So lately with the gun debate raging, I’ve been seeing a lot of people throwing around this argument in snarky retaliation to whenever they’re presented with another long list of children being sacrificed to their ever-loving gunmetal gods. Yanno, apart from the general "the parents were incompetent and are at fault for this, not the guns themselves!" or the ever so pleasant "well those children were retarded anyways for [insert excuse, ranging from pointless to ridiculous, here], so that’s the gene pool cleaned up a bit!"
In general, I’ve been seeing this a posted a LOT on news articles comment sections; rule of thumb for the internet, even looking at the comment sections of anything is a bad idea, but as some people go unchallenged (actually just are ignored by most) the ideas spread to other corners of the internet, and not just comment sections. Then we really start getting pissed off from having to deal with comments section-grade arguments sprouting out of your extended family’s Facebook feeds, thus making it really hard to post your annual perfunctory communique of ”Happy Birthday” on their timeline. Or, God forbid, tumblr.
Anyways, the arguments of question that have been proliferating:
- "Well, more people die in traffic accidents. We should be banning cars."
- "If you’re worried about children being killed, they get grievously hurt and even killed by participating in school sports. Shouldn’t that be banned first?”
- "So what about all the stabbing deaths? According to your stupid libtard logic we should be banning steak knives, too!"
They are essentially uses of Devil’s Advocate as a way to “GOTCHA” anyone who dares point out any sort of instance where reasonable gun control laws could have prevented senseless deaths. Their supposition is that people senselessly get hurt and killed by many different things, which by all accounts is correct. It is a granted fact that stepping outside your home — in of itself — can be a dangerous thing to do.
But this is why the arguments are bad.
Pray tell: what is the purpose of a car? Why were they invented?
What have cars done for modern society? Or any vehicle in general? The first steam-powered vehicles were made essentially to haul cargo around; literally, horseless wagons. They were eventually made so that you could carry people in said horseless wagons, and the idea took off from there. Without having to copy/paste from Wikipedia the automotive industry has revolutionized economies all across the world; in the United States alone, it’s bolstered interstate commerce and made it possible for the consumption of fresh foods during off-seasons, expanded markets and literally expanded the world of individuals. It enables families to more easily and reliably get to work or school or recreation — it is an essential tool for the middle-class family to function in modern suburbia.
What is the purpose of school sports? While this author here has not been a big participator in sports in general, I can tell you that for one school sports is at the very least a source of instilling athleticism and healthy habits of taking care of your body in terms of strength and flexibility. Further on for team sports, it helps teach children how to cooperate as a team and follow directions. At varsity levels, it helps hone a strategic mind, pride of group, self-esteem and skills of coping with the understanding that one’s best effort may not result with victory. All in all, sports for children have an overwhelming positive effect on building character and learning how to deal with some of the unexplained parts of being a human being in a society.
And what is the deal with knives? I suppose long before the Bronze Age of human history, folks would break rocks into smaller sharper pieces. The size and of the pieces determined what purpose they’d be used for: spearheads, knives, flints, hammers, so forth. Knives were pretty useful in part of being able to help humans consume higher-calorie food — proteins. Why was this a big deal? The more calories a community were able to consume on average, the better-fed they are. The better-fed they are, the more likely they are able to survive bouts of lack of food, expand the variety of food available to them when basic foraging isn’t possible (winter is coming). Human groups may have attacked each other or forcibly absorbed smaller groups into themselves but if you didn’t have the food to make strong warriors, that wasn’t possible. You had to have the tools to pull it off. Knives remain important all throughout time for basic uses of cutting and skinning and trimming and, yes, stabbing things. However, as human beings developed better ways of stabbing things (then, spears and arrows; later, swords/lances/axes) there became a differentiation between knives and other short-bladed weapons (ie, dagger). The necessities of function of knives and daggers leads in to a pretty strong distinction between them, especially today; hunting knives, scaling knives, cooking knives, sushi knives, THE KNIFE-O-MATIC as compared to the dagger descendants, combat daggers, that are part of the equipment of well-armed modern soldiers. So the continued existence of knives is to be a tool that assists us in food preparation and consumption.
And so that leaves us with guns. Why were guns made? The first gun-like contraptions were from China, essentially pipe bombs with one open end and you hoped that the thing didn’t explode in your hands while aiming it at the invading Mongol army — bamboo and paper didn’t handle explosions very well apparently. But with the invention of nifty-as-hell bronze, they replaced bamboo tubes, and came up with shrapnel that was less likely to bounce around in the tube and shoot forward when the explosion went off. So the first gun was made with the intent of: “Kill them without killing yourself with as big as bang as possible”. However, those clever Mongols figured out how to make tubes and gunpowder as well, and brought that shit to everywhere they went. And if the nuclear proliferation era wasn’t any sort of indication whenever people saw something their enemies were using to kill them, they REALLY wanted to get a hold of that same tech as well to kill them back. And so, guns evolved to become more portable, easier to fire, faster shots, harder shots, deadlier shots, further shots; each technological advance making itself present in notable wars and battles. The latest incarnation of gun technology — Assault Rifles — were a brainchild of German engineering, stuffing the bullet punch of machine guns into the portability and range of a rifle. Gun innovation has always and will continue to be pushed onwards with the primary intent to be used against other well-armed people. Handguns were made to be easily portable, concealed, and fast to handle. Rifles were standard marching soldier weapons. Gatling and machine guns were heavy backline fire, sub-machine guns were the first attempt to make that power portable and now we have goddamned Assault Rifles, the whole line of features rolled into one.
So okay. What am I getting at?
Cars are made to transport goods and people. Knives were made as tools to hunt and eat. School sports, while entertaining its risk of kids getting hurt despite extensive protection measures, teach important values and is exercise. Their intent behind their existence and proliferation is to assist human beings, and their worth (culturally and economically) and necessity far outweighs the risks to human life by astronomical proportions. And while human beings who are intent on killing others can be absolutely creative on how to do so, the less assured-to-be-lethal implements they have access to, the less likely someone winds up dead.
However, guns were invented to kill human beings; I promise you no Chinese weaponsmith wanted to waste gunpowder on blowing up an elk. As I’m sure, you are not likely to find people who can say that an AR-15 is necessary to shoot squirrels in your back yard (but will likely find a handful who will insist on being allowed to, because a culture of monster trucks and 3,000 calorie meals is blind to the concept of overdoing things). Certainly, guns make it easier to hunt, but hunting in the United States is completely unnecessary for the survival of its citizens thanks to agriculture and the ability to distribute food across our nation during winters (thanks, cars). Hunting is now simply a tip of the hat to our the cultural past and has grown into a sport of showing off the bigger thing you’ve managed to kill; the sport component becoming more common over time as non-royalty individuals could afford to not have to go out and kill people (and that’s come up with its own myriad of awful fucking problems).
Also worth nothing, it is proven with all technological advancements of war (hot and cold), there are innovations made to wartime technological innovations that have genuine peacetime implementations that are beneficial to human beings. Non-hunting lethal arms fail to fall into that category, as by definition they exist to kill human beings no matter who is wielding them against whom.
We do not need hollow-point bullets, expanded magazines or armor-piercing rounds to frighten off would-be thieves or home invaders, shoot deer, or frighten your neighbor’s kids. You don’t need an assault rifle to shoot squirrels. And no, cars wrecks, teens with torn ACLs and steak knife-wielding asailants are not justification to ban cars, school sports or knives and it is pointless and disingenuous to suggest that America’s bonafide gun problems even be compared to traffic and sports accidents.