Thursday, January 24, 2013

Guns Out of Control

Bear with me.

There are many different types of hammers. There's the square, spiked one used for tenderizing meat. There's the flat-head one used for hammering nails. There's the ball-peen hammer used for metalwork. The sledgehammer for breaking down walls.

You can use the wrong hammer for a job and still get it done, but you'll have a harder time, maybe cause some damage you didn't intend.

No one would ban hammers just because someone uses a hammer to kill. This is because, obviously, the hammer is not well-designed for such a thing, and the vast majority of people use hammers safely.

Now, there are many different types of guns. There are guns designed for personal protection. There are guns designed for hunting. Then there are guns designed to kill a maximum number of targets in a minimum amount of time.

Guns of this last type, assault weapons, were originally designed for the U.S. military to fit certain battle specifications. Even though the models sold to the public have been modified to conform to gun laws (mainly, they've been made semi-automatic), the fact remains--they are designed for bloodbaths. That is their designed purpose. Sure, you can use an assault rifle to hunt, or for home protection, or to shoot up targets at the range. But that's not what it was designed for. You're using a hammer that's been specifically forged to kill many people.

So we should not be surprised when a gun designed for massacres is used to carry out its intended purpose. You can argue that "guns don't kill people, people do," but that argument falls apart when the weapon was built with killing lots of people in mind. What you've done is provide the perfect tool for the job.

Like hammer owners, the vast majority of gun owners don't use their guns to kill. They argue that their guns are designed for defense or sport, and that's what they use them for. But assault weapons? They're called "assault" for a reason.

You don't want to ban all guns? Fine. Other weapons may have their place (that's another argument for another day). But saying a weapon that is designed to produce mass casualties won't produce mass casualties when owned by civilians is an argument that doesn't make a lick of sense. We're talking about something with the capacity to end many lives in seconds. Who cares if some people use it to shoot for fun at trees? They're the ones using it WRONG--like using a sledgehammer to build a birdhouse. The school shooters and movie theater shooters? They are the ones using these assault weapons correctly--though they're targeting American civilians, not Taliban.

What I'm saying is, why not ban these things, knowing that they're effectively designed tools for mass murder? It won't stop deaths from gun violence, or even school shootings. But what it will do is save lives. Just like it's harder to drive a nail with a ball-peen hammer, and it's harder to inflict mass casualties without the tool designed for it.Take away the tool, and they'll be forced to find something less deadly to use.

Don't we all win?

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