Stopping the Violence

Responding to the Pro Gun Cliches
For far too long, people's views of the gun control issue have been driven by the slogans, cliches and rhetoric of the gun lobby. Since becoming a gun control advocate, I've heard them all--and I learned to respond to them all!

At one time the simplest cliches were sufficient--ones like, "If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns" and "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." As Americans have grown more concerned with the level of gun violence, those simple cliches don't work any more. Other phrases, such as "law abiding citizens," "we already have 20,000 gun laws," and "one more law won't stop criminals" have become common props for the gun lobby.

In the end, those simplistic cliches and slogans don't solve our gun violence problem. Only action on a variety of fronts will address this shameful problem. But the gun lobby will continue to trot out its cliches, so I'm providing my brief responses to each of them. Since the cliches of gun supporters are short, mine will be the same.

These gun control advocates just want to take away our guns!
This is just a scare tactic of the gun lobby. It's their way of demonizing gun control advocates--by making gun owners think this is all about confiscation rather than having reasonable restrictions in place that mirror the Second Amendment's call for a "well regulated militia..."

There are some who would like to see guns banned. But most of us respect hunters and collectors and those who choose to have a gun for protection. We just want to do more to close loopholes, keep guns from children and irresponsible users, and make society safer. Besides, with more than 220 million firearms in this country, taking away guns would be impossible!

It's unfair to punish responsible gun owners with restrictive laws just because of the acts of irresponsible gun owners!
That's true. Life can be unfair. But we don't allow guns on airplanes, do we? And we ALL have to undergo screening at the airport, don't we, for the protection of us all?

Likewise, everyone has to undergo paperwork and a background check when buying a gun. We do so because it's impossible to define a "responsible" gun owner. So, we conduct a background check when selling a gun, to at least make sure the buyer isn't a felon or wife beater. But many pro gun advocates aren't even willing to support that type of step. I would hardly call that an unreasonable "punishment." The fact is that Americans have the easiest access to firearms in the Free World.

Furthermore, we don't wear labels that say we're responsible. Today's responsible gun owner can become angry and use it in anger, as we see all too often. We can't write laws that define "responsible" owners and exempt them from all laws--laws must be written for all.

If we lock up criminals and keep them there, we'd have no problem!
This country has been doing that: prison sentences have been lengthened and we've built thousands more prison cells. And what has happened? Still more shootings, by others not (yet) in jail.

The fact is that not everyone who uses a gun illegally is a felon before that moment. The boys who killed my son became felons when they took possession of the 9mm handgun and pulled the trigger. Even if they had been arrested for the threats they had made, they would not have been locked up for life. The fact is that guns are too plentiful and too easy to come by. Our jails are full of gun users who were previously law abiding citizens who suddenly shot others in a fit of anger, rage, jealousy or greed.

When guns are outlawed, only criminals will have guns.
This is one of the most worn out cliches of gun promoters. Look, hardly anyone is seriously promoting the "outlawing" of guns. What's being discussed are merely common sense laws regarding the kinds of guns and ammunition available (military style assault weapons, armor piercing bullets), the capacity of gun magazines, and denial of access to kids, criminals, people under restraining orders, etc.

More important, there is the irony of their statement! Gun supporters worry so much about criminals with guns. But one thing that enables criminals to have such an arsenal of guns is the sheer volume of guns and the ease of purchasing guns in this country-something that the NRA and others have promoted! Go figure!

We need guns for our protection! You can't take away this right.
Who is talking about taking away your right to defend yourself? Again, this is another scare tactic. Unless you're a felon or kid or wife beater, you can get your gun so long as you pass the background check.

Of course, many families have managed to get by without a gun in their home. They realize, and studies have shown, that far more people are killed by their own guns (or because of them) than are used to protect their own lives. One university study showd that a gun in the home is over 20 times more likely to kill someone in or known to the family than it is to be used to kill an intruder. Still, if you wish to ignore this high risk, it's still your right to buy a gun for protection. It's just too bad that some people insist they must have an assault weapon with a 30 bullet magazine to feel safe...

