Guest Post: What’s Your Number?

by Quimby

One of the great things about having kids is that they introduce you to things that didn’t exist when you were a kid.  Things like Horrible Histories – a wonderful TV and book series all about the nasty bits of history, the stuff they don’t teach you in school.  Did you know that one of the Pilgrims brought over several pairs of shoes but nobody thought to bring seeds or livestock?  Did you know that in Tudor England, they thought eating fresh fruits and vegetables could give you the plague?  Did you know that the Aztecs performed human sacrifice at a rate of 50,000 a year?  They thought their gods demanded it; and so they would sacrifice six people an hour, or one person every ten minutes!  I mean, of all the ludicrous beliefs!  What sort of god wants a human sacrifice?

Did you know that in the US, more than 30,000 people are killed by firearms each year?

Americans worship guns.  The NRA are the High Priests, demanding more and more frequent sacrifices, all to appease the All-Mighty Worship of the 2nd Amendment.  And you – you average Americans – are the fodder, the possible-human-sacrifice, whose life might be demanded to satisfy this blood-thirsty deity.

What’s your number?

In 2012, two weeks before Christmas, 20 six and seven year olds were shot dead.  I cried then.  My daughter was that age and I thanked God that I lived in a country with a common-sense approach to gun control.  I was certain, then, that something would be done.  Surely America wouldn’t be okay with 20 innocent first graders dying!

Instead, gun sales increased.  Mass shootings did too.  Last year there was a mass shooting every single day.

What’s your number?

A few days ago, 49 men and women were killed while enjoying a night out at a nightclub.  And the reaction is so predictable:  We have to do something!  What can we do?  But no, we can’t politicize this.  We can’t talk about gun control.  Then you move on, and the victims are forgotten – or, if they’re remembered, it’s with a quiet shake of the head and a forlorn, What a tragedy.

What’s your number?

When 91 Americans die each and every day because of gun violence, that’s not a tragedy.  That’s something you allow to happen through your own inaction.  You allow it to happen because you are too lazy, or too scared, or too intimidated by the NRA and groups like it.  Groups which are in the pocket of the gun manufacturers.  Groups which exist solely to promote the worship a false idol, the almighty gun.

So what’s your number?

I’m tired of the hand-wringing.  I’m tired of the pretense.  I’m tired of the same old responses, tragedy after tragedy, week after week.

There has to be a number.  There has to be a number at which Americans sit up and think, No.  This is enough.  Our god is too blood-thirsty.

Tell me what that number is.  Tell me, so that next week, when someone opens fire at a mall or at an amusement park, I can add it to the tally: We are 20 people closer to reaching that number where something is going to be done.

And don’t give me your tired old excuses.  “Oh, but you don’t understand, American culture is just different!”  American and Australian culture are very similar; their rank on the Hofstede charts is almost identical.  Australians love their guns too; I have many friends who legally own and operate guns in Australia, and I support their rights to do so.  And they think you guys are all crazy.  “But the Second Amendment!”  We accept limitations on every other form of freedom.  There are limits to freedom of speech, limits to freedom of worship, limits to freedom of assembly.  There can also be limits placed on the second amendment.  “But planes and guns and knives kill people too!”  But their primary purpose isn’t to kill.  What else can you do with assault rifle?  You can’t use it to hunt.  “But they’d just find some other way to kill!  They’d use bombs instead of guns!”  The Boston Bombers killed 3 people with a bomb.  Australia outlawed certain types of guns in 1996 and there hasn’t been a mass shooting here since.  Guns kill more efficiently and more effectively than almost anything else.  After 9/11 we banned box cutters; we refuse to do anything to address gun violence, although it is the equivalent of one 9/11 every 22 days.

Or if there is no number, be honest about that too:  If you don’t care that this blood-thirsty false idol of yours demands more and more lives, if that’s an acceptable price to pay so that you can sleep with a military-grade weapon under your pillow, say so.

But stop pretending.  Stop pretending that loving more, or being more kind, or accepting more, is the answer.  Stop pretending that there is no answer.  Stop pretending this is about mental health, or angry young men, or video games.

Stop pretending you give a sh**.

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25 Responses

  1. Jks says:

    Sure, I’ll give you a number. 20 million. The number that Stalin’s government killed.
    Personally, I can handle some Gun restrictions. However, I understand the second amendment people. If you need a number of what your own government can do to you, 20 million is a pretty scary number.

    • Quimby says:

      So you’re saying that guns would’ve stopped Stalin? That shows an appalling lack of historical knowledge. Next up: The Holocaust could’ve been stopped with guns too! But you just go ahead and worship your idol.

      Here’s a big ol’ hint for you: That evil, scary government also has tanks and planes and nuclear weapons. If they really wanted to be as bad as you pro-gun people paint them, even your big assault weapons wouldn’t stop them.

