"The Secret of Magic Is...
Of course. When the defenders of the American Gun Culture speak up, they will be repeating the same, tired excuses and easily-memorized arguments they have after every public mass shooting. On the rare occasion, there may be a bit of elaboration - but at their core, it's the same useless talking points they think work.
That's because they work.
In the past four years, there have been 99 laws passed making it easier to get and carry guns of various types - and in Virginia's case, one law that stopped the tracking of gun sales, demanding the destruction of records the state had collected until that point.
Here's a quick question for you: what changes have happened to even attempt to curb the number of shootings since what was supposedly the watermark of Columbine? The answer: another 27 public mass shootings! Because sooner or later there will be enough to galvanize people into changing the laws of the land, right?
But in the mean time, advocates like the NRA-ILA are working hard to not only make it easier to get guns, but to ensure they are harder to track, as deadly as possible, and impossible to keep out of the hands of the sick and criminal, because that would keep them out of the hands of the terrified and stupid, too. And the NRA knows on which side their bread is buttered...
To keep their jobs is much more important to them than the lives of thousands of people every year - but to ensure no one thinks of it that way, they weave their spells in front of their disciples, letting them loudly declare the "truth" of what they have seen, demanding others confirm the phantasmagoria their faith relies on. Some of the magics are more powerful than others, but all of them are chanted by the adoring crowds whether the spellweavers believe them or not.
Here, then, is some of the magic and how to see through it. Their order is, more or less, from weakest to strongest - though none are more than puffs of smoke:
1) Video Games/Rock Music
No, seriously: this again. Because these things don't actually exist in any other country, apparently. My favourite comment about this is the first one on Fark:
"What crappy video game would have semi auto Bushmaster junk in it?"
2) Guns Are Tools/Just Like Cars
I'm ashamed to say it, but I was showing my kids my rifle and we accidentally built a spice rack.
There have been massive, massive numbers of laws regulating cars in every possible way, from the speeds they travel at to what they're made of to their fuel efficiency. There have been nearly as many laws about drivers themselves: sobriety, location, minimum skill level. There is one state where you can take your gun registration test on-line, and a push for the federal government to make gun licenses reciprocal across state lines: this means you don't even have to prove you know what end to hold, you just have to say you do.
3) Armed Guards Make Schools Safer
In short: rather than restrict access to guns, we should just arm teachers. Because that makes more sense. Or something. Because accidents never happen around armed people who are bored out of their minds. Yes, bored: being a guard is a spectacularly boring job, because nothing actually happens until something does.
The argument is also saying this: "Some kids dying is okay." Don't think so? When do you think an armed guard is going to open fire: the instant they see someone who looks oddly suspicious, or when they hear gunfire in another part of the building?
There was one shooting (Virginia, 2002) where students at the Appalachian School of Law captured a shooter. What doesn't get mentioned is that the students who initiated the capture were current and former police officers (note the name of the school) and that the gunman was out of ammunition. Guns were there, and available, and in trained, capable hands - and they didn't stop the shooter.
Add to this the cost of putting guards in schools: there are 100,000 public schools in the United States. Those schools with armed guards average $28,000 per year, meaning a single guard (wages only, no equipment or training course) would cost $2,800,000,000. The gun industry in the United States is around $13 billion dollars total, so it is unlikely they will be footing the bill.
4) More Guns Make Us Safer
There is nowhere in the world this is true. Even the famously-armed Israel demands higher standards for allowing guns in private hands than America does, including, interestingly, the number of bullets they get.
There is no circumstance where private citizens being armed improved a situation with an armed gunman gunning people down: in the past thirty years, there has been ONE case of a private citizen shooting a gunman, and that was after the gunman left the scene on a bicycle (Miami, 1982). He was chased down by a witness in a car, then shot after he was rammed off his bike - raising the question of whether it was the gun or the car that stopped the shooter. In 2005 (Tacoma, Washington and Tyler, Texas) two citizens pulled their licensed handguns on gunmen, and both lost - one dead, one in a coma - against the far more prepared and armed assailants.
5) We Must Protect Our Homes
Fine, except it doesn't work. Of the 30,000 gun related deaths a year in the US, around 17,000 are suicides and 13,000 homicides. Of the assaults in the home, far and away the majority are by people who know each other (there is a reason why family members are under primary suspicion in murder investigations) - meaning it's people who know where the guns are, who has them, and how to get them.
Burglars breaking into your house are not likely to do so when you're there, which is why a gun in your home is far more likely to be used against you, or even simply stolen and sold off, putting your legally purchased firearm on the street.
6) Just Increase The Punishment
By the time someone is shooting random people, they are well past considering the consequences of their actions. Most either shoot themselves or attack the police in an effort to get killed.
There is nothing to threaten a suicide bomber with - only dissuasion or capture before the crime is committed.
7) We Must Protect Ourselves Against the Government!
What exactly do you think your collection of peashooters is going to do about an M1A1 Abrams Battle Tank? Or drone missile? If "The Government" is going to come take your guns away, they know you're armed and will take steps accordingly. Good luck with that.
Sometimes, this will turn into "[...] Against Fascism!" In which case, see if they also argued to turn every school in the country into a prison camp.
8) Bad Guys Can Always Get Guns
Only if the guns are there. In Australia, a nation that prides itself on toughness, outdoor living, and astoundingly deadly fauna, rapid-fire long guns (that would be your semi-automatic assault rifles) were banned after thirteen mass shootings in eighteen years culminated in their worst - 35 people dead in 1996. In the fourteen years after the ban, there was a single mass shooting. One. Other laws were changed, too: tighter controls on licensing and storage were enacted, but the population of Australia was still armed: just not a lethally.
9) We're Allowed To
True... kind of. To think that the writers of the Second Amendment had sniper rifles and repeating carbines in mind is a bit of a stretch, though. Likewise, users of this spell forget the second half of that amendment: it only applies to a well regulated militia. If you happen to be a member of the National Guard, you can use this excuse. Otherwise, it doesn't mean you.
There are two more examples that showed up during this latest round of outrage and "outrage", and they deserve mention:
The spectacularly offensive cry - short as it was - that shootings happen in schools because "God was taken out of school" doesn't quite fit in here, but gets a special mention for pure, unadulterated Stupid in its natural form. Because apparently, God was kept out of churches and temples as well.
Special Addition II) A Guy in China Attacked Kids
Yes he did, with a knife. He injured 22 elementary school children, with no deaths. If you don't know what the difference is, please turn in your keyboard until you do.