Dear Gun Nuts
So, a few things.
After the first time I shot a gun, I couldn’t hear anything for two days. This is because it was a .44 magnum and because I was eight and not wearing any ear protection. It’s a huge gun—the kind Dirty Harry used—and my dad had to help me hold it as I pulled the trigger. The next day, he had to explain to my third grade teacher why the only thing I could hear was a loud ringing.
There are right ways and wrong ways to go about your gun-having. (And your son-having.) My dad did do a good job of teaching me about gun safety once I was able to hear him speak words again. He even went and bought ear protection. Growing up around guns made me feel comfortable with them. So, gun owners, I’m not against you.
For a while, the 60 percent of Americans who don’t own personal firearms had a hard time figuring out how to communicate in the jargon of gun people. But over the course of the last few dozen national conversations after mass shootings, we’ve all become armchair experts in arsenals. Was the killer using hollow points or full metal jacket rounds? Big difference. Is there a collapsible stock on that Bushmaster AR-15? Oh, he used Colt pistols instead of Glocks? Weird.
After every mass shooting—which is essentially all the time these days—gun rights advocates drag out the “more guns = more safer” argument. And yet: we’re still not safe! Despite having almost one gun for every man, woman, and child in the nation, peak safety has yet to be reached.
Now. You’re allowed to oppose gun control on grounds that restricting the ability to purchase a gun violates your second amendment rights and will leave you up shit creek without a Smith & Wesson when it comes time to overthrow a tyrannical government. And I agree that many proposed gun control laws won’t do anything, especially patchwork ones put forward in response to mass shootings. Most murders are committed with handguns and banning those is not even on the table. Some dudes wrote the Second Amendment on piece of paper a while ago and we all have to live with the result of that. But you know what we can do in lieu of new laws? Change our culture so fewer people die every year. Gun people, we need to talk about your behavior a bit.
First of all, can you stop saying video games cause violence? They don’t. Countries where people play way more video games than we do have lower rates of gun deaths. The thing about violent video games is they don’t feature characters going around killing people with video games. They use guns. Or Hadoukens or Babalities or stuff.
Hey, it’s time for a chart break!
Now on to my second point: guns kill people. They are not made for pressing sandwiches or sopping up grape juice spills in the kitchen. Guns are specifically designed to propel bullets through a person’s body at a velocity sufficient to kill them. Saying “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is not an argument for more people having guns. You just said, sir, that people kill people. Guns are inanimate objects full of deadly potential. How do we help them realize their destiny to be peaceful, non-lethal objects and keep them away from people?
Lastly: You’re carrying around an assault rifle in public because…? I know you are not out on a killing spree, just a nice stroll, but it’s… sort of hard to tell? Insisting on carrying your gun in public is like asserting your free speech rights by screaming at everyone you see. No one is saying that isn’t “legal,” but we’re not looking at you like you’re Rosa Parks. More like a total douche. The fact that you are intentionally drawing police attention smacks of crazy privilege. The Black Panthers used to carry arms in public—usually didn’t end well for them. I’m a white guy who is not homeless and thus have a low risk of incurring police brutality, and even I know better than to involve police unless it’s utterly necessary.
Firearm technology is one of those things that really could have stayed frozen in time two hundred years ago and we’d all be doing fine right now, really. There would still have been plenty of opportunity to get our war on and defend our homes with single shot muskets you had to arduously reload by hand. The playing field would be even for criminals, do-gooders, and armies alike.
Instead, now guns are a multi-billion dollar industry and the only way to keep making money is to foster a climate of fear that drives people to purchase all sorts of tactical, military-style weapons no one could possibly need. One of the most powerful lobbying groups in America is the National Rifle Association and their name is apt: The NRA is an association representing rifles (and other guns), not you. They’re playing you. The paranoia they’re pushing is designed to get you to put more of your money in their pockets. You probably don’t need to have so many weapons for self-defense. You can only really use one at a time. And guns are sturdy products. They aren’t falling apart all over the place. Get rid of some of yours and go buy yourself a nice pair of boots. You’ll look great!
Chart Break Number Two: The Dead People Meter
If you take the positions of the NRA and add them up, you can see how the world would look if the gun lobby got everything it wants: Every American would have easy access to assault weapons, gun dealers would not be required to check the criminal record and mental health history of someone before selling them a gun, the capacity of gun magazines could be near-infinite, and it would be illegal for a city to stop people from carrying guns in public. This would be a country where you could literally buy an AR-15 at Walmart, immediately put on full tactical gear worn by SWAT teams, and stroll into a school for your parent-teacher conference with another fully armed adult. Practical!
You think I’m anti-gun. I’m not. I think of guns like I do cars. Go ahead and own one. Waste your money on something fancy!
But the scenarios you are preparing for aren’t going to happen. You aren’t going to save the day by shooting a terrorist in the grocery store. We need fewer guns so fewer people shoot their feet off, kill their girlfriends, kill themselves, and go on shooting sprees.
You can have guns for hunting. You can have them to ward off Mexican drug lords or whoever is going to storm into your house. Keep them there, in a locked safe. And if we by chance ever need a well-regulated militia for a revolution or zombie apocalypse, by god, we’re going to be really happy you were born with a micro-penis.