My brother’s response to my mom’s email about the recent shooting. I want to share, particularly because of the way he explains things. As a veteran and a gun owner, he knows much more about guns than I do. Hopefully his arguments and information can help any of my friends trying to sway people on gun control laws.
“Completely agree with the sentiment here, Mom. However, in order to make educated arguments for gun control, it’s important to actually know what you’re proposing and use the right language. Otherwise, you’ll just get completely shut down as “not knowing anything about guns” to people you’re trying to convince. And if you don’t know anything about guns, you can’t really advocate for responsible gun policy.
AR15s are not the problem alone. Yes, it’s the most popular military-style rifle, and it is designed to kill people effectively. But banning one model of weapon will just make people switch to other, equally effective killing machines. If you banned the Toyota Camry, would people stop buying midsize sedans? No, you’d just end up with more Honda Accords on the road. If you want to fix the problem, you have to ban all semi-automatic rifles. Semi-automatic means the weapon is loaded with a magazine (or belt in some cases) with multiple rounds; and for every trigger squeeze, one bullet is discharged. There is no real need for these weapons in civilian use. They aren’t necessary for hunting, where the point is to kill the animal with one shot. It is only useful for killing a lot of things in a short amount of time or having fun at a gun range. I think our children’s lives are more important than a fraction of the population’s fun shooting a bunch of rounds quickly at a range. They’ll cope.
Handguns are far more responsible for gun deaths in America than semi-auto rifles. You mentioned the kid who brought a gun to school as only having a “handgun, not a semi-automatic.” Well, almost all handguns are semi-automatic. They have magazines and one bullet per trigger squeeze. Though most handgun rounds aren’t as deadly as rifle rounds, it’s inconsequential at short range. And handguns are far easier to conceal than a rifle. With the exception of maybe revolvers (which have 5-6 round max before reloading), I believe handguns should be outlawed. The Virginia Tech massacre, the most deadly school shooting in American history, was accomplished with handguns only. Don’t underestimate their lethality. I think military style rifles only account for about 2% of gun deaths each year. If you want to solve the problem, semi-auto handguns have to go, as well.
If we really want to make a difference in gun deaths, we need to do WAY more than universal background checks and better mental health screening. Banning all semi-automatic weapons would make that difference. Keeping shotguns, revolvers, and bolt-action rifles legal accomplish all the typical, common uses of guns. (Bolt-action rifles are typical hunting rifles that you have to reload between shots.) With these types of firearms legal, you can still hunt, defend your home, and compete in sport shooting.
Combine the following with the semi-auto ban.
Government buy-back program of all semi-automatic weapons. Once a grace period for turn-ins ends, possession will be a felony without a special (and rare) license for Federally approved dealers and collectors.
Gun licenses for all who want to continue to own approved firearms. Licenses will be granted by completing a comprehensive background check, psych evaluation, safety training, marksmanship training, and meeting strict storage requirements. Storage requirements would include safes, weapons unloaded, with ammo stored separately. Licenses expire after a certain number of years and all the requirements must be completed again for license renewal.
Registration of all firearms.
Insurance for all firearms. If your gun is used in a crime or if there’s a accident with your gun, your insurance company is liable for damages. Let the insurance market set rates based on their analysis of risk. Then, people can decide if it’s financially worth it to own a gun.
Finally, here’s your counterarguments for the most common pro-gun arguments:
Pro-gun argument – assault weapons aren’t an actual thing. Banning them won’t make a difference.
Counterargument – none. This is true. Classifying a gun as an “assault weapon” is something people who know nothing about guns do. Having a bayonet stud (a place to mount a bayonet) used to be one way to classify a gun as an assault weapon. Last I checked, we don’t have a bayonet problem in this country. Talk about banning semi-auto guns instead of made-up things like “assault weapons.”
Pro-gun argument – 2nd Amendment guarantees my right to bear arms!
