Replying to my pro-gun friends

gun_control_rally_sm.jpegThis was originally published on December 16, 2012. It's gone through several edits, most recently on February 2, 2013.

Dear friends who can't tolerate anyone bringing up gun control: You're not going to intimidate me with your !!!!s, ????s, WORDS IN ALL CAPS, namecalling, and threats to unfriend. I am going to speak my mind regardless of your protestations.

I just wish you loved the First Amendment as much as your reading of the Second Amendment. Instead trying to bully people into submission, let us speak freely. Most people aren't calling for a ban on guns contrary to your knee-jerk reactions. We want better regulations on something that is already regulated. We just want improvements. To quote my friend Jim Sanches, there's a difference between regulating and banning. 

In fact, I am pro-non-assault-style-guns-with-high-magazine-capacity for civilians for self defense after thorough background checks, training, and if responsibly maintained.

Respect that America needs to talk about this massacre considering many factors and nuances. So, stop making wild accusations, calling people morons, and trying to shut down discussion.

Dear friends who say that calling for better gun laws is like calling for a ban on cars: First of all, cars are not designed to kill people. Deaths arise from accidents. Secondly, car ownership and driving are highly regulated activities including an elaborate licensing system, insurance mandate, penalties and terms for getting licenses revoked. What we are saying, to quote my friend Mike Stafford, is like calling for seat belt laws after a car crash, not banning cars.

Jim Sanches writes, "If they're going to use the car analogy, fine, let's regulate them as well as we do cars then. We mandate seat belts, headlights, the licensing of every car yearly and liability insurance on every car for starters. Not to mention all the rules of the road, traffic lights, stops signs, etc we all must obey even if we've never violated any of them."

Dear friends who say that Newtown is about mental illness and we should only discuss improving healthcare for the mentally ill: This is like saying drinking and driving is about alcoholism and we should only discuss treatment for alcoholism and not discuss how to prevent drinking and driving. 

Dear friends who say that guns don't kill people, people kill people: People with guns kill people. Guns are dangerous like poison is dangerous, especially guns designed for combat. It's not something we want readily available and in every home and public building. Even if people try to be responsible about its storage and usage, accidents and terrible destruction will occur, especially with children and mentally unstable people around. This is a public safety issue.  If we can accept restrictions on smoking for public health reasons, why not accept restrictions on gun purchases for public safety reasons?

In general, I think gun control is a public safety issue just like people flying planes or driving cars without proper training is a public safety issue.

Dear friends who say we need guns to protect ourselves from the government: To beat the US government, you're gonna need bigger and better weapons than guns. Would you be in favor of legalizing civilians owning tanks, bombs, fighter planes, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons? Also, if you really believe the government is out to get you, it's likely that you suffer from a mental illness.

In general, I have a problem with you thinking it's patriotic to shoot government employees with your guns.

Dear friends who treat the Constitution as some holy scripture from God and who think they have divined the correct, original, literal, interpretation of it: News Flash! The founding fathers were not psychics who could predict the future. They didn't think of everything. The Constitution doesn't mention online identity theft. Does that mean we shouldn't protect ourselves from it? The genius of the framers of the Constitution is that they wrote a living document that was designed to be amended as we go. There are limits to the Second Amendment as there is to the First Amendment. For instance, you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater because it endangers the public.

There are ongoing debates about how to interpret the Second Amendment. Jeffrey Toobin writes in the New Yorker:

Before the nineteen-seventies, the N.R.A. had been devoted mostly to non-political issues, like gun safety. But a coup d’état at the group’s annual convention in 1977 brought a group of committed political conservatives to power—as part of the leading edge of the new, more rightward-leaning Republican Party. The new group pushed for a novel interpretation of the Second Amendment, one that gave individuals, not just militias, the right to bear arms. It was an uphill struggle. At first, their views were widely scorned. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who was no liberal, mocked the individual-rights theory of the amendment as “a fraud.”

Dear friends who think we need more God in the classroom: Our country is founded on the the principle of the separation of church and state because it is dangerous to mix power and religion. Historically, it's led to tyranny. No, we do not need more religion in classrooms. We need more common sense and respect for the give-and-take of our democratic process. We need to insist on fact-based, civil dialogue.

