Gun Control: Vice vs. Conservatives

Note: I’m a Canadian; we don’t have a second amendment right to bear arms. We do gun-controlhave what I consider a fairly sensible compromise: no handguns off the range, no automatic weapons.

Vice has an article on The 12 Most Absurd Arguments Against Gun Control After Vegas. A lot of the arguments that Vice has collected are weak, but some are on point. Here are my thoughts:

1. Murder doesn’t account for most gun-related deaths

Most gun deaths are suicides. Suicidal people with access to guns are overwhelmingly more likely to actually kill themselves. That’s one reason gun control advocates want to limit access to guns!

While clearly no-one wants suicide, it is a voluntary behavior. This means that things like gun safety and access to mental health services are reasonable steps to take to combat it, but it is a weak argument for banning guns, IMO.

2. Guns aren’t the problem, murder is the problem

Stefan Molyneux, a popular Canadian conservative podcaster and YouTuber, seemed to suggest that we don’t need gun control legislation because gun crimes are already illegal. If you know what his point is here, let me know.

The point is that you don’t ban cars, you put people in jail for driving under the influence. Like cars, (some) guns have legitimate uses, particularly outside cities.

3. Don’t blame guns, blame ISIS

The terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Las Vegas massacre, saying that shooter Stephen Paddock had recently converted to Islam. Journalists who cover ISIS were immediately dubious of this claim. The FBI announced Monday, “We have determined to this point no connection with the international terrorist group.” But Curt Schilling asked “Why do I feel like our media is going to do ANYTHING it can to disprove this?”

I share the media’s skepticism regarding ISIS’s claims. Schilling’s point is that the media do treat ISIS with kid gloves. For example, headlines proclaiming that a truck ran into people in Paris, while completely omitting the fact that it was driven by an ISIS inspired terrorist, left me with a bad impression of the media’s dedication to truthful reporting on terrorism.

4. Gun control is fascism

The way convicted felon and conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza‏ sees it, more gun control is disarming “the people,” and will inevitably lead to our demise.

The purpose of the US second amendment is make sure that should authoritarians seize control of the government, the people are able to defend themselves against it. While this right is unusual, taking it away would be a move away from freedom. Note that I’m not saying that it’s wrong to restrict it. Personally, I think some freedoms are too dangerous to grant. I doubt that the second amendment could be revoked without triggering a civil war.

5. The Manchester bombing happened, and bombs are illegal

D’Souza also pointed that outlawing bombs didn’t stop the Manchester bombers from murdering 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in May. Laws that don’t prevent every tragedy are worthless, I guess?

While D’Souza’s argument is weak, the argument that there is less gun crime in places where carrying a gun is legal is compelling, and there is a lot of evidence to back it up. Gun control in large US cities has failed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Banning handguns almost entirely in Canada has not kept them out here either.

6. Why are we focused on guns instead of heart disease?

Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor who runs the DailyWire, wondered why we’re not talking about a “pizza ban,” considering heart disease kills hundreds of thousands every year.

I agree Shapiro’s argument is very weak. Eating pizza is voluntary, whereas being shot (other than in the case of suicide) is not.

7. Gun control is pointless because criminals don’t obey the law

In an appearance on Hannity, Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren said that firearms can be empowering and that a “good guy with a gun” can save lives—a routine argument. Taking a rather defeatist stance on gun control, she pointed out that mass shooters don’t obey the law. Then why do we have any laws to begin with? Makes you think.

It is absolutely true that a good guy with a gun can save lives. It’s also true that gun control doesn’t prevent criminals from getting guns, though it may make it harder. That doesn’t men we shouldn’t try to prevent crime.

8. This is just the price of freedom

“This is the price of freedom,” Bill O’Reilly wrote on his blog. “Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are.” At least O’Reilly is being honest here—he’s totally OK with mass shootings.

I highly doubt O’Reilly is OK with mass shootings. He is right that the shooting is a consequence of giving people the right to bear arms. Whether or not you equate that right to freedom is open to question. In my opinion, a country that bans all gun ownership by private citizens is not a free country.

9. We need guns to protect ourselves from people on Twitter

Andrew Mullins of the Republican Governor’s Association used a (now deleted) Nancy Sinatra tweet, which said that “the murderous members of the NRA should face a firing squad,” as a reason for why we need the Second Amendment now more than ever.

Suggesting that gun enthusiasts be killed because their hobbies offend you does seem pretty unhinged. There are enough people who think that violence is acceptable (punching “nazis”, AKA people you disagree with, for example) that I can see why others are concerned with being able to defend themselves.

10. I’ll only care about gun control when leftists start arming themselves

“There’s only one way we can lose our rights, unless a lot of leftists buy a lot of guns, conduct a lot of tactical training, and stop being little weenies,” said Kurt Schlichter. “We only lose our rights if we allow ourselves to be shamed, threatened, whined, and lectured into giving them up by skeevy tragedy-buzzard pols, mainstream media meat puppets, and late night chucklemonkeys whose names and faces all blend together into one unfunny, preachy blur.”

Classy, Kurt. This is why I think that removing the right to bear arms will lead to civil war. If, by some miracle, the US government amended the constitution and convinced the military to confiscate weapons, a large segment of the public are so heavily armed and feel so strongly that they have the right to bear arms precisely to prevent such confiscation by the government, that a civil uprising seems highly likely.

11. Don’t blame guns, blame the pharmaceutical industry

After it was reported that Paddock had a prescription for diazepam, an anti-anxiety drug better known as Valium, noted Sandy Hook denier and Infowars founder Alex Jones blamed the attack on psychiatric medication.

If there were contributing factors to the gunman’s actions, they should certainly be looked at. One thing gun control advocates have called for is restricted access to guns for psychiatric patients. It’s hard to see how even Alex Jones could argue against such restrictions.

12. We need more guns, not fewer

In an article on the ultraconservative Federalist, columnist D.C. McAllister argued, “A mass killing like the one we witnessed in Las Vegas is horrific, but we can’t extrapolate from this that gun violence is on the rise or that men who own guns are an inevitable threat. The fact is, mass shootings are still very rare, and most men who own guns aren’t out killing people. They’re mostly out saving lives or preparing to do so.”

Another weak argument. A furnace malfunction that burns the house down is very rare, Most furnace heat houses. That doesn’t mean I won’t keep my furnace maintained.

Gun control is not a black and white issue. A sensible compromise is probably out of the question in the US thanks to the fact that the right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution. I was encouraged to see that the NRA have signaled their openness to discussing restrictions on bump stocks, which allowed the LA shooter to rapid fire his semi-automatic weapons. Hopefully this will lead to some sane conversation. If instead, gun control advocates attack the NRA, their cooperative mood is unlikely to last.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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