With 12 dead and 58 injured, the recent The Dark Knight Rises midnight massacre is currently the largest mass shooting in American history. With it comes the familiar conversation of whether or not to have an actual conversation about gun control. Even when a congresswoman gets shot, Congress doesn't seem interested in discussing the issue past "This was a terrible and violent crime. Our prayers are with-" and I don't know the rest, because I stopped listening, because prayers don't actually do anything. Except of course in Forrest Gump, when Jenny turns into a bird and flies far, far away from there.
"Dear God, please make me a- B'KAWWWW!"
But I'm not here to argue how many times prayers have been answered (according to Wikipedia, as many as but not exceeding 404 times!). Nor am I here to give concrete solutions about the gun problem our country and planet faces. NOR am I saying that gun control is the ONLY problem in these cases. As some have pointed out, a better mental health system would likely reduce the amount and frequency of these tragic events. NOR am I here to offend gun nuts by referring to them as "gun nuts." I've shot guns a few times, and I have guns to thank for helping me look the coolest I will ever look.
I just wanted my kids back.
But guns are still a part of the core problem. If everything goes as expected this time around, not much will happen. But if nothing goes as expected, maybe we'll finally end up in a real conversation about guns and safety. And if we want that conversation to move beyond a simple "Well, that was tragic, here's hoping something like it doesn't happen again, and again, and again," then we need to stop saying the following four things, because they lead to nowhere. And as we all know, nothing gets done nowhere.
4"Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People"
I almost didn't include this, because it's such a silly and empty dodge of the real conversation behind it. I hear and read it so often, though, that I decided to include it. You can tell by you reading this now. Here I am, including it.
Now, people DO kill people. That much is true. It has always been true, before we even had tools. Before we were even people. And that killing truth is indeed part of the problem. Humanity is persistently inconsistent and complex, even in the reasons we kill: desperation, survival, anger or accident, to name a few of the big ones. Insanity, to name the currently most relevant one. Bottom line, though, is that many of us are killers. It's what half of the above saying means: Human nature is deeply intertwined with violence and killing, and we as a species need to evolve past that in order to move forward into the vast playground of the Universe.
Yes, people kill people, and that is terrible. But guns? Guns also kill people. The first gunpowder weapon to exist is the fire lance, and it was created by the Chinese around the 12th century. The first description of their use was in the Shou Cheng Lu, an account of the siege of De An in 1132. It describes the Song forces using fire lances against the Jurchens, presumably because they were such jerk-ens. Since the beginning, guns were invented by the people, for the people, to kill the people. They puncture your flesh until you die. That's what they're for. Yes, guns can also be used for hunting, or maybe for nope just hunting. Killing people, and killing animals. Guns don't do anything other than kill. Guns kill. That's, like, the fucking point.
Not labeled: The "Fucking Point."
So the true saying here isn't "Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People." That's, I'm sorry, fucking stupid. It should actually read "Guns Kill, and People Kill People." If the problem is really "people kill," then the solution shouldn't be "Here, people. Have this instrument that makes it super easy to kill." If we perpetuate the thought that killstruments are OK, we will never be able to evolve past our violent roots. "People Kill People" will always be true as long as we create and nourish a culture where killing is an option.
One could say, though, that killing is always an option, even without guns. There are countless tools at our disposal that could double as instruments of death. So ...
3"Fire and Drugs Kill People, Too. You Wanna Outlaw Matches and Drugs?"
As far as that first bit is concerned, I couldn't agree more. Fire and drugs kill people. I am so agreeing with that right now. But in this article by Scott L. Bach, president of guns and stuff, he puts forth an argument in favor of guns and stuff that takes it too far. It is a very common yet very broken argument, so I'll just copy/paste it for you right here:
"When an arsonist lights a match that burns a building, is the match at fault? Are match manufacturers responsible for the fire? Should laws be passed prohibiting you from having and using matches, or restricting which types you can have, and in what quantities?
"The obvious answer to these questions is no. The same match that is misused by the arsonist lights the fireplace that warms us, and the stove that feeds us. The match has no mind of its own. It is not an evil invention. Its purpose is to ignite, nothing more. If it is misused, the solution is to punish the individual wrongdoer. Everyone else should be left alone.
"The same is true of firearms."
OK. Simply put, "Nuh-uh."
A match has many uses completely unrelated to causing death. A match is not manufactured or intended for death. And the same goes for drugs (unless of course you're talking about the death of the walls confining us to our limited understanding of perception, man). In fact, the same goes for basically anything other than a firearm. Tools are misused to kill people, it's true. But tools are meant for something else entirely. Tools build and fix and aid and improve. Firearms do not. If used correctly, a firearm is meant to, in an instant, kill or destroy something. If a gun is used incorrectly, it would actually mean that something doesn't get shot.
Again, I'm not saying we should outlaw guns. But the conversation can't progress if people keep using arguments that ignore what guns actually are, and what they are used for. Likening a gun to a match or recreational drugs or an icicle or [anything else that can cause death] is an attempt to lighten the weight of a firearm's actual purpose. Guns and [anything else] are not the same. They should not be discussed as though they are.
OK, then how do you propose I get my goddamn kids back?
Oh, right, what of me and my situation with my kids? What of the people who use guns to stand in the way of those who would use them for killing? "What of those people?" I am forcing you to ask right now. Because guns don't only kill. There's hunting (read: killing), target practice (read: practicing killing) and defense! Forgot about defense! Yeah! That's the one! Defense! Because as we all know ...