    • Quimby says:

      And isn’t it funny how the US government is the best in the world – a government by the people, of the people, and for the people! – unless the NRA deems that they’re a big scary entity intent on taking away your rights? And then, oh no, you’d better watch out, because they’re an evil bogey-man coming for your guns!

      Just replace “God” with guns and you see what a false idol it is – “Guns will keep you safe! Guns will protect you! I have guns on my side!”

  2. Libby says:

    This. Exactly. If your government wants you dead, it was lots of ways to do it that you can’t match. Any time there’s a standoff between the Feds and some group of crazies? It’s because the Feds DON’T want to kill everyone involved.

    I am sick of the lying, twisted bastards who tell Americans that we aren’t safe without a gun in our homes, of their bought cronies in Congress who protect them, and the us vs. them mentality that tells us some group of human beings is inherently more dangerous than another group of human beings. I’m also sick of the fake Mormons who worship the Second Amendment instead of God the Father, who think absolution comes from our constitution instead of through a kind, forgiving, all-bearing Jesus.

    By the way? The Russian peasants were armed.

    • Quimby says:

      Look at the Bundy stand-off in Oregon earlier this year. All the patriots were very vocal in saying they’d come there to die. The FBI showed incredible restraint in not granting that wish (except to one guy who chose suicide by cop.)

      On my own, with my husband, and with our children, we have travelled to many different countries, some of them military dictatorships, some of them bordering on being military dictatorships. Having spent time in actual military dictatorships, I think the notion that guns will keep you free is both ridiculous and insulting.

  3. Amy says:

    This. This. This.

    Per Jks’s comment, Russia was not a democracy where the government had suddenly gone amok. It was a country dealing with extreme political upheaval. Trying to compare sensible gun control in the US to a totalitarian government in Russia isn’t doing your argument any favours.

    • Quimby says:

      One of my favourite uni lecturers is something of an expert on Stalinism. We were discussing the Solidarity movement in Poland. He said that one thing Polish people did was just to turn off their TV when the state-sponsored news came on, and go for a walk. I’ll always remember what he said next: “Nobody can force you to watch TV!” Then he paused and said, “Well, Stalin could’ve found a way.”

  4. Jks says:

    Since I am willing to have stricter gun laws, you can’t really paint me as the second amendment worshiper. I am simply trying to help you understand the other side. I think both sides should be able to understand each other.
    It is a historical fact that the Nazis used gun registers and gun laws selectively in order to intentionally disarm Jews. The fact that the Nazis came into power because of popularity does not make people in a democracy feel safer. Popular governments can very quickly become evil.
    When Second Amendment worshipers, as you think of them, discuss this, they can’t understand how gun control Advocates can be so stupid. You however can’t understand why the other side is so heartless, and mindless I guess, according to this post.
    Is it really so hard to see the other side?

    • Quimby says:

      Oh, I understand your arguments. They’re just baseless and stupid.

    • Quimby says:

      Believe me, I’ve seen all the arguments you want to throw up at me before. They’re either lies, distortions, or fear-mongering. You are playing a dangerous game in blaming the victim. Jews are not responsible for the Holocaust; the Russian peasants are not responsible for Stalin’s actions; the people in Cambodia are not responsible for Pol Pot – NONE of these could have been stopped with more guns. You have no idea how military dictatorships work. You have no idea how insidious and evil they are; and it is beyond idiotic – it is beyond insulting – to pretend that more guns could’ve stopped any of them.

    • Libby says:

      Kristallnacht was not going to be prevented by a few responsible Jewish gun owners. Russian peasants hunted for food. (Have you not read your Tolstoy–or, more pointedly, your Chekhov?)

  5. Quimby says:

    When governments fall because of guns, do you know who is pulling the trigger? The military. In the entire history of the world there have been a handful of revolutions that were successful because of ordinary folks with guns – and those revolutions weren’t against military dictatorships or despots (despite what you want to believe about George III). When despots fall, it is either because of a concerted effort on the part of other governments (e.g. war or less commonly sanctions) or it is because of peaceful civil disobedience on the part of a large majority of the population.

    And at any rate, this entire argument – “We need guns to protect us from a democratically elected government with a strong and robust rule of law!” – is absurd. Because again, the US (which, I reiterate, has a strong and robust rule of law) also has a massive military machine, and if they were so inclined, they could pinch you like an ant – no automatic weapons could stop them.

  6. Quimby says:

    Jks, your entire argument is just an extension of the John Wayne mentality. I cannot even count the number of times I’ve had gun freaks act all insulted when I talk gun control, and say with sad puppy-dog eyes, “I’d even use my gun to defend you!” That’s their go-to argument: If I had my gun and a bad guy stepped in and started shooting, I’d save the day. It. Doesn’t. Happen. When bad guys with guns are taken down, it’s inevitably at the hands of police officers, not ordinary every-day gun owners who think their gun is some external detachable phallic symbol. Your ordinary gun owner doesn’t have the training or expertise to assess a situation and actually act accordingly. There are cases of these John Wayne wannabes shooting innocent bystanders in the heat of a moment, when a bad guy with a gun actually opens fire; but there are no recorded cases of a good guy with a gun stopping a mass shooting from happening. It’s an NRA fantasy. Much like the idea that I actually need you and your gun to save the day. Much like the idea that a bunch of cowboys can take down the US Federal Government by taking over a bird reserve in a quiet and desolate corner of Oregon.

