James Wright’s article about how he was wrong about gun control and why it is doomed to failure, from the 90’s. The years change, but the song remains the same:
So I came across an article this morning where David Smalley, Proud Atheist, lectures America about “Why Gun Nuts Lie – I Know From Experience” – and with a premise like that, you know you are in for quite a wild ride.
First, he starts with his credentials:
I live in Texas. I’m a gun owner. I have a concealed handgun license. I’ve taught my kids how to fire weapons.
I also understand and appreciate our Constitution. I’m fully aware of the 2nd Amendment, and how its authors wanted to prevent government tyranny. Considering what they had gone through, they had every right to demand such a thing.
I know enough about weapons to have a near perfect score on my firing test, to know that the “c” in SR9c stands for “compact” to make the weapon easier to hide; and to know that the AR in AR-15 doesn’t stand for ‘Assault Rifle,’ but ‘Armalite’ after the original company who made the gun.
Am I a gun nut? Maybe. But I like to keep myself skeptical and informed. And that includes realizing when I’m being illogically influenced by my culture, and taking necessary steps to correct it.
At this nation’s beginning, it made sense for the citizens to be armed similarly to the government to prevent tyranny.
Today, that’s ridiculous. The very concept is outdated. Some have said to me; the point is for the citizens to be “as armed as well as the government.”
Really? The concept is outdated? This would seem to indicate that Mr. Smalley’s beliefs are predicated on either strawman arguments or a lack of history (or both). We’ll go into detail though, don’t worry.
For starters, today, the military has fully automatic M-16s. Citizens can’t buy that. You have to get a tamer version: AR-15.
You can’t have flame throwers, bombs, bazookas, Z10 attack helicopters, bradleys, tanks, fighter jets, nuclear reactors, or a plethora of other secret military weapons you don’t even know exist.
Mr Smalley shows a fundamental lack of knowledge with these statements, starting with current gun control laws. Citizens can buy fully automatic M-16s, they are regulated as Machineguns under the National Firearms Act of 1934. Flamethrowers? Not even federally regulated (even CNN scratched their head on that) and there are models for sale online right now in various configurations. Bombs & Bazookas? They are considered “destructive devices” and have similar paperwork to machineguns. Attack helicopters (Z10? wtf) & fighter jets? Uh, here ya go. Bradleys, tanks? Whoops.
So right off the bat, Mr. Smalley is entirely full of shit. Of course if you confront him on this, he will shift the goalposts to whine about how you can’t buy the latest in military weapons systems like AH-64 Apaches with full Block upgrades, or a F-22, but that is besides the point – anyone citizen based uprising doesn’t require full air dominance & support. They just have to apply the same asymmetric warfare principles that were used against the US in Iraq, Afghanistan & Vietnam.
Secondly, what if you were? I could hand you 50 AR-15s, give you 1000 illegal bombs, steal you a couple of tanks, and smuggle in some bazookas, and even let you fully train 500 of your closest friends.
If the government wants your shit, they’re going to take it.
You still wouldn’t be a match for even a single battalion of the United States Marine Corps. Not to mention the Air Force, Army, Navy, National Guard, Secret Service, FBI, CIA, and Seals.
So stop acting like your little AR-15 is going to stop tyranny.
There’s the money shot! The argument is “your AR-15 doesn’t matter against the full weight of the US Government. At a base level, he’s correct – one person cannot stand against the government. One person, however, can make a difference, whether they are Ed Snowden, or Bradley Manning, or others. If Mr. Smalley had a base level of knowledge, he’d recall back to how WWI was started before making such a vacuous argument.
Here’s the thing though: We’ve been at war since just after 9/11 – 15 years now. Despite that, we haven’t been able to pacify two areas that are smaller than Texas. We still have troops deployed in Afghanistan, and despite “withdrawing” from Iraq, we have troops fighting there as well. So while one man with a rifle can’t make a difference, it would behoove Mr. Smalley to recall the riots in Baltimore and Ferguson, or the LA Riots from the 90s, before dismissing the effectiveness of large groups of people. Larry Correia has a great article on why your “citizens can’t stand up to the government” argument is not grounded in reality, I suggest you read it.
But that can’t be all of his argument now, can it? Of course not:
Just be honest. You like it because it makes your pee-pee big, and when you fire it, it gives you a tingle in your no-no place.
