Dialogue on Gun Control, Regulation, & Gun Bans

Dialogue on Gun Control, Regulation, & Gun Bans January 31, 2020

From my Facebook page today. Words of David Maher will be in blue, Nick Hardesty’s in green. I put up a meme that stated:

“Gun Control” doesn’t mean what you think it means

It means only the state will have guns

If you think that’s a good idea you need to read a history book

[with a picture of a soldier (Nazi?) about to shoot an unarmed, crying female captive]


The absence of gun control is a completely unregulated gun industry where five year olds and murderers on day release can buy fully automatic weapons at will.

Maybe if people didn’t post nonsense about “gun control” we could have intelligent debates about appropriate levels of gun control, but as it is, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

There is obviously a “happy medium” there.

Of course, but that “happy medium” is legitimately called “gun control”.

Memes like the one above, intended to scare people into thinking that any mention of “gun control” automatically equates to “take all their guns” is directly opposed to that “happy medium”.

Isn’t it?

It’s actual, relevant history that ought to be considered. Dictatorships always took away all guns. There is a happy medium. I basically think that handguns with strict background tests are fine. Machine guns (for non-police / non-military) are not.

I’m with David, this meme is absolutely ridiculous.

Is it ridiculous that Chicago has very strict gun laws and kids are being gunned down every day?

The meme is simply showing what can happen and actually has happened. As liberals keep going further left, it’s a live possibility that they will pass extreme laws.

No one would have ever thought we would have abortion for all nine months and “gay marriage.” Both things happened, and now infanticide and euthanasia are increasingly legalized in the liberal states.

Either the happy medium is legitimately called “gun control” or it’s not.

The meme, in depicting accurate history, seeks to skew people’s perception in the direction of assuming that there is no happy medium because all “gun control” is code for “they want to take away all your guns and enslave you”.

Well, it’s saying (between the lines) that there are indeed politicians who want the extreme view to become law. I don’t think this extreme actually will happen in the US, because the Bill of Rights is too entrenched. But there are indeed liberals who would advocate the extreme view, and that’s not a joke.

I agree that it would be better if it was more nuanced, so these objections couldn’t be made. But what it does show is that there is such a thing as totalitarian states that took away all private guns, and we got the Holocaust as the fruit. And Nazi Germany isn’t the only example.

Does the fact that those extremes exist, justify advocating (as the meme does) for the opposite extreme (no gun control whatsoever)?

No. I think there needs to be sensible, rational regulation. I’ve always thought so (so does the NRA, actually). My position is actually quite “moderate” by today’s standards. I don’t own a gun, and have never shot any firearm since I was a kid some 50 years ago, with .22 rifles. I’ve never gone hunting in my life, either.

But if things keep getting worse, I may very well buy and carry a handgun.

One example of insanity and an extreme position against guns is shown in the reluctance to even have armed, trained guards in schools, so massacres can be prevented; or to arm teachers. Those things demonstrably save lives, yet people oppose them, and they do because that is an extreme position, that amounts to callousness towards possible massive loss of life.

I found an example of such extremity in five seconds, from a major liberal magazine: “It’s Time to Ban Guns. Yes, All of Them” (Phoebe Maltz Bovy, The New Republic, 12-10-15). He even admits:

I used to refer to my position on this issue as being in favor of gun control. Which is true, except that “gun control” at its most radical still tends to refer to bans on certain weapons and closing loopholes.

So this is precisely what we are talking about. For this guy — at least in the past — “gun control” did literally mean a ban on all of them: even “as much as possible, on police.”

Here’s another one: “Unsafe in Any Hands: Why America Needs to Ban Handguns” (Violence Policy Center, 2000):

A clear-cut plan to ban handguns should be developed and implemented soon.

This sort of thing is, I think, what the meme is responding to. Like all memes, it’s not exhaustive or nuanced. It can’t be, with just a few words. It expresses a general sentiment, like biblical proverbs do. Memes are what they are. It’s good to have discussions like this about them, where many more thoughts and clarifications can be expressed. And this will be a new dialogue on my blog.


You stated …

One example of insanity and an extreme position against guns is shown in the reluctance to even have armed, trained guards in schools, so massacres can be prevented; or to arm teachers. Those things demonstrably save lives, yet people oppose them, and they do because that is an extreme position, that amounts to callousness towards possible massive loss of life.

I think you slipped a little ad hominem in there towards the end, and I could easily do the opposite arguing that gun advocates reject measures to reduce the number of guns, citing the 2nd amendment, and in doing so proclaim “your child’s death is a price I’m willing to pay in order to keep my guns”.

Isn’t that an equally callous position?