    The only good guy with a gun I need to take care of me carries a badge and answers to Officer.

    • Libby says:

      Actually, Quimby, there are cases of a good guy with a gun stopping a mass shooting. Twelve of them. In all of the U.S., with enough guns in the country to arm every single man, woman, and child, over the decades of mass shootings we’ve had, at a rate of nearly one mass shooting per day…there are only TWELVE incidents where an armed bystander was effective.

      • Quimby says:

        I stand corrected. Did you know that last year more Americans were killed by toddlers with guns than by terrorists? I hazard a guess that far fewer good guys with guns killed bad guys with guns than were killed by toddlers with guns.

      • Libby says:

        I’d bet that you’re right.

  7. Ziff says:

    Powerful post, Quimby.

  8. CJ says:

    Quincy, the Supreme Court has ruled that the badge carrying man with a gun ha no obligation to protect you from any harm. He or she only shows up for the aftermath.

    • Quimby says:

      It’s Quimby. Do at least try to get my name right, even if you can’t get anything else right. And I’d still rather have a cop than a vigilante. They have a much higher success rate in stopping mass shootings. Also they are far less likely to add to the problem, and the body count

      • Quimby says:

        CJ, out of interest I looked up the Supreme Court case you mention. While police officers have no Constitutional obligation to protect you from harm (something that, at any rate, is very difficult to enforce, don’t you think?) there is also nothing saying that it is ONLY their job to show up for the aftermath. And given the very high number of shootings that were stopped only after police intervention, I think it’s fair to say that police do a much better job stopping active shooters than civilians.

        There’s also a question of political theory at play here: If we abdicate the duty of police in favour of the duty of average citizens, what does that say about the role of force and power in society? Basically we are saying that “might makes right” – that he with the most guns is able to dictate law and order. That’s anarchy, not democracy.

  9. spunky says:

    Brilliant, as always Quimby. Thank you.

  10. Quimby says:

    Libby, out of interest, I did some more research on those times civilians stopped shootings. As far as I can tell, 4 of them were off-duty military or police (people who were trained to handle these situations, in other words) and in about 6 cases, there was no evidence that the shooter was going to continue with the violence (he was finished with the shooting or hadn’t actually shot anyone, just threatened them.)

  11. Megan says:

    Someone’s right to own a gun does not outweigh someone else’s right to live. Your right to own an assault weapon does not outweigh the right of 49 people in Orlando to live. Life outweighs gun ownership every.single.time.

    Children die because a man with a legally obtained gun entered a school and shot them, and gun owners care more about their guns then they do those children. The numbers of mass shootings rise one year and then the next and then the next and gun owners care more about their guns then they do the lives of the people killed. And when I say “gun owners” I mean people who buy the crap the NRA is slinging, that guns will protect you, that guns are a God-given right and you should be able to own any kind of gun you want. With hardly any hassle and the bare minimum of restrictions.

    Did you know that you can’t take a gun onto a military base? And did you know that the only people with guns on a stateside military base are the MPs? Did you know that it is harder for an on-base soldier to get a gun from the armory then it is to leave the base and buy one at the Wal-Mart down the street? This is because the military recognizes that guns are dangerous and that the harder it is to get one, the safer people are. And this is the military. The same one that fights wars. With guns.

    So don’t tell me that this is about personal protection. Or hunting. Or skeet shooting. This is about your desire to own whatever gun you want. And a person’s right to live outweighs your right to own a gun. Stop deluding yourself and stop lying to us. Because your hypocrisy is already wearing at the seams.

    Oh, and let’s do a little mental exercise, shall we? So if the answer to mass shootings is to have law-abiding, gun-toting bystanders, then let’s take this to the logical conclusion. The only way to effectively prevent every mass-shooting is if a majority (or significant minority) of people carried guns. Everywhere. At all times. Frankly, to use a sketchy historical example like the ones used above (seriously? gun rights would have stopped Stalin? ya’ll don’t know a thing about history) that would make modern America resemble something very much like the Old West. And, wow, that’s not a society I really want to live in.

    Life isn’t cheap. So stop acting like it is. Because your right to own a gun is not more important than my right to live.

    • Megan says:

      I would say excuse my hyperbole. But I think it’s justified. I am beyond tired of people saying that the answer to gun violence is more guns. Because it’s a dangerously flawed argument and it is obviously and apparently false. The logic doesn’t hold. And the people who expound it are more concerned about their right to own a gun then they are in protecting human lives. Or, as in the case of the NRA, they are more interested in profiting from gun sales then they are in actually protecting human life. And it’s atrocious.

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