Of course, nobody could want an AR-15 (or equivalent rifle) because they are fun guns to shoot. Or that they are excellent for home protection. Or that they work for shooters as tall as 6’6″, or children barely in their teens. No, it’s because we’ve got little dicks. And Mr. Smalley has a vast amount of experience with the genitalia of gun owners because he’s clearly conversant and can speak from experience having handled many of them, right?
So what’s next? Oh, more of the usual antigun talking points:
A collection of studies from 2012-2013 found that having a gun in your home significantly increases your risk of death—and that of your spouse and children. If you have a gun (regardless of how it’s stored), everybody in your home is more likely than your non-gun-owning neighbors and their families to die in a gun-related accident, suicide or homicide.
Oh look, a list of 10 strawman arguments from Mother Jones, followed by a moronic “correlation = causation” argument that ignores that firearms homicides or suicides aren’t even on the top ten lists of ways to die in America. Guess what, Mr Smalley – owning a car makes it more likely you’ll be in a car accident too. Please, let go of your pearls.
Gun owners and their families are not more suicidal than non-gun-owners, research shows. Nor are they more likely to have a history of depression or other mental health problems.
But they—and their families—are at significantly increased risk of successfully taking their lives with a gun.
Sure, because firearms are pretty efficient like that. But, as I’ve stated before, “Remove guns, PROBLEM SOLVED” doesn’t work with suicides either, as people will switch methods. See (gun free) Japan with 2x our suicide rate, and (gun free) South Korea with more than 2x our suicide rate, and (heavily gun restricted) Belgium with 1.33 our suicide rate.
Next, Mr. Smalley fails at the google:
Let’s play a little research game. Google: “man fights off gang of bad guys with AR-15” and the first thing that pops up is a video of criminals shooting at a moving car with handguns. …
Your fantasy of wiping out those 14 burglars, like Rambo spraying bullets from your AR-15, just isn’t going to happen.
It doesn’t happen. Period.
It doesn’t happen? Oh ok. Let’s try that with videos. First result for “man defends with AR-15” is this:
Here’s another video:
And here’s a woman defending her home in Detroit with a Hi Point carbine:
Hmm, sure looks like people defend themselves with rifles, Mr. Smalley.
I’m not advocating for you to lose all your guns. Even aware of the statistical dangers, I struggle with what to do with mine. I want my kids to be educated on the dangers, but I don’t want to act like guns make me safer. At least if I’m being skeptical even when it hurts.
Ah yes, the “No one wants to take your guns” strawman rears its head.
Here’s an idea: Disarm yourself. If you don’t want a gun, don’t buy one. We’re pro-choice like that. As a matter of fact, I’d suggest you sell all of yours immediately because you sound like an asshole and I’d hate for you to hurt yourself or someone else. Because you aren’t being skeptical: you are showing confirmation bias and are ignoring information that counters your viewpoints.
Then comes the litany of gun control masturbation:
But we have to draw the line somewhere. The bottom line is, we just need common sense. And we need to stop lying to ourselves.
I detailed my proposal for gun legislation on Dogma Debate #211: Guns & Atheists. But here’s the gist of it:
Treat guns like cars.
Operating age limits
Restrict some models
Require safety inspections
I’m drawing the line well before that, because you aren’t educated enough about the laws to have a layman’s opinion and your facts are wrong.
Your laundry list is dumb for a few reason. For one, you don’t want to treat guns like cars, because if you did, you’d actually be making the case to loosen laws. Here’s a couple things for you to read about why your argument has the facts exactly backwards:
- Michael Z Williamson’s essay “We need to regulate cars the way we regulate guns“
- TTAG’s Debunking the “Guns should be Treated like Cars” Analogy
- Eugene Volokh’s “Why not regulate guns like cars?”
All of those lay it out in very simple language why your argument is dumb.
Mandatory licenses? This is a non-starter unless they are freely available on a shall-issue basis. By the way, Illinois has mandatory licenses for even purchasing ammunition under their Firearms Owner Identification requirements. Guess how that works out for them?
But hey, are you going to be ok with 16 year olds getting concealed carry permits? Because that’s what you are asking for.
Mandatory training? I’m down for that if you make it part of K-12 public school curriculum. Otherwise you are just using dogwhistle racism to try to deny those who live in lower income brackets the ability to defend themselves.
