To our “leaders” and representatives: it’s time to lead; it’s time to represent us.
Go ahead and try to make an argument about why we should ignore the gun violence crisis in our country (and ignore the health crisis as if they couldn’t possibly be connected). Go ahead and tell America this is just the “price of freedom,” and we should happily pay even as the price continues to inflate, as the price is not just our peace of mind but our lives and our children’s lives. We know you’re lying for profit. We know better.
This country could balance the right for responsible, thoughtful Americans to own a firearm and be a part of this “well-regulated militia” while still giving Americans the peace of mind of knowing they and their children aren’t surrounded by crazy, hateful fuckers with itchy trigger fingers and literally piles of guns within arm’s reach.
The argument “more guns!”:
But “more guns means less crime.” Not true, and honestly, how could it be true? Think about it, and think about all the ways someone who means to use a gun for mischief/crime/atrocities can get that gun (besides stealing them because they’re plentiful and not stored safely in the USA). A criminal can get a gun, any kind, even one meant for killing many very quickly, without a background check because we have all sorts of loopholes including private sales, gun shows. We don’t prevent potential terrorists (such as ISIL sympathizers) from purchasing guns. We can’t. We don’t even require gun owners carry liability insurance for owning and carrying around a tool manufactured specifically for killing. And don’t forget the NRA has gone out of their way to be sure background checks and traces take a long time.
Our Congress people take bribes to be sure the system stays slow and broken. That is what this all comes down to. It’s why even the shooting deaths of children at school was barely a blip, why ALL of the Congress people who took NRA bribes need to be booted the fuck out. But let’s go on giving the lame arguments one more serious look before we tell them “enough is enough.”
Here is the Second Amendment (ratified 15 December 1791) for easy reference as we go through more of the “arguments” for handing out guns to every American starting as soon as they get their first tooth:
“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.”
Regarding (Las Vegas shooting on 1 October 2017 and) the argument about the Second Amendment while ignoring the context, the bit about owning (not carrying around everywhere but owning for if the time comes to gather the militia) and carefully maintaining a gun (most likely a musket) because you’re part of the well-regulated militia:
This country has changed since 1791.
Let’s break it down here because none of our rights or freedoms are unlimited. When the founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment the intent was for there to be a well-regulated militia in case of need. Guns held one round and reloading wasn’t exactly fast. At a time when there was no national military force, they were providing for the possibility of war, for the possibility they would need to be able to call people up to fight for the country. Of course, they also intended for The People to have the ability to fight back if the government got too big or too pushy. In the 240 years since then we’ve built a substantial military that The People could not rise against; it’s just too huge now. We own the military’s machines of war, but they are not ours personally. It could not be argued that the founding fathers intended for individuals (outside of the military, the actual well-regulated soldiers we maintain which mean we don’t have to have militia to call up anymore) to be personally responsible for the kind of war machines we have now. Using the Amendment, their letters, their speeches to argue they intended for individuals to own tanks, bazookas, automatic/semi-automatic guns, etc. stretches credibility too far.
Pretend the only issue is the right to own and carry around a mass killing machine all you like, but this is also about the rights of Americans not to be shot, not to be victims of other’s hate or mental illness. This is a health and safety issue:
We see the argument often that “it’s not a guns issue but a mental health issue.” If that were true we’d be trying a lot harder to get everyone covered with affordable health insurance including coverage for mental health. Besides, every country has citizens who are mentally ill. The United States is the only country that arms them with guns.
How about the “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun” argument? That one is courtesy of Wayne “thanks for the money you dumb suckers” LaPierre. There are so many places to go with this one, and none of them support the argument. First, how does law enforcement, the people who we are reminded are properly and constantly trained for when to shoot and when not to, supposed to tell that you are a “good guy?” Someone’s shooting people, and you have a gun. That screams “bad guy” to me, no matter who you are, what color you are, what you’re wearing, etc. The sign on you is then “BAD GUY – SHOOT THIS MOTHERFUCKER BETWEEN THE EYES. EMPTY THE CLIP.” Second, “for every criminal killed in self-defense, 34 innocent people die,” 78 commit suicide with a gun, and there are two accidental gun deaths. I bet that statistic changed this past Sunday. I’m not going to ask you if the cost in innocent lives is worth it because if you made this argument you want it to be worth it so badly that you argue for babies to die. Fuck you; no, it’s not worth it, and the fact that you, our legislators/GOP/”ammosexuals,” have to be told is further evidence that most Americans should not own guns. As a nation we are too greedy, irresponsible, and just plain dumb to also be armed with guns.
The argument “If they don’t have a gun won’t they use a knife instead?”
If they’re determined to kill people, they probably will find a way. Having only knives/bats/sticks will slow would-be murderers/mass killers down, and they’re going to have to get up close and personal for their heinous crimes. Having to acquire/learn how to build and deploy a bomb is going to be much harder. Why are we throwing up our hands and suggesting we give these determined terrorists guns to make it easier for them to kill?
