I Don’t Want to Argue Gun Control Anymore

In 1991 my politics changed because of a man driving a truck through a window, then killing twenty-three people with a pair of handguns. I was already going through some changes in philosophy, becoming more conservative. I decided because of that man, because of the Luby’s Cafeteria Massacre, to not be a victim and to arm myself.

Since that incident, I have been a student of atrocity and it’s aftermath. I have argued gun control from many angles. Twenty-five years have passed. I went from being a far right Republican from being a center left Democrat. I revamped my stance on abortion, the drug war, the place of religion in politics and a plethora of other issues, but my one immovable stance has been on guns. A free people should be able to participate in their own defense with effective means.

I’m getting tired of it.

It’s not because I have seen laws come and expire. It’s not because I’ve seen Luby’s exceeded, both in horror and in cunning. It’s because nothing changes.

The argument goes like this: We don’t want to take your guns, we just want common sense gun control. The person telling you this won’t listen to the fact that the first half of that sentence is a lie (check the Twitter hashtag #BanAllGuns if you doubt me). When pressed, the “common sense gun control” will amount to background checks and/or registration, mandatory training and/or insurance, and an assault weapons ban.

Background checks aren’t a horrible idea, which is why I was surprised that in the wake of Sandy Hook, Sen. Coburn’s suggestion for a voluntary system got no traction from the Right (who had just lost an election and were not in a mood to bargain) or the Left (who did not feel it went far enough and that it was basically unenforceable). Registration is not a guarantor of confiscation, but it is a necessary precursor. Mandatory training and insurance, aside from the fact that neither have any place in proximity to a right, disproportionately disenfranchise lower income families. Assault weapons, which are a category only framed by political discourse and distaste, are used seldom in crimes and even in mass shootings, where handguns are more common and pump action shotguns are frequent choices (of the 30 worst mass shootings in the US, only 1/3 of them involved an assault weapon of any kind).

When presented with the facts, which are rarely accepted, the gun control advocate then goes on a world tour, explaining how other industrialized nations don’t have this issue, invariably touting the success of Australia, who saw a 60% drop in gun homicides after they instituted their ban on semi-automatic rifles in 1998. Of course, they are usually either ignorant or in denial about the fact that none of those countries ever had the kind of gun violence we do, that their gun laws were not the demonstrable pivot from a rise to a decline of overall homicides or assaults, and will only focus on gun homicides rather than the overall homicide rate. The sixty per year reduction in homicides in Australia from 1998 to 2013 will be considered a huge success, while the four thousand per year reduction in the states is overlooked.

Suicides might be brought into play. Twenty-one thousand in 2014, making up half of the suicides in the United States. Of course, the single stat again fails to tell the whole story, because guns used to account for two thirds of suicides, hanging is very close in “success rate” as a gunshot to the chest, and is the method on the fastest rise. Suicides by firearm will be counted as “gun violence”, while “rope violence” or “sleeping pill violence” will be dismissed as pedantic.

Somewhere in here, the implication that gun rights advocates are either complicit or comfortable with the deaths of innocents, especially children, will be tossed out. Objections to the accusation, even when pointing out that we carry to protect ourselves and our families, to preserve life, will be casually dismissed with a link to a number of studies that the debater likely has neither read nor understands the limitations of; higher correlations have been drawn between owning an apartment and likelihood of death by gun violence than actually owning a gun.

The arguments have not really changed in twenty-five years. The pool of information has only grown marginally, almost always reflecting the biases of it’s creators, either pro or anti. People die, calls go out and any contradiction to the narrative that if we just get rid of the guns, this will all be better, is labeled as proof of callous indifference rather than vehement defense of liberty and access to tools of empowerment and self-liberation.

Guns are for killing, they throw down like a trump card. The fact that, in rare and tragic instances, killing is a preferable outcome to dying or becoming a victim is not even considered for merit, much less recognized for the simple truth that it is, sad though it may be.

I’m tired of arguing this. Not because it’s not worth arguing. I’m tired because reason has little place, even the best points have become rote canticle and verse, and because neither side can seem to recognize that we all want the same thing: for no innocent people to die or be harmed.

The discussion, however, will continue. We can only decide if we will, with informed opinions and civility, participate or if we will exit, saving our sanity, but trusting a fundamental aspect of our safety to others.