A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Guns and Rosie

Heh. I couldn’t resist.

In our inaugural “Dear Rosie” article, we’re taking on the oh-so-controversial topic of gun control in the U.S. People keep saying that talking about gun control right now amounts to “politicizing” the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. I call BS. When something bad happens people talk about how they feel about it and the circumstances surrounding it, and about solving the societal problems that caused it, and the only time you’re going to hear that accusation is when the accused has said something the accuser doesn’t agree with politically. Guess what? Some things are political issues, and they’re also life issues, and we’re going to talk about them, and we’re not going to agree all the time. So, without further ado, here’s your first Dear Rosie:

Dear Rosie,
Why are you “gun control” nuts trying to take away my guns? Don’t you know that the 2nd amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees my right to bear arms? If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns! Guns don’t kill people–people kill people! What if we need to rise up against the government? If I had been at [insert horrific gun-related tragedy here] I would have used my gun to stop it! Also, I like to hunt. You probably want to take that away too, don’t you? Why do you hate FREEDOM??

Fictional Paranoid Gun-Owner

Dear Fictional,

This is the ancient tree-hugging ritual of my people.

It might surprise you to learn that, dirty tree-hugging hippy though I am, I don’t necessarily think guns should be illegal. I mean, first of all, we do have that 2nd amendment thing to contend with, and no matter now long we argue, we’re not going to agree on whether the founders wanted us to have AK-47s. Once when I was working on a mystery novel, I went to a gun range and fired a Walther PP just so I’d know what it felt like. It was fun! And when I was a kid, I went out in a field and fired a big gun that used this ammo and nearly knocked me on my ass. That was less fun. But I understand that shooting is a sport, and it’s part of the culture in some parts of the country, and that some people like to hunt for sport and even in order to feed their families. And guns are a huge part of U.S. history. I don’t believe it’s realistic to expect that guns will be outlawed in this country. I think this poster makes a pretty good case (excerpt below; full post at Reddit):

“You seem like a fair minded person. You don’t like guns. I don’t like alcohol. If you can tell me one argument for banning guns that does not apply equally to banning alcohol, I’ll throw all my guns in the river tonight. Otherwise, we’ll just have to both agree that it’s a matter of personal choice and let each other be.”

“Guns kill people.” Response: Alcohol kills more people.


“Yeah, but guns are used in crime.” Response: So is alcohol. Aside from the obvious drunk driving and addiction related crimes, what % of people who commit crime do you think drunk? Ask a cop how many domestic violence situations involve alcohol.

“But guns are used in terrible murders. Alcohol only causes accidents or health-related deaths.” Response: This is an even stronger argument for banning alcohol. If you banned guns, at least some of those murders would still get committed. If you banned alcohol, NONE of the alcohol related accidental deaths would happen. (i.e. the definition of an accident is that its unintended, unlike murder).

“They tried to ban booze and it didn’t work.” Response: Try to ban guns in the USA. You see what happens. No country with hundreds of millions of firearms in circulation and porous borders has ever successfully banned guns (or anything for that matter: see war on drugs.)

“But drinking is fun and a social activity.” Response: Let’s go shooting on Saturday. Empty a few mags from an AK-47 and then tell me it’s not fun.

You can dice words and split hairs all day long, but as far as I can tell, most of what he says is dead on. Personally, I don’t get why people need to own assault weapons, but if you buy that we might need to form a militia and kick-ass on the government, I guess we’ve got to be able to compete. Fine. Here’s my thing: I say “gun control,” Fictional Paranoid Gun-Owner, and you hear “gun pried from my cold-dead fingers after I tried to shoot you for trying to take my gun but apparently you got off the first shot so I’m dead.” And I know a lot of very rich folks want to make sure people buy guns, and so they help make certain people feel like they’re going to need guns (and that their right to have them is under imminent threat). They watched their profits rise in response to 9/11 and they made damned sure in 2008 the message got out that gun rights would be history if Barack Obama became president. And in 2011 when Jared Lee Loughner shot Gabrielle Giffords, the cries filled the air: Hurry! Get your guns before the lefties change the laws! And now it’s election time again, and another mentally ill person with a stockpile of weapons has ripped a community apart, and guess what? Investors are already salivating.

