February 26, 2014

Good Guys With Guns

Mass shootings are clearly good for the NRA and the gun manufacturers they are beholden to.  The more that happen, in fact, the better they do.  Why else do you think they deliberately choose to have gun shows in towns with mass shootings, sometimes scheduled for the very anniversary?  Because they've long ago given up on any shred of decency or humanity in exchange for the increased sales such a controversial date might bring in?

Well, yes.

There are gun advocate rallies that target (so to speak) any assemblies or anniversaries that might promote the idea that some modicum of control should be put in place, counting on repeated cries of "FREEDOOOMMMM!!!11!!" drowning out all other conversation that might be happening at the time.  Though granted some times, on extra special occasions, even their stone ears will hear outrage enough to bump special occasions forward one day.

But why it works for them is the more interesting point: by causing controversy, they can control some of the message.  How it works is simple:

Someone in the media notices the event happening - often through a helpful email from the group itself - and the media asks the quite reasonable question "What are you assholes doing?"  Instant forum!  And that lets them spread their favourite talking point over the past couple years:

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

This coming from Wayne LaPierre, chief bottle washer of the NRA (in case you couldn't tell).  He's the same person who opposes even the most basic safeguards (background checks) being put in place, despite the NRA membership - and gun owners in general - tending to be in favour of them.

Though to be fair, there was a group of pro-gun lobbyists who were in favour of background checks, saying this:

"We think it's reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone."

That would be the NRA executive VP Wayne LaPierre, 25 years ago.

Between then and now, the NRA has spent more time with, and gotten more money from, gun manufacturers than its total US membership, so you can guess who's calling the shots.  Which brings us back to the NRA's new tactic, "Sloganeer until they go deaf".  Still, I suppose that is better than "Stalk our opponents with high-powered weaponry".

You'll occasionally see a pro-gun lobby group bragging about over 2,100 people being "saved by guns" every day, which is a badly stretched truth latched onto from criminologist Dr. Gary Kleck, who in turn got his information from a 1981 poll that asked 1,228 Americans if they had used a handgun for protection of themselves or their property. The Kleck report was looked at in Time back in 2001, and even Kleck himself thought the extrapolation was unsound, the biggest problem being a classic for anyone trying to track statistics: proving a negative.  Surveys about crime prevention are relying on respondents for the simple reason that if a crime is prevented, then there is little likelihood of there being a paper trail - it is far more likely to go unreported, so the proof isn't there.  Unfortunately, it also means that anyone who decided to flash a gun could be under the impression that they "prevented a crime".

And so to "good guys with guns".

My principal problem with this statement is that it implies the speaker is fine with a few deaths.  They're okay with "bad guys" getting guns, so long as "good guys" get to kill them.  After all, it's not like someone's going to kill these gunmen until they show themselves to be gunmen, right?  Of course, there's the idea of making fake guns brightly coloured or otherwise as unrealistic as possible (which again the NRA opposes because they wouldn't sell as well).  A good idea, if only gun manufacturers hadn't done the same thing in the name of fashion.

In the movies of their minds, said Bad Guy bursts into a cinema/school/local brothel and starts killing off women and children with malicious glee, ogling a nearby starlet/cheerleader/prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold while salivating copious amounts of drool running off an unshaved chin.  But, BEHOLD!  Buckeye Boomstick appears, striding confidently into the room with his manly piece in hand (named Agnes, after his dear departed mother).  He gazes coolly at the snarling mendicant (who is outraged that the swooning starlet/cheerleader/prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold suddenly has eyes for no one but the newly arrived Adonis) and slowly brings his gun level with the fiend's eyes.  Bullets spray around him as the panicked madman fires wildly, but one shot with clean precision from Our Hero empties his foe's skull of strangely odourless brains.

What they are not interested in is preventing the "bad guy" from getting a gun in the first place: after all, why would the starlet/cheerleader/prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold fall in love with them if they didn't kill the Bad Guy, and why would they kill the Bad Guy if he wasn't shooting people?

Why indeed.

You could ask Michael Dunn, the man who held a gun to the temples of two seperate 'mail order' brides while threatening them with exrtadition, who fired into an SUV because the kids in there were playing music too loudly, and continued to fire as it drove away.  Is he a "good guy with a gun" or a "bad guy with a gun"?

There's the (currently) most famous shooter, of course.  You know, the one who saw a hoodie and decided to do something about it, then drew his gun and fired when he got scared.  Is he a "good guy with a gun" or a "bad guy with a gun"?

Or Curtis Reeves, shooting a fellow movie goer because he threw popcorn at him?  Is he a "good guy with a gun" or a "bad guy with a gun"?

Willie Noble, the dad who decided his property was being attacked, so defended it by shooting at the kids who were pranking his son?   Good or bad?

How about Brian Cloninger, who opened fire on an eight year old boy playing tag? Is he a "good guy with a gun" or a "bad guy with a gun"?

Hey, what about Issac Alveres, shot with his own rifle by a four year old?  Is the four year old a "good guy with a gun"?  Or is Alveres a "bad guy with a gun"?

Or the other extreme - a 107 year old man who decided to shoot through his door when police knocked?  No reason for him not to be armed, so he must be a "good guy with a gun", right?

Or you could just type in "Child shot sibling" into Google and see what happens.  Those kids good or bad?

These are deaths the NRA is fine with.  Impulse control - exacerbated by the insanity of the "Stand Your Ground" laws, which, as is pointed out, takes the Castle Doctrine (defending your home with lethal force) and lets you take your castle with you wherever you go.  In the cases of Dunn, Zimmerman, and Reeves (and who knows how many more) the shooter instigated the confrontation that led to the shooting.  They undoubtedly was themselves asthe "good guys", Dunn going so far as comparing himself with a rape victim.

But it's not just these deaths the NRA can live with.  The odds of a suicide happening in a home increase by 500% if that home has a gun in it.  As with the impulse killings, a gun allows lethal force to be applied instantaneously.  Wanting to kill for five minutes - yourself or someone else - is simply less likely to be acted on if the means aren't at hand, removing if not the temptation then at least the ability to apply a premanent solution to what is most likely a temporary problem.

None of these actually help the NRA out, so they stay pretty much in the background: there aren't enough opportunities for their fanatics to fantasize about saving the day; which is why the next time you hear from the NRA and Wayne LaPierre it will mean there's been another good, wholesome massacre.

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posted by Erin Butler at 4:32 pm


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