We need weapons to protect ourselves from a tyrannical federal government.
No, we need to protect ourselves from those who say they need weapons to protect themselves from a tyrannical federal government! No reasonable person thinks the U.S. Military is going to be engaged in hand-to-hand, door-to-door combat with civilians. They would face mutiny. No, logically a tyrannical minded army would use its arsenal of far more powerful weapons. So shall we allow civilians to have bazookas? Tanks? Rocket Launchers? Surface to Air Missiles? ICBMs? Why not just let us all have our own nuclear weapons? Where does it all end?

Isn't it time that America say it's had enough with the dangerous, paranoid, militia types who promote conspiracy theories and maintain their own weapons arsenals? We've seen the hateful consequences of these people in Oklahoma City, Waco, and other places.

What have you got against the NRA, anyway? They're not the enemy!
W
hen the NRA is involved in gun safety programs, it's a good organization, and we respect many of its members. But it has become an organization with a Field and Stream (magazine) membership but a Soldier of Fortune (mercenary magazine) leadership.

The NRA has a dark side. It fought the Brady Bill, the assault weapons ban, and most gun control legislation. For that they deserve our condemnation.

The NRA is unduly influenced by a group of extreme right wing people who promote unfettered access to guns and high-powered weapons. This is counter to the beliefs of most Americans, and it has also led to many moderates leaving the NRA.

Automobiles kill 40,000 people a year. Nobody's calling for THEIR elimination!
How ironic to hear this statement from gun supporters! No, people don't call for eliminating cars. Cars are designed to provide transportation. But because they can be dangerous, we do require that cars and their users be registered, insured and that users be tested before using them.

But we don't do that for guns. We require little other than a background check, which is far short from registration. No testing is required. And, guns are designed to shoot, and thus require careful control, because of their dangerous nature.

Knives are used to kill people. Will you want to outlaw knives next?
No of course not. Knives are a tool. They help us cut or slice things we can't or don't want to with our hands. To stab or slash someone is to misuse that tool. A gun is designed to shoot.

Additionally, a knife can't kill multiple people from a distance and is rarely used for mass murdering. An assault weapon like a Tec-9 or AK 47 gun can kill multiple people from a distance and is used for mass murdering.

Mr. Mauser is so deep in grief that he can't think rationally.

This is something you'll hear them say about me or about any other victim who calls for gun control. They find it impossible to take on our facts and our reasonableness, so they try to simply dismiss or condemn us. Paul Thomsen, of Fort Collins, Colo., said in a letter to the editor, that "he is so overwhelmed with justifiable grief that he is incapable of rational thought or action."

I can assure Mr. Thomsen that I capable of grieving and thinking at the same time! People in grief can't be so easily dismissed. In fact, I would contend that when you've been through a tragedy, sometimes some things become more self evident to you, despite your grief. Grief can make some things come more into focus.

(Mr. Thomsen's patronizing attempt to dismiss me was a poor one. He went on suggest that tragedies like Columbine could be prevented if we just let teachers carry concealed weapons. Oh, sure, the answer to increasing gun violence is to have more guns! By presenting such a ludicrous argument, he helped me more than his own cause, for most people are clearly concerned about the the prospect of having teachers carry guns. We need to demonstrate to ordinary Americans these ridiculous. extremist views of the gun lobby.)

Guns don't kill people, people kill people!
No, people with easily-accessible guns kill people.

Rather than pass more regulations, enforce the hundreds of laws already on the books!
We have a better idea: How about both? Let's do a better job of enforcement AND add laws that close loopholes. After all, the hundreds of laws have not stopped us from having 200 million firearms and over 15,000 gun homicides per year. Plus, we suspect that the NRA's enforcement complaint is just a smoke screen; if the federal government really did make a very strong effort to better enforce ALL existing gun regulations, the NRA would probably then scream bloody murder (oops, poor choice of words)!

NEW:


Why do people like Mr. Mauser try to take advantage of their loved ones' deaths to push gun control? It's unfair.

Take advantage? How are they "taking advantage" of death? They have suffered terrible losses and yet they put their grief out there for all to see, as they have to recount their loved ones' shooting deaths-all for the sake of trying to make our world a safer place.

