Guns: A New Hope? Or Done as Ben Carson?

So, there’s been one exception. One.

Joe, wherever you are, please understand the following is not directed at you—or any reasonable gun owner/advocate for that matter. I’ll gladly talk to anyone willing to admit we have a problem and that some action needs to be taken, even if we disagree on what that looks like.

Alas, there just seems to be so few of you.

Which is why, excepting the Joe’s of this world, I’m so done with these people.

In the past year, I’ve had numerous discussions (often, arguments) with gun rights advocates who believe, even in light of numerous gun massacres—the most recent, an act of terrorism—that additional firearm safety laws are unnecessary. They believe that such restrictions would be ineffective and/or unconstitutional, and there is seemingly nothing that will cause them to change their minds.

I’ve tried pointing out the obvious: that more than 30,000 Americans are killed by firearms every year, that we’ve had more mass shootings than days year, that nearly every other developed country in the world has more restrictions on guns than we do, and as a consequence, far fewer firearm deaths.

Do they change their minds? Nope. Logic, reason, a conventional understanding of cause and effect, of simple, straightforward facts, is not enough. Indeed, reality doesn’t seem to even register with gun rights advocates.

I’ve tried asking them honest questions: should we really allow terrorists to legally buy guns? Would anyone make the argument that the life of their loved one–wife, son, cousin, friend–was the price of freedom, as they so often say of the victims of these tragedies? If not restricting guns, what should we do to curb the violence: how best can we save innocent lives? Don’t you worry about your safety, or that of your family, knowing that almost any crazy idiot, criminal, or terrorist can go into a store whenever they feel like it and buy firearms and ammunition designed for the battlefield?

Do they, reflecting on these questions, change their minds, or render an honest answer? Nope. Instead they change the subject. Or go quiet. Or hateful.

I’ve tried pointing out that their rhetoric, the reasoning we hear from gun rights advocates, is inherently irrational.

Guns, on their own, may not kill people, but when people do kill people, it’s almost always with a gun. Killing people is a lot easier with guns. These mass murders are committed by people with guns. And again, 30,000 Americans die every year, because of guns.

We also hear, absurdly, that since criminals will break the laws we pass anyway, because some dangerous people will find a way to get their hands on firearms, legal or not, we shouldn’t bother passing new, or more effective laws. But tell me this, what’s easier to buy: cocaine or bananas? A prostitute or a haircut?

That this needs to be explained is asinine, but apparently it does, so here it goes. By making a product illegal, we put up a barrier. Then, in order to get something illegal, one must break the law, either stealing that object, buying it from someone who stole it, smuggling it into the country, or buying it from a smuggler. In any case, making something illegal creates two chances to stop the criminal: first, during the act of stealing or smuggling; and second, when the missing/smuggled item is noticed. Will some criminals still get away with stealing and/or smuggling guns if we pass restrictions? Of course. But we’ll also have the opportunity to catch many of them—especially with an item like guns, which are usually made of metal, heavy, and not easily concealed.

Moreover, anyone making the case that laws, because criminals break them, are ineffective or worthless, is making an argument for anarchy. Right? I mean why have any laws at all if they suddenly become invalid the moment someone breaks them?

But do they change their position, having had their logic proven not just wrong, but antithetical to the very concept of the rule of law? Nope. They maintain their position, to the point where any objective observer would question their sanity.

So, at this point, I’m done. There’s no point in arguing with people who are impervious to logic, reason, facts, or reflection. It’s an untenable position, and yet they hold to it, clinging like barnacles to a ship’s hull long after it’s been hauled onto dry land and retired.

For my efforts, I’ve been called a piece of shit, had my life threatened, told I’m un-American, that I should go away; even, that I should die. The most violent among them asked a Facebook friend for my address: a person who, based on his statements, didn’t have much to live for other than violence in the service of a sinister cause; a soul whose hate and passion for evil would’ve made Hitler smile. He saw it fit, because I disagreed with him on this issue, to threaten my life, as well as that of my wife and four-month-old child.

Despite this, I’ve listened closely and considered what gun right advocates have to say, but in the end, it’s all the usual garbage. The “facts” they cite are lies circulated among right wing media, bogus both in authenticity and accuracy. They consistently change the subject, deliberately and dishonestly conflating reasonable gun control proposals with the banning of all guns. And, as I’ve shown above, their rhetoric, their philosophy, is bankrupt: if we governed our country as they argue, we wouldn’t have any laws whatsoever and society would devolve into a bloodbath of violence and disorder.

But the worst thing is that I’ve heard no solutions from these people—they believe that nothing can or should be done. Nothing. And in a solution’s place, they submit the worst kind of reasoning: justifying the loss of tens of thousands of innocent lives so that guns can be sold as freely and ubiquitously in this country as socks and shoes.

So I’m done talking to these people. Based on my experience, they are hateful, mean, angry men (almost always, they are male) who cannot think critically about this issue—it’s as if they have a mental block, that facts, reason, logic, compassion–nothing–can move. We’re never going to convince them they are wrong: nothing can be said, nothing can be done, to cause them to change their position. They are truly, on this issue, insane, if not dangerous—how else can one reconcile their obsession with a tool of violence–their valuation of an inanimate object designed to kill–over the lives of human beings?

Oh, and by the way, what I’ve proposed isn’t that we take guns away from anyone or limit the kinds of guns, bullets, or magazines people can own. I just think we should regulate guns like cars, and I’ve made that clear to those I’ve spoken with.

It is my opinion that Congress should pass a law mandating that:

  1. Every state set up a department of firearms with a rigorous and thorough licensing process (written test, user test, background check).
  2. Anyone who wants to legally own a gun must first acquire a license, and that license needs to be shown anytime they buy guns, ammunition, or accessories.
  3. Like a car license, the gun license must be renewed periodically, say every three or four years.
  4. All gun owners must purchase insurance for their gun in the event that they’re involved in an accident/event that damages life and/or property.

