Gun control supporters count those who have died; Second Amendment supporters count those who will live

View of Marin from San Francisco

Because this is Marin and I am not a hermit, I frequently find myself in conversation with Democrats.  It was to be expected, therefore, that conversation over the Christmas holiday would end up revolving around gun control.  These conversations were disheartening on all sides.  My friends concluded that I support wild-eyed mass murderers, since I believe in the Second Amendment, and I concluded that their devotion to feelings over facts will result in many unnecessary deaths over the years.

As I explain at some length below, the only fact that matters to them is that guns do indeed kill people.  Any other data is irrelevant.  Indeed, the conversations were practically textbook illustrations of the giant chasm that separates the two world views.

My friends began by attacking the NRA and Wayne LaPierre as evil and fanatic. Only a deranged person could come up with the lunatic idea of placing armed guards in schools. They batted aside the fact that Clinton had proposed and put into place the same plan LaPierre now suggested — armed guards in schools — and that Obama had de-funded that initiative.  LaPierre is evil because he wants people to have semi-automatic weapons with unlimited magazines.

I explained that semi-automatic still means you have to pull the trigger.  I also explained that large magazines are a small convenience, but they don’t change the dynamics of shooting, because a practiced person can change clips in seconds (see the video above).  I got shouted down before I could even point out that the Dunblane killer, who didn’t have large magazines, simply went into a gun-free zone with more weapons and ammunition.  I also got shouted down when I said that the magazine size is pretty irrelevant if you’re in a gun-free zone.  The counter to this was that the only reason to have a large magazine is to have a people killing gun.

Reginald Denny

Well, yes, I said.  Imagine you’re in a riot, such as the 1992 Los Angeles Riots or the completely lawless situation after Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy.  In those circumstances, you want to be over-armed, not under-armed.  “Ha!  So you admit it.  You just want guns to kill people.”  “No, they’re also fun for sport shooting.  But the fact remains that, when you’re isolated and the mobs are coming, a gun with a good capacity is your only protection.”  “Yeah, you want to kill people.”  I realized at this point that I wouldn’t get any mileage out of saying that some people deserve killing — meaning that, if they’re coming to kill or rape me or mine, I don’t think I’d have second thoughts about valuing their lives at zero.

Shifting arguments, my friends bemoaned the fact that the NRA is so rich and powerful.  If only there was an anti-gun lobby.  They were taken aback when I out that the Brady Center is precisely that anti-gun organization.  In other words, the NRA has not driven all other money or approaches out of the marketplace of ideas.  Americans, though, have voted with their feet by voluntarily supporting the NRA rather than the Brady Center.

George Zimmerman broken nose

Someone shouted out George Zimmerman — and was then shocked when I said that (a) Trayvon Martin wasn’t a sweet 12-year-old but was, instead, a hulking gang banger; (b) that Martin had smeared Zimmerman’s nose all over his face and was busy smashing his head into the pavement; and (c) that Zimmerman had black family members, was part Hispanic, and had a reputation for helping black youths at risk.  Zimmerman instantly vanished as a gun control topic.

The next argument to emerge was that the only thing the Second Amendment allows is muskets.  I countered that the Founders were good with words.  If they’d wanted to limit the Amendment to muskets, they would have.

Second Amendment

Well, you need a “militia” then, they asserted.  No, I explained.  We are all the militia.  The Founders had just emerged from a lengthy battle against a tyrannical government with a standing army.  They were able to engage this army only because, living as they did on a frontier far away from the motherland, ordinary citizens were generally armed and could therefore come together to stand against the government.  The Founders wanted to protect against any future tyranny by ensuring that the nation’s own government was never able to turn against the people.

Rounding Up Jews

I also pointed out that the first thing the Nazis did was confiscate guns.,  The response was predictable, and can be distilled to “that can’t happen here.” I’m sure that’s what my dad’s family thought, probably right up until they entered the gas chambers.

Since my friends think the Second Amendment is a pointless relic, I suggested that they get rid of it through the amendment process.  We should, they agreed — only the Red States would never allow it to happen.  Neither would the Blue States, I muttered.

London OWS riots

Where things really got frustrating, as far as I was concerned, and what I alluded to in my post caption, was my friends’ total disregard for the hard data we’ve received from existing gun control experiments.  In both Chicago and Washington, D.C., strict gun control played out exactly as the NRA said it would:  When guns were outlawed, only outlaws had guns.  When guns were reinstated in Washington, D.C., violent crime dropped.  In England, outlawing guns resulted in a huge uptick in violent crime, including gun crime.  Gun homicides in Britain have leveled out somewhat but, aside from the fact that the gun ban never effectively lowered gun crimes, the sad truth is that Britain is no longer a civil society:  instead, it is one of the most violent societies in the Western world.