Dear friends who think we need more guns in the classroom to protect our children: Why stop at arming teachers? Why not arm children? How far will you go in thinking that easy access to guns is the solution to the problem of gun violence in our society? Do you want any regulation at all? Do you want buying assault rifles to be as easy as getting a Slurpee from 7-11? Would you allow children to purchase guns? Do you really think easy access to combat weapons is about personal freedom? Do you really think that's what founding fathers had in mind when they made enormous sacrifices to build America? I can't understand how you're thinking about this.

Dear friends who fear that your guns will be confiscated: NRA seems to enjoy inciting fears among gun owners that guns will be banned and their weapons confiscated. This is just a fear tactic. I don't see anyone on the national stage calling for this, certainly not on Capitol Hill. 

There is a big difference between NRA members and NRA leadership by the way. There are ideas for better regulations that the majority of NRA members agree on, but the NRA leadership does not advocate for them or are fiercely opposed to them. For example, the majority of NRA members support closing the gun show loophole, reporting lost and stolen guns, and states sharing records with the National Instant Background Check System.

Instead of encouraging discussion and real information, NRA spreads fear and misinformation. Please listen to what we are actually saying instead of what you fear we are saying.

Dear friends who say I can't talk about gun control because I've never handled or owned a gun before: Have you ever taken crack and heroin? Do you have a position on what our laws should be regarding those drugs? Perhaps I should shoot up heroin, become an undocumented immigrant, and go to prison before I can call for ending the war on drugs, revising immigration policies and reforming the criminal justice system.

Dear friends who say that Hitler confiscated guns so don't confiscate gunsFirst of all, the vast majority of people are not calling confiscating guns. I'm certainly not. Secondly, this is just historically false. Hitler relaxed gun control laws of the Weimar Republic. Thirdly, Hitler loved dogs and used the bathroom. It's not a great argument to say Hitler did x so therefore don't do x.

Dear friends who say Sandy Hook is a hoax: I question the state of your mental health. If you really believe this, I think you suffer from severe paranoia and should be disqualified from buying guns. 

Dear friends who say "Second Amendment shall not be infringed!" no matter who is speaking, under what conditions, and which specific suggestions are made to try to keep guns away from homicidal people: I've listened to your arguments and frankly, you guys don't sound like freedom-loving, Constitution-protecting individuals. You just sound brainwashed. There are only so many ways a person can say that I don't give a crap about anyone else but myself and guns make me feel powerful and that is all that matters

[This is not directed at all gun owners. Just the ones who don't want to engage in any policy discussions involving stricter guns laws and try to shout people down invoking the Second Amendment.]

Dear all friends: I'm finding that it's very hard to engage in a constructive dialogue with people hellbent on bullying you until you give up or repeating gun lobby propaganda ad nauseum. Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade in the way Joseph Welch called out Senator McCarthy during Army-McCarthy hearings. I want to direct the same lines said by Welch in 1954 to Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA, who testified at the Senate committee hearing on January 30, 2013 and shamelessly uses fear-mongering to boost gun sales: Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

Check out The Gun Debate - Special 2-hr show hosted by Annabel Park on Sunday, 1/13, 3:30pm ET.

Annabel is a filmmaker and the founder of the Coffee Party. Her new documentary project is Story of America: A Nation Divided. You can follow her on Twitter @annabelpark and subscribe to her Facebook updates.

 

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Showing 1466 reactions

commented 2013-02-02 01:27:40 -0600 · Flag
To everyone: This thread has turned into Edward’s blog with long comments that very few people can possibly take the time to read. There are many complaints from people who are getting notifications in their emails. Let’s find another way to have dialogue. Commenting on a blog post is very limiting. I’m closing the comments.

