“Guns do not kill people. Other people kill people.”
We see this sentiment absolutely everywhere. It comes from pro-guns rights activists, who argue that it isn’t the gun itself that chooses to murder and maim; it’s human beings themselves.
This is quite right, of course.
A gun does not walk, unattended, into an Orlando nightclub and open fire, killing at least 50 people during Gay Pride Month.
A gun also does not plant an idea in a person’s head. My mother owns a concealed weapon, and she enjoys visiting a shooting range near her home in Northwest Houston on occasion. She does not look at her gun and become inspired to walk up to a 22-year-old singer and fatally shoot her.
Owning a gun does not make you a murderer. It does not make you a threat to society any more than chemistry class does. After all, knowledge of explosives does not make one a bomber. The gun, itself, does not act on its own to commit crimes.
I think we can all agree on this, yes?
The people are the problem, not the gun itself. The risk is in the person who owns the gun, not the gun. Poison, knives, explosives, guns… all agents of crimes, but not criminal themselves.
Good. I’m glad we all agree.
So let’s talk about the laws that have to do with the people who own the guns.
In December of 2015, US legislators voted against passing a bill that would restrict the sale of guns to individuals on a terrorist watch list. It was one of a handful of bills that had been voted down in the last five years that would have introduced gun control, including one that would have clamped down on background checks (which Republican senator John McCain voted in favor of) and one that would have restricted individuals who have harassed women’s health facilities from buying guns.
This particular bill was supported first by GOP president George W. Bush, and then by Democratic president Barack Obama.
It would have made it illegal to sell firearms to individuals the government had marked as persons of interest under terrorist watch lists, requiring those individuals to appeal to the government before being allowed to purchase a firearm.
The National Rifle Association has gone on record opposing this type of legislation, though. because it strips individuals of the right to due process. Those wrongfully accused of being terrorists, under this bill, would be ‘guilty until proven innocent’.
To ‘due rights’ activists, even a provision allowing individuals to appeal their restriction fell under the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ argument, and was therefore unconstitutional.
Of course, our nation has no issue leaving individuals in jail without bond – or with exorbitant bond prices – while they await trial. Individuals awaiting trial sometimes cannot travel. Individuals awaiting trial, at times, cannot posses a firearm – even if they owned them to begin with.
Yet we have an issue with the restriction of firearm sales to people on a suspected terrorist watchlist, because ‘what if the list is wrong’?
It might just be me, but I would rather see gun sales restricted in this manner than see terrorists able to purchase guns simply because ‘what if the nation’s terrorist watch list accidentally includes someone who isn’t a terrorist’.
Americans have the right to personal safety. That’s one of the biggest things that guns right activists lean on; guns are a Constitution-given right, in the name of safety, that every American has the right to.
Okay. Fine. I hear you.
I also have the right to see gun ownership heavily limited for my own safety. Under that very same ‘God-given right’ that guns right activists love to claim as their own, I have the right to know that felons, those openly listed as mentally ill, and persons of interest on a terrorist watch list cannot walk into their nearest Wal Mart and purchase a gun capable of killing dozens.
Our nation is backward. They have a gun control problem, because they have a priority problem.
Our nation doesn’t have paid paternity leave, because it would be ‘damaging to the economy’ – but we have a thriving disability insurance business that ensures injured workers receive compensation for years after they are injured, and the economy hasn’t crashed yet.
Our nation has laws that actively deny single mothers, gays, and transgender individuals such basic things as employment and housing based on ‘religious rights’, but we believe that laws protecting discrimination against those of other beliefs and cultures infringe upon our ‘basic rights’ – and we see the GOP representatives tweeting things like this. Religious rights, eh?
Our nation is willing to ban abortion, making it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion even in the case of rape, but won’t ban the sale of firearms to persons considered to be a high danger risk – because ‘the bad guys will get guns anyway, it will only hurt the good guys’.
Read that last one again. We ban abortion – and even certain forms of birth control – but will not ban gun sales to high-risk individuals. We waste millions of taxpayer dollars enacting legislation to shut down abortion clinics, but make it actively easier for high-risk individuals to purchase firearms because ‘well, they’ll just obtain them anyways’.
That’s not even a pro-choice stance there. Read carefully; I did not just say ‘since we’ll give guns to criminals, we should allow partial birth abortions, because people will get them anyway!’
I simply pointed out; our nation will spend shamefully large amounts to ensure that women follow religious doctrine, even in cases of rape, but any push for stricter gun laws spark an outrage. Second Amendment, hell yeah!
This is how our society works. Under certain companies, I cannot have birth control paid for by insurance. I then cannot get an abortion – even, in some places, Plan B – and once I have a child, our nation will not pay for me to take any kind of maternity leave. If I have a child out of wedlock, housing and employment may then be denied to me in certain states because of religious doctrine.
If I commit a felony, though, there’s a decent chance I can still own a gun. If I am on a terrorist watch list, I can own a gun.
After all, taking that away from me would be un-American, right?
Even though both sides of the argument are willing to admit that people kill, we aren’t even willing to legislate people to ensure safety.
Then, of course, we have our religious arguments.
‘It’s not the guns killing people, it’s the people killing people. Muslims are a huge problem in this country, and we won’t accept it!’
Eric Rudolph, who killed two people and injured over 120 others in 1996, did so in the name of God – as a self-proclaimed Catholic with ties to a militant Christian sect.
Adam Lanza, who committed the most deadly mass school shooting in recent history, did so with no religious ties, but rather a number of social disorders and a noted hatred of women.
Elliot Rodger, who went on a shooting spree in Isla Vista, California over sexual deprivation and a hatred of interracial relations, was a half-white, half-Malaysian member of the upper middle class who attended an all-boys Catholic school growing up.
It’s absolutely correct; guns, when acting alone (something they cannot do as inanimate objects), do not kill people. Other people kill people, often based on unfounded prejudice that spews from religious extremism or social disorders. Guns, alone, are not the problem.
So why won’t be monitor what we all largely agree is often the problem – mental health, extremist ties, and sociopathic historical behaviour?
Think about that.