Friday, February 1, 2013

Weapons of mass discussion

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Weapons of Mass Discussion
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Of course, the whole narrative pushed by the right-wing is probably wrong, but they eagerly rewrite history whenever it fails to support their fantasies.

And then there's that other narrative of "marauding gangs going throughout the area, burning stores, looting and robbing and,... raping." You could see that Lindsey Graham was trying very hard not to put "black" in there somewhere, although that was clearly understood by his intended audience. (I'm still rather surprised he didn't say "urban," though, since that's their new dog whistle.)

And, of course, if you have to fight off an army, nothing but an assault weapon will do, right? That's why armies have them.

But that's about as reasonable as arguing that you need assault weapons for protection during a zombie apocalypse. That might happen, but is it reasonable to expect it - especially when innocent people are being murdered today?

Gayle Trotter is the perfect example of that pure fantasy on the right: "Young women are speaking out as to why AR-15 weapons are their weapon of choice." Of course, the anecdote she related has nothing to do with assault rifles, since that scared mom used a perfectly ordinary hunting shotgun to defend herself (and fired just one shot from it, too).

That's the best this assault weapon advocate could do? Surely not. Keep in mind that there are seven billion people on the planet, so you can find an anecdote to illustrate almost anything. But that doesn't mean it's going to happen to you or even to someone you care about. After all, when it comes to people, if there's a one-in-a-million chance, that still gives you 7,000 anecdotes worldwide.

Yes, terrible things happen to people, and women are at greater risk than us men. But if you're fantasizing about "three, four, five violent attackers," intruders in your own home (since you don't expect to carry an assault weapon in your purse, I hope), well, I'd say you've got much bigger problems to worry about.

Could it happen? Sure. But if you think it's reasonable to expect that, if you think you need to buy an AR-15 assault rifle just in case, you must be one of those people who plan for retirement by buying a lottery ticket. Indeed, those people are thinking rationally compared to you!

And remember, these are "three, four, five violent attackers" who won't be scared off by a 12-gauge shotgun! After all, the heroine of her anecdote fought off two men with one shot, so that shotgun would apparently have worked for up to six attackers. How many are you expecting, that you need a hundred-round magazine? (Maybe they really are planning for the zombie apocalypse.)

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Weapons of Mass Discussion - Universal Background Checks
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This is yet another argument, equally absurd: We can't pass laws, because criminals won't obey them. (Of course, Wayne LaPierre is not just irrational, but also a complete hypocrite, and Jon Stewart shows that so very, very well, doesn't he?)

But there is no law that everyone will obey, so does that mean we shouldn't have laws at all? Because criminals might not obey the laws against murder, does that mean that murder shouldn't be illegal?

Keep in mind that if criminals don't obey the law, then they can be arrested and charged with a crime. You might want to arrest a man for armed robbery, but you've still got to convict him, and that's not always easy. But if he's carrying an illegal weapon, it probably will be easy to convict him on that.

Ideally, you'd want to convict him of both crimes, but the lesser crime would be better than nothing, wouldn't it? In our gun-obsessed nation, illegal guns may continue to be easy to get. But it will still be another way to get criminals off the street. Is that so bad?

OK, let me post one more video clip before making my final point. Here's Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks on that same testimony by Gayle Trotter. Note how he points out not just her irrational thinking, but also her hypocrisy:

Now, I'm a large man, a tall man, too, and not a young mother. Women do face more threats than even small men. That's quite true. I hate that fact, but it is a fact.

Nevertheless, do women really need assault rifles and machine pistols with 100-round magazines to protect themselves? Trotter's own anecdote seems to indicate otherwise.

And would that really make them safer? Do guns in general make them safer? Check out these "pro-gun myths" from Mother Jones:
For every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home.

In particular:
Myth #7: Guns make women safer.

Fact-check: In 2010, nearly 6 times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers.

• A woman's chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 7 times if he has access to a gun.

• One study found that women in states with higher gun ownership rates were 4.9 times more likely to be murdered by a gun that women in states with lower gun ownership rates.

There's plenty more there. Or check out this page from the Brady Campaign. These aren't just anecdotes, they're real research results from real studies. Of course, if you're the type who plans for retirement by buying lottery tickets, that might not matter much to you. Plenty of Americans are math challenged.

So if you want an anecdote, here's an anecdote: Nancy Lanza owned an assault rifle, among several other guns. But that didn't protect her. Indeed, she was the first to die when her son took that gun and shot her with it, before heading to the Sandy Hook Elementary School to shoot six- and seven-year-olds and their teachers.

As I say, no one is suggesting a ban on all guns, anyway - not even close! The hysteria of the gun lobby is just hysteria, irrational hysteria.

Well, it's also political. If Barack Obama favors something - anything - some people will bitterly oppose it. You can decide for yourself why that is, but it has very little to do with what he's proposing and very much to do with who he is.

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