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Guns save life? Um, no they don't - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle

Nov. 30th, 2009

07:40 pm - Guns save life? Um, no they don't

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And I see FurAffinity FurAffinity's ISP is being a cussed-up piece of broken cuss again. I was going to post something there; I guess I'll post it here instead.

Two weeks ago, I was driving from Houston to Chicago for MFF. As I drove through Illinois, I saw a few series of Burma Shave-style signs at the edge of some farmland promoting an armed populace and advertising the website GunsSaveLife.com. It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? "Guns save life"... it's like saying that knives prevent cuts, or that deep water helps you breathe.

As you might have heard in the news, four police officers were shot to death by a gunman in a coffee shop in Parkland, Washington. The officers were in uniform, and presumably armed as well. Well, gee... their guns sure didn't save their lives, did they?

Pro-gun types say all sorts of crazy, dumb-sounding things about guns. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people!" "Guns have no purpose!" "Guns aren't weapons!" "An armed society is a polite society!" And now this: "Guns save lives!" All these statements are demonstrably false, and this shooting incident is a stark illustration of the inanity of the fourth statement.

Y'know, I'm in a mood to dismantle each of these statements one by one, so here goes.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people: One of the oldest. Sure, it's the person who makes the conscious decision to kill, and the gun is just a tool. And sure, there are other ways to kill people. But having a gun makes it a hundred times easier to kill; a million if the guy you want to kill is some distance away. I should also point out that nobody ever makes a similar statement about any other tool; nobody says "Scissors don't cut paper, people cut paper!" Of course guns don't kill people by themselves; but nobody is claiming that they do!

Guns don't have a purpose: Ever heard that one? You try to point out that the purpose of a gun is to kill, and some gun nut says, "Guns don't have purpose; they're inanimate objects!" This is an extremely dishonest debate tactic, because it deliberately assumes a different definition of "purpose" (intent) than the other guy is using (reason for having been invented in the first place). If you ask why guns were invented, the gun nut will usually give you some other silly answer along the lines of "to make holes in things" or "to send a piece of metal through a tube very fast". But nobody says as they go off to buy a gun, "I need something that will send a piece of metal through a tube very fast." And as for making holes in things? There was already an invention for that purpose: the drill. And if you need to make a hole in, say, a piece of wood, a drill does a much neater, more precise job. A gun, on the other hand, tends to make a rather ragged hole with a splintery exit wound. Besides, the bullet damages the floor! Get the hell outta my workshop, you idiot!

Guns aren't weapons: Yes, I've actually heard this. The argument was, anything can be used as a weapon: a pair of scissors, a metal pipe, a rock, a glass bottle, etc., so the term "weapon" is meaningless, I guess; and besides, according to the language of the laws regulating carrying guns, they're *firearms*; the word "WEAPON" doesn't appear, so there nyeah. All this ignores the fact that the dictionary defines a firearm as a kind of weapon, and that being used as a weapon is not an incidental side possibility of a gun; it is its main purpose. Guns were invented to be weapons, to kill or at least threaten to kill. Gun users who try to argue against this logic just end up sounding stupid, crazy, or both, IMO.

An armed society is a polite society: No, it damn well is not. If everybody is packing heat, does that stop people from having drunken bar fights? No, it just makes the fights more deadly. Another more serious problem of the proliferation of guns is the fact that every interaction between the police and the public, every routine traffic stop, must be treated as a potential deadly situation, causing cops to have more stress than would otherwise be necessary, and to often overreact and turn routine stops into deadly situations. An armed society is a paranoid society.

And finally, guns save lives: No. Murderers don't just walk up to people and say, "Do you have a gun? If not, I'm gonna shoot you!" They take people by surprise; they ambush, or they snipe. The Parkland shooter ambushed those cops in the coffee shop; Seung-hui Cho ambushed all those students he killed at Virginia Tech; snipers John Muhammad and Lee Malvo shot various people in Virginia and Maryland from a secret location; and so on. Having a gun won't save your life if a murderer takes you by surprise. Basically, if you want to protect yourself from hypothetical criminals with a gun, you've got to live your life constantly prepared to deal instantly with any threat; you've got to be on alert 24/7. I dunno about you, but I couldn't live that way. Fortunately, I don't have to, since I don't live in a cesspool of rampant crime and brutal predation.

Which, BTW, is the strange thing about gun nuts; they act as though they do live in a cesspool of rampant crime and brutal predation, which makes me wonder two things: 1. Do they *really*, or are they just irrationally paranoid? 2. If they in fact do, why don't they move the heck out?

Comments:

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From:pippinbear
Date:December 1st, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
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Thank you. I'm glad to know that not everyone in America thinks guns somehow make people nice.

