Saturday, April 14, 2018

Guns don't kill people, people kill people. So do slogans

If a gun is discharged and kills a person, it is true it is normally caused by a persons. So, a person decides to kill, this causes the person to pull the trigger, this causes the gun to discharge, and if it reaches its target, the person dies. So the gun caused the death, but the shooter caused the gun to caused the death.
But this doesn't meant that the availability of guns, or certain types of guns, or the availability of guns for certain types of people, isn't a bad thing. If a parent leaves a loaded gun out for a six-year old to get their hands on, and he shoots and kills his little brother, the parents can't just blame their kid and say "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." There is a reason why mass shootings happen in the US at a far more frequent pace than they happen in Britain, Canada, or the countries of Western Europe. With the Parkland shooting, someone with known violent tendencies has able to get a hold of an AR-15, a weapon that could kill numerous people in succession without the shooter having to reload. 
Slogans are very tricky. Because there is always a shooter who is morally responsible for the shooting, and the gun, as an inanimate object, is not responsible for the shooting, doesn't mean that there aren't reasonable ways in which we could limit gun availability and save lives. 
If I am homicidally angry and I have no weapon, I could choke someone to death, but that might prove difficult. Even stabbing someone to death with a kitchen knife might take a great deal of effort and be messy. If all I have to do is squeeze a trigger, it is going to be more likely that my homicidal intentions will reach fruition. And this will be so even if it is true that I and not my weapon if I use one, will be morally responsible for the act of homicide. 
Beware of slogans. They are often a substitute for critical thinking. 

2 comments:

Legion of Logic said...

But let's look at the reasoning behind the slogan. For example, I live in a community of about sixty thousand people. We are below average income, above average poverty, have a substantial drug problem of primarily meth, and almost everyone owns at least one gun, many of them handguns and semi-automatic rifles including AR and AK style guns. Despite all these markers that correlate to violence, our murder rate is almost always zero, and when our community actually is rocked with a murder, quite often it's not even with a firearm.

I couldn't tell you what the difference between my community and others that are war zones (it would be speculation to do so), but I can certainly tell you what the general opinion is of the idea that residents here ought to undergo gun restrictions when we aren't the ones killing people. We just don't do that. Our guns aren't a problem because our people aren't murderers, it seems.

Of course it's more difficult to contain in areas where people lack self-control, so it is certainly a legitimate subject to discuss whether restricting everyone because of the actions of some is worthwhile. I do know that of everyone I know who owns a semi-automatic rifle, not a single one has any intention of ever turning it over if it becomes illegal. And our community is hardly unique in that mindset.

I think a better bet would be figuring out why given areas are violent compared to areas with high gun ownership with no murders, and figure out what the difference is and address those factors. Guns will always be available - we abolished Prohibition for a reason, even though alcohol kills far more people than guns. Screaming at the guns probably won't save many lives.

(Interestingly I see few people, particularly on the left, ever addressing the massive death count with alcohol, yet they are loudly motivated by the much fewer gun deaths. But that's a different subject for speculation.)

Starhopper said...

"Interestingly I see few people, particularly on the left, ever addressing the massive death count with alcohol, yet they are loudly motivated by the much fewer gun deaths."

Maybe it's because a person under the influence rarely takes out dozens of lives at a time in schoolyards or at country music concerts. Certainly there are drunk driving fatalities, but never 50 people all at once.

And the (admirable) near zero murder rate in your small community will suddenly go through the roof with a single mass shooting. It only takes one.