Ok, so I was having tweeting with someone about guns and violence and it became clear that what I wanted to say was too long and nuanced for twitter so what I’m going to do here is write out my response and then send a link. Twitter is not really a good place to discuss things of this nature even if people want to. How much thought can you really express in 144 characters anyway. You may say this isn’t far since I now have much more space to make my point than the other person but if they want they can set up a blog too (or respond in the comments below).
So first of all, I pointed out that cars kill more people in the US than homicides with guns. The numbers are about 16,000 per year for guns and about 36,000 per year for cars. So why not ban cars? Well I was told it didn’t matter how many cars kill because we were discussing guns. True, but I was using an analogy (and hyperbole) to make a point. If the goal is only to save lives, banning cars would save more than banning guns.
So he fired back with a link to a story saying that if you count suicides then the number of deaths from guns is almost as much as cars. This is irrelevant for two reasons.
- Even if the number of deaths are the same or close to the same, it still doesn’t answer the question, if 36,000 deaths from guns are unacceptable, why are 36,000 deaths from cars acceptable? He’s ignoring that point altogether.
- It assumes that without guns, the 20,000ish people who use guns to commit suicide would not die (assuming that number is correct). That is not a reasonable conclusion. We are talking about mentally disturbed people who want to end their lives. You don’t need a gun for that. The number may go down but you certainly won’t eliminate all those deaths.
The reason he (or she) glosses over those points is because the deaths aren’t really the concern for this person. It’s the guns. All they care about is banning guns. That’s why when someone uses a “assault weapon” (which is the stupidest term for a semi-automatic rifle ever conceived), the call is to ban it. Statistically they kill very few people but that’s irrelevant. The goal is to remove guns from society not to have a safer society. That’s why people like this don’t mind standing on the graves of dead people to try to push their political agenda. They don’t want guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, they want them out of everyone’s hands.