I’ve been berated by promoted tweets all week by leftists and Democratic politicians demanding that the US abolish gun rights in the aftermath of the horrible shooting in Uvalde and I’ve become sufficiently annoyed that I need to talk about this. I recognize that shouldn’t be the primary emotion one feels after a school shooting, but we’ve been through this emotional roller coaster before. The news breaks, the body count is displayed, the motive is revealed, politicians foam at the mouth about mental health and guns, and then the world moves on. It is a heartbreaking and nihilistic process, and I find myself growing numb to it rather than staring into the void once again.
It should go without saying that the Uvalde, Texas shooting is abysmal and heartbreaking and the details surrounding it are disturbing and painful, made worse by the fact that it’s not the first time this has happened. The country is still reeling from the recent wave of shootings in Buffalo, Tulsa, Chattanooga, and the Laguna Woods Church shooting, and it appears that the publicity of Uvalde has already inspired several unsuccessful copycat shootings, including most recently an attempted bomb plot at a Berkeley, CA high school.
School shootings have become a disturbingly regular aspect of national media coverage since the Columbine Massacre in 1999. And the debates surrounding them are endless: debates about video games, debates about mental health, debates about SSRIs, and of course gun debates.
Twitter has been absolutely replete, nonstop, with calls to abolish the second amendment, calls to reinstate the assault weapons ban, calls to ban high-capacity ammo, calls to ban large magazines, calls for banning rifles, and handguns, and of course demands for mandatory gun buybacks.
These tweets are tiresome, if more so by the fact that the arguments never stop and just get louder and louder in social media’s echo chambers.
President Biden has even joined the calls, joining the chorus of gun control advocates desperate to break Washington’s unwillingness to crack down on gun rights, but hamstrung by his lack of executive power to unilaterally act. Democratic politicians are going as far as to demand changing the constitution, packing the supreme court, and abolishing the filibuster to crame gun control legislation through Congress (which wouldn’t help unless flakier Democrats like Manchin and Sinema are on board).
In short, the left blames the guns. They only blame the guns. They don’t blame the people and they believe that America would be a sensible safe country if we just removed those pesky 393.3 million guns (estimated) floating around the populace.
Such proposals though don’t ask basic questions. It is true that the United States owns a large percentage of the world’s legal firearms. As such, we do have abnormally high gun deaths in the United States, both homicide and suicide. Such statistics tho much be viewed in context. The United States is a massive population of nearly 330 million people. If roughly 90 gun deaths a day are happening, that’s not an abysmal number. Regardless, The United States does not have an abnormally high murder rate, suicide rate, or crime rate.
5.3 per 100,000 citizens in the US were murdered in 2017. This number is about four to five times higher than European countries like Britain, Germany, France, Denmark, etc. The number is eclipsed though by countries like El Salvador with a murder rate of 61.8 per 100,000, which is 11.66 times higher than the US.
There are roughly 30,000 gun deaths a year in the United States, two thirds of them are suicides. I don’t wish to discount the dangers of suicide or suicidal ideation, I’ve had too many phone calls with suicidal friends to discount the realities of that horror. For the sake of discussion tho, we must set those horrific numbers aside. The US doesn’t have an abnormally high suicide rate, at 13.5 per 100,000 people which is lower than Greenland with an astronomical rate of 400 per 100,000.
As an aside, you’re more than twice as likely to commit suicide in the U.S. as you are to be murdered, regardless of the weapon.
The US does have abnormally large mass shooting statistics but these numbers are flawed as well. Mass shooting data and statistics are usually correlated based on incidents involving four or more fatalities. This number tends to be trotted out in correlation with high-profile school shootings, church shootings, terrorist attacks, or other mass casualty events. The correlation is misleading. School shootings are exceptionally rare events and when they do happen they tend to happen in waves, with one massive event followed by several smaller copycat events coming from similarly deranged individuals who saw the media attention and wanted similar infamy. The numbers can also be misleading in terms of casualties. Mass shooting victims often survive, so four or more people may be shot but live.
The remainder of America’s abnormally high gun states is generally attributable to two other factors: gang violence and drug violence. As Vox notes, the majority of shooting victims in the United States aren’t actually school children or churchgoers but are young black men. These men aren’t being killed by white supremacists or police officers. Most racial groups suffer the worst statistics from in-group violence. White people tend to murder white people and black people tend to murder black people, spree killers, mass murderers, and serial killers notwithstanding.
