If you have ever tried to discuss how we can reduce the number of deaths from guns in the U.S. with an ardent gun advocate, you know how the conversation goes – off the deep end quickly.
A great example of this is the recent NRA ad. In the ad the NRA suggests that Barack Obama is a hypocrite because the school his kids go to have armed guards yet “your” kids don’t. Again on the surface you would say sure, that makes sense. Except the school that the president’s daughters attend has a total of zero armed guards. Additionally over 66% of public schools with an equivalent enrollment as the Sidwell Friends school the Obama girls attend already have a similar form of security.
But those inaccuracies aren’t even the worst part of the argument. No, that distinction goes to how calling for armed guards at schools undermines a fix that might actually reduce all gun violence. A fix, by the way, that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre supports. Enforce the laws that are already on the books.
Unfortunately other actions by the NRA have made this solution exceedingly difficult. Thanks to support from the NRA the process for appointing the director of the ATF was altered. The changes required the appointment be subject to approval by the Senate. Since this change there have been zero confirmations to this position, including the blocking of a George W. Bush nominee by three members of the Republican Party.
In addition to this blatant neutering of the ATF at the top, the NRA has pushed a litany of other measures making the job of the 2,500 agents (a four-decade low) significantly more complicated.
If the answer to fewer deaths from guns is better enforcement of the current laws, then adding more mall cops to our schools is the complete opposite of a rational response. Take all of this money and instead of implementing some Star Wars like boondoggle of a program insufficiently aimed at stopping someone in the act of a mass shooting, spend it on the root cause of the problem and prevent that person from ever gaining access to those weapons in the first place.
But while the NRA may be offering some misinformed and ill conceived arguments, these arguments seem downright logical when compared with the truly off the reservation advocates who sarcastically suggest “cars, alcohol, knives and food kill more people every year than guns. I guess we should ban those as well?”
These retorts are laughable because they completely misrepresent the point of gun control advocates. Almost no one is demanding a complete ban of all guns so why would anyone argue for a complete ban of cars, alcohol, knives or food?
The reality is all of these items already have a number of rules or restrictions that are more oppressive than those currently on guns. You can purchase a semi-automatic weapon three years before you can drink alcohol. There are numerous state laws restricting the size and type of a knife one can own or carry. To own and operate a motor vehicle you must register the vehicle with the state and obtain a license to operate the vehicle. And in addition to things like the New York law banning large soda pop, 99% of schools have as part of their curriculum, education regarding various foods and their effects on the human body.
So if we want to start using the restrictions that we have on other potentially harmful products as the standard for guns, I imagine most gun control advocates would agree. We should require all guns be registered, all gun owners be licensed, and certain guns be outlawed because as General Stanley McChrystal says, there is no “need for that kind of weaponry on the streets.”
Regardless of the paranoia of some, the president is not coming to take your guns. He just wants to make a couple of changes with the goal of saving as many lives as possible. Resorting to the same Facebook repost hyperbole time and time again doesn’t prove gun advocates wrong. It diminishes the value of everything else you say.