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We Don’t Talk About Guns the Way We Talk About the X-Men

Right now, America is in a state of fundamental moral conflict. On the one side, we have a group of people with incredible power available at their fingertips. Most of them have no desire to hurt anyone and simply wish to be left alone. A relatively minor few have abused that power and caused catastrophic damage, taking lives, wounding others, and leaving everyone else frightened. They want to take that power away from everyone else in the name of safety.

Guns? Of course I’m talking about guns. But if we were in the Marvel Universe, we could just as easily be talking about the X-Men and mutants.

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As the issue of private gun ownership versus gun confiscation continues to occupy our minds, it is…disappointing, to say the least, that I’m seeing pop culture fans who would presumably be on the side of the X-Men and mutant rights are, nonetheless, motivated by a total gun ban in real life. The phrases “ban all guns” and “nobody needs a gun” and general notions of “I don’t trust anyone to have this” are running rampant on my social media right now. Essentially, the argument seems to boil down to: these are scary and kill people, so no one should have them.

I am not completely discrediting that. Many children died at Parkland High School, at Sandy Hook, as well as any other prominent shooting incident like the Pulse nightclub, Las Vegas, San Bernadino, or Fort Hood. People are dying. This is a problem, and it needs a solution. Where I deviate from a people who endorse gun confiscation is that I oppose broad-brush solutions that overclassifies all members of a group as being the same as the limited few who commit monstrous acts.

Whether we’re in the X-Men movies or the comics, the issue is incredibly similar: bad mutants do bad things and cause catastrophic damage for ordinary people who just want to live their lives. A number of mutants are criminals; many are terrorists. Magneto’s first act was to invade a military base. The Ultimate version of Magneto attacked the White House and tried to kill the President. The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants attacked Congress. There’s problem groups like the Mutant Liberation Front. There are individual problems like Sabretooth. And then there’s extremely dangerous mutants, like Proteus and Apocalypse, who basically see ordinary people as beneath them and are prepared to commit mass slaughter…or even Namor, who, although generally a hero, does often try to kill everyone in the surface world. (Remember, before he fought Hitler, he flooded Manhattan.)

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Namor: not a good guy.

Even among the “good” mutants, we have problems. The Scarlet Witch isn’t usually evil, but she went insane and completely rewrote reality. Rogue, as a teenager, put a boy in a coma with an accidental early manifestation of her powers. Wolverine has animalistic tendencies and is prone to extreme violence. Professor Xavier went mad and his powers created Onslaught, who shut down and almost destroyed New York City. And let’s not get started on Jean Grey.

(Oh, and this doesn’t even get us started on non­-mutant superheroes. The Hulk has caused catastrophic levels of damage across America. Speedball and the New Warriors stupidly engaged in a bounty hunt that destroyed a school full of children. You think Civil War was a metaphor for Guantanamo? It was just as easily a metaphor for the gun debate. Read it in light of the author’s intent—the War on Terror in the early 2000s—and then reread it in light of gun control and see if you maintain your original beliefs.)

Still, readers connect with the X-Men despite the bona fide concerns of the world around them. Why?

Because we read the X-Men as “real” people. We know that not all mutants are not the Brotherhood and Magneto. We follow them as ordinary people who come from ordinary backgrounds. While they have extraordinarily dangerous powers, they’re not dangerous people. They date, play baseball, go to bars and movies, and are generally not interested in hurting anyone who isn’t out to hurt them first. For the most part, they want to help.

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Not what you’d expect from killers.

The human tendency is to judge all people by their worst examples and to act accordingly. This is silly and frankly bigoted, but it’s what people do and you just have to argue around it. Almost all transgender people want to do is use a bathroom in peace and not molest children under pretext; however, people are ready to judge the 99.9% who obey the law by the rare example who actually does commit a bathroom molestation. Most immigrants, particularly from Islamic countries, want to immigrate to the United States for peace and prosperity; however, people are ready to judge all of them because of the few who come here and commit terrorism. I maintain that 9/11 was far more catastrophic than any school shooting, but we shouldn’t block Muslim immigrants because of the dozen or so who killed 3,000 Americans on one very bad day, or the one who killed numerous LGBTQ people in Orlando.

So the X-Men deal with the same crap. Some mutants have gone terrorist; all are judged by that standard. One mutant could commit a crime; therefore, people assume that they will. Consider Senator Kelly’s speech in the original X-Men movie:

Here’s a girl in Illinois who can walk through walls. Now what’s to stop her from walking into a bank vault, or the White House, or into their houses? …and there are even rumors, Miss Grey, of mutants so powerful that they can enter our minds and control our thoughts, taking away our God-given free will. Now I think the American people deserve the right to decide if they want their children to be in school with mutants. To be taught by mutants! Ladies and gentlemen, the truth is that mutants are very real, and that they are among us. We must know who they are, and above all, what they can do!

Was Senator Kelly wrong?

Well, not totally. The notion of a stranger sneaking into your home or messing with your thoughts is scary, to be sure. Except he’s talking about Kitty and Xavier there, and we know they’re both nice, and so Kelly’s concerns are plausible but also not consistent with what we know. To us, Kitty and Xavier aren’t “the scary other.”

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Gun argument or mutant argument?

I hate to break it to you, but the arguments used against the X-Men aren’t totally off from the arguments used against gun owners. We focus on the worst examples—the guy who shoots up a school; the careless owner who leaves a gun out for a child to find—and never talk about the remaining numbers who don’t make the news because they never did anything. We also ignore the examples that prove gun owners’ points: the woman assaulted during a road rage incident and saved by her concealed carry. The woman who fought off a home invader who stabbed her husband. The woman who shot a would-be rapist. The elderly retiree who shot a home invader. The hunter who shot a wolf that charged him.

Likewise, the X-Men are frequently heroic and save more than their share of lives. Several of them have joined the Avengers. They’re heroes and people should be proud of them. But this tends not to fit the popular, fear-based ideas that mutants, or gun owners, are dangerous. In any public debate, competing sides look at the best examples of their side and the worst of the other.

This is a problem. At Marvel, plenty of mutants want to be good people and live ordinary lives, in peace with their neighbors. In the real world, most gun owners want to use their weapons in peace and protect themselves if necessary. (The guy next door to you who goes to the range once a week is not coming to kill you.) In both cases, they fall under the presumption that because a few are dangerous, all are, and they must be dealt with.

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Fear makes a powerful argument, even if it’s not a great one.

 

 

Two points I need to deal with as well. One: you’re probably thinking: guns are real. Mutants aren’t. Well, ok then. Except that I’m regularly told that fiction is often a metaphor for discussing the real world and that politics in comics are inseparable. Civil War was a superhero look at the 2000s War on Terror. Civil War II took a hard look at police profiling. Secret Empire was a twisted spin on 2017 American politics. And the X-Men themselves? They’re frequently used to champion minorities such as non-white races and LGBTQ individuals. This is never a precise metaphor, especially considering that blacks and gays aren’t inherently capable of destroying a city block. Yet nobody has a problem with thinking about mutant rights in terms of black or LGTBQ rights.

You can’t have it both ways. Comics and the X-Men are either a means for thinking about contemporary society, or they aren’t. If they aren’t, great. We won’t talk about guns, but we won’t talk about minority rights and prejudice, either. But if they are, be prepared for this to go in ways that make you uncomfortable.

Second: you’re probably thinking: but the X-Men are born with their powers. Nobody is born with a gun. That’s true, but it’s a weak argument based in the “nobody needs a gun” fallacy. For one, you can argue that nobody needs mutant powers, either. And in the X-Men movies and comics, this comes up a lot. In addition to things like control collars, mutant power suppression has come up thrice in the comics: once after an Apocalypse story, once during Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run, and once again on M-Day. In the movies, power suppression was the whole plot of X-3, and Beast was seeking to suppress his powers in X-Men Origins. I’m just saying, there’s a case to be made that if you think the X-Men are dangerous, you could take away their powers…if you think their bodily autonomy is outweighed by public safety.

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On the other hand, taking powers away from bad guys also means they can be taken from the good guys.

There’s a deeper problem in that you’re not interfering with a thing, but a culture. It’s sort of like a job that tells a black person that they can’t have dreadlocks, or a Jewish person can’t have a yarmulke, or a Sikh who can’t have a turban. You can say that those things aren’t “needed”…but they kind of cut to the heart of the person, don’t they? A black man may not “need” his dreadlocks and they’re irrelevant to his job, but they’re pretty essential to his identity and sense of self. Take those away, and you might as well be telling him he isn’t welcome, no matter your argument to the contrary about how he doesn’t “need” them.

There’s a case to be made that the X-Men and mutants are a culture, too. They live together, learn about their powers together, and see themselves as a separate part of society even as they try to live among it. Mystique understood this in X-Men Origins with her “mutant and proud” slogan. Her powers weren’t a thing that she carried around—they were who she was. Taking them away is like killing a part of her.

You may not like to hear this, but there is a “gun culture,” and for many people, it’s not shooting cans in the woods and being racist. There are gun owners who shoot for sport, some who hunt, some who practice self-defense. Many are law enforcement or military who want to hone their skills off-duty. As a military member, I can tell you honestly: my weapons training is inadequate and only reserved for when I’m about to deploy, which isn’t that often. (I can also tell you that Uncle Sam trusted me with a firearm in the intensity of Afghanistan for six months, so I’m a little offended that you think I’m totally good in a high-stress warzone but an explosive maniac when I come home. Because that really is what you’re saying when you don’t even consider a military/law enforcement exception to a gun ban.) Gun magazines, websites, and clubs are a thing. Sport shooting is a thing. Gun hobbyists are a thing.

Hell, these things go beyond the NRA, which not every gun owner likes. There are gun associations for black people. For the LGBTQ. For Muslims. For the people with disabilities. For Catholics. And so forth. Point being that if “culture” is simply a common collection of beliefs, practices, and history, then yes, gun culture exists and probably goes beyond your preconceived notions if you’re not a part of it.

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Like it or not, culture tends to be ingrained even when it’s intangible. An attack on the externals of a group of people is seen as an attack on the people itself. Most of our major cultural conflicts in world history tend to involve one group of people telling another how they must act. Understand this: you are getting pushback on gun confiscation not because of hate, but because people who own guns see this as an attack on an ingrained part of who they are. You may not care, but that’s why it’s happening.

Believe it or not, many gun owners want to find a way forward on violence, too. They just don’t appreciate efforts to wrap them in with the people who actually cause harm. If you don’t think that’s the case, consider: after Parkland, how much energy did you spend getting mad at Congress, the NRA, and gun owners? Now consider: how much time did you spend getting mad at the FBI, who ignored the warnings of the attack? Or the police, who refused to enter the school during the shooting? Or the shooter himself—you know, the only person who actually killed the kids?

This is like getting mad at the X-Men every time Magneto kills someone….and completely not talking about Magneto at all.

Take this as a life lesson on problems in our world: stop blaming groups and start blaming problems. We should not be concerned with Muslims; we should be concerned with terrorists. We should not be concerned with transgendered persons in bathrooms or Catholic priests in chapels; we should be concerned with rapists. We shouldn’t be concerned with gun owners, but gun abusers. Just like we shouldn’t be concerned by mutants, but by Magneto and his brotherhood.

If you haven’t taken that lesson from the X-Men comics—that we shouldn’t be judging all people by the bad actions of a few—then why on Earth did you ever read them?

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About Adam Frey (359 Articles)
Adam Frey is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. In the meantime, he's an attorney and moonlights as an Emergency Medical Technician in Maryland. A comic reader for over 30 years, he's gradually introducing his daughter to the hobby, much to the chagrin of his wife and their bank account.

29 Comments on We Don’t Talk About Guns the Way We Talk About the X-Men

  1. I think there is a large gulf between people born with powers, and a completely unnecessary weapon that anyone can use, that takes almost no skill to wield. You begin to address the problem in your article, and overall I think you do a good job of being a mostly balanced voice, but the difference between the X-Men’s powers and a gun is that a gun is completely unnecessary. I’ve never heard a good validation for a person to own a gun that isn’t law enforcement or military. In most cases, guns used for home defense are turned against their owners, by people more willing to use them.

    Other than some kind of American “right” to have a gun, I don’t really see any value in them. Does that mean they need to be banned? Possibly, look at other countries success with the method. Will they ever be banned? No way, it would just be too difficult. However, I don’t think that greater gun control is a must at this point.

    I mean, at the end of the day we are not talking about a culture, a person’s rights, or anything that is important in any way; we are talking about the ownership of a retail item. One that just so happens to be responsible for thousands of deaths in the US every year, that many parts of the world that do have restrictions on, that have almost no issues what so ever. Japan has almost completely rid their country of gun related deaths. How? Extremely strict gun control.

    When you compare the subjugation and denial of the very basis of a person, with a retail item, it just doesn’t translate. X-Men’s powers are part of who they are, no different from being born male or female. They cannot control who they are, and denying their powers is denying a part of them. Guns have no translation to that, they are simply things that cause death, that have no other purpose. With X-Men powers there are at least things we can point to that are good things done with powers, with guns and civilians I’m not sure I can come up with any.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “I think there is a large gulf between…” that’s why it’s called a metaphor. “…takes almost no skill to wield,” a recurring storyline in comics is about the training to learn how one uses the power they’re born with/acquire. But, again, metaphor. “…difference between the X-Men’s powers and a gun is that a gun is completely unnecessary,” being able to control metal is completely unnecessary, and unrealistic. Being able to defend oneself is necessary, and realistic. And this is even conceding-for-argument-sake the idea that a fundamental human right (that of self-defense) needs to be justified.

    “In most cases, guns used for home defense are turned against their owners…”The blue “Citation Needed” text goes here.

    “…I don’t really see any value in them,” well that’s fine. We are all entitled to our own opinions. What other rights do you not see value in? Heck, let’s leave aside the “right” part. What hobbies of yours would you like for me to pass judgment on? As long as you’re deciding what I can do with my time and money it’s only fair you let me determine what is okay for you to do with yours. You don’t want to be unfair do you?

    “I mean, at the end of the day we are not talking about a culture… we are talking about the ownership of a retail item,” dude, you’re on a website devoted to examining the very intricate culture that is entirely focused on a retail items whose only purpose is to entertain. That you can, sincerely I believe, think there is no gun culture, while simultaneously being serious enough about the comic culture to somewhat intelligently argue about the differences between the X-Men and guns is a pretty impressive own-goal. A gun at least has a practical use which no other item can replicate. A comic book is a mere retail item whose only value or use is completely subjective, and thus by your standard, worthless culturally.

    “X-Men’s powers are part of who they are…” an even bigger difference between the power of the X-Men and the mere retail-object-gun is the gun is real. It actually exists. The X-men do not. Hence the whole “use X-Men as a metaphor” point of the column in question. Many of the people you are eager and willing to strip of their valuable retail-objects view those items as every bit a part of their identity as the fictional X-men view their powers. So, in this metaphor, you’re assuming the role of Senator Kelly and all the other antagonists through the years who are willing to oppress innocent people because you’re scared of the hated Other.

    “… good things done with powers, with guns and civilians I’m not sure I can come up with any,” the author provided a couple right there in the article. A woman who shot a much larger man who first tried to run over her with a car. Another woman who shot a home invader who stabbed her husband. A woman who shot an attempted rapist. That is three women who, in your preferred culture, would have been assaulted and raped, if not killed, had they been unarmed.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. “…difference between the X-Men’s powers and a gun is that a gun is completely unnecessary,” being able to control metal is completely unnecessary, and unrealistic. Being able to defend oneself is necessary, and realistic. And this is even conceding-for-argument-sake the idea that a fundamental human right (that of self-defense) needs to be justified.”

    And you need an automatic rifle to defend yourself with?

    “dude, you’re on a website devoted to examining the very intricate culture that is entirely focused on a retail items whose only purpose is to entertain. That you can, sincerely I believe, think there is no gun culture, while simultaneously being serious enough about the comic culture to somewhat intelligently argue about the differences between the X-Men and guns is a pretty impressive own-goal. A gun at least has a practical use which no other item can replicate. A comic book is a mere retail item whose only value or use is completely subjective, and thus by your standard, worthless culturally.”

    Point well taken, perhaps there is a culture surrounding guns. I’m not a part of it, I can’t say for sure, but books, comic, video games, movies, and TV have the goal of entertainment. People that love these things gather together to discuss their merit and what they enjoy about them. I don’t really see anything of value in a tool used and designed for only one thing: to kill.

    A gun has a practical use which no other item to replicate? You are right there, we have no other item that someone can buy off some stranger at a convention that can then be used to mow down innocent people.

    “X-Men’s powers are part of who they are…” an even bigger difference between the power of the X-Men and the mere retail-object-gun is the gun is real. It actually exists. The X-men do not. Hence the whole “use X-Men as a metaphor” point of the column in question. Many of the people you are eager and willing to strip of their valuable retail-objects view those items as every bit a part of their identity as the fictional X-men view their powers. So, in this metaphor, you’re assuming the role of Senator Kelly and all the other antagonists through the years who are willing to oppress innocent people because you’re scared of the hated Other.”

    Except for pointing out that guns exist and X-Men don’t is pointless to the entire article, so why do so? By comparing them, the point of the article, you are opening up obvious comparisons of the fact that X-Men are born with powers, humans aren’t born with guns. So by default the X-Men’s powers are a part of who they are, similar to being someone born with a birth defect. It doesn’t have to defy you, but you also don’t need to pass legislation against it. Guns are a choice, something someone gets into, though frankly being a culture I don’t understand. What is so appealing about guns? I digress though.

    “… good things done with powers, with guns and civilians I’m not sure I can come up with any,” the author provided a couple right there in the article. A woman who shot a much larger man who first tried to run over her with a car. Another woman who shot a home invader who stabbed her husband. A woman who shot an attempted rapist. That is three women who, in your preferred culture, would have been assaulted and raped, if not killed, had they been unarmed.”

    Except for every one good thing that you can come up with I can likely come up with ten more times that guns killed people.

    “…I don’t really see any value in them,” well that’s fine. We are all entitled to our own opinions. What other rights do you not see value in? Heck, let’s leave aside the “right” part. What hobbies of yours would you like for me to pass judgment on? As long as you’re deciding what I can do with my time and money it’s only fair you let me determine what is okay for you to do with yours. You don’t want to be unfair do you?

    Here is the bottom line: guns were only designed to kill. Period. Culture around guns seems to be borderline worship around an item used to kill someone. I don’t find value in that, I don’t think anyone should. Comparing culture of a piece of entertainment to an item designed solely to hurt people is silly. Ultimately no matter what you love so much about guns, you can’t ignore the fact that they kill people as one of their primary goals.

    You act as if we are talking about a video game, or loving a certain movie, or books. We are talking about something that can be easily attained, by people with criminal intent, that can be used to murder people. Not only that, but an item that if we followed other countries leads we could easily avoid issues with.

    Either way, banning guns isn’t the answer. Much stricter gun control is. You’d think anyone that loves guns would want control to be stricter.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Armed self defense incidents are ridiculously common, even if you just look at the ones that make the news. They don’t make national news, that’s all.

    Firearms homicides have stabilized to around 15k/yr (down from their height in the early nineties, along with every other form of violent crime’s rates), or, around 5/100k if you like per cap numbers. At the same time, firearms ownership and availability have skyrocketed.

    The very minimum number for firearms self-defense incidents in the US is hundreds of thousands a year (using reports that significantly understate the number of times it happens), and most researchers tend to put the number of firearms self defense incidents in the millions. Most of which do not result in discharge of a firearm.

    And of course the vast majority of firearms crimes involve handguns, not rifles. Rifles are not a statistically significant method of committing crime.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. This is just one article stating that guns as self defense statistically don’t work. I can link tons more, but you get the idea.

    https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/01/defensive-gun-ownership-myth-114262

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/guns-dont-make-us-safe-debunking-the-self-defense_us_596e1a17e4b07f87578e6c1a

    https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/guns-crime/reports/2017/10/05/440373/myth-vs-fact-debunking-gun-lobbys-favorite-talking-points/

    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-threats-and-self-defense-gun-use-2/

    In 2014:

    – There were 7,670 criminal gun homicides. There were 224 justifiable homicides involving a gun.

    – Only 1.1 percent of victims or intended victims of a violent crime used a firearm in self-defense.

    – Only 0.2 percent of victims or intended victims of a property crime used a firearm in self-defense.

    – For every time a person used a gun to kill in a justifiable homicide, 34 innocent lives were ended in criminal gun homicides.

    According to recently published research in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 87 percent of handgun owners report that protection or self-defense is their principal reason to own a firearm — even though research has shown that having a gun in the home — regardless of the number of guns or how they’re stored — increases the risk of homicide or suicide.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Most (the vast majority) of Defensive Gun Uses do not involve a discharge of the firearm. Neither do they result in a report to the police, as a crime does not take place.

      There is literally no way of knowing how often a firearm is used in self-defense; estimates range from around 100k/yr (lowball, based on surveys of crime victims self-reporting – a number I took from an anti-gun org) through around a million or so (most criminologists) to several million (pro-gun researchers).

      The research about having a gun in the home increases risk is based on the thoroughly debunked Kellerman study (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/249715193_Can_Owning_a_Gun_Really_Triple_the_Owner's_Chances_of_being_MurderedThe_Anatomy_of_an_Implausible_Causal_Mechanism let me download Gary Kleck’s rebuttal of the original study by Arthur Kellerman)

      However, even if it were true that keeping a gun in the home is a significant risk factor; what of it? We allow people to keep quite dangerous things in their homes, that do not have ANY use other than harm and amusement. Alcohol being the most obvious example. Drunk drivers (deliberate and forethoughtful abuse of a commonly available substance) kill about as many people a year as there are firearms homicides; and there is no Constitutional bar to quite severe regulation of alcohol access.

      Like

  6. Lighting literally kills more people in a year than all rifles combined.

    People killed in the US with rifles(all rifles, not just AR-15’s) 2016 – 374

    People hit by lightning in the US(average year) 400-500.

    More to the point, drunk drivers kill about as many people a year as there are firearms homicides (that 15k/yr number). Both of which are deliberate actions in badly misusing commonly-available recreational items. Only alcohol won’t let you fight off someone way outside your weight class (and ready availability of alcohol is known to raise the violent crime rate).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. 15,549 people were killed by guns in the United States in 2017. Can other things kill humans at higher number? Absolutely, they do all the time. This is something we can and should control though.

    Japan rarely sees more than 10 deaths a year from guns. Why? Because they have stringent gun control. This isn’t some weird mystery.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Begged question – that removal of firearms would lower overall deaths from violence. This did not prove true in several high-profile cases (specifically Britain’s handgun ban and Australia’s semi-automatic ban – in Britain the overall murder rate went UP for a few years before returning to the sloping off curve that all violent crime in Western nations has had in the past 20-25 years, and in the case of Australia, New Zealand had the exact same duplication of reduction in firearms and other violent crimes without a major change to their laws.

      Even inside the US, the only way you get “firearms availability” to correlate with “firearms deaths” is if you include suicides. Firearms homicides mostly tend to correlate with density of population (NYC is an outlier here) and with the presense of criminals.

      We had a huge decline in firearms deaths since the peak years of 1992-3 in the US, while also massively increasing the number of firearms in private hands and the ready accessibility of firearms to private individuals.

      While I support some changes in current federal firearms law, the basic framework is about right. The government must prove (with a high bar required for evidence) that an individual is NOT suited to firearms possession, and that common, everyday, firearms types using mechanisms that have been used for over a century are permitted to be sold to private individuals. Exceptionally powerful weapons (ones with a bore size bigger than .50″) are considered for suitability for private ownership on a case-by-case basis.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. How many of those 15,549 were suicides (hint: its more than half)? How many non-gun related suicides does Japan have per year? Exactly how does removing guns from the equation actually help with regard to suicide (hint: it doesn’t).

    Your inevitably requested citation: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/09/upshot/gun-deaths-are-mostly-suicides.html

    Like

    • The 15K number is *just* the homicides for 2017, actually; suicides account for another 30K or so a year worth of firearms deaths (I didn’t look specifically for the 2017 numbers, but 2/3 of all firearms deaths in the past 10 years or so are suicides, so it’s a reasonable estimate).

      I *do* argue that the suicides shouldn’t be considered when looking at ways to ameliorate homicides (of which firearms homicides are most prominent), but let’s make sure we are being corect ourselves. 15K is a shocking number, but on a per capita basis, it’s pretty small. As I’ve noted elsewhere in these comments, it’s about as many people as drunk drivers kill in a year.

      Like

  9. “And you need an automatic rifle to defend yourself with?”

    It’s possible he or I or you might. But complaining about those is just silly, as there hasn’t been a murder committed with a legally owned one in this country since Bush I was president

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Automatic weapons have been severely restricted since 1937, and have been banned from new import or manufacture for civilian sales since 1986. To acquire an automatic weapon, you must first pay for the weapon (often tens of thousands of dollars), then you submit to a FBI background check that can take over a year to complete (this gets your tax stamp, $200). Only after you have been approved can you then take possession of your item. If you want to take it out of state, you must have prior approval from the federal government to do so.

    So let me get this straight, if you don’t see a reason to have a gun, nobody else can possibly have a legitimate reason to have one either. Are you willing to let me make the same judgement about all the things in your life? Who are you to assume the authority to decide what I need?

    “Japan rarely sees more than 10 deaths a year from guns. Why? Because they have stringent gun control. This isn’t some weird mystery.” Do you know who else has stringent gun control? Russia. Russia has a homicide rate 3 times that of the U.S. Who else? Mexico. Mexico had 29,000 homicides in 2017. Obviously, gun control does not equal crime control.

    Also, Politico and Huffington Post are not the most reliable sources. I prefer DOJ and CDC sources that show no positive effects on violent crime coming from gun control. In fact, they show that increased gun ownership does not cause increases in violent crime. The CDC even stated that armed citizens were a significant deterrent to violent crime.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Why own a gun? There is only one reason I can think of: to kill something. That is thier only purpose. Even if you target shoot, the main purpose is “for protection” i.e. to kill someone.

    I can’t understand why if someone says “Hey, you know these things you can point at people and end their lives on a whim? Maybe we should be more particular on who gets them.” why anybody wouldn’t say “Sounds like a good idea.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Effective self defense is a human right. For that matter, we’re not at all selective on who can own deadly and dangerous items – see, among other things, cars and alcohol.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. First and foremost I’ve got to say “Thank You” Daniel Flatt for taking the time to discus and respond honestly and respectfully. I apologize for any attitude or snark earlier; it was unfair of me.

    Honestly, from my perspective and reading the discussion if you’re of the opinion that there is no use for a gun beyond its lethality, and believe that there is no situation where that lethality could be needed by a non-governmental employee then there just isn’t much to discuss. It would be like me thinking that the only use of “words on paper” is nonfiction educational material so, because I don’t see the point in fiction, let alone something like a comic book, no one should read them. We couldn’t possibly have a discussion about it because I’m not even willing to consider there is a use for this object beyond what I think it should be. Every appeal to its aesthetic, or even educational, aspects doesn’t matter because I don’t acknowledge that it can have those properties.

    I say this as respectfully as I can, but your lack of imagination is not a justification to restrict the exercise of my rights. Again, I appreciate you taking the time to write and respond and to welcome a new stranger to your turf, but we’re going to need to agree to disagree on this topic. And at the end of the day I’ve got the Constitution and a the better part of two centuries of law on my side. Molan Labe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A fantastic discussion, to say the least, and I will submit that never having used a gun perhaps I don’t quite understand. I’m not judging people who do have guns, my own mother bought one after my Dad passed, but I don’t think it is effective means of self defense.

      At the end of the day I’m for more strict control, but not full bans. Thank you for being an awesome debate partner!

      Liked by 2 people

      • ianargent // March 29, 2018 at 1:12 pm //

        What more “strict control” do you want? Exceptionally powerful weapons are tightly restricted, machineguns are restricted to the point of near unavailability, and people the government has proven to be a danger to themselves and others are prohibited from possessing firearms, via a nationally accessible database of malefactors.

        We could use some improvements in providing information to the background check system, and make that system available to private individuals to determine the status of other people before they give that other person a firearm; and the government should get serious about prosecutions of peoplew ho knowingly give a prohibited person a firearm.

        But if you want to move away from a legal basis where people are presumed to be innocent until proven not, or want to restrict access to commonly and long available types of firearms (especially when those types of firearms are well-designed for the purpose of individual self-defense) we’re going to disagree.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Through background checks on every gun purchase, including investigating social media posts. Any sort of criminal behavior, abuse complaints, and even animal abuse should keep you from purchasing a weapon. If you’ve ever had a court ordered restraining order, you shouldn’t be able to buy a weapon. You should have to take a day long course, pass a 95% or better markmanship test, then visit a hospital and go through a mental health evaluation and drug test. Every 3 to 5 years you should have to retake the class and the test. Your weapon has to be inspected once a year by the police, or your registration is lapsed within a certain period and your firearm is now illegal.

        Fully automatic weapons should not be allowed to be purchased, ever. There is no purpose in a civilian owning such a weapon. Nobody under the age of 21 should be allowed to purchase a gun. Ban bump stocks.

        If you want to drive a car, you must prove that you are capable to drive a car. If you want a weapon of death the impetus should be on the person who wants to buy a gun to prove that they deserve to own one.

        Liked by 2 people

      • ianargent // April 2, 2018 at 10:20 am //

        All of that takes time and a LOT of effort.

        And I invite you to replace “guns” with “cameras” as appropriate in those restictions, with the rationale being to prevent child pornography and revenge porn. Like it or not, firearms ownership is a constitutionally-guaranteed enumerated right. Which means, *everyone gets to do it unless the government has specifically proven they shouldn’t be allowed to.*

        That list of “requirements” is patently offensive to not only the 2A, but the 4A as well, and several other human and constitutional rights. And a ridiculous waste of time in that the vast majority of legal firearms owners have never and will never commit a crime of any kind, much less a crime with a firearm. Cops have better things to do than troll through every potential firearms owner’s social media posts looking for the one person in several hundred thousand who will both purchase a firearm legally AND post about how much of an antisocial malefactor they are.

        I’m not completely against the idea of licensing firearms *carriage in public* in a similar fashion to licensing driving cars in public, but that would be a notable loosening of the laws concerning firearms in most states in the US. Remember, all those “restrictions” on cars relate to driving them on public roads – you need neither license nor insurance to own a car, nor to drive one on private property. There is no “background check” required to get a driver’s license, just the passage of a fairly easy practical test and a trivial written test, once, and then you just get to renew your license at multi-year intervals. If you want to propose a standard where 16 year olds and older (14 in some states) can, by passing their local police firearms qualification test, a written test on the laws of use of force where the study materials are the jury instructions concerning the laws of use of force, and a NICS check, to get a license to carry good anywhere in the country, that is good for 5 years or so and can be reupped in the mail in most cases, then we can talk about how we should license firearms like cars.

        There are about as many drunk driving deaths (which are the result of deliberate actions; homicides) as there are firearms homicides in this country (the vast majority of which are committed with handguns – and in all the hjistory of the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Acts concerning firearms, there have been something like 2 crimes committed with legally-owned machineguns. FYI). It’s actually legitimately and constitutionally possible for states and localities to implement heavy restrictions unto banning alcohol from purchase, or place severe restrictions on purchase. But most places, it’s card and carry. I suppose technically this coould be seen as whataboutism, but I’m not asking you to donate to MADD, but to realize that this is just another example of the practical truth that *everything can be misused to kill* and that despite the attention and publicity, firearms are NOT a particularly outrageously large source of tragedy.

        Like

      • “All of that takes time and a LOT of effort.”

        Anything worth it always does.

        “And I invite you to replace “guns” with “cameras” as appropriate in those restictions, with the rationale being to prevent child pornography and revenge porn. Like it or not, firearms ownership is a constitutionally-guaranteed enumerated right. Which means, *everyone gets to do it unless the government has specifically proven they shouldn’t be allowed to.*”

        Cameras may have only one purpose, but that purpose is not to kill. Yes, child pornography and snuff films couldn’t be captured without cameras, but that doesn’t mean that the act that is inherently grotesque wouldn’t still occur. Firearms sole purpose is to kill. They have no other real world application, besides possibly shooting for leisure. That is never their primary function though.

        “That list of “requirements” is patently offensive to not only the 2A, but the 4A as well, and several other human and constitutional rights.”

        2A is fundamentally broken and made during a time when people had powder weapons when they didn’t have to worry about one person killing 49 people all by themselves. People constantly standing behind an outdated sentence, one that they consistently drop the well regulated militia out of, is silly. It doesn’t violate 4A either, as you would be submitting to those searches, same as if you were adopting a child. Owning a gun shouldn’t be a “right” it is a privilege, one that a lot of people simply shouldn’t have.

        “Cops have better things to do than troll through every potential firearms owner’s social media posts looking for the one person in several hundred thousand who will both purchase a firearm legally AND post about how much of an antisocial malefactor they are.”

        Except it would have saved the lives of all of the people in the recent school shooting. Since a police officer’s duty is to protect people, I think that a few minute long social media search isn’t out of the question.

        You are right about comparing owning guns to a license for a vehicle, it doesn’t translate 100% obviously.

        “There are about as many drunk driving deaths (which are the result of deliberate actions; homicides) as there are firearms homicides in this country (the vast majority of which are committed with handguns – and in all the hjistory of the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Acts concerning firearms, there have been something like 2 crimes committed with legally-owned machineguns. FYI). It’s actually legitimately and constitutionally possible for states and localities to implement heavy restrictions unto banning alcohol from purchase, or place severe restrictions on purchase.”

        Pointing at another thing wrong with society to justify the first isn’t really a good way to argue these points. Alcohol is a problem period, one that I don’t have an answer to, but dislike even more than guns. Alcohol only exists to self poison an individual, and as long as they are simply hurting themselves I suppose it doesn’t matter, but when they get behind the wheel of a car it becomes dangerous. Unfortunately, there are far too many times where that is encouraged by lack of ways to really stop it, and a society that glorifies alcohol and its consumption. That is a whole other conversation though.

        Again, a gun’s only purpose is to kill. Why does a citizen need that right? Don’t hide behind the way something is now, because that way is wrong. Ask yourself the hard question of why is it that way? Who does it benefit? Does one person’s freedom to a retail item that causes death eclipse everyone else’s freedom to live their lives free from worrying about catching a bullet while going to school?

        Like

      • ianargent // April 2, 2018 at 11:12 am //

        “Again, a gun’s only purpose is to kill. Why does a citizen need that right?”

        I already answered this – there is an inalienable human right to effective self-defense. If you choose pacifism, that’s on you. I do not.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There is a large leap between pacifism, self defense, and murder.

        I’m a martial artist, I don’t believe in pacifism. I was raised, and raise my children, to always fight back.

        However, I don’t tell them to kill the people they fight back again. You can defend yourself, believe it or not, without murdering the other person.

        Like

      • ianargent // April 2, 2018 at 12:59 pm //

        If we had stunning weapons that were as cheap and effective as firearms, I wouldn’t have to use a firearm in self-defense. I’m going to make a (warranted) assumption that by saying you are a “martial artist” you are fit, in good health, and devote a not-insignificant portion of your free time to maintaining your skill and proficiency. I am not particularly fit, no longer as young as I was, and don’t have the time or inclination to rearrange my life around becoming a proficient martial artist. And that’s not even pointing out that most hand-to-hand combat sports have weight classes (and gender-separated classes as well) for a reason; whereas the shooting sports simply separate by firearms type and skill level.

        I do have the time and inclination to obtian and maintain basic pistol proficiency – enough to be adequate to the task of self-defense, IMO and by the guidelines that I’ve picked up from people who instruct in the art and sport of firearms self-defense.

        There are no “non-lethal” defensive solutions as effective at self-defense as firearms. There aren’t even any “less-than-lethal” solutions that are as effective. Maybe one day there will be – but I won’t bet money on it.

        Firearms, as a class of tool, are the only fully effective self-defense option usable by anyone with a hand, an arm, and an eyeball. Every other inferior option has notable deficiencies. Not so much that they shouldn’t be considered (a friend of mine who carries a gun from when she puts on her pants in the morning until she takes them off at night pointed out that she would rather leave her gun at home than her CS spray, and noted that CS spray is the one item on the use-of-force continuum whose use can be undone entirely by a cold shower and a sincere apology), but they all have various and notable deficiencies. Your martial art, in addition to requiring a notable time devotion, requires that you *get within melee range* of your opponent, who may be bigger/stronger than you. Tasers and CS Spray lack guaranteed stopping, and either require getting much too close to someone, or have limitations on where and how they can be safely deployed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’ve given me some things to think about, thank you for the healthy discussion. Rare is it that you can debate something on the internet without the other person turning ugly.

        Like

      • ianargent // April 2, 2018 at 1:39 pm //

        One of my hobbies is arguing on the internet. I’ve found that debating is more effective than ranting. Unfortunately, sometimes AFTER I’ve dropped a rant.

        Right now I’m trying to see if I can trim down an explanation of why semi-automatic rifles, in particular the classic AR-15-pattern rifle are no more (or less) suited for ownership under the same terms as any other firearm. The very basics are that: There is no difference in function between a rifle and a pistol, that both fire the same round (and there are pistols that fire the 5.56mm NATO round, and rifles than fire the 9mm NATO round that is the “default” pistol round these days – I’m vaguely thinking about buying one of the latter instead of or in addition to an AR-15-pattern rifle), that basically all pistols ouside of a few niche applications are semi-auto and magazine fed, and that the hallmarks of an “assault weapon” (as banned by various Assault Weapons Bans) are purely cosmetic/ergonomic and to the extent that they are not impede the effectiveness of using them as self-defense or even hunting weapons.

        As far as power goes – the classic AR round (the 5.56mm NATO round) is considered a fairly “low power” cartridge – it’s effective enough against small/medium game (and humans) but is not legal for hunting larger game (including deer in some states) because of the lack of power. OTOH, it is very effective in a self-defense role (which is what the police and military mostly use rifles for, when they use them), and with proper bullet selection are both safer and more effective for site defense use than the classic 12 gauge shotgun.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. This article sounds like it was written by someone who never lived through the era of the X-Men. It’s pure and utter nonsense, without a clue about the Civil Right’s Movement or bigotry, and it makes anyone who owns a gun look like a whining, fragile ammosexual.

    Oh no, someone called you names or mocked you because you choose to exercise your Second Amendment rights.

    Get over it and stop being a snowflake.

    I was a teenager during the marches in the 1960s. I watched from the comfort of my small New York town as people were hosed down and attacked by dogs. I shook my head because I couldn’t imagine what it was like.

    And you think being a gun owner today is anything like what the Jews, Blacks, or Gays went through?

    I’ve owned guns since before many of you were alive. My brothers and I carried our rifles to school on a daily basis. I was there during the assassination of JFK. I remember vividly the news as Charles Whitman shot up a university in Texas. We listened intently to years of debates and then saw the passage of the GCA after two more assassinations.

    Not once did we feel our rights were threatened. Not once did we feel discriminated against.

    Through the Easter Sunday Massacre, the drug wars of the 1980s, the ban on Assault Weapons. I still had my guns and no one thought a damn whit different about it. Occasionally you’d get some hippie or Democrat going off but none of that mattered in the larger scheme of things.

    And not once did I think I was like the X-Men or any minority group.

    So, now that kids are upset because their schools are being shot and the Internet is giving every idiot a voice, you feel discriminated against?

    Grow a pair. You’re still a kid, completely clueless to what real bigotry is like.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I invite everyone who wants to have a productive discussion about gun rights (all sides) to read Ken White on “Talking Productively About Guns” (www.popehat.com/2015/12/07/talking-productively-about-guns/)

    Not just the bit about the dogs (though that is a really well-laid-out explanation of the problems of terminology), but the bit about Gun Talk Is Cultural Talk, And Culture Matters

    Liked by 3 people

    • A good article, it starts pretty even, he tips his hand around the middle on where he stands, but really understanding each person’s point of view is important for discussion. Really, replace all the words about guns with politics, and you have the same thing. People don’t know how to talk to each other anymore at all, without devolving to yelling from two sides of a fence.

      Liked by 3 people

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