Part one of this blog series targeted two common utterly erroneous gun arguments, this post will cover three perceptions that are misguided.
3. "We Need Guns to Protect Us from the Government"
As the Founding Fathers and Revolutionary soldiers emerged victorious from a revolt against the world's most powerful imperial nation, they were suspicious of a tyrannical government rising from the smokey, blood-soaked battlegrounds that birthed the Colonies' independence from Great Britain.
However, the 2nd Amendment, which guarantees every citizen the right to bear arms, was written during a time when muskets and cannons were dominant in military arsenals and when America was too broke to afford a standing army.
Regardless, Americans who conspicuously fret over a federal government takeover are free to defend themselves of the horrors of Social Security, Obamacare, the IRS and the potential of Donald Trump's sun-bleached skunk tail wig becoming the First Lady in 2016.
For the sake of satisfying the concerns of Alex Jones-inspired, Area 51 conspiracy theorists, let's entertain the notion that the federal government wants to invade a country that they've assumed full control over since 1776.
The U.S. has an estimated 7,560 nuclear warheads; the second largest standing army in the world of 1,361,755 active soldiers; the most powerful navy in the world with 430 active ships; an air force of 329,500 active airmen and 5,032 aircraft; thousands of tanks, armored fighting vehicles and artillery weapons; drone striking capabilities; military-designed "Iron Man" suits; and an NSA surveillance program that can track our every email and phone calls through data collecting surveillance.
It's safe to say, if the "Feds" really have an insatiable desire to take control of our homes, it has every capability of doing so - a rag tag, wannabe paramilitary band of neighbors who confuse skeet shooting with strategic special ops training isn't going to stop a government that spends more on military and security than the next seven countries combined.
4. "There Are More Automobile Deaths Per Year than Gun Deaths, So Does That Mean We Should Ban Automobiles Too?"
Car crashes killed 33,561 people in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Firearms killed 32,251 people in the United States in 2011, the most recent year for which the Centers for Disease Control has data.
The difference between automobiles and guns is automobiles serve a constructive purpose outside of killing or wounding living beings.
This presents a cost-benefit analysis for our society: motor vehicles are instrumental in transporting both people and goods to different places, a cornerstone of commerce in the modern American economy. Therefore, as a nation, we have determined that the benefit of having automobiles providing an essential function outweighs the potential of danger that accompanies driving.
Nevertheless, we have regulations that reduce the harm of operating a motor vehicle: driving tests and licensing, traffic signs and speed limits, DUI laws, emissions tests, driver's insurance, among others. These laws have made driving safer while allowing us to property utilize our automobiles.
If we still believe that guns provide an essential service to our country, why can't regulate them while promoting our 2nd Amendment rights?
Freedom of Speech is also an entrenched civil liberty and it's modestly constrained: libel and slander defamation laws limit the press's and the individual's ability to spread malice without evidence; inappropriate language is banned on public television and radio; and harassment and threats are criminal offenses.
Meanwhile, we still enjoy this Constitutional right outside of the extremist college PC buzzkill parade.
In actuality, however, guns are projected to outpace automobiles as America's top killing machine, which begs the societal question: Is the "benefit" of having unrestrained circulation of firearms worth the cost of over 30,000 lives per year?
Gun rights supporters scapegoat gun free zones as a cause of violence, asserting the killers know these areas contain defenseless victims.
John R. Lott, an outspoken and notable researcher of gun-free zones and a vociferous opponent of gun laws, authored More Guns, Less Crime, which posits gun-free zones account for most mass shootings.
However, this argument assumes shooters are rational actors and even Lott himself admits that about half of criminals who commit mass shootings have received a "formal diagnosis of mental illness."
Our melodramatic media portrays these murderers to be insane, morally depraved, emotionally unstable individuals. But in the context of mass shooting in gun-free zones, they suddenly become hyperrational, cold-blooded killers who deliberately calculate and target gun-free environments to maximize casualties.
If these depictions seem a bit inconsistent, it's because they are.
The aforementioned FBI study of 160 active shootings shows that in 63 percent of shootings occurring in commercial or educational areas, the shooter involved has some relationship with the place.
The report states, "Of the 39 shootings in the study that occurred in educational environments, 31 of the shooters had some relationship with the school (27 were current or former students). Out of 23 businesses with no pedestrian traffic (i.e., private offices rather than stores) where shootings occurred, 22 of the shooters were current or former employees."
In an article for the Trace, Evan Defilippis and Devin Hughes write, "In reality, many shooters target a location based on an emotional grievance or an attachment to a particular person or place. These shooters are overwhelmingly motivated by some grievance rather than a desire to maximize casualties, which makes it highly unlikely that a gun-free policy had any bearing on the choice of target."
Another popular conservative talking point is the notion that laws won't stop criminals form buying guns.
While this is true, this logic asserts there is no point in passing legislation without 100% guaranteed compliance. Applying this rationale to other statutes in America would result in the repeal of all laws until we reach a state of pure anarchy, defined by the state of nature.
What's the point of laws against murder, rape and theft if criminals will inevitably partake in such devious activities, right?
Law enforcement allows victims wronged by criminals to seek retribution via the criminal justice system, deters potential criminal behavior and shapes social norms which govern appropriate (and legal) conduct.
People push for gun reform because they long for a society which diffuses strife through conflict resolution, compassion and diplomatic communication, not deterrence through mutually assured destruction.
Brazil and Australia enacted gun reforms that helped curb gun violence, there's no reason why such action shouldn't occur in the U.S.
The final post of this series will point the barrel at typical NRA and Republican dodge tactics that avoid meaningful discussion and reform.