The answer to the above ties in perfectly to the usual “well, bad guys don’t care about laws.” Lots of things aren’t legal, and a lot of the time laws and likely punishment do keep people from doing those things. The argument these people make is 1) since people are going to do it anyway 2) shouldn’t we just let them and not have legal consequences? Would you live in a country that doesn’t have laws? Think about it. Really think.
On the argument about it being “too soon” right after a tragedy, it will always be too soon. Between 12 June 2016 and 1 October 2017, 477 days, there were 521 mass shootings. The longest stretch in that graphic – click the link, do it, don’t be lazy – the longest span of time we went between mass shootings was five days, and that only happened one time in late December of 2016. It will always be “too soon” because there is always a mass shooting event. Always. They don’t stop because we don’t stop them. It’s time to recognize that it was never “too soon,” but that we could be “too late.”
From the Washington Post (as of 3 October 2017; this article/link may be updated):
“Since 1998, the National Rifle Association has donated $3,533,294 to current members of Congress.”
That’s just the NRA, only one of the gun lobbyists. The link to the Washington Post article above is great for finding out who took NRA money and how much they took. I also like opensecrets.org. That link is set up for National Rifle Association contributions in the 2016 election cycle, but it can be used for many more things. Do you want to know which of them is paid to promote vaping? Look up contributions from tobacco. There are many tobacco lobbyists/companies/contributors, so it’ll take a bit, but they’re all there. Any time you want to know who your Congress person is taking bribes from and why they aren’t representing you, that site is an excellent place to start.
Don’t even start with “states’ rights” because I know exactly what that bullshit means, and you can shove your racism up your ass sideways. Any time the shooter is or might be a non-white, the president (and Congress people, pretty much anyone in the GOP) goes to town about immigration and “those people” or other religions blah blah blah before the bodies are even cold. This is not about giving each state the right to discriminate against brown people or LGBTQ or whoever they want to be horrible to. Gun violence affects us all regardless of color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and has become a national crisis; it’s time to look at the laws and regulations we have, see what needs to be updated/streamlined, see what needs to be enforced better (and how), throw out what isn’t working, work on ideas to keep guns out of the wrong hands, save lives.
Figures (from post below on 2 October 2017) Number of Americans killed on battlefields in all wars in history: 1,396,733. Killed by firearms in the US since 1968: 1,516,863. (NYT)
All of this doesn’t even go into the increased risks of just having a gun in the home:
“Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that living in a home where there are guns increased risk of homicide by 40 to 170% and the risk of suicide by 90 to 460%.” – smartgunlaws.org
“The risk of dying from an unintentional gunshot injury is 3.7 times higher for adults living in homes with guns, with handguns in the home posing a particular threat.” – smartgunlaws.org
And then, as in the picture of the baby teething on a handgun earlier in the article, “good guys” and “responsible gun owners” leave guns laying around for children to pick up. In 2015, 265 people were accidentally shot by kids. That should never happen. Obviously. But it seems it’s not that obvious to some of the very same “responsible people” who own firearms in America.
I am embarrassed to, of all places, use a bulleted list here, but it was kind of necessary for easy reading/organization. We need to seriously look into (on the Federal level, uniform guidelines/laws throughout the country):
- ALL gun owners/carriers need to carry liability insurance (fine if you use your gun for work and your employer pays your premiums) for each weapon – as far as I’m concerned this one is not negotiable. Everyone should have it.
- National Gun Registry so that tracing is relatively quick. This would also help on background checks (for people who are already “in the system.”)
- No transfer of ownership of any gun without passing background check (which the buyer pays for). I am aware that some guns might not be registered (like hunting rifles, heirlooms), but I’m not convinced it’s not time to revisit that, as well.
- Transfers of ownership must be reported to appropriate authorities within specified period of time (three weeks?).
- No license issued until the buyer is cleared through background check no matter how long it takes to complete that check. Better, yet, get all this stuff into the registry.
- Training course and periodic retraining and/or testing to keep license current. Doesn’t matter to me if the state or the insurance company does it, but I suspect the insurance company is going to do a more thorough job since they don’t want to have to pay a claim.
- “Smart guns” that only fire for the person who owns them as soon as tech is available. Your insurance agent will thank you accordingly, I’m sure.
- We need to look into responsibility of sellers, those initiating the background check. For instance, when a person buys a lot of guns, especially in a short period of time, why are they doing it? Even when they pass background check why doesn’t this shoot up red flags?
- Limit on how many guns a person can own as well as how many they can buy within a specific period of time. Exceptions for collectors who provide a good reason and who keep all information/licensing/etc. current.
- No sales of new semi-automatic weapons. If the weapon isn’t already owned by and registered to an American who is current on background check and NOT on terrorist watch list, the the gun can’t be in the country and cannot be sold or registered. Sales/ownership/use of equipment used to change semi-auto into auto illegal.