So, what do I mean when I say “gun control”? I mean that guys like Loughner and Holmes who are clearly not competent to use guns responsibly should not be able to do this without raising a flag and inviting some scrutiny:
Suspected Aurora Shooter Amassed Huge Arsenal Online With No Background Checks
From Huffington Post:
“Authorities say all of Holmes’ purchases were legal — and there is no official system to track whether people are stockpiling vast amounts of firepower.”

Does this seem excessive to anyone else?

We make laws to regulate other dangerous items and substances. Like alcohol. And cars! Which, while they’re not designed to kill people, do it all the time in the hands of irresponsible and unlucky people. So we make laws and we put the irresponsible ones in jail and we make ads about how people shouldn’t drive drunk, but heaven forbid we should say that maybe, possibly, a person ought to have a full background check to purchase a gun and that there ought to be systems in place that throw up red flags when any one person seems to be “amassing an arsenal” (because that’s not worrisome for any reason at all). I mean, shouldn’t the FBI spend some time, you know, observing that person to see whether they might be planning to murder a bunch of people with all those guns? You can’t even stock up on Sudafed anymore without a SWAT team showing up at your house, but guns are apparently not as dangerous as cold medicine. Come on, FPGO, I’m not saying that everyone who owns more than one gun is going to become a mass murderer, but at the point where you have to use the words “arsenal” or “stockpile” maybe we should just have a look, huh? Evaluate their mental state, perhaps? Just a thought. Oh, and while you’re fantasizing about what you would have done if you’d been in that audience carrying your legally concealed weapon, you might want to have a gander at this very intelligent article by a guy who knows more than most people about combat situations.

FPGO, if you take nothing else away from my response to your fictional letter, take this: “Gun control” doesn’t mean we want to take away your guns. Sure, some people are dead-set against them, but as I said, they’re fighting what is very likely a losing battle. Some of us, on the other hand, just want to know that there are laws and checks and balances to protect the public, and that includes better gun laws as well as taking a serious look the availability (or lack thereof) of mental health services. We should all be in favor of making the world a safer place.

I’ll leave you with this quote, which sums it up poignantly for me:

“Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I wish mental health care were as easy to get as, say, a gun.”
~Andy Borowitz

Me too, Andy. Me too.



7 responses

  1. LWJackn

    If you reduce the problem to the basics, it doesn’t come down to Gun Ownership, it is the blatant type of gun that’s the problem, and the ability to get one by someone who is disturbed.

    Is the 2nd amendment really at risk here? or is this just another misdirection to get people all worked up on one level while the real dangers at another level are being overlooked. As has been painfully pointed out to me recently, the 2nd amendment isn’t the threat or being threatened itself.

    I am fine with Rifles and shotguns. Limit magazines? Fine. Other types of guns? :s

    If we get rid of guns by some miracle, we still have to deal with murderous intent via some other kind of weapon.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    • Yes, and people who acquire guns illegally, I suppose. Again, I don’t see guns going away completely. As you say, the 2nd amendment is not really at risk. And yes, I’d love to set some standards and boundaries that ensure that people who buy them are competent to own them, and that they keep and use them responsibly. It just seems like common sense to me.

      Thanks for reading.

      July 28, 2012 at 1:23 am

  2. yatta

    The issue is that gun ownership is a Civil Right, just like freedom of speech and religion, freedom from quartering soldiers in your home, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, right to due process, trial by jury, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, etc., etc., etc.

    One may not like civilian ownership of guns and may desire to implement various requirements and restrictions on it, but replace “ownership of guns” with any other civil right (“freedom of speech” for instance). Would we as a nation be willing to apply the types of restrictions that are regularly discussed for the civil right established by the 2nd Amendment to any other civil right? Government IDs, background checks, and special licenses requirements for free speech? Or background checks and licenses to exercise the rights in 15th and 19th amendments (suffrage based on race and gender)? What sort of exceptions and restrictions would be acceptable for protection from unreasonable search and seizure?

