Same Old Song and Dance

“Seasons change and our love went cold
Feed the flame ’cause we can’t let it go
Run away, but we’re running in circles
Run away, run away.” — Louis Bell / Adam King Feeney / William Walsh / Austin Post / Kaan Gunesberk

As most people have already seen, we had another mass shooting yesterday in Boulder, Colorado. Ten people perished including a police officer who responded to shots fired. This is the seventh such mass shooting nationwide in the last seven days. If we follow the same playbook we will hear the same responses after each one.

We will look at each one of these responses one by one and break them down so we can debunk them later on. You can predict them almost as clearly as seeing the white male shooter in almost every one of these. There is a maddening pattern to this whole thing.

We can’t afford to politicize this shooting (AKA, it’s too soon to talk about it)

I get this on a number of levels. Emotions are raw after every one of these. They are more raw the closer you get to the event. I know at home my wife was worried because she knows people in Boulder. You want to make sure nothing happened to someone you care about. Emotional responses usually don’t make for the best of decisions.

As a percentage of homicides, mass shooting victims make up a small percentage of victims. Most victims of homicides die at the hands of handguns. So, I can see the point of focusing on assault style weapons as a mistake in tackling the homicide problem overall. We will get to that point later.

All that being said though, these things usually require some positive momentum. Systemic change doesn’t occur in a vacuum and legislation needs popular support to get passed. People consistently favor background checks and a ban on assault weapons, but those sentiments are always stronger after one of these events. So, the notion of it being too soon is merely an effort to divert people’s attention away from pushing through something they already support.

Banning Assault Weapons won’t prevent all murders

This is essentially the all or nothing defense. This usually gets couched any number of ways. You can hear it as a statistical argument or through the refrain that someone that wants to kill will find a way to kill. This is technically true and all of these arguments are often effective because they have kernels of truth to them.

It ignores two overwhelming points. First, when you remove the gun, mass murder becomes more difficult. It’s not impossible. Timothy McVeigh used homemade explosives when he bombed a federal building. Still, it’s hard to imagine ten people perishing at the business end of a knife unless it’s a ridiculous martial arts movie with dubbed subtitles.

The other salient point is that the enemy of good is perfect. There is no perfect solution to violence. Violence will continue to occur regardless of what you do. The question is whether any particular solution will make it better. Banning assault weapons will not eliminate murder. Background checks will not eliminate murder. However, we know those solutions will be effective in some cases. The fact that they wouldn’t have prevented a particular event does not mean it’s not worthwhile. Those measures would prevent some.

It also doesn’t preclude a multifaceted approach. Voting for a gun control measure does not preclude me from suggesting or supporting common sense changes to the way we handle mentally ill people. This is not an either or game. Either or has a funny way of turning into neither nor. Something tells me that’s by design.

Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

There is unassailable logic there. This usually gets folded over into the argument that people that want to kill will find ways to kill. I agree completely. However, like all logical points, that only goes so far. This is a question of utility more than anything. The question is what is the utility of the item in question. In other words, what’s it’s primary purpose?

McVeigh can use fertilizer to build a bomb. We didn’t ban fertilizer. When you see someone at the store with fertilizer in their cart your first thought doesn’t go to a bomb. Of course, if you saw a cart with just fertilizer in it you might be tempted to move your thoughts there. It is similar with most knives. The primary purpose is not to kill people. Just about anything can be Mcgyvered into a weapon. It doesn’t mean it was designed to be a weapon.

I could say the same thing about rifles and handguns. They are primarily designed for hunting, target shooting, and protection. Handguns begin to get into a gray area, but I think we all get the idea. What is the positive utility for an assault weapon? What’s it designed to do? If it is designed to kill a number of people in a short time then what is the positive utility of having private citizens own them?

I have the right to bear arms.

Admittedly, most people are not constitutional scholars. So, they can be forgiven if they don’t understand the intricacies of each of the amendments. Suffice it to say, each amendment was written in legalese. Words matter and the order of words matter. Every right was designed to have common sense limitations that the courts could apply.

The first amendment has logical limitations. The second amendment does too. The government can pass common sense regulations and that has been upheld by the courts on numerous occasions. We recognize that private citizens cannot own bazookas, missile launchers, or missiles themselves. The question then becomes how much regulation is warranted. Those uttering the words above really aren’t coming to the discussion in good faith.

Their red-headed bastard cousins are the folks that use the slippery slope argument that the president is coming after their guns. Banning assault weapons doesn’t mean we want your handgun or rifle. It doesn’t mean we want a national registry. All fights should be fought on the merits of the case and not what people think the motives are.

Now, if I propose a gun ban or a repeal of the second amendment you are free to then confront me on that plane. However, if I haven’t said that then it is disingenuous at best to treat my argument like an all out assault on the second amendment. Taking on straw men is not going to solve this issue.

Thoughts and Prayers.

I’m not going to turn down a heartfelt prayer. God is all powerful, all knowing, and filled with an infinite capacity to love. God has also made it abundantly clear that he/she will not intervene unless absolutely necessary. God has given us free will to take our own path. I would surmise that God always hopes for the best and hopes we will choose his or her path. God has empowered us to make our own choices and solve our own problems with his or her guidance,

I say all this to say that most of us are tired of thoughts and prayers. They are certainly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. but we would prefer some action. We know these events will continue to happen if we do nothing and we know the stereotypes don’t work. There was a good guy there with a gun. It didn’t help.

So, arming everyone is not the answer. Installing more security may help some, but they typically don’t prevent these mass shooter events. Training people in what to do during a mass shooter event is also helpful, but again we aren’t addressing the main issue. It’s hard to pull off a mass shooter event without a weapon capable of mass shooting.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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