Intellectuals love to tell people that things are complicated. Well duh. If things are complicated you have to be really smart and spend a lot of time thinking about them to figure them out. Like . . . an intellectual. The converse is also true (for them). If you’re not an intellectual then your opinions aren’t as valuable because you haven’t thought things through. In other words, you’re stupid. And lazy. So if you ever wondered why intellectuals tend to be arrogant and condescending, there you go. This also explains why so many intellectuals are pro-gun control: the absolute right to keep and bear arms strikes them as simplistic twaddle. Just ask Joel Waldron . . .

Waldron [above center] recently caught heat for Facebooking the propostion that “If Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (of the Columbine massacre) only had a fork and a pencil, many people would be alive right now that are dead, and a lot less anguish would have been visited on the slaughtered victims’ families.”

According to Waldron, readers misunderstood his comment. He wasn’t arguing for gun control. He was rejecting bumper sticker politics, championing the need for a more intellectual approach to gun rights and other politically contentious issues. Writing at meridenpatch.com, Mr. Waldron wants you to know that “It’s Never as Simple as Just ‘For or Against‘”.

To prove his point, Waldron tackles the big one: “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

So I tried my experiment with a person instead of a gun. I put a person at the table and watched as many more people walked by. Again, no one died. So the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” side must be wrong! But that’s where the simplicity ends.

Next, I put a very angry person, or a person with issues, or maybe even a deranged person at the table and watched again. In the most extreme cases, this person actually got up and strangled a person or two, and then got tackled and stopped. Or maybe they had a pencil or a fork and stabbed several people and then they got tackled and subdued. (By the way, most of the people who were stabbed survived their wounds.)

One last variation of the experiment. I put a gun at the table with the angry/deranged person and things really started to get interesting. In most cases, nothing happened. But in some cases, lots of people died. And how many people died seemed to be in direct proportion to the type of gun I put on the table. Put a revolver at the table and six or so people died. Maybe one or two survived their wounds. Put a shotgun at the table with lots of ammo, and lots of people died. Few survived their wounds. Put a machine gun at the table and a whole lot of people died.

So what did I discover through my experiment?
1) Guns sitting by themselves don’t kill people.
2) People without guns have a very limited ability to kill people. Usually just one or two at a time. No mass killings. Few indiscriminate killings.
3) With a gun, any fool can kill lots of people, and they are very hard to stop until they run out of ammo. And the “bigger” the gun, the more damage they can cause until they can be stopped. You don’t see many “drive by clubbings”.

Ironic isn’t it? Waldron’s condemning pro gun rights folk for being simple-minded by using simple-minded sophistry. Gun control = less guns = less violence. Less violent violence. This is exactly the kind of non-thinking analysis that sustains gun control advocates. And it’s patently untrue.

First, it’s important to note that violent criminals and/or mentally disturbed people don’t wield pencils or forks. When they don’t have access to firearms—whether through gun control, market forces or incarceration—they choose other lethal weapons. As Ralph points out in a comment below . . .

Waldron’s assertion that a bad guy with a knife will jack up a couple of people before he’s subdued is silly. Mamoru Takuma killed eight children and wounded 15 with a kitchen knife. Tomohiro Katō killed seven and injured ten with a knife and his truck. Maksim Gelman killed four with his knife and wasn’t “subdued” for a full day.

Like so many gun grabbers attempting to claim the “middle ground,” Waldron does so with only a rudimentary understanding of firearms. What does he mean by “bigger” gun? Higher caliber? More capacity? Full vs. semi-automatic? All of the above? The FBI’s 1993 Supplemental Homicide Report concluded that 57 percent of all murders were committed with handguns, three percent with rifles, five percent with shotguns.

Waldron’s thought experiment ignores non-firearm-specific tactical issues of accuracy, training or reloading. The Virginia Tech spree killer’s gun wasn’t high capacity. Nor was the Luby’s killer. Both men reloaded. Both men committed suicide before they ran out of bullets.

