Everything You Need to Know About the Gun Control Debate
There are a lot of really stupid arguments being used to defend the recent murders of 17 children during a mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Most of them are coming from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Dana Loesch, and the NRA.
Below is a list of 5 of the most frequently used taking points weaponized by the Republican Party, the National Rifle Association, Russian bots, and far-right assholes that care more about their MAGA-given right to play with their pew-pew’s than the lives of innocent people. For each argument, I’ve provided a counterargument you can use to shut them the hell up.
Take these arguments. Weaponize them. Turn them into action.
Shut. Their. Shit. Down.
1. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to individual gun ownership
This is absolute bullshit. In fact, for over 200 years district, state, and federal courts upheld the right of states and localities to regulate, restrict, and ban the possession and transportation of firearms. There was no individual right to gun ownership in the United States of America under the 2nd Amendment until Ted Cruz, the NRA and the far right decided it was time to change all that.
To understand how this legal revolution happened, it helps to bring Roe v. Wade to mind.
Women’s rights and gun rights are both open to the interpretations and political leanings of the Supreme Court. Should the pendulum swing further to the right, Roe vs Wade could be overturned. Federal gun control policy is no different. It is subject to the political leanings of the Supreme Court. In 2008, the conservatives found themselves in the position to re-write the Second Amendment through SCOTUS. And they wasted no time.
In one of the most poorly crafted legal assertions in history, District of Columbia v Heller, Ted Cruz and the legal Smeagols of the far-right were able to take advantage of an appropriately conservative SCOTUS to assert that a ban on handgun possession in Washington, D.C. violated the 2nd Amendment’s right to “keep and bear arms.” And they did so by arguing that 200 years of legal precedent and scholarship were all wrong because of a grammatical misunderstanding.
Seriously, that’s all it took. It’s total bullshit.. You can read Ted Cruz’s word salad posing as legal brief opposing bans on firearms here. (Subsequently, you can find his legal argument affirming a ban on sex toys and dildos here.)
Despite the absolutely ridiculous arguments presented to the court, SCOTUS found in favor of word salad 5–4. And 10 years later we are coming face to face with the very real consequences of this decision. While the Republicans are attempting to create the illusion that individual gun rights have been around since the birth of the nation — nothing could be further from the truth.
The idea is stupid. It’s dangerous. And it’s only a decade old. And the moment we get an opportunity to overturn it, we can and should do so.
2. The 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to have any gun anywhere at any time because it says, “shall not be infringed.”
This argument is also what I like to call: complete bullshit. Sure, the right of the State to arm and maintain a well-regulated militia — and arm citizens in direct service of these regulated and maintained organizations — shall not be infringed. The Second Amendment does not protect the right for every murderer that wants to strap on an assault weapon to load up and head on over to the local elementary school and start knocking on classroom doors.
In fact, the Heller ruling described above specifically states: “the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose….”
Restrictions on what kind of guns are allowed to be distributed to whom, and where those guns are allowed to be carried are and always have been legal under Heller and the Second Amendment. Always. Some of the rights NOT granted by the Second Amendment, though, include: the right to bear sporting goods, the right to give members of neo-Confederate terrorist organizations AR-15s, and the right to put guns in rooms with toddlers.
So, if someone is actually arguing that we can’t enforce gun control because of the “shall not be infringed” portion of the second amendment, remind them that their argument actually violates both Heller and the Second Amendment. And that you are trying to protect the Second Amendment from people that are disrespecting the Constitution. (Protip: Even if you’re just trying to protect the kids out there, that last part seems to get ’em all flustered. And that’s kind of satisfying. Feel free to have a little fun with it.)
3. We need to arm teachers to keep schools safe
This argument reads like: we need to put people with guns in rooms with toddlers so we can protect them from people with guns…in rooms…with toddlers.
Right. Well, couple of things. Legally, that argument actually violates the Second Amendment as interpreted by Heller. As stupid as it is, the Heller ruling still serves as the current cornerstone of federal gun control policy today and it specifically states:
“Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
Facts are also helpful here.
Sure, the NRA and the GOP can pull out a handful of stories about how someone fended off an attacker with a weapon. And they can pretend that this one case wipes out decades or research and lives lost, but the numbers just don’t add up. Not even kind of. When one or more guns is present in a criminal situation, the overwhelming majority of the time, they will be used in the commission of a crime — not the prevention of a crime.
Out of the 300 million firearms on the streets of the United States, only .03% are used per year in self-defense. While as few as 200 to 250 justifiable homicides are committed in acts of self-defense annually, over 35,000 people per year are killed with firearms and close to 120,00 people are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, suicide attempts, police encounters, and accidents. This means that under the most generous estimates 156 times more murders are committed by guns involved in illegal activity than in self-defense.
The far right likes to use funny numbers to pretend they have “evidence” that more guns are the solution to gun violence. Don’t be intimidated by it. It’s total bullshit. The earth is round. Climate change is real. And guns are designed to cause shootings, not stop them.