Mandatory insurance? There’s not an insurance company out there that’s going to cover criminal actions (the primary reason you want firearms insurance, right?) and suicide requirements are pretty strict in existing health insurance as well. But again, this goes back to dogwhistle racism as the people most likely to be victimized are also the same group disproportionately represented as homicide offenders.
Age limits? Why? This sounds like you aren’t interested in safety whatsoever. We have 360x more children 12 & under being injured in bicycle accidents every year (144,573 in 2014) than firearms (460 again 2014). Hell, almost 6800 kids under 12 almost drowned in 2014. Even looking at fatal injury data, bicycles killed 29 kids, 597 were drowned, 43 fell to their deaths, and 44 were killed unintentionally by firearms. Roughly the same number of kids died falling down stairs or off ladders as were accidentally shot. Double digit numbers of deaths, while tragic and horrendous for the families, are not reasons to curtail constitutional rights.
Model restrictions? Why? What restrictions? Let me guess, ones that scare you based on cosmetic features. We already have model restrictions, thanks, and we don’t need more for dubious reasons.
Safety inspections? Why? Sounds like you aren’t a fan of privacy either.
Mandatory registration? LOL no. Sorry! First, registration schemes are the epitome of Southpark’s Underpants Gnomes style gun control logic. It’s one of those ideas that sounds good in theory, but doesn’t actually work out in practice. Why? Because when guns are stolen, or straw purchased, or otherwise disappear, your registry is useless. Registries are good for one thing, and that’s revenue generation. Past that, they don’t work unless the firearm is recovered at the crime scene… and if you have the gun, you typically have the shooter too.
Finally, Background Checks. See Illinois above. If you want truly effective background checks, open a publicly accessible NICS portal that requires two party token authentication and you’ll have actual gun owners supporting the concept. Meanwhile until straw purchasing and the like are eliminated, not to mention burglary, you are missing the crime gun forest for the trees.
Yesterday was a victory for the United States – the Senate prevented shredding the 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th, and 14th amendments in order for Senate Democrats to restrict the 2nd.
This is being played as Republican’s wanting to sell guns to ISIS. I’m not joking, that’s actually what Sen Chris Murphy stated:
We’ve got to make this clear, constant case that Republicans have decided to sell weapons to ISIS
Why? Because the Senate Democrats put forward bills to restrict gun sales to people listed on the US Government’s Terror Watchlists. The same secret watchlists that the even ACLU is saying not to use for gun control.
So what was the problem with the proposed bills from the Democrats? TL;DR – they wanted people to prove their innocence, eliminated due process, and a host of other issues.
The Republican’s put up two alternative bills in order to quell public fears:
Grassley Senate Amendment 4751
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley’s piece of legislation aimed to bolster the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) through increased funding. Other than Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, Democrats voted against the measure,
Grassley’s bill failed 53-47.
Looks like the Democratic party isn’t for bolstering the NICS system.
The Republicans also put a bill up allowing use of the Terror Watchlists to deny gun sales provided the feds could show probable cause:
Senate Amendment 4749
Another bill, put forth by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, would have allowed a federal judge to block a gun sale pending there is probable cause that an individual “has committed or will commit an act of terrorism.”
The Cornyn bill failed 53-47.
In closing, the any spin about how this is all the Republican’s fault is misplaced – the Republican’s proposals had much more support and protected core constitutional rights.
Also of note: Universal Background Checks, which were utterly unrelated to the Orlando shooting and would not have prevented it, were also defeated yesterday. Hooray!
The next time your left leaning friends decide to lecture you about how you are a terrible gun fetishist, feel free to refer to this well written piece:
I’m still pretty incensed from Tuesday’s press conference, where President Obama mentioned background checks 22 times:
The problem is some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules. A violent felon can buy the exact same weapon over the Internet with no background check, no questions asked. A recent study found that about one in 30 people looking to buy guns on one website had criminal records — one out of 30 had a criminal record. We’re talking about individuals convicted of serious crimes — aggravated assault, domestic violence, robbery, illegal gun possession. People with lengthy criminal histories buying deadly weapons all too easily. And this was just one website within the span of a few months.
So we’ve created a system in which dangerous people are allowed to play by a different set of rules than a responsible gun owner who buys his or her gun the right way and subjects themselves to a background check. That doesn’t make sense. Everybody should have to abide by the same rules. Most Americans and gun owners agree. And that’s what we tried to change three years ago, after 26 Americans -– including 20 children -– were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Ignoring that no background check in the world would have stopped Adam Lanza from killing those kids at Sandy Hook, President Obama lied outright when saying that violent felons can get weapons over the internet, as if shopping online suddenly removes federal firearms regulations.
