As a response to last night’s horrific events in Las Vegas, I suspect that the narrative for this week will be dominated by the debate over gun control in the US. We’ve had this argument far too many times in recent years, but I have started to notice that when I get resistance to the idea of stricter gun controls, some typical responses get trotted out by people who don’t want stricter gun laws.
In the few hours I’ve been working on this, I’ve found counters for all of those responses that offer either a solid anecdotal account or extensive research and reporting. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and I could easily spend a LOT more time compiling counters, but I need to salve my mental health and do something else.
So let’s get started:
“If you make guns illegal, only criminals will have them.”
The United Kingdom has stricter gun control laws than the US. People often point to the UK as an example and counter-example of the pros/cons of gun control in the US. So there’s this:
There’s more discussion to be had about black market availability of guns and how that factors into gun violence, of course, but the notion that “I have a perfectly valid civilian use for my gun” isn’t a reason for gun laws to be as lax as they currently are.
“If you take away my gun, I am defenseless.”
Crime is down, but gun ownership is up in the US because of the argument of self-defense. The two-fold cause is that a) the NRA wants to sell a product and b) our media industry has perpetuated a Pavlovian response when it comes to reporting violence, because they live off ratings and ratings go up when violent crime occurs somewhere, so they report it more.
“Guns are our protection against the potential tyranny of the government or military.”
This gets brought up a lot, and all of the arguments about the role of the Second Amendment and how it can/should be interpreted have been going around in circles for a long time. So it’s important to remember what the Founding Fathers considered a gun at the time they wrote it:
“We should be addressing mental health, not trying to take guns from law-abiding citizens.”
“We should arm more people, not fewer.”
“‘Assault-style weapons’ is a misnomer used to flag perfectly reasonable weapons as more dangerous than they are.”
Let’s get our definitions straight. So yeah, I’ll buy that folks might be confused about what weapon does what and politicians latch onto talking points. That doesn’t change the fact that high-volume mags and semi-automatic fire is still pretty problematic from the “self-defense” position if you’re just walking into Wal-mart for milk and ammo.
“We need to do more research about gun violence before we fly off the handle making up new laws.”
Oh but wait, the CDC can’t do that with federal funding, wow… So aside from the part where the NRA lobbies lawmakers to dissuade them from enacting gun control, they also lobby to prevent lawmakers from even asking a third party to run the math. It’s what they call a racket.
“We should be enforcing the existing laws on the books instead of making up new laws.”
Spoiler warning: the alleged gunman in Vegas appears to have adhered to local laws, had no notable prior criminal history, and while he was known to local law enforcement he wasn’t on any kind of watch list. It’s not clear yet if he had any history of mental illness.
And here’s a nice wall of data to look at, which assaults all of the above points in the context of the rest of the world.