It has been a few days now since the latest mass shooting in Las Vegas, and I’ve already been asked The Question. If you are the “gun guy” or “gun gal” in your social circles, you’ve probably heard The Question, too. It goes a little something like this:
“What do you think about the shooting at …”
My first impulse is usually to take The Question literally and respond, “What the heck kind of question is that?! What do you think I think about mass murder?!” But the important thing to remember is that is not the real question, and that there is a reason why they are asking you.
They are asking you because you own guns, use guns, and support gun rights. Let’s face it, if they know you well enough to know that you have any empathy for your fellow man at all, then they already know that you find mass murder to be abhorrent. So The Question is really this:
“Now have enough people been killed to get you to admit that guns are bad, and to support more gun control?”
This also comes laden with the implication that if you don’t, there is something wrong with you. I really can’t recall a mass shooting in recent years when someone hasn’t approached me and, dripping with passive aggression, asked me what I thought about it. Las Vegas has been no exception. So in the spirit of openness and unity, I will answer both questions:
- I think the mass murder of 58 innocent people is horrific, and it saddens me to my very core.
- I do not think that guns are bad, and I do not think there should be more gun control.
I realize the second answer might require a bit more elaboration, so let’s dig in.
The first point I’ll make is that although the investigation is still ongoing, at this point it appears that the murderer either complied with the gun control laws we already have, or he broke them. Either way…whether he complied with them or violated them…existing gun control laws failed to prevent mass murder. They always do. In fact, a very similar mass murder occurred less than two years ago, in a country with much, much stricter gun control laws. Even though France has gun laws which are much more restrictive than in the United States, terrorists still managed to obtain and use firearms to murder 130 people, including 89 attending a concert at Bataclan Theater in Paris. French gun control failed…miserably…to prevent the massacre.
This answer then typically leads to a progression of “what ifs” of increasingly strict degrees of gun control measures, all of which can be shown to have either already failed somewhere in the world, or can be logically demonstrated to have little to no likelihood of success in preventing mass murder by psychopaths, criminals, or terrorists. Once all of this incrementalism has been pared away, we are finally left with the real objective of gun control, which is the total disarmament of all law-abiding citizens.
On this one, I won’t even try to make the case on the basis of civil rights guaranteed under the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. All the questioner will hear at this point is the sound that the adults make in the Charlie Brown cartoons. They think they have you cornered now. They think that you have basically made their case for them, and proven what they already know…that none of the incremental gun control they propose will be effective in preventing mass murder, and that the only argument you have left is that dusty, outdated piece of parchment…which Smart People™ believe to be worthless.
Hidden camera footage of anti-gunners listening to someone talk about the Constitution.
Now that they have you, they spring the real question at hand: Since none of the incremental gun controls are effective, why not just get rid of all the guns? Ban everything. No guns for anyone but cops and the military…oh, and for private bodyguards for celebrities, the rich, and the powerful (not you). Again, this one is actually much easier to handle if you stay away from the constitutional argument…they won’t even hear it. Instead, now it is time to ask a question of your own:
“How…exactly…do you propose to accomplish this?”
They’re going to have a tough time with this one, but the progression is quite predictable. First, they’re going to suggest that we simply pass a law outlawing every single rifle, pistol, and shotgun in private ownership. They might even roll out Dianne Feinstein to croak the words, “Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in.” But ask them how they plan to enforce it when a certain percentage of the gun owning population says “no,” and that’s when things get interesting. You’ll hear everything from Australia-style mandatory buybacks, to door-to-door confiscation by SWAT teams. This is where reality leaves the building, though with less flair than Elvis.
I’ll usually take this opportunity to tell them that the reality is that with over 300 million guns already in circulation in the United States, 100% compliance will never be achieved. This will eventually lead to the question, “what are you going to do, fight the entire government, with their airplanes and tanks when they come to disarm you?” Then it’s a simple matter to point out that the Taliban has been doing exactly that in Afghanistan for 14 years, and it’s a much smaller group in a much smaller country than the 150 million or so gun owners in the United States. (And all signs indicate that the Taliban will be alive and well in Afghanistan long after we’re gone.) So it’s highly doubtful that…even if the government were willing to launch the force of the US military against its own citizens…complete disarmament would ever be achieved. And then there’s the issue of the black market that a total ban would enable, and the fact that we can’t control our own borders…
It’s usually at this point (if not sooner) that I’ll be dismissed as a cold-hearted, or paranoid, or radical, and the Q&A session comes to end…often with a very upset questioner. So anti-gun folks…feel free to ask The Question. But don’t be upset when you don’t get the answer you’re looking for.
PS – Here’s a pro-tip for the antis (because I’m a giver): Focusing on the existence of murderous criminals is not a compelling argument for me to disarm myself. You might want to drop that tactic. Just sayin’…
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