Yes, there are those who advocate for extreme positions such as banning (almost) all guns or banning (almost) all handguns, as demonstrated by the links you’ve provided.

On the other side, you mention in your article the “madman in Las Vegas”. So far as gun rights advocates are concerned, Nevada is almost paradise with virtually unregulated open carry laws, a “shall issue” position on concealed carry, no permit required to buy guns, no registration required of owned guns, no restrictions for assault weapons or on magazine capacity.

(even in casino gamerooms, where they often have “no guns allowed” signs posted, those signs can’t be enforced by law. People carrying guns can be asked to leave and be charged with trespassing if they don’t, but they can’t be charged with a firearms offence unless they actually use, or attempt to use those guns)

That is the environment in which the “Madman in Las Vegas” killed 58 people and wounded 413. Every single one of those people (probably excluding minors, I’m not sure) and the many others present at the concert, in the hotel and elsewhere in the vicinity could have legally been armed with an assault weapon with a large capacity magazine and returned fire withing seconds.

They didn’t.

Why didn’t they? Because even those who were armed, are constrained by laws preventing them firing blithely towards a hotel. Unless they could be assured of a clear shot that would only hit the perpetrator, they would be risking the lives of other innocent civilians, making a terrible situation just that much worse.

It’s true that, in the vast majority of school shootings, the perpetrators don’t choose vantage points from which to shoot that grant them the freedom to shoot that many targets before a response can be mounted that disrupts their plans, but armed guards will never “prevent” school shootings. They might end them quicker than if they had to wait for a police response, but to legitimately argue for “prevention” in a state that has laws that make it relatively easy for people to access guns (legally or illegally) you’d need your armed guards to have every single student in their sights at all times and for them to be authorised to shoot first before the (suspected) shooter gets off their first shot.

That’s a completely unrealistic model, making “prevention” a sad euphemism for “minimisation” and a lie perpetrated against those who think otherwise.

[replying to someone else] Thanks for your assertion “No type Gun Control prevents criminals from getting their hands guns.”

I suppose that’s true in the same way that “Laws against murder don’t prevent people from committing murder”.

But I don’t think its true in the sense that “Laws against murder have no impact on whether people choose to commit murder or not”.

Is it true that all a “criminal” has to do in order to get a gun is put their hand up and ask for one and subsequently have it given to them? No it’s not.

They have to go out of their way to get a gun. The tighter and more effective gun control laws are, the harder criminals have to work to get a gun. If they deem it to be more hassle than it’s worth, they never get a gun, and never engage in gun crime.

There’s a reason that gun related crime is lower per capita in countries like England and Australia, and it isn’t because we have less people predisposed towards committing crime, it’s because it’s harder (not impossible) for those criminally minded to access guns.

One of the huge problems that face the U.S. so far as gun control laws are concerned, is that currently there are something like four times the number of guns in circulation than there are Americans. Obviously since people like Dave (and many others) don’t have any, that means there are millions of people with way more than four guns each.

Compound that with the fact that the contiguous mainland states have extremely porous borders, and you have a situation where, for any gun regulations to even be remotely effective, they’d need to be implemented across the board in every state.

One state might have a ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines, but if a neighbouring state doesn’t then all one has to do to access those things is drive across the border, buy them, and drive back. That might technically make one a criminal, but in my experience, interacting with a number of gun advocates online, most that I encounter use the term “law abiding” as a matter of convenience, and not a statement of principle, meaning they’ll go on and on about how gun regulations only make life difficult for “law abiding citizens” like themselves, but when pushed, indicate that they’d happily break the law and shoot their fellow Americans dead if a law was passed that required even one of their guns being confiscated.


There is no mention of “some people” in the meme it doesn’t say that “to some people, gun control does not mean what you think it means” it does not go on to say “to them, it means only the state will have guns”.

It says “Gun control DOES NOT mean what you think it means”. It goes on to say “IT MEANS only the state will have guns”.

Now either those statements are accurate without the need for nuance, or if they need nuance added in order to become true, then without that nuance they’re grossly misleading.

I know Dave is an intelligent person. I presume, that if you’re here, then you’re a fairly intelligent person.

I also know that the internet is full of people who seemingly get all of their knowledge about public policy from memes, and if such people were to see this meme, they’d be inclined to reject any discussion of the “happy medium” Dave has spoken of further up in the thread, because they accept, as fact, that “Gun control mean only the state will have guns”.

I’ve interacted with such people, and they’re a truly terrifying group of people who have fully bought into the state sponsored religion of the second amendment.

They “know” that it’s not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” the government will come for their guns and are eagerly anticipating killing as many of their fellow Americans as possible in their efforts to defend their second amendment rights.

