I really shouldn’t do this, because the gun debate changes about as many minds as the abortion debate at this point, with both sides choosing to ignore statistics that don’t confirm their previously held beliefs, substituting emotion for reason. It is, in general, a big ole’ waste of time. This is especially true of articles, given nearly every facet of this debate has already been written about by someone more talented than me… and the space is understandably crowded after every mass shooting.
But just a couple of things that should probably be pointed out, both to put things in perspective and to look at a couple of solutions. Not only to addressing American deaths, but also a solution for gun control advocates trying to have a constructive conversation with people who aren’t.
If the goal is reducing the number of American deaths, the leading causes of death for humans in America is abortion, followed by heart disease, followed by cancer. Murders are far down the list, well under other intentional deaths like suicides, at a fraction of a percent. However, one incident can narrow that focus towards gun deaths. Addressing this might not save more lives, but it’s the flavor of the day, so let’s put that one into perspective.
The deaths of 17 people in a mass shooting is tragic.
It’s not more tragic than the 117 suicides a day in America.
It’s not more tragic than the 3,700 abortions a day in America.
If there’s a solution that makes sense that applies only to the 0.3% of murders (which themselves are 0.6% of American deaths) that are mass shootings that would be both effective, constitutional, and worth the cost, by all means we should look into that. But we should maybe keep a little bit of perspective instead of letting our emotions blind us to the actual data.
I’m open to suggestions, but there’s a couple of things to keep in mind…
1. If the suggestion is to overturn the second amendment, it’s not going to happen.
2. If the suggestion is to ban automatic weapons, those have already been effectively banned since the 1930s (with few exceptions), and the only people using them for mass murder are governments themselves.
3. If the suggestion is to ban semi autos, roughly half of all handguns and half of all rifles currently owned are semi auto, and most modern guns of both types are, meaning the percentages are rising. Banning roughly half of all guns in America simply isn’t feasible, and see number 1.
4. If the suggestion is to ban “assault weapons”, it’s probably a good idea to actually be able to define the term first. Different states have different definitions, and the feds did during their 10 year “assault weapons” ban (By the way, since that ban ended, murder rates by gun have dropped nearly every year. Correlation may not equal causation, but in any case, it wasn’t effective when it was law.).
5. If the suggestion is to ban ARs, it might make sense to know a little something about them, and to make a case why they’re more dangerous than other common types of long guns or rifles. Seems like a good baseline, especially given that they’re the most commonly owned rifle in America and would require gun confiscation on a pretty massive level.
6. If the suggestion is something like mental health screenings as a requirement, or any other sorts of pre-crime that allows the government who has proven itself to selectively enforce laws to determine subjective valuations to meet out the punishment of denial of constitutional rights before the commission of a crime with no meaningful due process, see number 1, and add in a couple of other constitutional rights on top.
7. If the suggestion is “common sense gun regulation”, you’re going to need to be more specific. Far too often, whatever proposals follow are anything but, so you’ll have to forgive me for being skeptical. If the answer is more regulation of some type, then that’s a conversation worth having, but it helps to know exactly what kind of regulation we’re talking about.
8. If the suggestion is to end the “gun show loophole”, you’ll first have to prove that it actually exists. (Hint–it doesn’t.)
9. If you use the phrases “but think about the children” or “if it only saves one life” and are pro-choice, it’s going to be difficult for pro-life people to take you seriously and not steer the conversation towards abortion rather than guns, and whether or not they should is irrelevant to whether or not they will.
10. If instead of offering realistic suggestions, you instead would just like to say “well, look at America compared to these other countries”, especially but not exclusively if those statistics aren’t comparing apples to apples numbers or accounting for culture, it’s really not all that helpful. Politics is the art of the possible, and doesn’t reward idealism with immediate utopia.
Gun control advocates can point overseas for comparison, 2a activists can point out the prevalence of murders domestically in cities with the strictest gun laws or how often mass shootings seem to happen in gun free zones as soft targets. I could give the opposing side’s responses to each in my sleep, as well as the counterpoint to that. All that’s well and good, but if the argument isn’t tied to whether we should enact a specific solution, I’m not sure what good it does.
Most of the suggestions that I’m offering (free of charge, despite being a capitalist) to gun control advocates are pretty simple, but given how I’ve seen them argue the reminder seems necessary.
Know the subject you’re talking about enough to at least use the correct terminology and an awareness of what it is exactly you wanna ban. Whether or not specific terminology “should” matter, it does to many of the people you may argue against, who may assume you don’t know your subject matter if you think AR stands for assault or automatic rifle.
Focus on goals that are actually achievable, rather than pretending we’re going to nix any of the bill of rights anytime soon. Regardless of how much you may hate it, you live in reality with us. I know it’s an emotional issue on both sides, but keep things in perspective. Americans have a 0.00000143% chance of being killed in a mass shooting on an annual basis. It’s roughly the likelihood of being mauled to death by a dog. Now, that’s not to say we shouldn’t be concerned with mass shootings or dog maulings–I don’t want to sound un-empathetic or callous. But if the goal is preventing human death, we have to start somewhere, and it doesn’t need to be a bottom level of risk unless there’s a simple solution.
And there isn’t.