Waldron also ignores alternative methods of mass murder, from set fires to fertilizer bombs. More to the point, Waldron assumes that there would be no resistance from the intended victim. Whose best defense against ANY of Waldron theoretical scenarios would be . . . a firearm.

By focusing on one crazy or criminal person’s access to a specific type of offensive weapons Waldron’s experiment also ignores the fact that there is a society. The fight for gun rights is a fight to create and maintain a free and just society. While firearms are useful for personal protection against criminals and lunatics, they also protect the citizen’s ability to protect themselves from oppressive and tyrannical regimes.

As today’s post on armed robberies in Melbourne shows, as the ongoing horror in Mexico illustrates, even the most stringent gun control laws can’t eliminate guns; they can only limit access to the criminal class and the state. Again, still, the result is not pretty. On a scale that Waldron simply can’t imagine. Or remember. Or see.

The idea that gun control makes for a less dangerous society is laughable. That said, gun control advocates’ anti-intellectual intellectual snobbery is a dangerous business. It leads to gun control. Like many of you, I am four-square against gun control for one simple reason: it doesn’t work. Preventing law-abiding citizens from possessing firearms doesn’t reduce crime or prevent mass murder. Never has. Never will.

Quite the opposite in true. Gun control increases crime and enables violence and mass murder.

It’s no surprise that those who refuse to see the truth about guns take refuge from reality in an intellectually dishonest proposition: all truth is relative. Adhering to The Mother of All Nyah Nyahs has a side benefit for its proponents: it makes all those who “cling” to the truth into extremists.

There will always be the Jack the Rippers and the Jeffery Dahmers in the world who will kill people. There’s no stopping that. But if these guys and those like them have guns, they will do more damage. It’s not about “guns for everyone” or “guns for none.” Let’s get away from those polarities and talk about the real world.

See what I mean?

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46 Responses to Gun Control: There is No Gray Area

  1. There are some things in this world that are so rife with bad information and bad reasoning that it is a fool’s errand to try to do the typical point-by-point counter-debate. This gentleman’s post seems to be one of those things. You quite literally don’t know where to begin, and even if you could pick a starting point, there are no “points” to rebut because he has no data, just “feelings,” and feelings are impossible to reason against.

    • So, is there any way to reply to an argument like this? On the surface, it seems so logical, but there’s got to be a way to show that it’s an extreme simplification.

      • I kind of fixated on the “they are very hard to stop until they run out of ammo” bit which is completely true if and only if you are unarmed and must get to hugging distance to even attempt (and possibly fail to your own hazard) to stop them. If you can duck behind cover at a distance while some freak pops off rounds at a bunch of poor people running to escape, there is one way and one way only you are guaranteed to at least attempt a defense, if you have a gun. Yesterday the second one of my coworkers announced the events unfolding my first thought was “Christ please let someone sane with a gun be near enough to make sure that is his last victim”

  2. Look for gray areas and you will find them. Mass killings seem to be (at least in the news) the work of arsonists, bombers, and people who take control of big airplanes full of fuel. My hope is that taking away the asymmetry of gun possession will decrease violent crime. No strategy is perfect.

    • By taking away the asymmetry I mean assuring that law-abiding citizens can put up an armed defense against criminals and terrorists, in case it was unclear.

  3. Their conclusions are flawed from the beginning, as a gun control ” intellectual” knows less about firearms and their proper use than a grasshopper.

    A crazy guy with a 6 shot revolver and the skill to use it is much deadlier than a similarly insane person with a fully automatic AK47.The latter example may result in several wounded people,but the first example will result in more fatalities.

    Insofar as guns versus knives goes, in a population that is disarmed either in the hands of a homicidal person equates to a great deal of suffering.This is a point all thinking people can agree. From there, the approach to solve the problem differs. Gun control proponents would hold that taking away the knives and guns from the homicidal person equates to a solution. Perhaps, but the problem is that knives and guns being tools, a homicidal person deprived of such tools will select alternatives. Such as a automobile, a bomb, or axe, or any number of things that can be used to kill people. In essence the ultimate fulfillment of this philosophy is control of *tools*;if the last tool was used to kill someone, then the next one must be banned. And so on, and so forth, until everyone is using plastic forks to eat with in their bubble-paper wrapped kitchens.

    Gun right proponents hold that banning the tools won’t solve the problem,but equipping the intended target with the same tools as the attacker offers the target a chance to survive the attempt on their life. In such way, only the crazy man is laid to rest, and the ‘normal’ citizens are allowed to proceed with their lives.Because this philosophy reinforces the implication that there are situations in which lethal force is the only practical solution to certain problems society may encounter,it goes completely against the foundation of intellectual liberalism;which is that we can make people better using the government to do it.

  4. Just because teenagers can get hold of guns doesn’t mean they should. In fact, most laws to keep teens, felons, and the mentally ill away from guns are good laws.

    The only argument is whether the same is true for the rest of the population. I happen to believe it is not.

    • There is no such thing as a good gun law period. What is there to prevent the police from deeming you crazy and unable to own a gun? We have a gun law. It’s called the second amendment. Anything else is pure and utter B.S. that includes background checks, carry permits, age restriction, ect. It’s a free country. If you’re afraid of teens with guns; then carry one to protect yourself. Change comes at the barrel of a gun. Not in a courtroom. Way back in the beginning of our country, when a prisoner got out of jail we would give him his guns back.

    • I must disagree with Low Budget Dave. If teenagers were not allowed to obtain firearms, there would have been a period where my family would have been living uncomfortably in our, well not even our, home.

      Parents divorced, living with our mother who disliked firearms in a rural part of California home to many boars and other wild animals. My brother, the more sensible between us, saw fit to save his money and buy a rifle. A cheap old Mosin Nagant 91-30, but a rifle nonetheless. We were never physically threatened by anything but rattlesnakes, but we had the peace of mind. I know for sure that my mother would not have bought even a .22 on her own. I thank my brother, who’s still a teenager, to this day for bringing me into the real world, one where my shotgun is not a scary, destructive tool of villainy, but instead assurance that I can defend my home if it is attacked.

  5. Being in the “real” world would require admitting that even with a total police state there is no way to remove firearms completely from the hands of criminals.

  6. History tells us much about the failures of gun control. It also tells me that irrational reasoning in Waldron’s case is not worth arguing. The ‘intellectual elite’ tend to employ armed guards, and decry the same rights to others. Fortunately, I’m far too non compos mentis to follow their train (wreck) of thought.

    Meanwhile, Ruger stock goes through the roof, and ammo is flying off the shelves. I’ve helped several friends navigate the quagmire of AR-15 purchasing, and I’ve got TTAG for moral support (minus the LEO bashing, which hurts my feelings sometimes). Life is good!

  7. Gun controllers are not just anti-gun. They are anti-self defense. My wife is 60ish and 5’4″/120olbs. Without access to firearms how could she defend herself against a 6’/200lb assailant? Look at the UK. First they took guns away from the law abiding citizen and made it tougher for criminals to get guns. When the BGs moved to knives they banned many kinds of knives. At the same time they disarmed the population they repealed the centuries old common law castle doctrine. Having taken away the tools of defense, they then outlawed the use of counterforce by the victim, treating the criminal and the honest citizen alike.

  8. IIRC, Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski and Andrew Kehoe never shot anyone. McVeigh killed 168 and injured over 800 people all by himself. Kehoe killed 45, the Unabomber three.

    Waldron’s assertion that a bad guy with a knife will jack up a couple of people before he’s subdued is silly. Mamoru Takuma killed eight children and wounded 15 with a kitchen knife. Tomohiro Katō killed seven and injured ten with a knife and his truck. Maksim Gelman killed four with his knife and wasn’t “subdued” for a full day.

    In nations with strict gun control laws, like Japan and most of Europe, mass murder by knife is commonplace.

    If you ever wonder why I won’t engage with gungrabbers, this article is illustrative. Most gungrabbers do it for the money, and as long as the Joyce Foundation has its way, there will be plenty of money to throw around. The rest are merely arrogant a$$h0les.