It doesn’t. Violent felons are always considered prohibited persons under US code and therefore it is illegal for them to purchase firearms, online or otherwise. There’s no magical exemption from background checks for them, whether they are trying to buy a gun online, face to face, or in a store. Well, unless they are getting their guns from the Feds via Operation Fast and Furious as some gleefully pointed out.
Politifact rated this claim as “mostly true” because, for some reason, they think that because the possibility exists, it’s a fact – as if the President was referring to DarkNet Market sales of firearms when he was talking about background checks. Here’s a clue for Politifact – background checks aren’t ever going to be put in place on these sorts of sales, so why on earth would you think that remotely applies to what the President was talking about? “But but but ARMSLIST!” they go on to say, ignoring that Armslist is not a site that accepts transactions. If the money doesn’t change hands online, it’s not an online sale.
Lack of Consequences
This is all a sideline though, because the main problem isn’t about lack of background checks – that’s not the elephant in the room. The issue is that firearms violations aren’t being prosecuted and have never been a priority for this administration.
All the laws in the world don’t matter if you fail to enforce them. I’ve mentioned previously that firearms violation prosecutions have fallen during President Obama’s tenure, despite his “tough” talk on firearms crime, but it seems like the media is content to let this issue slide while giving him fawning adoration over his crocodile tears.
Here’s two rather notable examples that should be brought up each and every time that the President screams for more background checks: Dontray Mills and Jalita Johnson
Dontray Mills, 24, purchased a total of 27 firearms, mostly handguns, between December 2012 and April 2014 and pleaded guilty to one of the charges on April 22, 2014, after an ATF investigation. As a result of the conviction, Mills will never again be able to buy firearms legally.
On Wednesday, he was sentenced. As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors agreed with the one year of probation.
Randa said he recognized the seriousness of the offense and acknowledged the problem of guns winding up in the hands of people who use them to commit violence.
Wow. Probation. For providing 27 firearms to gang members. 55 counts of firearms violations, from buying guns with fake IDs to selling without a license. His sentence: probation with no jail time.
Johnson bought her boyfriend, Marcus Wheeler, a Glock pistol. Wheeler happened to be a convicted felon, and was wanted in connection for another shooting when he turned around and used that same pistol to murder a cop.
However, she confirmed that the firearms transaction record the agents had acquired from Arrowhead Pawn Shop looked like a copy of the one she had filled out when she bought the gun.
Johnson, from Jonesboro, replied ‘yes’ to a question on the form asking whether she was the actual buyer of the gun, according to a sworn statement by an agent from the ATF, filed in court last week.
However, Wheeler had actually given her the money to buy the gun for him, it is alleged.
Wheeler, who was not legally able to own or buy a firearm himself, also sent his girlfriend several text messages while she was in the pawn shop indicating what she should buy, the statement said.
After she bought the gun, Johnson allegedly gave it to Wheeler, who occasionally visited her.
Orozco, who lived in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and was a native of nearby Walnut, Iowa, was shot dead after Wheeler opened fire on officers trying to arrest him in connection with another shooting
This is a textbook example of a straw purchase that ended with a dead cop. Clearly they threw the book at her, right? Wrong.
A Clayton County woman was sentenced to a year of probation for lying about the gun she purchased for her boyfriend, a convicted felon who used the Glock to kill a Nebraska police officer.
Jalita Jenera Johnson, 26, must also complete 40 hours of community service and serve 180 days of home confinement, U.S. Attorney John Horn’s office said Monday.Johnson pleaded guilty in August.
Johnson got caught with texts from Wheeler specifying what gun to buy. She lied on the ATF Form 4473. which is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and / or up to a $250,000 fine. She gave the gun to a convicted felon who was already wanted for another shooting, effectively enabling him to murder a police officer. She then lied to the feds who questioned her after the gun was traced.
She got a slap on the wrist for it.
If you can’t muster the intestinal fortitude to put someone behind bars after they straw purchased a firearm that is used to kill a police officer, why should we take you seriously when you call for more background checks?