They suddenly understand, firsthand, the terrible tragedy of losing 30,000 lives a year to gunshots and want to do something about it, so that others don't have to suffer as they have. They act selflessly, not for personal gain.

When the gun lobby condemns gun control advocates who become so because of the death of a loved one, they're simply mad because those gun control advocates are informing people of the terrible pain, and reminding them that it can happen to anyone.

You can't take away my Second Amendment rights. It's stated right there in black and white: "the right to bear arms shall not be infringed."

So does the Bill of Rights provide us with absolute rights? We don't have an unchallenged right under the First Amendment to scream "Fire!" in a crowded theater, do we?

If the Second Amendment is absolute, then why don't we allow people to own bazookas? Why don't we let people carry guns in airplanes? Why don't we allow people to openly carry guns-like carrying around a shotgun under one's arm in a crowded mall? Aren't those restrictions an infringement on Second Amendment rights? But most people would support those restrictions. The fact is that society does put limitations on rights, for they cannot reasonably be absolute.

The gun lobby loves to quote those words, "the right to bear arms shall not be infringed." But they rarely cite the FULL text, which begins, "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to bear arms shall not be infringed." Since 1939 our high courts' position is that that language conveys a right to the states, not to individuals.

Why should law abiding gun owners be punished because of a few criminals? Why should they be inconvenienced by burdensome gun control laws?

How are they being punished? They already have the easiest access to guns in all the Free World!

INCONVENIENCE? Convenience is chosen over people's safety and lives? Why should it be so tough for someone having to fill out a form or to wait ten minutes for a background check to buy a gun?

Gun control doesn't work. We're safer with more guns if we want to fight crime. Yale's John Lott has shown that states with concealed carry laws have less crime than states that restrict concealed weapons.

That's mixing apples and oranges-using concealed weapons statistics to justify guns in general. Talking about concealed weapons is a smoke screen that avoids the true discussion of the totality of guns' impacts.

How can we write laws just that apply to law abiding citizens? We can't, because we don't automatically know who is law abiding. But we can at least have people undergo a background check to establish who is law abiding and who is a criminal. But the gun lobby opposes such actions. They would apparently rather have criminals have access to guns than to have to undergo the inconvenience of a background check!

The bigger picture: overall we have the worst gun death rate in the Free World, and we have the highest rate of gun ownership. How can we become safer by adding even more guns? It's ludicrous!

Other countries have different gun death rates because they are so different from us!

What's so different? Like us, those other countries don't have prayer in schools. Like us, they do have violent films, alienated young people, disgruntled workers, domestic disputes, angry drivers, etc. The difference is that they have tough gun laws and a responsible social attitude towards guns. We have neither. We have the easiest access to guns and the weakest gun laws. To argue that there's no connection between this and the gun death rate is irresponsible and reflects an major, illogical form of denial.

Criminals do not obey laws anyway. There's no point in having gun control, because criminals will ignore those laws.

Well, under that kind of logic, there's no point in having speed limits, because speeders will speed anyway. There's no point in having laws against murder, because murderers will murder anyway! There's no point in having a death penalty, because it obviously hasn't deterred murderers in Texas, despite the high rate of execution there.

There's no point in having laws prohibiting the commercial sale of tobacco and liquor to minors. After all, we all know that kids will smoke and drink anyway. But no, that's not how we operate in this society! We do take steps to stop those activities, even though it presents an inconvenience and burden on the store owner. We do it because we want to protect our kids as best we can. And the same should apply to guns.

Quit punishing good, law abiding citizens with gun control. They are not the enemy!

The gun lobby tries to evoke sympathy for its morally bankrupt policies by trying to paint gun control as an attack on "law abiding gun owners." They try to make martyrs of themselves. The fact, though, is that most of us in America are law abiding citizens. But to protect our security we recognize the need to make certain sacrifices to maintain our security and our rights-such as not carrying guns on airplanes.

We can't simply grant people exceptions to gun laws because they are deemed "law abiding citizens." The gun lobby paints a picture of a black and white world in which there are only criminals and law abiding citizens. But fact is that some people who use guns to harm others were not "criminals" before they pulled the trigger. The Columbine killers weren't felons before they became murderers. Our newspapers are full of stories of people who misuse guns but weren't previously felons. They are abusive spouses, disgruntled workers, suicidal teens, road raged drivers. It's far too simplistic to paint a black and white picture of gun owners as made up of either law abiding gun owners or evil felons.

