against everything, including gun control. According to them, even with its strict gun laws, Chicago is a big, bad bogey monster filled with murderous thugs who will gun you down at any time. It is the most dangerous city in America.
Except that it’s not.
Using the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data, Chicago ranks 25th in murders per capita, far behind cities like Jackson, Miss.; Savannah, Ga.; and Kansas City, Kan. In fact, when you look at PoliticIt’s ranking of states with the toughest gun laws, of the 24 cities with higher murder rates than Chicago’s, 15 of them are in states with gun laws laxer than Illinois’. Chicago’s population dwarfs most of the other cities, which is why we hear more often about the large numbers of deaths in the Windy City.
But according to the numbers, Chicago ain’t got shit on Birmingham, Ala.
Gun advocates live under the delusion that they are all John Wayne waiting for a bad guy to ride into town. The truth is, a good guy with a gun never stops a bad guy with a gun. Even though the Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooting allows them to cling to that myth, facts say otherwise.
A 2015 study of FBI and national crime by the Violence Policy Center (pdf) concluded that people are more likely to cause an accidental death than prevent a crime when pulling a gun in self-defense. The Washington Post reports that for every justifiable homicide using a gun, there are 34 criminal suicides, 78 gun suicides and two accidental deaths.
Yes, it is true that an FBI report on active shooters between 2000 and 2013 (pdf) shows that 3 percent of those incidents were stopped by a civilian with a gun ...
... but the same report shows that 13 percent of those events were halted by unarmed citizens.
You know what else stops bad guys with guns? Fewer guns for bad guys. Making it more difficult for bad guys to acquire guns. Senators and members of the House who aren’t lackeys of the terrorist organization called the NRA.
Perhaps the most effective weapon against a bad guy with a gun is the one thing we all seem to lack: