Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Put this phrase out of our misery

I have an idea for a collective resolution for 2014.

Let's bury the saying, "Guns don't kill people; people kill people."

First off, it's reflexively redundant. It's like saying "old people are old." Literally, it's true, but it doesn't ultimately say anything. After all, no one argues that guns are sentient, anthropomorphic beings that hold jobs, raise families and sometimes snap unpredictably. Anyone who does believe that isn't likely to be swayed by a platitude in any human tongue, anyway.

Also, we never say this about anything else that's dangerous. "Kids, drugs don't kill people. Only if people take them." No, we pretty much take the opposite extreme on drugs — even when they're relatively harmless and/or serve a legit medical purpose, we'll throw people in jail for decades for possessing them with intent to distribute. And yet, anyone can buy or sell a firearm and legally skirt the rules at a gun show. Even though, unlike most drugs, guns have no purpose that isn't lethal. No, abuse of drugs is a problem, whereas use of guns can be as bad or worse.

Guns are a uniquely convenient means to take one life (or a lot of lives) in an instant. They require little to no discipline or training to use, don't require close quarters and are incredibly easy to obtain. Hell, we even have a constitutional amendment insisting packing heat is a God-given right (at least insofar as it's been interpreted by those who gloss over the words "well," "regulated" and "militia"). Any attempt to rein in our anarchy of arms is seen by gun advocates as the height of treason, so they apparently agree that guns are unique objects.

I've really tried to see this from the gun camp's point of view. The best I can come up with in that regard is that we need to clamp down on the problematic people who use guns. I agree with that. But I also can't help thinking that if we also clamp down on gun availability itself, then all these crazy people would just be crazy people instead of crazy people with easy means to kill others (and themselves, which sort of undermines being able to solve their problems).

So let's end the use of "Guns don't kill people; people kill people." Even if not for the reasons above, than simply because of all these mass shootings ... and any shooting deaths at all.

It's long past time to care at least as much as people as we do about guns.

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