There’s been another mass shooting in America. The victims’ families are grieving, some of the wounded and the might-have-been-killed-if-not-for-dumb-luck are still in shock, and the pundits, zealots, and asshats have taken to the internet with their array of crusty old talking points about why “we” should or shouldn’t restrict gun ownership.
It seems disrespectful to complain about the low quality of political debate right after people die, but it seems more disrespectful to use people’s deaths for low-quality politics, and this is the most I can do to even minimally improve an awful situation. So without further ado:
“GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO SOMETHING!”
Seriously, what are you proposing? In what way do you want to change society to make murders less likely? Be specific.
“COMMON SENSE! DO SOMETHING! COMMON SENSE! IT’S TIME! DO SOMETHING!”
Okay, if you don’t dare name the proposal you’re pushing, then even you know it’s nonsense. Moving on.
“ONE GUY BROUGHT A SHOE BOMB ON A PLANE, AND NOW EVERY AIR TRAVELER HAS TO TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES!”
Yes, and that’s foolish. Much of what goes on in airports now is security theater, serving no purpose other than to convince people that Their Government Is Doing Somethingtm about terrorism and trampling on air travelers’ rights and dignity in the process. Are you advocating something equally foolish, like a federal stop-and-frisk program? If so, say so and I’ll call you a wannabe tyrant. If not, see above.
“EVERY OTHER COUNTRY HAS GUN-CONTROL LAWS, AND NONE OF THEM HAVE THESE KINDS OF GUN MASSACRES!”
Both halves of that statement are false.
“EVERY OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRY, i MEAN!”
Still false. For an example of each half of that statement being false, see Switzerland and Norway.
“WELL, BRITAIN DOESN’T HAVE GUN MASSACRES NOW! WE SHOULD DO WHAT THEY DID AFTER DUNBLANE!”
Britain didn’t have all that many gun massacres before Dunblane, either. Cultures differ, and thus violent-crime rates and preferred weapons differ, even in closely related cultures like America and Britain.
“WHAT HAPPENED IN NORWAY, ANYWAY? NORWAY IS A PEACEFUL…”
Anders Breivik murdered 80-odd people.
“YOU SHOULDN’T NAME THE PERPETRATOR! THAT’S WHAT HE WANTS, HE WANTS FAME AND GLORY!”
Oh, hi, Mr. Righty. I was going to get to you in a minute, but if you insist…
“HE WANTED FAME, AND I WANT TO SPITE HIM!”
Spite is never a good reason to do anything. If that’s your only reason to prevent us accurately describing crimes and their perpetrators (thus making it harder for us to understand and respond to acts of evil), then too bad.
“BUT NAMING HIM WILL INSPIRE COPYCATS!”
And not naming him will inspire an internet-wide censorship regime, because it requires one. An argument could theoretically be made that it’s better to hurt billions of people a little bit than hundreds of people a lot, but oppression is also a known cause of violence, so you’re going to have a hard time convincing me of this one.
Luckily, you aren’t trying to convince me of anything. You’re trying to appeal to my baser instincts. That simplifies things.
“VENEZUELA HAS GUN CONTROL, AND IT’S A PESTHOLE!”
Did you see Mr. Lefty’s “Britain doesn’t have gun massacres” thing above and think it looked like a reasonable argument? No? Well, it isn’t a reasonable argument when you use it, either.
“WELL-REGULATED MILITIA, IT SAYS! THE SECOND AMENDMENT SAYS THAT ONLY THE MILITIA SHOULD HAVE GUNS!”
Hello again, Mr. Lefty. Let’s see what the Second Militia Act of 1792 says a “militia” should be… oh, everyone the government considered an able-bodied adult at the time? OK then.
“THE MILITIA IS THE NATIONAL GUARD, OBVIOUSLY!”
You were making a “Founders’ intent” argument mere seconds ago, and a nationwide “National Guard” is an early-20th-century invention.
“NO ONE’S TRYING TO TAKE AWAY ANYONE’S GUNS OR KEEP YOU FROM HAVING GUNS, YOU PARANOID GUN NUTS!”
Actually, yes, you are. That’s what gun control is, and trying to hide that fact just marks you as a liar.
“THE BEST DEFENSE AGAINST A BAD GUY WITH A GUN IS A GOOD GUY WITH A GUN!”
Unless the good guy isn’t fast enough, lucky enough, or brave enough to prevent the crime, or is in fact the bad guy. Oh, and didn’t Columbine have a cop on the premises? He saved some lives (by curtailing Harris and Klebold’s ability to chase after victims), but Columbine was still a massacre.
“GUN OWNERSHIP IS A HEDGE AGAINST TYRANNY!”
Not really. Putting aside the difficulty of fighting off a modern militarized police state with any weapons you’ll be able to get your hands on, gun owners are as likely to be supporters as opponents of tyranny, as anyone who lives in a country with “death squads” could tell you.
“WHY DO YOU HATE CHILDREN? WHY DO YOU WANT TO KILL CHILDREN? YOU’RE INSANE! AND YOU’RE ALSO BOUGHT AND PAID FOR BY THE NRA!”
“WHY DO YOU HATE FREEDOM? YOU’RE A TYRANT! YOU COMMIE HOPLOPHOBE!”
Oh, you’re just pretending to talk to each other at this point. You’re pandering to your respective fans. I’ll leave you to it.