I don’t mean that as a snide remark, or God forbid a dog whistle. I don’t want to just breeze past that. It’s easy to dismiss “gang violence” as an easily dismissable aberration, but these are real lives, real people destroyed in the crossfire of these conflicts. These are Black and Latino mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters whose lives are casually destroyed. Such statistics are viewable with the horrific “Chi-Raq” phenomena, where 4,265 citizens were killed in Chicago in the period of 2003 to 2012, a number roughly equivalent to Iraq War casualties. Most of these shootings involved illegally possessing weapons, received through straw purchases, stolen weapons, or the black market. They are highly illegal but impossible to track, which serves as a point of contention for gun control arguments. If guns can be so easily trafficked and sold, loose gun law states are getting poor black children killed in Chicago.
There are people trying to address these issues on the ground; private groups and charities in cities like Chicago work diligently to remove guns from the streets, while the Chicago police regularly cease and destroy thousands of illegal weapons annually. Gun control advocates usually push for “closing the gun show loophole” or cracking down on gun rights in more lax states like Indiana as a priority to slow the spread, but the realities are more complicated. A gun requires an ID to purchase and many Indiana gun salesmen are wary of selling to people with Illinois IDs. If they do, it must be shipped to a state-approved gun salesman in Illinois where the user must present a Firearms ID Card, wait for a time period, and then pay full price for the weapon. A drug dealer with a criminal record can’t just cross state lines and buy a legal weapon. Regardless, many of the straw purchases happen in the deep south and the FBI is generally aware of which gun dealers are selling the guns that end up on the streets.
There is no clear answer to solving specific problems such as these though. At the end of the day, you can’t fix gang culture and drug culture by taking away the means to their destructive actions. They’ll find new means.
The end result though is the same for the gun grabber though. These aberrations and tragedies — Chicago, Uvalde, Parkland, Stoneman Douglas, Sandy Hook, Columbine — are the emotional bleeding heart of the gun control agenda’s emotional appeal. It might not be true that murders and suicides in the US are that high, but we can’t just allow horrific events to sprawl across our TV screens and go unheeded and ignored, right?
That is true. But again, such events are both rare and highly publicized. You probably remember the names of every major school shooting this decade. School shootings of this variety, scale, and scope are horrific and traumatic, but they are aided by media coverage. The copycat shooting attempts in the aftermath of Uvalde were an example of this, as was the rise in school shootings after Columbine.
School shooter psychology is not a mystery. We know how they think, we know what makes them tick and in every case, the warning signs are always there. The family and friends of the shooter always recognize the problems before it hits the fan. The FBI is often alerted. Yet often there is nothing that is or can be done about them. An average student walks into a school with a gun he purchased legally when he wasn’t showing signs or stolen from friends or family. He decides he wants to punish the living for the crime of being born, to make others suffer as he has.
Media sensation is the number one correlator of school shootings. Sensation fulfills the desires and wishes of the school shooter who wants both attention and infamy. He wants others to know his name, to make his manifesto clear. The media can’t resist the urge to follow the trail of blood into their ledes and a vicious cycle of validation is born. It is an abusive, cynical, and perpetual cycle of violence that feeds upon the blood of children to preserve the bottom lines of the mainstream media. “If it bleeds, it leads”, as they say in journalism.
Regardless, the current narrative has already spread around the world before the truth had time to put its pants on. The governments of multiple North American countries are already taking every opportunity they can to flex their powers and create new gun laws while the iron is hot. Canada, which has nothing to do with the Uvalde shooting, is sweeping up the emotional capital of this event to propose sweeping laws to crack down on handgun sales, transfers, and possession. On Thursday, the US Congress held hearings for over 40 pages of new gun control bills that would add redundant restrictions to ghost guns, straw purchases, and the purchasing of gun parts, crack down on parents who don’t keep their guns locked in a safe at all times, give more power to the ATF (the same institution that botched Waco), and more! CA governor Newsome is proposing a massive state gun buyback program. Elon Musk called for the banning of “high-velocity” weapons on Twitter. Biden even went as far in one interview as to suggest that 9mm ammunition, the most common handgun ammunition, is too powerful for regular purchases and is somehow powerful to blow a person’s lungs out of their body.
Biden said, “and I sat with a trauma doctor, and I asked him—I said, ‘What’s the difference?’… I said, ‘Why are they dying?’ And they showed me x-rays. He said, ‘A .22-caliber bullet will lodge in the lung, and we can probably get it out, may be able to get it, and save the life. A 9mm bullet blows the lung out of the body.”
To clarify, 9mm bullets don’t do that. Hollow point bullets do expand on impact and leave a large hole, for the purpose of incapacitating a hostile or moving target, but nothing short of an RPG is going to blast organs from your body.