The response I got to that indubitable fact is that Britain has a much lower murder rate than America.  This is true, but that’s an apples to oranges argument.  Britain has always had a lower murder rate than America.  When we at the effects of gun control on gun and other violence, we can’t reasonably compare Britain to America.  Instead, we have to compare pre-gun control Britain to post-gun control Britain — and that comparison shows that gun control coincided perfectly with a vastly increased crime rate.

Armed civilians save lives

My interlocutors were also unimpressed by the fact that, if someone opens fire in a public place (meaning he’s planning a mass slaughter), the best lifesaver is a civilian with a concealed carry weapon.  After all, the average police response time is measured in minutes.  Even if the shooter doesn’t have a big magazine, when he’s the only one there who’s armed, nothing stops him until the police get there.  If there is an armed civilian at the site of the shooting, however, and that civilian is neither crazed nor criminal, you usually end up with an intended mass shooting that becomes nothing but a small headline as the tragedy is limited to one or two, not scores.  I understand that correlation is not causation, but I suspect that there’s a connection in America between the increase in concealed carry over the last 20 years and a corresponding decrease in gun crimes.

When I threw out data about police response times, the difference in numbers of dead when someone with a concealed carry weapon is present, and the decrease in gun crimes over the last two decades, the gun-control people scoffed at the data.  “That can’t be true.”  “Guns kill people.”  “That doesn’t make sense.”  “If we got rid of guns, fewer people would die.”

It was at this moment that I realized that there truly was a giant intellectual chasm between me and them.  They can see only the people who died in the past, while I can count the ones who will live on into the future.  To them, the body count is the only data that counts.  To me, the statistical difference between those who die under a “gun control” regime and those who don’t die in a concealed carry environment, was the single most compelling piece of data out there.

Unlike my fellow Marinites, I realize that people are going to die under any circumstances.  Even the gun-control people concede that gun control will not actually do away with guns.  They’re just pretty sure it will decrease the number of guns overall — and to hell with the fact that this will be a lopsided decrease with law-abiding people ending up disarmed and lawless and crazy people ending up holding all the remaining arms.  It’s the gun equivalent of the old saying that, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of the disarmed citizen, the armed, crazed criminal rules.

My goal is to create the circumstances in which the largest possible number of people live.  My friends, however, believe that there is a Utopian future in which no people die.  To the extent that they understand that guns kill people, and they have the body count to prove it, they want to outlaw guns.  That data shows that outlawing guns results in more deaths is irrelevant to them.  The one fact they know and accept with comfortable certainty is that those who have already died because of guns might still be alive today if those particular guns hadn’t been available on that day, in that time, at that place.  Because this is the only fact that they can recognize, they focus obsessively on past deaths that could have been avoided with a few less guns, rather than projecting to future lives that, statistically, could certainly be saved with many more legal guns.

And as I said, I have absolutely no idea how to (a) get them to acknowledge that people will always die and (b) get them to understand that the best way to prevent future deaths isn’t to rehash old crimes but, rather, is to take the steps that are most likely to prevent future crimes.

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  • Huan

    Very well reasoned and argued so don’t give up or give in.
    just keep in mind reasons can only dent blind faith so much.

  • 11B40

    I’m never going to get the argument about the Second Amendment.  The various counter-arguments usually remind me of Ambrose Bierce’s definition of a lawyer as one skilled in getting around the law.
    I try to educate people with the following approach.  Read the last part first, the “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” part.  That clearly is the goal and purpose of the amendment and, to my mind, calls what has now become “reasonable regulation” out for what it really is.  No salami slicers need apply, if you get my drift.
    As to the first part of the Amendment, it addresses the fundamental issue of the relationship between a government and a free people, or what I call the “all enemies foreign or domestic” clause.  If and/or when our country is invaded or our elected government turns tyrannical, our free people have the right to resist militarily which would obviously requires access to or possession of firearms.  This is the ultimate “check and balance” between a free people and its government.  If the checks and balances written into the Constitution elsewhere fail, as they seem to be doing more and more, the people have the inherent right to use the only other means they have besides the ballot box to ensure their freedom.

  • JohnC

    “Yeah, you want to kill people.”
    Well, yes, if one of us is going to die I want it to be the person trying murder me. I’m funny that way.