- Regulation on storage, especially of semi-auto weapons. They should not be accessible by anyone other than the licensed owner.
Don’t say there is never any way to know something will happen. We already know of people who are particularly at risk to kill. Why are we arming the mentally ill? domestic abusers? violent criminals?
Be reasonable here. Listen to what people are saying, what they’re asking for, what they need. It’s perfectly reasonable for the nation to respect the rights of citizens NOT to be shot, to feel relatively safe. Look at current and past events; gain context. Don’t read in.
Congress people have taken enough bribes to do the Gun Lobby’s bidding. It’s time to get Congress back to working for us; no more excuses that it’s hard or won’t work. They can suck it up and do the job or get out of the way for someone who will. The NRA pays Congress to prevent the CDC from doing any research into gun violence, to prevent central databases from being created for guns/owners/background checks. The NRA pays them to keep the information away from us because they know they’re in the wrong business and for the wrong reasons. Remember when the NRA supported responsible gun ownership? I do, too. They are no longer a beneficial organization, and it’s no surprise – especially with their propaganda lately (not linking that garbage here) – that many are calling for them to be added to the list of hate groups. I can certainly see the logic. After all, gun stocks soar after a mass shooting like we saw Sunday. They are literally in the business of murdering Americans, and Congress is their bitch.
Legislators/”leaders”: you’re wasting our time, patience, and sympathy with “thoughts and prayers,” and honestly, you’re squandering what little credibility you have left at this point. Put your money where you claim your heart is. It’s time to earn your bread, Congress. #GunControlNow
My Patreon, if you are so inclined. Your support is much appreciated!
Link: “Americans want better gun laws. We can’t let lobbyists stop us” – by Shannon Watts at The Guardian
Link: “477 Days. 521 Mass Shootings. Zero Action From Congress.” – by Editorial Board at The New York Times, less article but more of an interesting graphic illustration
Link: “How strictly are guns regulated where you live?” – by Leslie Shapiro, Sahil Chinoy, and Aaron Williams at The Washington Post
Link: “The Low-Tech Way Guns Get Traced” – by Melissa Block at NPR
Link: “Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts” – by Robert Farley (from 2012)
Link: “The True Cost of Gun Violence in America” – by Mark Follman, Julia Lurie, Jaeah Lee, and James West at Mother Jones (from April 2015)
Link: President Obama speaks on PBS Newshour about restricting “good” gun owners – video 5 minutes, 35 seconds
Link: “Americans Don’t Really Understand Gun Violence” – by David S. Bernstein at The Atlantic
Link: “The White House claims Chicago shows gun control doesn’t work. That misses the real problem.” – by German Lopez at Vox – article with an excellent 7 minute video
Link: “Actually, guns do kill people, according to a new study” – by Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post
Link: “Rosanne Cash: Country Musicians, Stand Up to the N.R.A.” – by Rosanne Cash for The New York Times, excellent opinion piece
Link: Gun Violence Archive
Link: 27 words: a deeper dive into the 2nd amendment – sincerely, schatz (I can’t recommend this one enough)
Link: “The Age of the Downloadable Gun Begins” – by Steve Israel, former Democratic representative from Long Island, published in The New York Times
Link to an eloquent thread from Charlotte Clymer, a veteran and gun owner.
Link to original tweet from Christopher Zullo.
Link to original tweet from Desirina Boskovich.
Link to original tweet from Timothy Simons.
Link to original tweet from Kal Penn.
Link to original tweet from Richard Bacon.
Link to original tweet from Solomon Georgio.
Link to original tweet from profloumoore.
Link to original tweet from DJT on church shooting in Texas. (edit, occurred one month after original post)
Link to original tweet from Shonda Rhimes.
This was originally posted just after the mass shooting in Las Vegas (59 dead, more than 500 injured in 15-minute spree) while the president and many others in the USA were still busy whining about (and intentionally misunderstanding and misleading people about) the peaceful protests by professional football players and others against police brutality toward minorities. The most common hashtag in responses to instructions from lawmakers on being proper patriots and ignoring our freedom of speech was #TakeAKnee. Thank you, Colin Kaepernick, for your heart and for your leadership.
The following tweet is from the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday, 5 November 2017. The 50 or so victims (26 dead, ages 18 months to 77 years) were at their church with their god. They were literally thinking and praying. Our idiot lawmakers send “thoughts and prayers” and hope they’re with their god. Because, you know, that did them a whole hell of a lot of good.
This post may be edited in the future and is intended to be used time and again as a reference and as a way to persuade our lawmakers to pay attention to what the country needs, to get to work on gun control. There will be similar posts soon for other matters such as health care and climate change. We need to get Congress back on our team, working for us. Be safe. *hugs*
Most recent edit: 30 July 2018, original post date 3 October 2017
#GMGunControlNow #GunControl #GunReformNow