Thanks for participating! I’ve learned a lot from you all.
commented 2013-02-02 00:30:47 -0600 · Flag
Excellent piece. This gun owner would like a calm discussion about guns. I remember the calm conversations last fall in the UK about gins after the tragic ambushing of two police women. Is it any wonder I am working toward moving permanently to that civilized country?
commented 2013-02-02 00:19:46 -0600 · Flag
Brian, check out David Frum’s commentary:

Yet it remains most fundamentally true: people in that room interpreted their gun advocacy as license to shout at a grieving father. Whether you call it “heckling” or something else, it’s just wrong. And the impulse to parse, excuse, condone that we saw in blogs and on Twitter afterward was very nearly equally wrong: a substitution of ideology for basic human sympathy.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/30/the-newtown-heckling-controversy.html
commented 2013-02-02 00:12:45 -0600 · Flag
Annabel,

Mr. Heslin asked a question. When no one responded he stated that he interpreted their silence as agreement, and that is when they spoke up. The people in the audience tried to show respect but would not allow him to twist that respect. Had no one said anything the news would have said something along the lines of “No one can answer grieving father as to why they need assault weapons”.

As for what Edward said, you may start off talking about what happened at those hearings in Connecticut, but you don’t end there. I also notice the position has changed and I wonder if the wording and included link have changed as well, maybe to clarify your statement. I know I questioned what I was doing commenting here when I saw your initial posting of the update.
commented 2013-02-02 00:10:00 -0600 · Flag
Edward, you need to take a break from this thread.
commented 2013-02-02 00:07:08 -0600 · Flag
No idea why that posted twice, sorry about that.
commented 2013-02-02 00:05:22 -0600 · Flag
Annabel Park “I was referring to people who’d behave like this: ”http://www.upi.com/blog/2013/01/29/Newtown-father-interrupted-by-activists-at-Connecticut-gun-control-hearing-VIDEO/8531359494325/">http://www.upi.com/blog/2013/01/29/Newtown-father-interrupted-by-activists-at-Connecticut-gun-control-hearing-VIDEO/8531359494325/ "

Then complain about inconsiderate jerk-wads. That sort of behavior has nothing to do with gun control.

Also, I just watched the part of that video at 14:40 on to the comments from the peanut gallery. He stated a question to “anyone here”. Which got zero response. The then started to use the silence (since they were quiet like they were supposed to) to assert that there was no reason anyone needed such weapons, so he got the response they didn’t give the first time.

And it was short, not in the least unrestrained, and they quieted down immediately.
commented 2013-02-02 00:05:22 -0600 · Flag
Annabel Park “I was referring to people who’d behave like this: ”http://www.upi.com/blog/2013/01/29/Newtown-father-interrupted-by-activists-at-Connecticut-gun-control-hearing-VIDEO/8531359494325/">http://www.upi.com/blog/2013/01/29/Newtown-father-interrupted-by-activists-at-Connecticut-gun-control-hearing-VIDEO/8531359494325/ "

Then complain about inconsiderate jerk-wads. That sort of behavior has nothing to do with gun control.

Also, I just watched the part of that video at 14:40 on to the comments from the peanut gallery. He stated a question to “anyone here”. Which got zero response. The then started to use the silence (since they were quiet like they were supposed to) to assert that there was no reason anyone needed such weapons, so he got the response they didn’t give the first time.

And it was short, not in the least unrestrained, and they quieted down immediately.
commented 2013-02-01 23:32:36 -0600 · Flag
Edward Crowell, I was not referring to you. Do you really think you fit this description? Dear friends who say “Second Amendment shall not be infringed!” no matter who is speaking, under what conditions, and which specific suggestions are made to try to keep guns away from homicidal people:

If you’re going to continue to say “screw you” to me or anyone else, you’d better find another place for your comments.
commented 2013-02-01 23:27:28 -0600 · Flag
Steve Benson “It isn’t difficult to manufactur firearms—they’re a fairly simple technology, easier than making LSD for certain.”

For a pretty funny write up of just how easy it can be:
http://www.northeastshooters.com/vbulletin/build-yourself/179192-diy-shovel-ak-photo-tsunami-warning.html

That’s right, a functioning AK receiver and stock from a used shovel. One guy, by hand, in his garage.

“Simply banning guns doesn’t solve the problem.”

And, variations in US law and gun ownership rates don’t show any relation to murder or even firearm specific murder either. I used FBI Uniform Crime Reports for 2011 (I looked at 2002 and 2003 as well, but it didn’t show anything different), the Brady Campaign rank as a measure of gun control laws (their scorecard is actually pretty objective in itself based on what laws a state does or doesn’t have), and gun ownership from Pediatrics (Jouirnal fo the American Academy of Pediatrics).

