Saturday, January 19, 2013

A little advice

Happy Gun Appreciation Day. In honor of the holiday, I thought I would give some sorely-needed advice to those celebrating the event with gusto.

To make my position clear on guns, I don't personally own any, I respect that people have a Constitutional right to own them, but I am also in favor of a few reasonable common-sense measures like limits on high-capacity magazines, waiting periods and universal background checks that will allow people to own as many guns as they want while still trying to prevent tragedy. I am not in favor of kicking in your door with Obama in the middle of the night and seizing all of your guns. Even though this seems to be the only definition of "gun control" that gun enthusiasts believe exist, I have never actually heard anyone I know advocate for that particular course.

Honestly, I don't think the fact that people own guns is the main problem here. I know plenty of totally responsible people who enjoy target shooting and hunting and I am very comfortable with them owning a gun. The real thing that concerns me, as it concerns many friends I've talked to, is the large segment of the population that are scarily obsessed with guns. The ones who are ranting and raving daily on Facebook about the 109 guns they own and how anyone who comes for them will have to pry every one of them from their cold, dead hands.

What those people don't realize is that those posts are actually making people want to take away their guns even more, before they decide that the Constitution is telling them to defend themselves from tyrannical government by shooting up the local courthouse. A word of advice to people who want to do their part in keeping strict gun control laws from being enacted: Don't act like one of the crazy people who you're insisting are the real problem.

Seriously. The gun lobby has really shot itself in the foot on this one (just like the people who are so obsessed with their guns they do stupid things like handle them when drunk or dance around nightclubs with a gun in their waistband without the safety on). Let's look at what the pro-gun movement has given us to consider while our nation weighs gun control:

There's the vice president of the NRA, who suggested in all seriousness that the best way to reduce the rate of shootings in elementary schools is to put a bunch of guns in elementary schools. If he wanted to convince the people whose motto is not "In guns we trust" to give him a seat at the table in these discussions, that was not the way to do it. Statistically speaking, if you own a pit bull you are more likely to be bitten by a pit bull. If you ride your bike to work you're more likely to be involved in a bike accident. And mathematical analysis has shown if there is a gun in your home you are significantly more likely to get shot. It would logically follow, then, that if there are armed teachers in your school or guns locked in boxes at strategic locations, you are also more likely to get shot.

There are the Sandy Hook truthers who are sending death threats to people in Newtown who they believe were paid off to participate in a government set-up to stir people to action on gun control (they also believe the Virginia Tech Massacre was perpetrated by a government black ops team and Aurora's shooter was brainwashed by the government). If you're sick enough to believe a bunch of people would be okay with mass slaughter to make political point, you're disturbed enough to go on a rampage yourself and stupid enough to shoot someone accidentally.

There is the guy who came up with the idea for Gun Appreciation Day. He told a black news anchor with a straight face that Martin Luther King Jr. (who, just as a reminder, is a famous non-violence advocate who was shot to death) would agree with having Gun Appreciation Day the same weekend as MLK day because if black people were given the right to own guns from day one in our country then we probably wouldn't have had slavery. If you can't see the numerous ways in which this was an incredibly dumb thing to say, explaining it probably won't do any good. But at least he seemed to think the end of slavery was a good thing-- two of the biggest sponsors of Gun Appreciation Day are white supremacy groups.

There is the gun shop owner who posted a rant on YouTube about how angry the gun control debate was making him, and if people tried to enact gun control laws he was going to start killing people. There are the people who have liked the video. There are the people who have posted similar things on Facebook and Twitter. There are the people who talk about a "second amendment remedy" to the election results they didn't like.

The people who are against any form of restrictions on gun buying whatsoever love to point to the mental health system as the place everyone should really be focusing. "Lock all the crazy people up," they say. And then you have people like the vice president of the NRA, who told NBC if his proposal to mandate guns in schools sounds crazy, "then call me crazy."

Be careful what you wish for, sir.

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