  • Earl

    I have a gun-controller friend who “thinks” the way your Facebook friends do.  I sent her the article about the Clackamas Mall shooting where only two people died because an off-duty cop with a gun confronted the shooter when his gun jammed (that’s an “advantage” of large magazines, by the way – they tend to jam more readily).
    Her response was (and I’m not making this up) that the real reason only two people died was that the gun jammed, so we ought to be rooting for more jammed guns, not more law-abiding people with guns.  Yes she did…and no, she’s not a moron – merely a “religious zealot” on this issue. 
    Anyhow, I wrote back and pointed out that jams can be cleared, as this one was, when the shooter retreated to a stairwell, cleared the jam and shot himself.  And I told her that I hoped the next time she was at a mall where a shooting was underway that some Good Samaritan with a sidearm would be there to save her.

  • Jose

    I don’t think there is much you can do with such intellectually dishonest people, otherwise known as sheeple.

    The only counter argument that I can suggest is to ask “What would you do if you were there?” Then ask: “What would you do to protect your children? Would you shoot someone to protect your children?”

  • Danny Lemieux

    What strange magical thinking you have in your Marin Hobbit shire. Your acquaintances may be educated, but they are not smart. 

    And, Jose, that is the perfect question: “do you mean that you would not shoot somebody in order to protect your child?” It is the perfect and intelligent intelligent question because their response will reveal everything about that person that you need to know. 

    It’s just one reason why I really have zero respect for pacifists.  

  • Danny Lemieux

    It just confirms that so many people will hate practicing Christians and Jews precisely because they represent mirrors put in front of their detractors’ eyes. 

  • JKB

    It is fear, fear of death, their own mortality.  On the other hand, there is acceptance of death, eventually but embracing that which makes more lives possible.  
    Last summer, my brother died.  Liver disease, it came to the fore suddenly and he went relatively fast.  As he declined, his suffering increased.  He planned suicide.  As it turned out, it turned on him fast and things went palliative quickly.  But what struck me, with the life he was facing even if stabilized there was not peaceful way for him to end it.  Our medicine promotes suffering in the dying.  A fact hidden in our hospitals and nursing homes.  I see it as the outcome of so many who do not want to face their mortality so deny control of the end to others.  My brother was relatively young for death in this day and age but he was on the side of life where death is common.  I would not promote suicide for anyone but in the end, having a way to control your end is far more kind.  
    As an aside, suicide by gun is the major violent cause of death for older people, especially whites.  I’d say we could a really cut down on gun suicides if after proper consultation with hospice professionals, those nearing the end, had options besides suffering and a gun.
    I don’t see this as a Left/Right issue.  There are those on both sides who see life through the loss and those who see it through the saved.

  • Earl

    There is no excuse for someone to die suffering these days.  Well, except for our government’s demented “War on Drugs”, that causes them to prosecute physicians who prescribe enough painkiller to actually, you know, kill the pain of a dying human being.  Yes, it’s true that adequate pain control may hasten the death of the individual, but that isn’t what the government is upset about — they don’t want to risk even one addict getting the narcotics from a cheating doctor!!  So people like JKB’s brother may die in agony, or even daily discomfort, so we don’t risk some addict getting his drugs.
    This at the same time that the State is moving toward using similar drugs to actively kill patients who may want very much to go on living, but who are “costing too much”…..or might.  So, no dialysis for YOU, but here are these lovely pills!
    Makes me crazy.

  • harvey

    The situation you describe brings to mind the admonition of not to argue with a pig in the gutter, because it only puts you in the gutter as well as the pig, but it annoys the pig. Unfortunately, one cannon reason with a mind that is closed.

  • MacG

    I just saw this earlier today Jesse Ventura on the Piers Morgan show Love the audience response. Poor Piers.
    I am not surprised Book that your friends are so heartfelt about the high capacity magazines that they miss the intellectual what’s good for the goose tactic in your “mob turns against me” I need a big clip scenario – no you just need to get fast at changing the low cap clips :)
    I suppose the most effective argument for the high cap clips is that you need fewer of them so it is a greener approach by using less raw materials and manufacturing energy :)

  • MacG

    And don’t miss Uncle Ted Nugent on Piers Morgan as well

  • MacG
  • MacG

    It turns out that Penn and teller did a whole episode on the second amendment and though sprinkled with a bit of Penn’s profanity it tells the full story behind the 2nd Amendment.  The first of three parts is here and if you’re inclined you can find parts two and three in the youtube menu.  The third segment even has Jackie Mason in it and a great ending.
    I’ll stop now :)

