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 The very concept is outdated.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 The concept is outdated?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.