The common denominator of all gun control legislation is ignorance. These laws are arbitrary, crack down on legal and safe firearm owners, and come from people who couldn’t tell you that the word “assault weapon” is not a legal designation. They don’t know that automatic weapons are already functionally illegal. They don’t know what an AR-15 is, beyond thinking it looks scary. They’ve never fired a gun. They don’t know the gun laws that are already on the books in their own states and cities. Yet these people yell the loudest about guns. They’re proud to stand up screaming that nobody is doing anything to curb gun violence, which is the point.
At the end of the day, most leftists are just uncomfortable with guns as a concept and don’t like that the country bumpkins are armed and dangerous. Hundreds of thousands of people are on Twitter and Facebook right now demanding blanket gun bans, demanding forced gun buyback programs, claiming that the second amendment doesn’t protect firearm ownership, and saying it ought to be abolished from the Bill of Rights.
When those calls to action don’t work, they declare their opponents a #PartyofDeath, and dismiss the entire right-wing as a death cult that enjoys seeing the deaths of children.
If they can’t manage that level of invective, gun grabbers just accuse gun owners of overcompensating for their small penises (which begs the question, does that mean female gun owners have penis envy?).
For all the people claiming our founding fathers wouldn’t have approved of modern guns because of how supposedly overpowered they are, there is no evidence of this. At no point though would the founding fathers have looked at an AR-15 and been confused by it. Unlike modern journalists, they wouldn’t be scared or traumatized by them. The AR-15 is a civilian-grade rifle. It uses the base of the M16 military rifle but it is stripped down to specifications well within the law, and well less dangerous than most hunting rifles, which require larger caliper ammunition for big-game. It is only prevalent in mass shootings because it is a popular gun among collectors and range shooters, easy to repair, clean, and train with for civilians.
The Constitution delegates the right of the body politic to own self-defense weapons. While the language of private militias is archaic in modern politics, the clause that guns are for “the militia” is a functionally irrelevant point of contention. States and cities in early America were allowed to set their own gun restrictions as necessary and were mostly limited on carrying in public or private spaces. These laws never precluded ownership though. James Madison, the fourth president of the United States and the father of the constitution, even went as far as to advocate private ownership of naval cannons for self-defense on private merchant ships, which are still legal today. Gun ownership was protected from the outset of the country as a right, not for hunting or sporting but as a tool against oppression. Great civil rights leaders from Malcolm X to Ida B. Wells understood this as well, advocating the importance of gun ownership among Black Americans. Even today, conservative gun owners defend the rights of radical leftist militias like the Black Panthers to own guns.
Guns are not the problem. People are. School shootings are not a bug of our modern status quo, they’re a feature. They’re the end result of a culture that is, to borrow a proverb, abandoning its sons to the point where they’re burning down the village to feel its warmth. Such feats don’t require a gun. They can involve a car, a knife, or a bomb and have in the past. Ted Kaczynski didn’t need a gun. The Charlie Hebdo shooters didn’t buy their guns legally. The Ariana Grande bomber didn’t need a gun. The Boston Marathon bombers didn’t need guns. The Tokyo subway sarin attackers didn’t need guns. The vast majority of mass shootings in inner cities like Chicago weren’t legally purchased. The hundreds of documented mass stabbing attacks and acid attacks across London haven’t been fixed by “knife control”.
Maybe those kinds of non-gun attacks don’t necessarily kill 19 people, or maybe they do. Sometimes the cops aren’t prepared to handle a mass stabbing incident, or maybe (as was the case in Uvalde and Stoneman Douglas) the cops are cowardly bastards who ran away from gunfire while children were dying.
To pretend guns are the problem is shallow, cynical, and stupid. It’s a single factor analysis of complex psychologies, pathologies, and realities that can’t be reduced by removing a means to an end. A man can pick up a gun and shoot someone or he can pick one up and save someone. The common denominator is virtue and the lack of it.
America didn’t have a mass shooter problem 50 years ago. We have created narcissistic and broken generations of children and we are surprised there is no virtue among them. You either fix that problem or you don’t, and that problem is a people problem; a moral problem, a spiritual problem, that didn’t exist when every school in America had a gun club and target shooting on school property.
If you’re reading this and you still think gun control is the only solution, I would ask you only one thing: go to a gun store. Talk to a legal salesperson and ask them every question you can think of about guns. Ask them about your state laws. Ask them about FBI background checks and their efficacy. Maybe try firing a gun. The more you know about guns, the more absurd gun control laws will become to you.