4. We need guns to protect us from crazy people.
First, that’s ablists. Stop that shit. Second, people with mental health related challenges are not the people going around committing crimes with firearms. If fact, these folks are far more likely to be the victims of gun violence than the perpetrators.
While the NRA would like to use mental health as their scapegoat for events where firearms are used to gun down multiple victims, mass shootings carried out by people suffering from mental health conditions account for only 1% of gun homicides annually.
On the other hand, the majority of mass-shootings involve a male with a history of domestic violence. And frequently, their female counterparts and family members are listed amongst the casualties. And legally, beating your wife is a crime, not a mental health issue. Similarly, more Americans are killed every year in the United States by white male right-wing extremists than by any other type of organized terror group. Racism is also not considered a mental health issue — however, a strong argument can be made that participation in a white extremist group or organization should prevent an individual from possession of a firearm.
It seems only fair. The NRA and the GOP have been very comfortable restricting the Second Amendment rights of black people based on identity.
For example, both were very active in passing gun possession restriction in response to the Black Panthers asserting their Second Amendment right to self-defense. Conservatives denied Martlin Luther King, Jr. a firearm after he applied for one following the bombing of his home. They also have had no problem standing by silently as black and brown people are gunned down by police officers for nothing more than giving the impression that they are exercising their Second Amendment rights.
Rather than allowing the Gun Party to clear a pathway for white terrorist organizations and their affiliates to continue to committing mass murders while criminalizing people of color and scapegoating people with disabilities, we need to call bullshit on this Jim Crow song and dance.
The problem isn’t people with mental health issues. It’s guns. We need people to control guns. We don’t need to use guns as an excuse to control people.
Ok, right. So, there’s just a bunch of stupid arguments that just don’t make any sense that the right wing throws out there. They are more deflections than anything else, but don’t let them Kellyanne Conway out of a real discussion. Here’s a few ways to handle them:
MAGABot: But Planned Parenthood!
Informed Human: Planned Parenthood isn’t a Second Amendment issue. Stick to the point, Kellyanne.
MAGABot: We need guns for hunting and competitions!
Informed Human: The Second Amendment does not grant you the right to play sports or kill your food with explosives. Why are you trying to blow your food up anyways?
MAGABot: Criminals will get guns if we ban them or not.
Informed Human: Well shit, yo. I guess we should just stop with all the hospitals and doctors and whatnot. Cuz, damn — if we can’t cure all diseases and heal all wounds, why the fuck bother with any of them?
MAGABot: We need guns to protect us from the government.
Informed Human: The government has nuclear weapons and missiles. Are you going to shoot the missiles? How many times will you shoot the missile? I am here for this.
MAGABot: You don’t know what AR stands for so shut up, Snowflake.
Informed Human: Right. So, actually, I do. It stands for ArmaLite Rifle. But even if I didn’t, it wouldn’t matter. All I need to know is the fact that it is the favorite weapon of mass shooters. It inflicts damage that makes it useless for hunting and self defense in small quarters. It was recently used by a white supremacist with a history of domestic violence to blow orange sized holes into 17 innocent teenagers. And I know that if someone that is more concerned with the proper name of the weapon used in mass shooting after mass shooting than the fact that the children are being blown to pieces with them — then I’m not the one in this conversation that has to worry about being a fucked up individual.
And that’s really at the heart of this whole battle: protecting people v protecting political interests.
The Gun Party and the NRA and the far right are going to try to throw a lot of numbers and legal terms and deflections at us. They don’t want to talk about facts or work on protecting the people. That is abundantly clear. What they want to do is overwhelm the system with so much bullshit, that we are too divided and diffused to fight back. We can’t let that happen.
It is not our job to entertain or negotiate with this bullshit. It is weaponized stupidity. Our job is to remain focused and remember — folks trying to find excuses to defend the murder of children in the name of 16th Century grammar, sportsmanship and Nazi meritocracy are seriously fucked up.
These assholes are literally killing our children. And there is no stupid philosophical argument that they can present that can or should prevent us from stopping them.
While Heller will not be overturned — and the 2nd Amendment will not be restored — until a more left leaning Supreme Court is in place, there are a number of legal, economic, and political actions that can be taken to begin the process of ending the NRA’s stronghold on gun policy in the United States and decrease gun sales, possession, and transportation.
In fact, the ball is rolling on many of these counter-attacks already. (Impressive response, folks.)
We are already seeing the damage that boycotts and business divestments are doing to the gun industry, but there is much more that can and should be done. States and localities can take their own legal actions to curb possession and transportation in accordance with Heller — and despite it. Military contracts can be targeted. Insurance requirements, registries, tax reforms, and other creative tactics can and should be applied at every level in efforts to protect our kids and overwhelm the system with lasting measures to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities from gun violence regardless of who is in control of the federal government.
That starts with arming yourself for the gun debate. And if you’ve read this far, that’s exactly what you’ve done. Now take these arguments. Weaponize them. Turn them into action. Shut. Their. Shit. Down.
To learn more about Dr. GS Potter and the Strategic Institute for Intersectional Policy (SIIP), visit: http://strategycampsite.org/v2/