Counterargument – sure, it does, but there can be limitations. And in case anyone needs a history lesson, the individual right to bear arms has only existed since 2008. From the adoption of the Constitution until the DC v. Heller decision in 2008, the 2nd Amendment had never been interpreted to mean private citizens have a right to own guns. (Thanks, Scalia.) But that decision is now the law of the land and precedent for future court decisions. Nevertheless, even in Scalia’s majority opinion, he asserts that there are limitations to the 2nd Amendment. Weapons allowed should be those in common use at the time. And limitations should be made on “dangerous and unusual” weapons, per previous precedent in United States v. Miller. I argue that semi-auto firearms should now be considered “dangerous and unusual,” given their lethality.
Pro-gun argument – if law-abiding citizens get rid of their guns, criminals won’t follow the law, and we’ll be in more danger.
Counterargument – this is an argument against having laws. Since criminals don’t follow the law, there should be no limits on anything. Also, when we do outlaw things, it can work. Purchases of large quantities of ammonium nitrate fertilizer was restricted after the Oklahoma City bombing, and there hasn’t been a similar bombing since. We outlawed fully automatic weapons, grenades, rocket launchers, etc. in the 20th century, and what has happened? We don’t see violence with those types of weapons. Most weapons used to commit crimes are purchased lawfully. If we change the laws, it will work to reduce gun deaths.
Pro-gun argument – if we ban guns, people will just use knives or baseball bats
Counterargument – there are plenty of incidents around the world of mass stabbings or clubbings, etc. Show me one that is as lethal as a mass shooting.
Pro-gun argument – we need armed security guards in every school
Counterargument – do you trust the security guard won’t become a mass shooter? The Texas church shooter was an Air Force veteran. The Pulse nightclub shooter was a security guard. Further, it’s relatively easy to get the drop on a security guard. Shoot him first when he’s not expecting, then keep going. That’s what the Pulse nightclub shooter did. It’s not difficult if you draw first. Columbine had armed security, too. Adding more guns to schools adds more risk, it doesn’t reduce it.
Pro-gun argument – it’s a mental health issue, not a gun issue *or* guns don’t kill people, people kill people
Counterargument – The United States has the same rates of mental illness as other developed Western countries, but we’re the only ones with this type of violence. The mentally ill are actually less likely to commit crime than those who aren’t mentally ill, which many find surprising. Also, those who are mentally ill are more likely to become the victim of a crime than those who don’t have mental illness. It’s a common refrain to hear “anyone who would do that must be crazy.” That’s not true. Being a murderer doesn’t actually mean you are mentally ill, which is why you hardly ever see successful insanity defenses in trials. And if “people kill people,” then we really should stop giving all these people guns, right? We don’t allow private F-22s or nuclear weapons, do we? Why? Because people would use them to kill other people. People use people-killing machines to kill people. Go figure.
Pro-gun argument – We, as a society, have turned our backs on God. This is why crime is getting worse. We need God/Jesus to heal people’s hearts, not get rid of law-abiding citizens’ guns.
Counterargument – Crime has actually decreased overall in recent decades. Things are getting better, not worse. Murder rates and violent crime overall have trended down as we’ve advanced as a society. Mass shootings have remained steady, though, because angry people have easy access to guns.
Pro-gun argument – we need guns to fight against the government in case it becomes tyrannical.
Counterargument – I doubt semi-automatic weapons will defeat a tyrannical government with fighter jets, bombers, tanks, artillery, drones, advanced cyber capabilities, and nuclear weapons.
Pro-gun argument – gun registrations will make it easier for the government to disarm us
Counterargument – The registration is necessary to keep track of deadly weapons in case they are used in a crime, or in case a law-abiding citizen commits a crime that revokes their right to guns. There’s over 300 million privately owned guns in America. If the government wanted to take everyone’s guns, they’d do it the same way they would if there wasn’t a registry: by going door to door and searching everyone.
I truly believe we need to do far more than anything advocated by most mainstream gun control organizations like Everytown and Moms Demand Action. We need to follow the lead of countries like the UK, Australia, and Canada. They’ve figured it out. Why can’t we?”