Another Mass Shooting, Another Round of the “Gun Control Debate”
As of the penning of this article, thirty-nine mass shootings have taken place in the United States since the beginning of the year. These tragic incidents have claimed the lives of seventy-one people, and led to another one-hundred-fifty-eight people injured. Doing the math, that works out to 1.625 mass shootings a day. Let that sink in a moment. Mass shootings are now a more than daily occurrence!
Once again, politicians and officials are offering their “thoughts and prayers.” Once again, these latest tragedies have been accompanied by demands for stricter gun control laws. Once again, the ‘2nd Amendment’ crowd is saying “this is not the time” and “gun control laws don’t work.” Once again, nothing will change.
For the victims of gun violence, this trend is beyond tragic, it has become a stupid, futile joke! People are sick and tired of being told that gun control is ineffective in the one developed nation where gun laws are toothless, mass shootings are so common, and gun violence is an epidemic. According to stats gathered in November 2022, 57% of Americans said they supported stricter gun laws — 86% of Democrats, 60% of independents, and 27% of Republicans.
So why isn’t it happening? What is the logic behind resisting gun control? Let’s review…
Don’t get me wrong, I love guns! I have since I was a pre-teen, I love action movies that feature them, shoot-em-ups, and first person shooters (FPS). My grandfather owned several, including a .22 rifle and a shotgun, which he used to hunt with. Many of my relatives who live across Southern Ontario owned guns since they lived in rural areas.
And my brother-in-law, who lives in Florida, owns about half a dozen guns. In his case, he has the usual shotguns and rifles that come with the job description (he’s a forester). But has also been known to pack a small caliber handgun for home safety. I considered this to be natural, as he is concerned for my sister’s safety, his own, and for their beloved fur babies.
So believe me when I say I’m not arguing “take away all the guns!” Of course not! The very idea that gun control means a society that is disarmed by the government is asinine. It’s entirely manufactured to scare people into resisting common sense gun control laws or bans on certain types of guns (i.e., assault weapons, automatic rifles, automatic shotguns, etc.)
The idea here is to have consistent laws (the same in all places) that make it difficult for criminals, the mentally-unstable, terrorists, and other would-be mass shooters from obtaining weapons that they would proceed to use on other citizens. If that is clear, let’s proceed to the arguments on why these laws should not be passed and the current situation should be allowed to persist.
“Gun Control Doesn’t Work”
This argument has become the subject of a dark joke to people who are familiar with gun crime stats and gun control measures beyond the U.S. Maybe you’ve heard it, it goes something like this:
“‘Mass shootings are unpreventable,’ says the only country where they happen.”
Now, that’s not quite fair. Other nations experience mass shootings too, just not nearly to the same extent. In fact, a study published last year in the International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice showed that of all mass shooting that happened in developed nations between 1998–2019, 73% of all incidents and 62% of all fatalities happened in the U.S. The U.S. accounts for a fraction of the population of the developed world, but owns more than half of its mass shootings.
Not only that, but other developed nations experience a fraction of the overall gun violence when compared to the U.S.. The CDC indicated that in 2022 alone, 45,222 people died in the U.S. from gun-related injuries. Of these, 19,384 (43%) were homicides, whereas 24,292 (54%) were suicides. That excludes deaths in which gunshot injuries played a contributing, but not principal, role. The same stats confirmed that in nearly eight out of ten (79%) murders in 2020 — 19,384 out of 24,576 — a firearm was used.
Now compare gun violence in every other developed nation, as a per capita fraction of the total population. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the U.S. is an outlier in terms of gun violence when compared to other developed nations. With an annual 4.12 firearm homicides per 100,000 people, the U.S. has more gun violence per capita than the next 19 countries combined!
What are these other countries doing that the U.S. is not? With few exceptions, these developed nations have democratic institutions, access to the same media, comparable population densities, unemployment, and poverty levels. So violent media and poor people shooting each can be rightly rejected as the nonsense arguments they are. But what about gun ownership and gun laws? That’s where the whole “outlier” thing comes into play.
According to stats compiled this year, the U.S. continues to lead the world in terms of firearm ownership, with a record 120.5 guns per 100,000 people. Canada, Cyprus and Finland ranked 8th to 10th, with 34.7, 34, and 32.4 guns per 100,000 people (respectively). Canada, my home, only made the top 10 because of our proximity to the U.S., where a staggering number of guns used in homicides come from.
Even so, Canada (like every other developed nation) has a fraction of the guns and the gun violence as the U.S. In addition, every other developed nation has laws that permit citizens to purchase and own firearms, but are far more consistent and federally-mandated. Perhaps it’s time to revise the joke:
“‘Gun control doesn’t work,’ says the one country where it’s barely ever existed.”
