On Gun-Ignorant Liberals And Their Clumsy Attempts At Gun Laws.

Watching liberals try to discuss gun laws is all too often like watching Steve Carell in The 40 Year Old Virgin describe what it’s like to make love to a woman – it sounds superficially right unless you know, well, anything about how it actually works.

You’ve got folks thinking that the AR-15 stands for “Assault Rifle,” and not knowing the difference between a semi- and and an automatic rifle.  You’ve got folks that want to pass anti-gun laws that have already been passed (if not necessarily enforced).  You’ve got folks who would craft overly-simple bills who don’t realize that, because of the laughably inaccurate way they’ve defined what a “dangerous gun” is, would not stop the problem at all.

It’s a world full of folks who don’t understand how guns work at all.  Hell, I’m one of those liberals, and I’ve run face-first into some very smart and very educated people on guns.

What I’d like to say is “…and they set me straight.”

Alas, that’s never what happens.

See, what happens is that they explain to me that what I’ve suggested would never ever work because of X, Y, or Z.  And then I ask the legitimate question:

“Okay. I understand guns are a complicated topic with a lot of laws in place, like pretty much everything else in America, and I’d like to get the details right from someone who knows what’s happening on the ground.  So how would we stop maniacs from getting their hands on the type of gun that makes it easy for an elderly man to kill almost 60 civilians?”

And if we started this by comparing liberals to the 40 Year Old Virgin, the conservatives become that guy on Tinder who talks big sexy stuff until you finally invite him over to your apartment and whoops it’s a ghost.  Because they disappear.

Because what inevitably happens when I start asking, “All right, you have high standards on how you want your laws crafted, how would this work?” is that after some debate I get told, time and time again by these experts, that no law would work, really, we’re doing everything we can, the existing laws are fine and why are you dumb liberals even worried about this?

And then I ask, “Because we’ve had 1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days and I’d like not to get shot?”

They’ve got a lot of responses there before they eventually dwindle and disappear – they’ll twiddle with the definition of “mass shooting” to shave off some of those numbers, thus making it maybe 800 mass shootings, as if that should reassure me.  They’ll explain that a proper guy with a gun would have stopped all of those shootings, which also fails to reassure me because even if that’s true – and I’m pretty sure it isn’t, because a horde of armed people firing up at the shooter’s windows at Mandalay Bay doesn’t seem like it would have worked out well – that implies that the massive wave of shootings in America are even more explosive than any other country, because we’d have five times the shootings if it weren’t for all these responsible gun owners, and holy crap that is in no way reassuring.

They’ll tell me I should own a gun.  I’d love to!  But I’m a depressive with suicidal ideation, and I know the statistics – that gun would make it significantly more likely that I’d kill myself.

And finally, they’ll tell me how dumb I am, which I’ve already admitted, but then I ask: why not reach across the aisle to see how we can make this work?  Three times now, I’ve offered to start up a podcast with the smartest, most knowledgeable folks I’ve found debating me – let’s have dumb anti-gun guy vs educated pro-gun guy on a show where we discuss how gun laws fail by liberal standards and see what ways we could craft laws that could work.

They ghost.

And the reason they ghost is that for all of the supposed education, their fundamental message is despair.  Scrape off the sneering gun facts, and what they’re actually saying is “Daily mass shootings are a price I’m willing to pay to keep my guns.”  Which isn’t popular at all.  They know that.

That’s why they hide behind a screed of gun trivia and “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

And look: liberals, we do get the facts wrong, and so you should try not to be that asshole who’s saying blatantly wrong things about guns.  Guns are tricky, and it’s not as simple as “ban the assault rifle” because absolutely every gun manufacturer in the world will have dodges ready for that and besides, how you define the gun from a legislative perspective totally matters.

But pro-gun conservatives?  It’s easy for you to write off people’s concerns because they got a fact wrong, but that’s like throwing out the Declaration of Independence because it has a typo in it.  The fact is, something’s wrong with America gun culture if we’re having this many massacres, and common sense indicates that it’s some problem we could solve with legislation in the same way we’re trying to do so for terrorism and drugs and murder – so flinging your hands in despair and going, “You can’t regulate evil!” is a dumb fucking statement unless you’re for also dropping laws on burglary and shoplifting.

We will not craft perfect laws.  We never do.  But it’s astounding how laws intended to prevent Muslim terrorism can be sloppy as hell, laws intended to stop illegal drug use can put tons of the wrong people away, yet gun laws and gun laws alone must be 100% effective before we contemplate passing them.

(Which isn’t to say that I don’t want the antiterrorism and antidrug laws tightened.  All legislation should be as good as we can make it, and continually improved.  But every law will be imperfect on some level because humans are imperfect.)

So yeah. The next time a liberal goofs up on what kind of ammo that gun takes, that’s an error.  And we should fix that.  But in turn, you should not use that as the excuse to toss that concern out to promote your special brand of despairing nihilism.

There are solutions.  Maybe you fear us taking all the guns away, but most of us don’t want all the guns away, we want not to be shot.  As, I suspect, do you.

What can you do to help us achieve that goal?  Because hint: what doesn’t work is writing everyone off who fails the Gun Trivia Quiz.

Help us fix a problem. You can do that by admitting there is a problem, and the solution is not to chug despair until some murderous clod puts a bullet in our head at random.

Embrace hope.  Even though, unfortunately, hope seems to be an increasingly liberal concept these days.

 

2 Comments

  1. PDV
    Oct 3, 2017
    • David Klecha
      Oct 4, 2017

      The 538 piece is, on the one hand, certainly accurate and thought-provoking, but on the other hand… kind of misses the point. There ARE many facets to gun violence, and there may well need to be many methods of addressing those facets. But we CAN certainly focus on the common elements of mass shootings in an effort to reduce THOSE, and in the case of mass shootings, there are plenty of commonalities that can focus on the weapons used. Focusing on the people, as 538 suggests, is probably the least likely path to succeed as it creates a Constitutionality burden that would likely not survive the courts, as it would have to be demographically focused or focused on patterns of behavior, and those typically are non-starters legislatively or Constitutionally.

      Mass shootings are typically not carried out with revolvers, bolt-action rifles, or shotguns. They are typically not carried out with weapons that carry six rounds or fewer. They are typically not carried out with weapons that lack interchangeable box magazines of any kind, or a low cyclic rate, or rifles chambered for subsonic rounds. We can and should legislate on the basis of availability of those kinds of features.

      Someone whose opinion I respect also suggested legislating based on basic safety rules for firearms. Legislate them as if they were dangerous workplace hazards, and that failure to follow the safety rules, when resulting in injury or death, results in criminal charges. Strict enforcement of laws like that would simply make gun ownership less attractive in general, and could certainly have an impact on all kinds of gun violence.

      The solutions are out there. We do need the will to enact them.

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