    • And imagine what Loughner could have done if he had chosen an F150 filled with gas cans instead of a G19 filled with 9mm. Probably more people would have died, and the injuries the wounded would have suffered would have been horrific.

    • I would agree with the point you’re making generally, but even with the specific incidents you cited and the “commonplace” knife crime in Japan and some places in Europe (Scotland, for instance) , most of those countries statistically have much lower rates of overall violent crime than the U.S.

      • Sorry but no place in the UK has lower violent crime rates than the US. The UK rate is 3 or 4 times higher than the US. While the Brits don’t kill each other at the same rate as Americans there is more assault and rape especially during hot burglaries.

  9. When I was in college in the late 90s (I was one of those “non-traditional students”) we had to read a gun control essay as part of a writing class. Resisting the urge to tear the (generally sympathetic) young TA professor a new asshole, I simply pointed out that the essay, like this one, made absolutely no mention of the 2nd amendment and therefore as an argument was a complete failure, no matter how persuasively written it might have been.

    The 2nd amendment cannot simply be left out of a discussion of gun control, particularly in light of Heller and McDonald. That gun control advocates wish the 2nd amendment wasn’t there is irrelevant: The 2nd amendment IS there and any truly meaningful discussion of gun control must at least take it into consideration.

    To gun control advocates who want to try to pretend the 2nd amendment doesn’t exist, I would paraphrase our former SecDef and say to them that you have to go into the argument with the Constitution you have, not the Constitution you wish you had.

  10. What I take away from Waldron’s “experiment” is that, just as in real life, a lot of innocent people die when only the bad guy has a gun…

  11. Yeah, Okay. Let’s play this stupid little game for just a moment with the obviously omitted scenario of everyone having a gun:

    Crazy guy at the table has a gun and starts shooting. Everyone runs for cover but maybe one or two are shot (assume killed). Now 17 people return fire and shoot crazy guy.

    No matter how you run this scenario, the original shooter will virtually ALWAYS die. Yes, a few may have been unlucky but no more than a few will die before the rest fire back. Eventually, the crazies won’t be so willing to go crazy anymore when they realize they’re always outnumbered. If they’re that crazy, we don’t want them in our society anyway. Think of it as social cleansing. It’s a win-win.

    • I thought the same thing. His scenario assumes a standard “gun-free zone” (i.e., the good guys don’t have any guns because they’re complying with the law, and only the bad guys have a weapon). Add a law-abiding citizen carrying a concealed pistol in the strangle/stab-with-fork situation, and the results are even better.

  12. Denizens of ivory towers omit the fact that sometimes one has to play defense. It’s natural to avoid thinking about uncomfortable topics like experiencing a physical attack. Unfortunately, know-it-all feel good and denial isn’t an effective defense. I’d challenge them to state whether they will take responsibility or shirk responsibility for their own safety.

    For the sake of discussion let’s assume Mr. Waldron’s black belt prowess like that of Bruce Lee makes him invulnerable. What about OFWGs? What about small, frail or infirm people? What if they want to take responsibility? In his world there’d be no CCW so they’re just SOL apparently.

  13. Remind me again what guns Jeffrey Dahmer and Jack the Ripper used. Oh wait, that’s right…they didn’t. And not because they weren’t available. This guy’s a real genius.