  • Ymarsakar

    ” Zimmerman instantly vanished as a gun control topic.”
    We’ll need more moral courage like that one there. Solid recognition for smashing the member supporters face with the truth. It required moral courage.
    There’s plenty of us that are able to do the physical smashing, when needed, but we seem to be running fewer and fewer on those with spiritual and ethical spines.
    “To them, the body count is the only data that counts.”
    That’s because the body count is what the Left intends to increase and thus the only thing they need care about. Let’s not forget that.
    “That data shows that outlawing guns results in more deaths is irrelevant to them.”
    Or rather, not irrelevant but precisely the point of their goal.
    “The one fact they know and accept with comfortable certainty is that those who have already died because of guns might still be alive today if those particular guns hadn’t been available on that day, in that time, at that place.”
    As you’ve noticed the only statistics they care about is the number of people that die, not the number of people that were saved. So they don’t care about who might still be alive today.

  • Ymarsakar

    Ah, but the obvious question that comes up next is if the Left doesn’t care about ensuring more people live, then why are they concerned about controlling guns and the power that comes from being able to deal death conveniently?
    Because it’s the Left… what do you think they’re here to do on planet Earth. They want the power to control who lives and who dies. It’s not so much that guns kill people that they are annoyed at, but the fact that non-Leftists are able to use guns to kill people the Left didn’t tell em to kill. That’s the problem. And until people realize that is the problem with the Left’s gun control plans, they won’t know what hits them when the Left brings out the next October surprise.
    You ever talk about the number of people Obama killed sitting at his golf cart when the peeps in Afghanistan got bombed by unseen drones? Sight unseen, of course. So long as the power belongs to the Left, not bush, not you, not any pro America, it’s all good.

  • Ymarsakar

    ““Yeah, you want to kill people.” ”
    I don’t want to unnaturally discomfort your associates Book, but… do they actually realize that some of us don’t need guns or even external weapons to kill people as easily as that guy killed those kids with his borrowed guns?
    Why exactly does anyone need a “gun” to kill, when there are almost as easy methods to do it bare handed. Perhaps their ignorance begs the question of what they actually know about guns or anything else for that matter.
    They should be glad they’re talking to you, who at least care about convincing them, and are not normally confident of efficient lethal force without external implements. Wait until they realize that there’s a whole other world out there when it comes to who can kill, with what.
    If people kept nagging me about the fact that I want to arm people with guns, by saying “I want to kill people using those guns”… I’m not exactly sure what they are smoking. “I” am not in particular desperate need of such things. It’s those 6 year olds, women, old elders, and what not, that need it. More than I do.

  • Gringo

    Only a deranged person could come up with the lunatic idea of placing armed guards in schools.
    I have taught in school districts with police in schools.  With guns. Of course. The school districts were  in cities that voted for Obama.  I do not recall any examples  of a campus policeman firing a gun. But the guns  were there if needed.The better campus cops saw themselves as helping keep a finger on the pulse of the student body. You would be surprised at what students will tell the campus cops.
    [I once read in the paper of a former student  of mine who got shot in a drive-by outside a local high school. Fortunately, such cases are few and far between. But it shows that guns and schools are not mutually exclusive, no matter what some well-intentioned people may believe.]

  • Ymarsakar

    If the TSA and SEIU could get some jobs on those campuses, it would be different. But the kind of thug o cracy they create, doesn’t create a lot of basic security personnel or the training required for it. All that requires way too much time and risk.

  • Ron19

    “Only a deranged person could come up with the lunatic idea of placing armed guards in schools.”

    Then why do you call the (armed) police to come into the school as soon as possible after the shooting starts? 

  • Ymarsakar

    Well, why does police get benefits and immunity from breaking the laws, so that unions can get their dues, but at the same time the Left defunds police training and goes easy on crime…
    The Left’s death cult was never sane to begin with, in more ways than is obvious.

  • Ron19

    The fourth rule:  Ridicule is the most potent weapon; it is almost impossible to counter-act.

  • Call me Lennie

    One minor quibble — Trayvon Martin, at 6′ and 160 lbs, is hardly “hulking” by modern standards for a teenager; he’s actually rather slight  On the other hand, he is almost exactly the same dimensions as Thomas Hearns, one of the most devastating punchers in boxing history. And Martin apparently had very fast hands.  So you don’t need to be a hulk to put a 200 lb man on the ground
    This helps explain the whole incident and why, for instance, Martin was able to get Zimmerman in such desperate straits without finishing him off.  He started off by shattering George’s nose and knocking him to the ground.  But he couldn’t finish Zimmerman off because he was too light.  George threw him off and in the process his gun was exposed.  And the rest is controversy

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