Looked at another way--only a fraction of cars are used by drunk drivers to kill others, but that doesn't take away the need to register cars or the need to set up checks to catch drunk drivers. It may be a hassle to the rest of us, but good, decent, law abiding people are willing to live with it because it helps society rid itself of drunk drivers.

Prohibition didn't work for alcohol in the 1920s and it won't work for guns, either.

This important debate is about gun control and regulation, but pro gun advocates frequently try to paint gun control advocates as trying to ban all guns. But only a small portion of gun control advocates are calling for anything akin to a gun "prohibition."

As for Prohibition, when liquor sales were legalized, alcohol came back as a more regulated industry, one that did not argue for uncontrolled alcohol use. It's become an industry that in fact has felt the need to promote "responsible use." There's no such concept in the everything-goes gun lobby.

The United Kingdom and Australia have prohibited guns and now crime is on the rise there.

More distortions by the gun lobby! First of all, no, they did not outlaw all guns. It's more narrow than that. The gun lobby cites "increased crime," but they don't tell you it's not in the form of gun-related shootings! The fact REMAINS that those countries' gun death rate is a FRACTION of ours. In fact, the attorney general of Australia wrote a letter to the NRA's Charlton Heston telling him to quit twisting and lying about crime and gun death rates in Australia. Want a copy of that letter? Ask the NRA for a copy-I'll bet they won't provide it to you!

The gun lobby wants to discredit countries with tough laws in order to distract us from the most important numbers: gun deaths in those other countries! There are over 9,000 gun homicides in this country each year, compared to only about 50 in Japan, 100-200 in England, Canada and Germany, and similar numbers in other Free World countries. America's numbers are shamefully high.

If gun control fails to reduce crime, there can be no honest justification for gun control.

Gun control advocates don't argue that gun control will prevent all crime. No law or punishment will prevent all crime. Likewise, two generations of allowing the proliferation of guns certainly hasn't done anything to prevent crime. On the contrary, we've seen worsening crime over the past few generations.

We have seen a decrease in gun deaths and crime over the past years. The gun lobby will claim it's because of concealed weapons. Gun control advocates will say it's because of the Brady Bill and other gun control measures. Demographers will say it's because the population is aging. Social scientists will say it's because until recently we were in good economic times and because we've been keeping criminals in jail longer.

There's probably some truth to all of them to some extent. But what overshadows it all, again, is the fact that America has been arming itself in great numbers for the past two generations, and our gun death toll is still shameful, at over 30,000 per year.

A study shows that doctors kill tens of thousands of people each year due to medical mistakes. So why are we so concerned with the small number of gun deaths?

The number of gun deaths isn't small. It's a shameful number compared to the rest of the Free World. But, more to the point, this deaths-from-medical-mistakes argument is irrelevant babble. It's another apples-and-oranges argument. It's probably brought up because the gun lobby knows that doctors are effective, credible and respected promoters of gun control, so they want to discredit them in some way. After all, doctors see first-hand the pain of gun death and injury, and through organizations like the American Pediatric Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility, have been effective in calling gun violence a serious health issue. Thus, the gun lobby seeks to attack them.

Kids who are raised around guns and taught how to safely use and respect them are very responsible with them. If we could train all kids to respect guns like I was, we wouldn't have all these shooting problems.

Certainly parents in homes where there are guns should teach gun safety to their kids. But this is no guarantee against misuse of guns by all of them. There is still a risk the gun could be used in a suicide, or in anger against another. And what would gun training have done for the killers at Columbine? Made them better shooters?

Besides, how can we be assured that parents will properly teach gun safety? The fact is that many parents with guns DON'T teach good safety to their kids. And the fact is that gun advocates resist ANY attempts to require ANYthing when it comes to guns.

Safe storage laws are misleading. By requiring guns to be unusable, you destroy the ability of people to use them in self-defense.

