It’s still June 16th as I write this here in the USA, a few days after a homophobic gunman with a history of violence used a semi-automatic machine gun he bought legally, to kill 50 people in an Orlando nightclub, and wounded dozens of others.
Everybody is talking about guns, and who should have them. And it’s true that the state doesn’t always use guns wisely. If anyone knows that, South Africans still do. American cops also shoot quite a few innocent people (usually black ones) in the line of duty, and that’s a problem.
But the dominant argument from people who are too lazy or stupid to read the US constitution’s arguable but outdated argument for citizens owning assault rifles – which I heard many times in South Africa too – is that if purchase of guns is made more difficult, criminals will get them anyhow.
On twitter, I recently responded to a gun fan.
I really want to know how Colton knows it’s easier to buy guns illegally. I’d also love to know why he cares about legislation, if it’s really that much easier. How could it possibly be easier than “go to Walmart, and buy a gun”? I could do it tonight, if I had a green card, and with a bit of paperwork, on my current visa, and perhaps instantly at some gun shows in places like Arizona.
I think it needs to be harder to do, both for citizens, and for everybody else.
Perhaps, if so many guns weren’t so freely available legally, fewer might find their way onto the illegal market at all. This might make cops less likely to assume that a suspect was carrying, and kill him. It would also make it easier for Cops to demand papers, and to confiscate weapons than it is now.
And of course, if gun ownership weren’t assumed as legal, and if registration automated a police and FBI background check, Omar Mateen (who has been investigated by the FBI) might have had to work a lot harder to get his hands on a “Black Mamba”, a gun made by GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s buddies, who donate to the NRA, and who use their profits to pressure and bribe politicians to keep a deadly industry largely unregulated in the USA.
The same people arguing that Obama’s administration shouldn’t have negotiated with Iran, a country far, far away with good reasons to stick to a deal with America and its allies, or that abortion is always “murder”, are the same people arguing that they basically have no way to control their own citizens.
“They’ll do it anyhow”
If the general gun-lobby logic is followed to its illogical conclusion, everything people do “anyway” should be legal, in the name of self defense. Kids should take guns to schools. Citizens should carry loaded guns on airplanes. Women should carry guns when they head out to a campus party. Armoured vehicles should be legal for citizens to drive around, wherever they want, fully loaded and ready to blast bullets at the slightest provocation.
Yes, when you look at it like that, it’s obviously ridiculous, and obviously, the logical disparity when it comes to legislation has everything to do with the NRA and the arms’ industry’s campaigns, and nothing to do with trying to save American lives.
To me, there’s no justification, in self-defense terms, for why anybody who isn’t planning to kill people should need to buy a weapon that kills up to 200 people within a few minutes. I’m willing to concede that a responsible gun owner might want to have a personal firearm, but this should only be allowed with training, and with proper checks. Nobody should be allowed to drink and carry, or leave their gun lying around for their kid to play with, or unsecured, for criminals to steal. The suicide, murder-suicides, among other stats, support this logic.
I’m also starting to think that anyone whose job isn’t to protect the public, and who wants to buy a semi-automatic weapon probably can’t be trusted to use it wisely.
After all, if someone came to you and asked to buy some heroin, would you think they just wanted it “in case” they were forced to amputate their leg in a few months? Nope, chances are, they’re itching to use it. Gun buyers may wait longer to use what they buy, but the big difference between that heroin and the gun is that the addict is only likely to kill themselves gradually, while the gunman is likely to take a few dozen people with him, or wake up to find his toddler shot a friend in the head.
I’ve always been told – and once, being a smartass, impressed my primary school teacher by logically arguing in class – that “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
But the reality is that people who buy semi-automatic weapons too often are people who want to, and do, kill people. The legacy of fear they leave in their wake may be even more destructive than the lives they destroy on that day.
- Jean earned an MFA in Directing and Screenwriting and works in the LA film industry. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.
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