Are there laws and regulations controlling fireworks over there? If so, I'd think it could be argued that there should be laws and regulations at least as strong concerning guns. After all, they're pretty similar devices, with the difference that fireworks are meant to entertain and are only dangerous as a regrettable side-effect of the way they work, while guns don't really have any other purpose than to be dangerous objects.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:December 1st, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
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Yes. It's a state-by-state thing, I think; you can often see clusters of fireworks stores as you drive on the freeway and cross state lines.
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From:orv
Date:December 1st, 2009 06:57 am (UTC)
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The main difference, I suppose, is the Constitution doesn't enumerate a right to bear fireworks.
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From:wbwolf
Date:December 1st, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
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Regarding the driveby in your blog: I'd rather see open carry become more common, if only so I know who I need to avoid. Concealed carry just means that you don't know who the wacko is. But his responses seem to underline a common delusion a lot of gun owners seem to have: if I have this gun, I can save my family/myself/strangers in the street. It's like they think they can take out the bad guy in an action movie. Real life isn't that way, and I seriously doubt that the majority the yahoos that have that delusion have the training to pull it off.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:December 1st, 2009 03:25 am (UTC)
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A couple of times. Mostly a certain individual who used to host my website. But arguing like him is like beating your head against a brick wall.
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From:wbwolf
Date:December 1st, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
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Which, BTW, is the strange thing about gun nuts; they act as though they do live in a cesspool of rampant crime and brutal predation, which makes me wonder two things: 1. Do they *really*, or are they just irrationally paranoid? 2. If they in fact do, why don't they move the heck out?

On the second point, that's often easier said than done. The violence in an area often corresponds to the economic state of the area; lower economic status, the higher the crime rate. There can be a lot of reasons for this, but the main point is that the majority live in high crime areas precisely because they can not afford to live anywhere else.

However, I would argue that it seems like the most vocal gun advocates seem to be solidly middle class males that should have the economic wherewithal to move where ever they please.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:December 1st, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
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Definitely. A lot of gun-toters seem to live in peaceful, tranquil suburban paradises, and I just have no idea why they look around and think that marauding gangs of armed thugs bursting in at night to ransack the place are a common enough threat that they have to pack heat all the time.
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From:zorinlynx
Date:December 1st, 2009 02:23 am (UTC)
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You make some good points, but I must say that if you are leading this argument towards banning guns, this is a horrible idea.

The problem is when you ban guns, by definition law-abiding citizens are disarmed. This means those who have guns and don't care about the law can victimize them without worry about being shot back at.

The other issue is that guns are an equalizer. A 90 lbs woman doesn't have much hope against a 230lbs attacker if she is unarmed. However, if she draws a pistol on him he is much more likely to take off running than continue attacking her.

I'm not a "gun nut", I just like to point out that guns do have a place in civilian society. Not only can you not always trust the police or military to help you; in rare cases you may not be able to trust them to even be on your side.
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From:wbwolf
Date:December 1st, 2009 02:35 am (UTC)
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Whether I like or not, banning guns in the US is completely impractical; they are far too ingrained into US society, and as you point out, there are legitimate uses for them (target shooting, farm use, etc.).

However, I do feel that their needs to be improvements in how guns are regulated in the US. How it stands now, the best we have is a waiting period and attempts at a background check, but due to the disconnected nature of the various databases that are required, is often incomplete and haphazard at best. However, there is no requirement for training how to properly use the firearm. I liken owning a car to owning a gun; you can purchase a car, but you need to show proof that you have gotten training on how to use it and follow the rules of the road before you can drive it. The same cannot be said for gun ownership. And when there has been attempts to add what I think is a reasonable addition (such as in Washington state in the late 90s), gun rights groups go crazy.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:December 1st, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)
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No, I'm not. My point is this: Man, gun advocates say a lot of really dumb crap. Dumb and provably false.
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From:orv
Date:December 1st, 2009 07:03 am (UTC)
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The other issue is that guns are an equalizer. A 90 lbs woman doesn't have much hope against a 230lbs attacker if she is unarmed. However, if she draws a pistol on him he is much more likely to take off running than continue attacking her.

I hear that argument a lot, especially with regard to muggings or rapes. The problem is these are crimes of opportunity, where the attacker has the element of surprise. There's no time to draw a weapon, and the most likely outcome if you belatedly do is that the weapon gets stolen along with everything else. If someone sees a situation like that developing far enough ahead of time to have time to draw their weapon, they've probably seen it soon enough to avoid it entirely.
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From:discopanda
Date:December 1st, 2009 10:18 am (UTC)
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If you ask why guns were invented, the gun nut will usually give you some other silly answer along the lines of "to make holes in things"

Which has been known to end very badly.
http://www.kctv5.com/news/15698864/detail.html
(Hint: A handgun is NOT an appropriate cable tv installation tool. Ever.)
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From:deckardcanine
Date:December 1st, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
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Your second question is worth asking even if they are just paranoid. The probable answer: "Move where? Every livable place is dangerous enough to merit a gun."

I keep forgetting the name of the town where gun ownership is mandatory, but they've boasted more than 30 years without a murder. My hometown of D.C., meanwhile, has been statistically suffering from the fact that only cops and criminals have guns.

Mind you, I don't believe everything that gun proponents say. I've heard one claim that knives were deadlier than guns. Well, gee whiz, if guns aren't the best weapons, then why do you care about restrictions on them?

But in truth, I think that conservatives would oppose gun control even if they believed it saved lives. There's simply no way they're letting the cops be the only ones allowed to use guns; that's tyranny in their eyes.
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From:drmercurious
Date:December 1st, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
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Personally I would like to see better ENFORCEMENT of the laws in place conerning guns.

Also: I've talked to police and they all say the same thing: you do NOT pull your gun out UNLESS you are prepared to deal with the reality that you WILL kill someone with it. You CANNOT count on only 'wounding' someone and even then you could cripple someone physically for life. Not to mention the mental damage involved in being shot.
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