Blaming the gun

Today a man in Pittsburgh shot and killed three police officers who had responded to a report of domestic violence. Yesterday another man shot and killed thirteen people in Binghampton, NY. Both gunmen were wearing body armor, apparently prepared to take on any police response.

Online comments, in this case on the Yahoo Buzz discussion of the Pittsburgh story, are certainly not to be taken as more than anecdotal evidence of community sentiment but still I was seriously wound up by the majority of those posted as of now.

Most of the posters seemed more concerned that President Obama and the Democratic congress were trying to override their Second Amendment right to own guns than with the 16 dead people and their grieving families. A couple of particularly sad examples:

these brainwashed killers are brought out intentionally, so to take away our 2 amendment. bring on the chaos so to create more control. gun control that is. biden is on it!said dorite.

Will Obama insist on calling the shooter something other than a murderer? Perhaps this event will be called a “Disturbed Citizen Confrontation.” If we can’t call terrorists “Enemy Combatants.” how can we call Americans “murderers?” said (the ironically nicknamed) Patriot.

Seriously, sixteen people who were doing their jobs or else in the same boat as the murderer are being buried and these dunces want to make up absurd claims with no basis in reality?!

Let’s for a moment, though, take them seriously. Another poster makes the valid point that the majority of gun owning Americans do not use them to murder people or commit other crimes.

Is that a good enough reason to continue allowing Americans unfettered access to all types of guns? The NRA and the rest of the gun lobby use their muscle to prevent any limitations on gun ownership.

The primary arguments I have seen are that people need guns to protect themselves and for hunting. If this is so then why are laws that cover guns and ammunition which are not used in either of them a problem?

The Second Amendment is not, after all, as absolute in its language as the First. “Congress shall make no law” is much stronger than “shall not be infringed.”

Some people will argue that what the Founders wrote should be taken literally and not interpreted, either in regards to the times in which they lived and their other writings or in light of changes since then and current thinking.

My answer is simply WTF. You want a rifle for hunting and a pistol for the house? Fine. Armor-piercing bullets and .50 caliber machine guns? Kiss my heiny.

Another argument is that if we outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns. By definition I suppose that would be true as any hunter who kept a rifle in the garage or homeowner with a .22 in the back closet would be an outlaw. But that isn’t what’s on the table, its just a strawman argument to generate emotional appeal where logic fails.

Finally some will argue that an armed populace keeps the government on its toes, from overreaching its place. When the government has Stealth bombers, divisions of M1A tanks and nuclear subs I do not believe any group of civilians will be able to achive that result.

The only answer for this is to hope some substantial portion of the military will side with, well, whichever side is actually right. Even without the military, the lack of change brought about by various anti-government groups over the last 20 years is reasonable proof that armed civilians cannot succeed.

No, the truth now is that gun owners have become religious. They speak and react with the same zealous vigor as religious fanatics–and not surprisingly there’s a serious overlap of the two groups.

In a way this strange. You shall not kill is one of the 10 commandments, stated as an absolute. Not you shall not kill except in self-defense or in order to eat (the commandment isn’t specific to humans. No killing period.

Meanwhile our families, friends and neighbors are dying in front of our eyes. Are these two men murderers? Yes. Are their guns to blame? No. But when gun-owning fanatics will not allow the least restrictions on gun sales so that clearly mentally unbalanced people can buy them, then they share blame for the result.

Last: Our literal-minded compatriots will make exceptions on the one hand, since it suits them, but not on the other even when doing so might be closer in agreement with their self-proclaimed religious beliefs.

Next time you happen to be in a conversation with a religious gun owner, have some fun and ask them how they reconcile the contradictions.