“They’d Just Find Other Ways”
Here’s another favorite among people who opposed gun control laws. The logic here is that if gun control is implemented, the people who commit murder using guns will just adopt another means to kill people. I have heard multiple iterations of this argument, including that criminals will make their own guns, that the “war on drugs” proves that making things illegal doesn’t prevent them from spreading, and that gun laws “only punish law-abiding gun owners.”
Not only are these arguments facile, they are demonstrably false. If you’re a law-abiding gun owner, how does a comprehensive system of background checks that ensure you a) don’t have a criminal record, b) don’t have a history of mental illness that would make you a threat to yourself or others, c) are NOT on a terror watch list, or d) any or all of the above hurt you?
Also, there’s the statistical data, which shows that in the U.S., gun violence is the outlying crime. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2020, violent crime in the U.S. has been on the rise for years, whereas other types of crime have remained steady. The same statistics have shown that as crime rates continue to decline since peaking in the 1990s, violent crime (especially gun-related) continues to rise.
Now compare this to other developed nations in the world. Whereas they experienced a similar rise and fall in violent crime statistics before and after the 1990s, they did not experience a rise in gun-related violence like the U.S. has. Instead, the data indicates that homicides, suicides, and accidents involving guns are the exception. America is not in the midst of a “crime wave,” but a wave of gun violence.
Once again, the one country that is experiencing this problem is the one with the highest gun ownership and weakest gun laws. So the argument that murderers will just use knives or other means to commit murder if guns are harder to get is clearly fraudulent.
“Criminals Can Still Get Guns”
I know, I know, criminals can still get guns if/when gun control laws are implemented, thus feeding the narrative that gun control only affects people who obey the law. This is true, and most of them are on the street after being stolen from the homes of “law-abiding citizens.” How? Simple. Only the stupidest of criminals will break into a person’s house when they are home!
Instead, they will break into houses when you’re away, and if you have guns around the house, they will steal them and sell them on the street. In addition, recent studies have shown that a significant amount of stolen guns used in criminal shootings were stolen from cars.
According to Pew Research Center, 63% of gun owners claimed that personal protection was the reason they owned one or more firearms. Naturally, responsible gun owners are not likely to walk around with this gun on them, as that could easily lead to a confrontation with police or an accident. The responsible thing is to leave the gun at home. Criminals know this as well, which is how stolen guns wind up on the street.
In short, having more guns doesn’t make a country safer. As the data shows, it has the opposite effect. And while people feel the need to own guns where there is more gun violence, it creates a viscous cycle. In the meantime, NOT having gun laws in place only ensures that criminals and mentally-disturbed people don’t have to steal them. They can acquire them through entirely legal means.
“It’s in the Constitution”
By now, I’m sure everyone can recite the 2nd Amendment from memory. If you can’t, you have no business weighing in on the gun control debate or stating that the Constitution protects your right to own guns. Nevertheless, I feel obliged to state it here in full:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
For your gun control types, the fact that the amendment starts with the mention of a capital-M “Militia” and includes the infamous words “well regulated” is an open and shut deal. It is saying that citizens have the right to own firearms if they are part of a militia. In the context of the 18th century, this refers to citizen soldiers and volunteers, which were the backbone of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, who fought against a professional standing army — the British Redcoats.
As for who has the power to equip, train, and discipline the militia, that is spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, Article I, Clauses 15 and 16 (aka. “the Militia Clauses”), which state that Congress shall have the power:
- To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.
- To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.
What’s more, the Militia Act of 1903, the National Defense Act of 1916, and subsequent amendments created the National Guard and established them as both a state and federal force.
“If the Government Comes for Them…”
An oft-cited interpretation by the gun rights crowd is that the 2nd Amendment exists to protect the rights of citizens to their guns because they’ll need them if and when the government becomes tyrannical and must be overthrown. Putting aside the fact that this is an obvious scare tactic that appeals to blind paranoia and anti-establishment rhetoric being peddled by politicians seeking cheap and easy votes (oh, the irony!), it’s also asinine on its face.
Earlier, you have noticed the capital-I words in Clause 15. Allow me to restate it in full with the key words highlighted:
- Congress shall have the power to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.
The Constitution not only states that the right to bear arms is in the context of a militia (well-regulated by state and federal authorities), it also states that purpose of the Militia is to PROTECT the government against all threats domestic and foreign. It exists to put down insurrections, repel invaders, and enforce the law, not to launch insurrections against your own government while colluding with foreign hostile governments.
So for all those who were okay with TFG colluding with Vlad Putin, who launched an insurrection on Capitol Hill because he told them to, and who believed that what they were doing was “1776,” I got news for you. The Constitution was never on your side. You were not the true children of the Republic or the “Real Americans,” fighting tyranny.