  14. Guns are tools. They make it easier and more efficient to wound or kill. In the hands of police and law-abiding citizens, they enable peacekeeping and self-defense. In the hands of criminals or deranged or irresponsible people, they can wreak havoc.
    Its wrong to use the car, knife, or fork analogy because none of those (in general) are a more effective tool for killing than a gun. We shouldn’t use those analogies because they are trite. They are lazy. They are exactly the kind of thinking that we abhor in our opponents.
    Guns are tools that our country’s Constitution says every citizen has a right to own and carry (bear). This is for the greater good. Will some normal, legally armed folks snap and kill people? Yes. That is the cost. But a much greater number of legally armed people will protect themselves without having to fire a shot. Just because they had the tool. That is the benefit that outweighs the cost.
    The government’s gun-control responsibility should be to prevent felons from obtaining guns. End of story. No more, no less. This should also be a responsibility of all gun owners, by properly securing their firearms so that a thief doesn’t become an armed thief and by never selling their gun to a felon.
    Freedom of Speech means that newspapers can uncover scandal or criticize the President. It also means that neo-Nazis can preach their views openly. This is the society we live in with the costs and benefits our our freedoms. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  15. He tries to make a point (and does quite a good job at seducing the reader) that gun free world means the crazies don’t kill lots of more people. The truth in that assessment ignores the unintended consequences of disarming everyone else to make that possible, in fact it’s not the rare crazy person that causes most of the problems, it’s the perfectly sane yet bad people we need to worry about.

    Waldron won’t consider the wider issues since his argument falls apart pretty quickly.

  16. Smart people are bad? Reason is bad? Figuring out why you have an opinion so you can defend it is bad? Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Adams were all geniuses, technically speaking. You support their intelligent, well-reasoned ideas such as the 1st and 2nd Amendments, right? So, what was that you were saying about intelligence being bad?

    To use Joel Waldron’s writing as an example of why smart=bad does hideous injustice to intelligence and reason. Waldron’s writing quoted here is fraught with logical fallacies and wording chosen specifically to elicit an emotional response in like-minded readers, and in no way represents a well-reasoned, logical argument; but, all of that is true of your argument, too, Robert. If a person isn’t smart enough to find the flaws in his own argument, then he will (and you apparently have) missed them in Waldron’s argument.

    It’s true that not being able to logically defend your argument doesn’t necessarily mean your argument is wrong (dumb people can be right on accident), but it does make it pretty hard to prove that the other guy’s argument is wrong. Fortunately, there are plenty of smart people who also believe in the right to self-defense, who are smart enough to see the flaws in the other side’s arguments, call them out on it, and prove why our side is logically, rationally correct.

    • “Smart people are bad? Reason is bad? Figuring out why you have an opinion so you can defend it is bad? ”

      Not even close to what was stated in the article.

    • I would be inclined to agree. The anti-intellectual rhetoric was a bit much. Yes, Joel Waldron is an idiot and his article was a wildly illogical, emotional mess, but this article isn’t any better. Rather than just ranting at the gungrabbing, liberal, intellectual bogeymen and pointing the reader to Google and TTAG for gun control statistics, perhaps Robert would like to include links to the specific statistics that he believes support his point?

  17. The choice is not really between having armed maniacs or unarmed maniacs. It’s between having armed victims or unarmed victims.

  18. In a society without guns, bigger and stronger people will beat on weaker people. Now, society with guns, that playing field is leveled. Let us now forget that there are different types, but only one type of gun. Now imagine it is madatory for EVERYONE to be issued this one type of gun, biometrically linked to you and will only fire once. Each person is also provided with one bullet. This bullet can be used however you see fit with no threat of prosecution. This will be the most polite society ever, ensured with mutual destruction. Sure, some people will pop off and blast each other every now and again. But, just think of how many people won’t. Before getting into a stupid argument, the thought will cross everyone’s mind “I know he has a gun, but did he use his bullet yet”

  19. One last variation of the experiment. I put a gun at the table with the angry/deranged person and things really started to get interesting. I also seated rational people with Colt 1911s at the table. In some cases, a few people died and how many people died seemed to be in inverse proportion to the number of rational armed people sitting at the table who could shoot the deranged person the fastest.

  20. “More to the point, Waldron assumes that there would be no resistance from the intended victim. Whose best defense against ANY of Waldron theoretical scenarios would be . . . a firearm.”

    You nailed it, Robert! BTW, this guy’s an intellectual like ketchup is a vegetable.

  21. So I tried my experiment with a gun instead of a person. I put a gun at the table and watched as many more people walked by. Again, no one died. So the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” side must be right!

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