    Or is the 2nd Amendment somehow a lesser right than all the other rights enumerated in the US Constitution? What other rights are “lesser rights”? Which rights can we limit, regulate, and restrict and which ones are unalienable?

    We can make laws to regulate other dangerous items, substances, and practices like cars, alcohol, helmet usage, car seats, etc., because none of those activities are a protected civil right. Like it or not, the right to keep and bear arms is as protected as the other civil rights and laws that restrict any civil rights are unconstitutional.

    If we, as nation, feel that the rights established by the 2nd Amendment are antiquated and are no longer needed, we can elect representatives (at the state and federal levels) that support the repeal of the 2nd Amendment. When Congress passes an amendment repealing it (passage requires 2/3 majority in both houses), and after 3/4 of states ratify the amendment, we can implement all sorts of restrictions to gun ownership (like the 21st Amendment ending Prohibition with the repeal of the 18th Amendment). But until that happens, the right to keep and bear arms is as protected as freedom of speech and religion.

    Regarding the tragic events of the past week: the dogma of “small government” has decimated our social safety net, including our mental health system, effectively eliminating our ability to identify and treat highly disturbed individuals before their mental issues turn outward with devastating results.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:45 am

    • Thanks for reading. I understand that gun ownership is a Civil Right. With regard to free speech (and let me say I’m absolutely not an expert in this area), it’s my understanding that we do regulate it to the degree that is not legal to incite crime–in other words, free speech can be illegal if it presents a danger to the public. If you could whip out your free speech at a shopping mall and kill a bunch of people with your words, you’re damned right I’d want some regulations in place to prevent that. Also, since felons don’t enjoy the same rights as other citizens, whose rights are violated when a convicted killer arms himself via the World Wide Web, no questions asked?

      And yes, I agree that our social safety net is full of holes and our mental health system is nonexistent.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:39 am

      • Also libel. Slander. Copyright protection. Trademark protection. Speech is *very* regulated. Not by licenses, because that doesn’t make any sense, but by laws.

        Note also: ‘civil right’ has no special meaning under federal or constitutional law. The “Bill of Rights” is simply an informal name for the first ten amendments to the constitution. The second amendment ambiguously states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

        This has been interpreted many ways, at many times, from implying that the people should have the right to initiate revolution (not exactly supported by Abraham Lincoln), to simply stating that in a world without standing armies, Americans should be armed for self-defense against Britain or any other foe. Regardless of the “spirit” of this law, the question hinges on whether providing safe and proper controls on gun ownership infringes on the actual right to bear arms. Most states have gun control laws of some sort or another, and prevailing legal opinion is that control is not infringement. The only question is how serious and effective this control is. Obviously, it’s not effective. Rosie made that point quite well.

        Finally, and most importantly, the constitution is not sacred. It was not thought sacred when it was written, which is why provision was made for changing it. It has been changed 27 times. To understand the heart of the Constitution, I refer you to the declaration of independence:

        “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

        In short: we, the people, of the United States of America, can alter government in any manner most likely to effect our safety and happiness.

        So, let’s do it!

        July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm

  3. Rachel Holmen

    I don’t believe that asking someone to provide some ID, and submit to a quick background check, prior to owning guns, is any violation of the second amendment. I, too, have shot a gun — in my family, the tradition was that each boy got a 22 rifle on his twelfth birthday. When my brother Bruce turned 12, my dad invited me along on the shooting lesson and target practice that were the highlight of the day. My dad, we knew, had hunted rabbits on the edges of town in order to help feed his family; his mother was chronically ill, and it was the Depression. He’d also been a crack shot on the shooting range during World War II, though he’d never served in combat.

    Please, can we have gun control?

    July 24, 2012 at 12:36 am

    • Thank you for your story and your perspective. It’s time people like FPGO learned that this is not an all-or-nothing proposition, despite what they’ve heard.

      July 24, 2012 at 12:49 am

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