You were nothing more than a vicious mob of brutal idiots that were incited by a criminal to commit treason. You became the enemies of America in that moment, as per the Constitution you claim to revere (but have obviously never read).
Commas and Fraudulence
Now let’s consider how the pro-gun crowd interprets the 2nd Amendment. The most common argument is that the comma constitutes a break between two separate statements, and that the amendment is saying that a “militia is essential, and that the right to bear arms should not be infringed.” This is a nonsense argument. If commas indicated separate statements, the statements would be the subject of separate amendments.
What’s more, there are four commas in the text. If these indicated separate statements, then the 2nd Amendment would consist of four separate ones, each one being complete nonsense. Observe:
A well regulated Militia.
Being necessary to the security of a free State.
The right of the people to keep and bear Arms.
Shall not be infringed.
See? The presence of a comma indicates a break in speech, in this case because the authors were articulating why the right is needed first. In other words, it is stating that “the right to bear arms shall not be infringed because a well-regulated militia is essential.”
Another argument is that “well-regulated” means “well-supplied” in the context of 18th century English. This is a baseless argument, as demonstrated by Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language (ca. 1755). In it, regulated is defined as:
1. To adjust by rule or method.
2. To direct.
Furthermore, the Militia Clauses clearly state that the responsibility for regulating militias rests primarily with Congress, and that while state governments also have powers where militias are concerned, they must conform to federal law.
What does this mean? It means that attempts to regulate firearms is neither unconstitutional nor an infringement on citizens’ rights. In fact, the Constitution states very clearly that the regulation of firearms (for the purpose of maintaining a militia) is the responsibility of the state. And since the state militias that once existed have since become the National Guard, the issue is open and shut.
In short, the “2nd Amendment crowd” is NOT following the 2nd Amendment. To quote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger, a Republican, who served on the SCOTUS from 1969 to 1986:
”The gun lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
Get the picture? The U.S. has a severe problem, one that can be addressed and already has been in every other developed nation in the world. Alas, that is not happening. Why? The data is clear, the law is clear, the connection between the prevalence of guns and gun violence is clear — regardless of what people who are trying to obscure and cloud the issue say.
Much like health care, gun rights and gun ownership are big business for a small fraction of the population. The majority of Americans want universal health care (63%), sensible gun control laws (57%), legalized gay marriage (71%), legal access to abortion (61%), job security, minimum wage laws, and representatives who support these initiatives. So why aren’t they happening? Or as the case may be, why are they are in danger of being repealed?
Could it be that unrestricted gun ownership has jack-shit to do with being free? Could that be just another bullshit argument peddled by special interest groups, lobbyists, and crooked politicians to dupe the weak and gullible into supporting them? I only ask this because the U.S. has a 90% incumbency rate, meaning the same politicians are elected over and over to Congress, where none of the measures favored by the majority of the people get passed.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate, the most people living in poverty, and the greatest inequality of any developed nation in the world? In terms of the Human Freedom Index (HFI) — which measures civil liberties and the restrictions citizens face by law — health outcomes, and standard of living, the U.S. doesn’t even crack the top ten anymore.
And if the U.S. is so free, why is it millions of Americans are convinced there’s a “deep state” controlling everything they see and hear? Why are millions rejecting the outcomes of elections, committing insurrection, and actively championing the idea of another civil war? I only ask because in my experience, the same people bragging about their guns and braying about “America the free” are the ones spouting conspiracy theories and saying “we live in 1984” or “Brave New World!” (two more things I doubt any of them have read!)
Let’s cut the bullshit here, people! There is NO intelligent reason why sensible gun control measures shouldn’t be passed RIGHT NOW! If you consider arguments like, “it’s socialism, unAmerican, a plot,” and other such diatribes that appeal to the weak and ignorant, you’ve proven my point. There is no intelligent reason, just the usual crap that thrives on fear, ignorance, paranoia, and the other things that make easily-manipulated people jump.
Every other argument is demonstrably false and easily disproven by anyone willing to take the time and do the most basic research. If your response is that research is unnecessary or all publicly-available information is part of “the plot,” then you’ve once again proven my point. Your worldview comes down to believing what you want and rejecting anything that contradicts it. You don’t care about facts, information, or demonstrable reality, you just want to keep pretending the world is flat!
Meanwhile, the body count (which includes dead children) keeps piling up and the pro-gun politicians keep wringing their hands, offering meaningless “thoughts and prayers” and saying “there’s nothing we can do.” Their professed powerlessness is a lie, much like saying “mass shootings are inevitable” or claiming that “gun control doesn’t work.” They are liars and frauds and the blood of the victims is on their hands as well!