No statistically reliable relationship exists between those measures. Not even gun control laws and firearm murder rates. I even took a look at accidental firearm injuries and deaths. No relations.

Full writeup:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/122317415/Cover-Letter-to-the-Firearm-Data-Analysis
http://www.scribd.com/doc/122317285/Firearm-Data-Analysis

It’s long. It’s cited. It has footnotes. Get coffee.

“So the question becomes whether gun control will reduce gun crime. I take the position that it will not.”

And that data above supports the conclusion.
commented 2013-02-01 23:05:26 -0600 · Flag
Annabel Park "Dear friends who say ""Second Amendment shall not be infringed!" no matter who is speaking, under what conditions, and which specific suggestions are made to try to keep guns away from homicidal people: I’ve listened to your arguments and frankly, you guys don’t sound like freedom-loving, Constitution-protecting individuals. You just sound brainwashed."

I’d expected better commentary by now, Annabel. If I didn’t make so much time I’m for on this, I could summarize, quite accurately, my position with “Shall not be infringed!” They’ve taken a firm, bright line stance on the matter. Doesn’t mean they’re brainwashed, might just mean they’ve come to the conclusion that “shall not be infringed” should mean exactly what it says.

“There are only so many ways a person can say that I don’t give a crap about anyone else but myself and guns make me feel powerful and that is all that matters. "

I’d also expect you to know better on this as well. Rights have zero to do with how you and I interact. Rights are against the actions of the state. You can advocate whatever you want, but the government is limited.

I do give a crap. Professionally I do the vast majority of my work for people who cannot afford an attorney in cases that are trying to put families back together or keep them together. The pay is crap, the hours stink, and it’s far from glorious. Despite that, i spend my own time and money helping people as well, going so far as to have two more children not my own in my home while their mom tried to get on her feet and away from a violent ex. I’m not even sure what that process cost, I didn’t bother to track it, but somewhere north of ten thousand dollars of my own money was spent helping that family out.

Since the sperm donor for those kids had serious impulse control problems, major violent tendencies (having beat mom in front of and while holding one child more than once), poor decision making ability beyond even that, AND our home address because someone wasn’t paying attention, I’m not just putting money on the line. There was a very real chance of this nitwit would be as stupid as we knew he could be and come to our home to try something.

In which case, putting my family (including those two children) at risk, I was prepared to shoot the bastard. At all times, since we couldn’t know when he’d be stupid.

So, much more politely than I want to be:

Screw you for even remotely claiming I don’t give a crap about anyone else.

You don’t know me, do NOT make assertions about me in general based on my stance on a single topic.

Guns do not make me feel powerful. I’ll keep trying to be polite here, but it’s hard. Guns were, and are, the only way that idiot would be stopped. If someone managed to call 911 and if a cop was nearby, maybe he’d only have a few minutes to wreak whatever havoc he wanted on my home.

NO.

With my gun, he would have seconds. And you wouldn’t need all your fingers to count how many.

And THAT is all that matters.\

Mama bear is mean, but this Papa bear thinks ahead, plans, and is fully ready to deliver as much force as needed, including more than ten rounds to center mass in case that’s what it takes, immediately to anyone threatening the cubs. I practice regularly, I read, I think, I plan, so I maximize my chances if that ever happens.

So, I get a bit touchy if anyone wants to mess with my ability to do that, especially when they are so hypocritical as to claim it is for “safety”.

And even more so when they can’t present a rational basis for gun control by defining the problem they want to address, stating the goal to be achieved, providing the method they propose, and supporting that proposition with citation to sources and data plus a detailed logical argument of how the proposition goes from here to there.

