Five fancy lies

Five fancy lies
Susan Lea Smith

Gun advocates use many false arguments against banning civilian possession of semi-automatic weapons and high volume ammunition clips. Here are just five. They are not very convincing if you think about them. But advocates don’t want you to think. They appeal primarily to people’s fear of “the government” or the forthcoming anarchy associated with the most recent doomsday scenario. They also pander to our fear of armed intruders in our homes. They wave the flag, cite the Second Amendment, and suggest that our “liberties” are being taken if we can’t arm ourselves with military weaponry. Let’s think about these together.

Argument 1: He was determined to kill them. He could have killed them with a bomb, a knife, an ordinary rifle or shot gun……..

Yes, indeed, there are many, many ways to kill innocent people. But most ways are less effective and efficient in killing people without sophisticated planning, supplies, or equipment. If they weren’t, we would arm our soldiers with knives, single-shot rifles, and homemade bombs – and terrorists wouldn’t need money and training.

Argument 2: It’s a mental health problem, not a gun problem. We should fix the mental health system.

Yes, we should. But many who say this are NOT WILLING TO PAY for a better, more comprehensive and effective mental health system. Detection of mental health issues is not and will never be perfect. Mental health treatment is not and never will be completely effective in preventing those who suffer dangerous and serious mental illnesses from seeking to hurt themselves and others. Keeping these “weapons of mass destruction” out of circulation and therefore out of the hands of those with dangerous mental health problems would dramatically limit their ability to engage in mass murder. It’s that simple.

Argument 3: We should just limit possession of these weapons to good citizens –do a background check for criminal history and mental health issues and register firearms.

Certainly we should not put these weapons in the hands of known criminals and persons with serious mental health issues. But background checks and registration are simply not sufficient. We frequently don’t know a person has serious mental health issues that may lead them to become violent. Most importantly, criminal history and mental health checks do not prevent that person from stealing weapons from family, friends, or strangers. That’s what happened at Clackamas – theft from a friend. That’s what happened at Sandy Hook – theft from a family member. Background checks are just not sufficient.

Argument 4: The statistics show that “gun ownership reduces crime rates.” The statistics show…..

Don’t believe any statistic until you have examined the actual study that produced the statistic. If you are not familiar with the issue studied or statistical techniques, have someone knowledgeable explain them to you. First, consider the source. Who bought and paid for the study? Do they have a financial or political stake? Is it a reliable and knowledgeable source? Or is it someone’s selective and biased conclusion or an outright fabrication? Second, many statistics are inadvertent misinterpretations of the studies from which they are drawn, sometimes even legitimate, well-educated reporters misinterpret studies Be suspicious of any statistics just posted on the internet by sources who did not conduct the original study or have not otherwise proven themselves legitimate and reliable. Third, many “statistical” arguments are based on studies correlating one variable with another (e.g. gun ownership and crime). They don’t show causation. Be very careful about attributing causation. Fourth, studies can suffer from a variety of flaws. They may have sampled the wrong population. They may have an insufficiently large sample. They may have conducted the study in a way that biased the outcome. They may not have considered an important factor. Treat any statistics with care.

Argument 5: The best defense is a good offense. If everyone carries semi-automatic weapons, then they could shoot the mass murderer attempting to kill them. Or put armed guards in every school…and shopping mall…and theatre…grocery store…and campus…and….

If you believe this one, we shouldn’t let you pass a background check! We don’t want to turn our entire nation into a war zone: that’s what the suggestion of armed guards in schools amounts to. I’ve been to Port au Prince, Haiti where many stores have rifle-toting guards at the door. Believe me, they don’t make you feel safe.

Besides, the beauty of a semi-automatic rifle for mass murderers is that they can mow people down before they have a chance to react. In the two to three seconds that it takes a would-be hero to react, pull their firearm, aim and shoot, the mass murderer can shoot at least 25-35 rounds at the hero. Because firing accuracy is low at that high rate of fire, the mass murderer will also manage to shoot some innocents in the hero’s vicinity in addition to killing the hero. As one gun advocate wrote: “With a semiautomatic firearm or revolver, firing rates two to three times greater are possible without aiming, but it is well established that such higher rates result in much lower accuracy. So the moderately higher rates would be effective only in situations in which the shooter is indiscriminately shooting into a group like a gang, mob, army or crowd of innocents.” (EMPHASIS ADDED).

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