Saturday, January 15, 2011

Non Sequiturs on Gun Control

Probably like many Banned and Dangerous readers, I've been a little dismayed when I find that old friends I've reconnected with on Facebook or other social media have, shall we say, in the intervening years, sipped the wingnut kool-aid a little too ardently, with the result that I hardly recognize their current points of view. That was the case with me, tonight, when a friend from my Oregon life - with whom I certainly never talked politics, just artsy-craftsy stuff - re-posted this comment which had been forwarded her way, giving it her stamp of approval:
To everyone who is calling for stricter gun laws in light of the tragedy in Tucson, may I offer this little tidbit: If guns kill people, then pencils misspell words, cars drive drunk, and spoons made Oprah fat ! Remember: Hold the PERSON accountable for their actions, not the means they chose to utilize!!!'s where this breaks down for me. I get the reference to any inanimate object being, shall we say, "neutral" until someone chooses to actively employ it. In that sense, she's right. People, not guns, ultimately kill other people.

But the logical element that is missed in this is that every object has an innate intent for its existence. Pencils exist in order that one can write. Cars exist to serve as transportation. Spoons exist so that we may eat.

Why do guns exist?

At this point you could argue the sportsman's perspective: target shooting, general marksmanship, even hunting (though I find that last indefensible in the modern era). But that represents zero justification for the semi-automatic Glock used in those tragic murders and injuries that occurred in my hometown. Because, beyond any defensible point of view, the innate intent for such a weapon is, purely and simply, killing.

And, if you purchase or own or even endorse such a weapon, you're on board with the free and relatively easy availability of a commodity the primary purpose of which is death.

So don't, in the wake of this soul-numbing episode, trot out that lame defense of the gun culture. Not when a 9-year-old child is dead thanks to a nutcase having free and ready access to firearms. "Second Amendment remedies," my ass! The founders never intended to condone modern-day, single-handed Rambo types, one-man arsenals on a personal mission of destruction. They wanted a "well-regulated militia," a sane group of sane people ready to defend sane things. If you're so keen on "original intent," then why not go out and get yourself a musket and call it good? But it is folly to pretend that the patriots of 1776 could have foreseen this 21st century tragedy, and incorporated its nasty weaponry and toxic political dialogue into their original language. Just as it is folly to say that there should be NO regulation in terms of access to firearm ownership. A functioning mental health system and a requirement for background checks might have gone a long way, in the course of this past week, toward lives saved.

Yes, it's wrong to blame the tool before the user. But it still behooves us to examine the tool's purpose in the course of determining whether the tool, as well as the user, may be equally in the wrong.


Anonymous said...

You better not drive across the state of Illinois with their ridiculous pro gun signs every two feet.

OldGreyGeek said...

You were doing okay till you asked the question 'Why do guns exist?' and then you simply lost it. Guns exist simply because they are the best tool available to do the perceived job.

That job ranges from 'providing for the common defense' through putting food on the table, defending the "castle", self-defense when someone(s) bigger, tougher and meaner than you are is upset by your existence and all the way down to shooting anyone and everyone that is getting in the way of your control of the local drug distribution to simple armed robbery. The gun is just a tool, similar to the rock our earliest ancestors picked up and threw at food and threats and then attached to a stick for close in work, then sharpened and stuck on the end of a stick for beyond arms reach confrontations. Ultimately the rock/stick combo shrunk and were thrown by a bow then the stick went away and a powder charge replaced the bow. It's just a natural progression; a search for better tools.

The real problem is that man exists in all his wonder, capable of both extreme good and evil. You cannot attribute to the tool the actions of the person. You could attribute to the alcohol the evil done by a drunk driver but we've already seen what that self-righteous progressive thinking got us (been there, done that and have organized crime to show for it). Mankind is diverse and that's a good survival traight for the species as a whole. The result is that there are people who simply don't want to play by the rules that allows a society to work. It's a good arguement for capital punishment

Donald Hamilton had his Matt Helm character tell one of the peaceful people he was trying to defend that (paraphrased) "your life is worth precisely what it will cost someone to take it". Until you cure mankind you had better make like a boy scout and 'be prepared'. I served in the military for 20-years and will both defend your right to disapprove of weapons or kill you if you try and take mine away.

The tool is neutral. Tools exist because they serve a need. Most tools can do damage if used improperly. If you know neither what a tool is used for nor how it is properly used, you should probably leave it alone.

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