So kindly knock off the name calling and insults based on what has to be a deliberate mis-statement of the opposing viewpoint (if you’ve read much of anything I’ve posted) and pretend to actually foster a rational dialogue on the matter, okay?
commented 2013-02-01 21:46:15 -0600 · Flag
Issues are about power, is you agree with an issue someone profits. Remember that when dealing with activists. Real altruism is rare.
commented 2013-02-01 21:43:11 -0600 · Flag
You might be interested in knowing, that according to FBI crime statistics, the most dangerous weapon on the streets today, is the baseball bat. The obvious difference, there has never been a “mass” killing done with a baseball bat; however, according to the FBI, more people have been bludgeoned to death with a bat in almost every annual violent crime statistic for the past 10 years!
commented 2013-02-01 21:31:13 -0600 · Flag
I don’t think I will change your mind, however, I tend to look at gun control in the same terms I see drug laws—if you make them illegal, you will simply create a black market where criminals will still be able to get them. It isn’t difficult to manufactur firearms—they’re a fairly simple technology, easier than making LSD for certain.

I don’t like seeing children shot and I think that taking steps to prevent shootings is important. But I think that logic and evidence shows that we need to fix the social problems involved if we really want to stop this sort of thing. Keep in mind that while Japan has strict gun control and almost no gun violence, Brazil also has strict gun control and they have the highest gun related fatalities in the world. Simply banning guns doesn’t solve the problem. If I could make a perfectworld where people didn’t shoot each other, I would. Instead, I’d like to live in a world where people are interested in seriously tackling difficult issues. Gun control is amazingly easy. Too easy.

I don’t like any law that limits freedom without good cause. Now, you could argue that murder is illegal and yet people still committ it. True. But in my mind, locking a murderer up is more about keeping that person from harming more people. Making murder a crime may stop some people from committing murder, but I suspect that most decent people don’t really feel like going out and killing their fellow citizens. So the question becomes whether gun control will reduce gun crime. I take the position that it will not. The crimes that people commit using guns will still allow us to incarcerate them regardless of whether or not their weapons were illegal.

If, as I suggest, gun control will not limit the number of guns nor gun violence, then all gun control will achieve is putting weapons in the hands of criminals without leaving people the choice to own one for self-defense. I think it is very important to make certain that one limits one’s freedoms for the right reasons.

I can sympathize with pro-gun control advocates. I’m not an angry zealot who wants to scream in capitals on the internet. I believe in rational debate, and I’d ban all the guns in the world if I thought that it would work.

I would like to finish by stating that the pro-gun control side is equally guilty of ad-hominem attacks, rhetoric, reductio ad absurdum, begging the question, and red herrings as the pro-gun side. Let’s stop with this sort of thing and try and find real solutions. I say that to everyone, regardless of what side of this debate you support.
commented 2013-02-01 21:29:57 -0600 · Flag
What many people don’t realize, though, is that a ban is where government will eventually try to take this. And thanks to effective propaganda put out by politicians – and the media – many people are not fully informed about the guns they want regulated.

http://www.assaultweapon.info/
commented 2013-02-01 21:29:21 -0600 · Flag
ok look at the clinton ban first what was it? a restriction on cosmetic improvments to guns of a certain type. it did nothing significant. and while it was in effect gun violence went up. two of the major countries that have publicly owned and train w gun owners have the least amount of gun violence. Switzerland and israel. Any law that they pass will target law abiding citizens not the criminals. Also if states and the government would have a comprehensive list of criminals and mental ill citizen’s that could be used to restrict those that have gun and access to them it would greatly reduce the amount of gun violence. now i’m not saying either side is right or wrong. What i am saying is we have these rights for a reason and history has shown that when these rights are taken away citizen’s become the victims not the criminals.
commented 2013-02-01 21:28:56 -0600 · Flag
It’s still one portion of America, trying to bend another portion of America to it’s will. It’s not about safety.
commented 2013-02-01 21:28:23 -0600 · Flag
Annabel, I commend you for always having a voice of reason.
commented 2013-02-01 21:14:07 -0600 · Flag
The NRA and their power is a symptom of massive public politics support. The last time the dems went for guns they were eaten alive in the midterms. My guess is that this is going on in the hopes that the benefit dems get from republicans behaving like republicans will off set the pounding they will get from the millions of single issue voters that is the gun culture. My guess is that this is about retaining the White House. Gun violence is less than it was, the mass shooting rates are unchanged since the early 70’s. so this is about power, a show for power standing on the backs of dead children, crying for compassion while pointing accusing fingers at their opponents. Personally I’m disgusted.
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