The Gun and the Libel
So, because I am a self-hating jerk, I was flitting around a bunch of the right-blogs yesterday, to see what horrifying inhumane garbage they had to say about the Norway slaughter. And one of the most common threads, especially at Ace of Spades and Confederate Yankee, was a variant of “He should have tried that shit in Texas”. Implying, of course, that a well-armed population would have cut the massacre, and any like it, well short: a clever way to make the absurd argument that strict gun laws are to blame for massive gun deaths.
Aaaaand, cue the Dramatic Irony Department.
The timing is grimly precise, but of course, anyone with a shred of historical awareness knows that armed-to-the-teeth Texas, far from being a violence-free Enforced Politeness Zone, is home to gun killings aplenty, including three of the bloodiest murder sprees in American history (in Austin, Killeen, and Fort Hood, respectively, with a total body count of 54; and the last took part on a military base, by definition one of the most heavily armed places on the planet).
As a gun owner, I have often been annoyed at my fellow liberals who act like the mere possession of a gun is an instant death sentence, as if these inanimate objects can leap up on their own accord and shoot children in the face. In the innumerable arguments I’ve had with people on the issue, my stock line is: guns aren’t magic. They are a tool that has had both a hugely positive and a hugely negative effect on society, and it’s a legitimate topic of debate which effect has been the greatest. But they aren’t magic wands. It’s important to remember, the same response can be used against the right-wing crazies who fetishize guns: they aren’t magic. Just as they can’t leap from their cases, load themselves, and shoot innocent people of their own accord, they also can’t make themselves appear where they aren’t being carried, and they can’t make the people wielding them into experts, or calm their nerves for a cool hand, or make them bulletproof, or shield them from the screaming terror that comes from watching people die horribly all around you. Even our finest, best-trained soldiers miss shots, and that’s in ideal practice conditions; in battle, anything can happen. The possession of a gun doesn’t make you safe from a massacre. In fact, it’s axiomatic that the more guns people have, the more people will die from gunfire.
One of the reasons we can’t seem to have an intelligent conversation about guns and gun control in this country is that too many people on both sides of the debate don’t have any idea what they’re talking about. But these fools who strut around boasting about the imaginary prowess of American studs and their American guns, living in a fantasia where gun-toting patriots create a sphere of invincibility, are just spitting on the corpses of the blameless dead.