I honestly don’t understand why that is so absurd or unreasonable—and at this point, I’d like to remind people that the first part of the Second Amendment reads: “A well-regulated militia…” All I’m asking is that firearms be “well-regulated.”

So we move on. We don’t need gun advocates to agree with us to affect political change. We have the power to do so already. Huge majorities of Americans, including gun owners and Republicans, want universal background checks on guns sales. But as we know, the reason Congress refuses to act is that the Republican Party—and some Democrats—take money from the NRA, or are afraid of them.

We need to make them afraid of us, and we do it through the ballot box. From city council, to state representative, to Senator, we need to vote these sponsors of violence out of office, regardless of party.

In addition, we need to support ballot initiatives that restrict firearms or regulate their use. And, since gun rights advocates and Republicans are unwilling to compromise on any issue related to gun safety, we ought to support almost any gun safety measures, whether it be background checks, requiring gun owners to buy insurance for their weapons, limiting the kinds of guns people can buy, or banning large capacity magazines.

At this point, any action is preferable to none. Need I remind us that TERRORISTS ARE LEGALLY BUYING GUNS IN THIS COUNTRY AND USING THEM TO KILL PEOPLE?

So if you want to act to curb these senseless acts of gun violence:

  • Register to vote and vote, but never support anyone who receives money from the NRA or won’t vote for reasonable gun safety laws. So all Republicans… and, again, some Democrats (Kurt Schrader of Oregon comes to mind).
  • Every time there is a mass shooting, make a point of stating that this is a political choice we are making and that Republicans, the NRA, and anyone who will not support immediate action has blood on their hands. Point out also, that these people are so extreme they don’t even want to prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns and ammunition.
  • Encourage friends and family to do the same.

As for the gun rights people, ignore them*. Nothing they say is true or reasonable, and nothing you say will cause them to change their minds. They are lost. What I’m going to say to them from now on is the following:

“The assertion that reasonable gun safety laws won’t save lives is factually untrue, irresponsible, and dangerous. If you want to understand my position more fully, I’ve included a link with a full explanation. Good day sir/madam.

I encourage you to do the same, and feel free, if you’ve had a similar experience debating with gun rights advocates, to send them this blog.

*If you come across a gun rights advocate willing to acknowledge there’s a problem AND that some sort of action needs to be taken, absolutely engage them. I’ve done so with my friend, Joe. When he’s ready, I’ll publish his thoughts on this blog. We may disagree on some points, but it is my hope that we can begin a conversation about gun safety that is both reasonable and productive.

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About The Author: Jay Scott


  • Reply Kenton

    Man the gun advocates suck. All I can say is I’ve had the same experience. Shown scientific studies to friends who are rabid gun advocates that show that the strictness of gun control measures across states and over time has predictive power to forecast gun violence. As a result they barely talk to me now. These same people are the ones who rush to facebook after a mass shooting rush to post some gun toting icon on their wall with a caption to the effect of “pry my gun from my dead hands” and/or that they’ll kill anyone that attacks THEIR family because, hey they have fucking guns. This is how you respond to the tragedy of innocent people being slaughtered by deranged fucks with automatic rifles?? Disgusting. The proposals democrats have put forward in no way propose banning all guns. 82% of Americans prefer stricter, common sense gun control. Check the most recent gallup poll. How the fuck have we allowed this set of loony assholes to hijack our entire legislative process? The fact that we can’t agree suspected terrorists shouldn’t have legal access to AR-15s is the litmus test for complete lunacy. Really? REALLY??? It honest God seems like some gun owners have decided to attach their sense of self-identity to the complete absence of gun control. Any other idea somehow threatens their sense of self. There is no debating with them, listening to them, logically proposing sound compromises that the VAST majority of Americans prefer. Again, if you have two brain cells to rub together and somehow doubt this fact, check a poll. Enough is enough. It is so time to legislate over them. Those of us with more sense need to take more grass roots action since our elected officials don’t have the courage.

  • Reply Kenton

    Also, @Jeff, are you familiar with the idea of epistemic closure? Here’s a brief except from an article on

    The phrase “epistemic closure” is a philosophical concept; it was brought outside the lecture halls and into conversation by Julian Sanchez in 2010 to refer to the tendency of a political group’s members — in that case, conservatives — to derive significant and even existential benefit from their own contained universe of assumptions, facts, and ideas. Correspondingly, they exhibit a willfulness to reject and derive energy from the automatically “wrong” and other-wordly ideas and facts emanating from another political group.

    And here from the same article, is a related delusion which afflicts my “climate change is giant conspiracy by scientists!” Uncle. God we love that ignoramus.

    “Related phenomena include the tendency of conspiracy believers to discount facts and logic that disprove their theory by creating an even more elaborate theory to account for disconfirming evidence and for confirmation bias, where we generally throw out acts that cause us cognitive dissonance”

  • Reply Anonymous

    I have had numerous similar experiences to the ones you detail above. My results are as equally zero as yours in terms of affecting the “mental block.”

    Politically, I think there is only one option. The states with governments that are not under the total control of the gun lobby need to start seriously talking about a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2nd amendment and specifically make it clear in the constitution that the federal government, the states, and the local authorities have the right to regulate guns as they (via the power of their constituents) see fit.

    I don’t believe that such an amendment, with all the attendant difficulties, could actually pass in any reasonable amount of time. However, if it were being seriously discussed and the gun owners saw that there were enough states to make the _threat_ of such an amendment real, some set of them would decide to come to the negotiating table and discuss background checks, insurance, licensing, etc. Until that threat is *real*, they will never negotiate for the reasons that you rightly outline above.

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