People who choose to purchase a gun for self defense are able to do so (unless they're a convicted felon, spouse abuser or have been adjudicated mentally ill.) It's their choice. There are very serious responsibilities in owning one, yet most people do NOT take gun safety classes. And a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill someone known by the gun owner than it ever is to be used to kill an intruder. Therefore, there are those who simply want to discourage people from buying that gun in the first place. There's nothing illegal about trying to discourage people from buying a gun-it's a matter of reason, not of rights.

Too often guns bought for self protection are used in tragic ways. Recently in rural Colorado a teen girl was despondent. A year earlier she was allegedly raped by a local boy (a popular athlete), but the trial hadn't happened yet, and the boy was taunting her. She shot herself to death, with her FATHER'S gun. Was it responsible for a gun owning father to keep a gun in the home under these circumstances? It was never intended to be used this way, but it was.

The gun control people are putting us on that terrible slippery slope towards more gun control and eventual gun prohibition.

Yes, we've been on a slippery slope--not towards more gun control, but towards an irresponsible and dangerous saturation of guns. Over the past two generations we've seen a big increase in the number of guns--over 240 million guns-one for almost every American. We've seen the easy access of those guns, and the lethality of those guns (cheap guns, assault weapons, armor-piercing bullets, large capacity clips). Despite modest gun control gains, the gun lobby and gun manufacturers have armed America in ways never imagined. Is it any wonder, then, that we've seen such an increase in gun deaths and injuries? That's the slippery slope.

If guns cause crime, Switzerland should have a high crime rate. But instead every home has a gun and their gun deaths are low.

They do indeed have many guns in homes, but that's because, as a neutral country, they ask citizens to serve as soldiers. Military issue guns are placed by the government in people's homes, but they are highly regulated; each gun and bullet must be accounted for, so they are seldom used in crime. Gun advocates would never allow such government regulation here.

If you think that criminal access to guns can be stopped by laws, then I think you do not understand criminals.

Criminals will often be successful in getting guns-simply because we have such lax gun laws and allowed ourselves to be so saturated with guns. The question is, will we continue to make it so EASY for them? For example, we can create a system that can truly trace gun purchases so that we can catch those who are buying guns for the criminals-but the gun lobby won't allow such a system. Their interest is a more selfish one-unfettered access to guns.

Concealed weapons carriers don't need gun safety training. Safe handling of a gun does not require any training program. It's quite simple. A gun has about 4 controls.

How sad that gun training is viewed as merely a physical thing-knowing how to shoot and store the gun. What about training on how and when to use a gun in a crisis situation? Training on how to disarm someone rather than fatally shoot them? How to avoid shooting a bystander. Training in how to avoid having a situation needlessly escalate into a shooting. There's so much training that our police go through-why should we require none of that of civilians who want to arm themselves? But most gun carriers would never go through police-level training-so why should we let them pretend to be policemen by letting them carry concealed weapons?

Every time there's a shooting gun control advocates use it to call for more gun control. Hey, the gun doesn't kill people-it's the criminal mind, the irresponsible gun user, the crackpot who goes crazy. That's the solution you should work on, not gun control.

We've certainly had plenty of time to come up with that solution, haven't we? But we haven't succeeded. We are increasingly frustrated with and baffled by our disturbing level of gun violence.

If a nation indeed has so many 'criminal minds, irresponsible gun users and crackpots who go crazy,' then why in the world would it make guns so easily accessible and have sucha lax attitude towards guns?

The right to bear arms is a God-given right.

This is one of the most outrageous of the gun advocates' claims. It hardly even deserves a response. Where in the Bible is this outrageous claim stated? Can we truly believe a loving, caring God would grant us such a "right"? The New Testament has examples in which Jesus calls on us to lay down our arms. God calls on us to love and trust one another. Advocating the proliferation of weapons is hardly a way to demonstrate love.

Among the most important examples Jesus set for us was in showing love for others through sacrifice for others. So often we hear gun advocates say things like "I don't want to be inconvenienced with a background check," or, "I should be able to buy any kind of gun I want, no matter how deadly they say it is," one can't help but think of Jesus. Why are these people so SELFISH and unwilling to make a little sacrifice for the good of others?

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