#2. America Is Obsessed With the Idea of Guns, But Not the Reality
There is a fantastic chance that if you are trying to change someone's mind about guns by spouting a long list of statistics about gun violence or gun accidents or crimes thwarted by guns that you might as well be manipulating your butt cheeks to modulate your farts into a Skrillex track -- sure, it may impress a crowd at parties, but it won't change anyone's mind. This is what people who aren't from America, or who grew up somewhere like Portland or whatever, don't get: America's love of guns in most cases has nothing to do with actually using them.
David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images
"Please stop! I hate loud noises."
It's all about what they symbolize. And what they symbolize is God, and cocks. We weren't kidding about the firearms manufacturers catering to guys with gun dicks.
After all, taking away our guns is like asking us to get castrated, according to an Illinois state representative. If you don't own a gun, we're taking away your "man card," says Bushmaster. "I am never seen without both a gun and a beautiful woman," say the posters for all 24 James Bond movies.
Quite frankly, we're a little surprised that nobody sells that dick gun they had in From Dusk Till Dawn.
Is that weird? Is it weird if we can't get an erection unless somebody is pointing a gun at us at the same time, like in Swordfish? Is there anything strange about what these guys are doing?
Or is it weirder that in large sections of America, we don't feel truly close to God unless we're strapped? For instance, did you hear that Arkansas passed a law specifically to allow concealed guns in church? Did you wonder why in the hell they went out of their way to draft that law and then pass it and publicize it? It wasn't over some famous church shooting or anything like that. It's because it appears there's a whole branch of Christianity where automatic pistols are part of the worship service. Search Google for "gun Bible" images, see what you find:
It's not exactly subtle -- the attorney general in Texas ran this ad during the election:
Is it really just those two things Americans should know? They should know how to use a toothbrush, too, right? And a computer? And since they're worried about the safety of their family, they're all presumably proficient in CPR ...
Meanwhile, the popular bumper sticker in rural parts of the USA is "God, Guns, and Country" ...
... or maybe it's "God, Guns, and Guts."
Or "God, Guns, and Glory."
Alliteration made our country great.
The point is, the third thing is actually unimportant, as long as God and guns are on there.
So yes, Mr. Grad Student Wearing a Fedora, please quote them some more statistics about per-capita gun violence in the USA versus Europe. We're sure that eventually you'll stumble across the magical set of numbers that convinces them to disavow their God. Perhaps while you're at it, you can offer to cut off their scrotum.
#1. Add All of This Up, and Gun Crime Is ... Down
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So the culmination of the rash of mass shootings, the relentless promotion of guns, the spike in gun sales, the proliferation of violent video games, and the creepy worship and fetishizing of firearms is ... fewer gun murders.
National Institute of Justice
Break out the Kalashnikovs and Rambo DVDs, we're making America safe again!
"But that graph cuts off in 2005, before the mass shooting craze began!" Nope: Since 2005, they're down even more -- for instance, handgun murders dropped all the way down to 6,220 in 2011, having plummeted by more than half since their peak in the early '90s and another 20 percent from what you see on the graph there. By the way, this is the graph to pull out any time somebody blames gun violence on video games -- the first-person shooter genre became popular with Doom in 1993 -- the exact moment when real gun violence began dropping like a rock.
Young adult obesity saw a surge, but that's the price we pay.
Wait, is it possible that violent video games reduce violent crime? You know, like maybe it lets people get it out of their system? Some experts have suggested it. But the truth is, no one has any fucking idea why crime is down. One theory is that banning lead from gasoline did the trick, because lead was eating the part of our brain that makes us not murder each other. Or maybe it's the Internet -- some have observed that when you increase access to Internet porn, the rate of sexual assault falls. Not because Internet porn somehow cures the worst impulses of mankind, but because it's just more difficult to rape a woman if you're never in the same room with one.
OK, we're not scientists here, but bear with us for a moment. Go back to the suicide stats we talked about before, and how adding that extra couple of minutes of inconvenience was enough to defuse the situation and save thousands of lives. If potential rapists are abstaining from rape because they're instead spending all of their time at home merely fantasizing about rape, and real rape is simply too inconvenient, is it possible that we're seeing the exact same thing with gun violence?
Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images/Stockbyte
"Oh sure, now that you can shoot digital zombies you don't need ol' Wesson? Suck my hammer, Billy."
We play games about guns and read magazines about guns and hang calendars with pictures of topless women holding guns ... but it's all just porn. It's all a substitute for the real thing, which never actually occurs because we spend all of our energy on the substitute. You get enraged at somebody over the Internet or Xbox Live, but is that rage really worth getting out of your chair for?
What about the people who actually buy guns? Statistics tell us that fewer people are buying guns, but those people are buying more of them. To the grad students on the anti-gun side of the debate, this looks like a bunch of crazy rednecks, stocking their militia for the coming war on Obamacare. Why else would the NRA be fighting to get states to legalize silencers if they don't want to shoot people and keep it a secret?
And why would gun companies advertise them like this?
But people familiar with gun culture will recognize it as something far sillier: a bunch of grown men collecting firearms like little girls collect Barbie dolls (we're not being insulting -- it's a running joke among gun enthusiasts).
So Ken is, what, an M203?
Take another look at the graph of murder by weapon type. Notice what's missing? Assault rifles. They barely chart -- even when lumped in with "other guns." The NRA isn't trying to arm a militia. They want to be able to sell silencers for the same reason Mattel sells hundreds of accessories for the Barbie Dream House. Hell, you can trick out your AR-15 with all pink "furniture" if you want to.
It'll help you blend in if there's ever a firefight at a Victoria's Secret.
So the rural gun owner in Wyoming buys the biggest, sexiest assault rifle he can find and tricks it out with all the accessories from the catalog, but he never actually uses it because nobody is going to break into his house because he lives in fucking Wyoming. If he wants to murder his wife, he'll get the revolver from the nightstand -- he's not going to go dig out and assemble his huge assault rifle. So why did he buy it? For the same reason his daughter will buy a dinette set for her Barbie Dream House even though she will never get to eat actual food at that table: for the fantasy.
Maybe this explains how hospitalization for gun injuries can be up even though the three types of gun-related crimes that cause such injuries (murder, robbery, assault) are all way down. Those ads that treat guns like toys for grown-ups worked, and people are treating guns like toys, instead of deadly weapons.
American Tactical Imports
"And what if that shotgun had a soft, nougat-y center?"
And maybe this new breed of mass shooters are just those rare people -- 1 in a million, or 1 in 10 million -- who don't realize it's all just porn and toys, that it's not supposed to be anything but a shared fantasy. Is it possible that all of the power fantasies and tough talk and murder simulators that pacify the rest of us have a different effect on these guys? And that the occasional horrific mass shooting is just the price we have to pay for a system that does a damn good job of keeping the rest of us on the sofa?
We'll probably be able to have a really good discussion about it as soon as everyone stops seeing it as a political issue, or accusing everyone who brings it up of having an agenda. So, by the year 3113 or so.
DISCLOSURE: One of the writers of this piece not only owns multiple firearms but has profited directly from fictionalized violence.
For more real conversation for your asses, check out The 9 Most Statistically Terrifying Days On the Calendar and 5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Insane Ways People Torture Themselves in the Name of Sport.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover the best way to twirl your guns like Jango Fett.
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