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?