This afternoon, President Obama showed a stunning display of dishonesty, idiocy, and emotional blackmail during a press conference covering his executive orders on gun control. Here’s a transcript of his remarks: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/01/05/transcript-president-obamas-remarks-on-gun-violence/
President Obama started with a statement about the shooting of Gabby Giffords, and
That’s why we’re here today. Not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to try to prevent the next one.
Strange, I can’t think of any mass shootings that would have been prevented by a background check. In fact:
Each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that common-sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, or the one before that, so why bother trying. I reject that thinking. (Applause.) We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence.
Some of you may recall, at the same time that Sandy Hook happened, a disturbed person in China took a knife and tried to kill — with a knife — a bunch of children in China. But most of them survived because he didn’t have access to a powerful weapon. We maybe can’t save everybody, but we could save some. Just as we don’t prevent all traffic accidents but we take steps to try to reduce traffic accidents.
Seriously? The President said background checks were “common sense” and then segued into Sandy Hook, a mass shooting that background checks singularly wouldn’t have prevented. You know, because Adam Lanza murdered his mother to get her guns (which she was background checked on, and duly registered). Jared Loughner, perpetrator of the Giffords shooting in Tuscon was background checked too. Later on he states:
Our right to peaceful assembly -– that right was robbed from moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette. Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -– those rights were stripped from college students in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first-graders in Newtown. First-graders. And from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun.
With the exception of Newtown, each of these perpetrators were background checked. How on earth can he use these to justify background checks? How? Even CNN knows that background checks probably won’t stop mass shootings. It’s not like the White House hasn’t been asked these questions before either – watch them duck and weave when asked whether their proposals would actually stop mass shootings back in December, 2015:
Yes, the gun lobby is loud and it is organized in defense of making it effortless for guns to be available for anybody, any time. Well, you know what, the rest of us, we all have to be just as passionate.
Seriously? Wow, let me just rush right out and pick up a new M4 at 7-11. He made this statement just seven sentences after talking about the gun lobby lying. He then went on to make this claim:
A violent felon can buy the exact same weapon over the Internet with no background check, no questions asked.
This right here is complete unvarnished bullshit. It’s got no basis in fact, guns aren’t shipped to your door from an internet sale, especially from gun dealers. There’s no exemption for background check requirements if a sale is done online. This is just an updated version of the so-called “gun show loophole” (which also doesn’t exist)
But what really galls me is this statement:
And, yes, it will be hard, and it won’t happen overnight. It won’t happen during this Congress. It won’t happen during my presidency. But a lot of things don’t happen overnight. A woman’s right to vote didn’t happen overnight. The liberation of African Americans didn’t happen overnight. LGBT rights — that was decades’ worth of work. So just because it’s hard, that’s no excuse not to try.
Gun control is not in any way comparable to women voting, or civil rights, or LGBT rights. Each of those empowered people who were previously denied constitutional protections. What the President wants, instead, is to make sure that people are victims at the whim of the state.
That’s terrible. It didn’t save Carol Browne, nor will it protect anyone else.
I love Reason’s articles so very, very much. I can always count on them to be levelheaded when it comes to this topic:
This week, in an editorial titled “Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Gun Violence,” The New York Times noted that “less than 5 percent of gun homicides between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people with diagnoses of mental illness.” The week before last, in a front-page editorial titled “End the Gun Epidemic in America,” the Times urged Congress to ban “the slightly modified combat rifles used in California,” a.k.a. “assault weapons” (although the rifles used in the San Bernardino massacre did not qualify for that label under California law). FBI data indicate that rifles in general, which include many guns that are not considered “assault weapons,” were used in about 2 percent of homicides (and 3 percent of gun homicides) last year.
Why does the Times understand percentages when it comes to people with psychiatric diagnoses but not when it comes to people with guns? Probably because fear and loathing of firearms prevent its editorialists from thinking straight. But in light of these numbers, it seems quite unlikely that a ban on so-called assault weapons—even if it somehow eliminated the millions of “assault weapons” already in circulation, and even if murderers did not simply switch to other, equally lethal guns—would have a noticeable impact on gun violence, let alone that it would “end the gun epidemic in America.”
Why isn’t anyone else pointing out the double standards? Why is it ok to paint gun owners with the broadest brush possible and use guilt-by-association tactics to imply we’re all mass murderers or borderline psychotics, while every effort is made to diminish any similar claims about other groups?
It’s shameful, but at least they are blatant.