You might not see the meme as pandering towards that kind of mentality, because you probably think that mentality is just plain silly, but, that doesn’t stop them from existing, or from feeling that if a prominent, Catholic intellectual supports them fully (which they could conceivably assume from seeing Dave post this meme, never bothering to read any of this discussion) then they’d likely also assume that the war they intend to fight against the corrupt government “when” it comes for their guns, is perfectly in line with the teaching of the Catholic church.

I’m not worried about Dave’s position on gun control, nor am I worried about yours.

I’m worried about theirs.

Thanks for your additional comments. I will add them to my blog post, which will mean that your text will probably be 3-4 times the amount of mine.

I had no desire to engage in an in-depth discussion on gun control. I laid out broad outlines of my position, which is not thought-through down to fine details. I simply noted that there is a sensible middle ground between no regulation and total bans. It’s a good and necessary discussion to be had, among citizens and politicians both. We do have “right to bear arms” after all, right in our bill of Rights in the Constitution. It means something.

What is your position, then (please be as brief as you can), on how much regulation should be in play, and how far our right to bear arms extends?

I stand by my defense of the meme, on the basis that all memes, by nature (rather like tweets, but with the visual element, too) cannot exhaustively state positions, but only make general comments. For any thinking person (I submit) this is understood and taken for granted, as all generalities admit of specific exceptions.

Will nuts take such memes the wrong way? Yes: but our reply is that this can’t possibly be prevented. Nuts distort and twist absolutely everything, including Christian theology and the Bible. We can’t discard the Bible because wackos and extremists butcher it. And we can’t get rid of all memes: satirical and “serious” (like this one) because unbalanced (and otherwise unwise) people don’t grasp what a meme is and what it is trying to accomplish.

In your first comment, you stated, “Maybe if people didn’t post nonsense about ‘gun control’ we could have intelligent debates about appropriate levels of gun control.”

That was obviously a shot at me. Yet the exact opposite has been the case (especially now with your latest extended comments): a very intelligent and useful debate has occurred, and it did precisely because the meme stirred up these thoughts that you have presented, which in turn stimulated my replies: though I did not, and do not intend to get into the depth that you have, because there are many people far more qualified than I am, that can do so.

So the meme led to a great discussion that wouldn’t have occurred (here) apart from the meme. Therefore, your assessment was incorrect. The meme might be regarded as a reductio ad absurdum, which led to your passionate denial that what the meme expressed was true. Broadly speaking, the meme is true. These things have happened in dictatorships. And at least some people actually have indeed defined “gun control” as a total ban (as I documented).

The meme could and should have been more nuanced: as much as possible in a meme. I granted that early on. But it led to a good discussion: which is where these things can be adequately worked through.

For the record, I’m Australian, so much of my perspective comes from seeing America and in particular American gun culture as somewhat alien.

That said, I have this notion that the second amendment (as it’s defended by gung-ho gun rights advocates I’ve personally interacted with) seems to be a kind of “state sponsored religion” that would seem to be unconstitutional under the first amendment.

Forgive me if I don’t quote it exactly, but the part of the 2nd amendment that speaks about a well regulated militia being NECESSARY for the security of the state, is an unprovable hypothesis that is accepted by many of these gun advocates as if it’s gospel. And I’ve seen them argue that Australia and England CAN’T be free states because we don’t have an American style 2nd amendment. I’ve further seen them argue that it’s INEVITABLE that their own American government WILL turn on the people and only the gun owners of America will be able to save their countrymen from tyranny (provided they don’t kill those countrymen for being complicit with the inevitable tyrannical government.

While I do acknowledge that there are historical examples, like Nazi Germany, where tyranny went hand in hand with the disarmament of the populace, I live in Australia, have probably seen a total of about ten guns with my own eyes (not counting those in the possession of police or military), and I have virtually no concern of being forced to live in tyranny by my government.

So I regard a certain level of American gun culture as simply paranoia.

That said, it’s obvious that given American history, it’d be impossible and impractical to impose Australian style gun control laws in the US. As I mentioned earlier, many gun advocates (who complain about gun control laws only affecting non-criminals) have indicated their willingness to become criminals if they feel their second amendment rights are being infringed.

What ever gun control laws are introduced NEED to be nation wide (because of the porous borders between states) and if the NRA were really concerned about that “happy medium” you speak of, they’d be completely on board.

I think that as a bare minimum, gun sales should only occur after background checks and all guns should be registered, private sales likewise should have those same requirements, lest the registered owner be deemed responsible for crimes committed with their guns. There should be mandatory safety laws regarding the storage of guns and ammunition to prevent five year olds killing each other with Dad’s handgun that he keeps in the bedside table.

None of these would greatly inconvenience gun owners and would likely slow down the constant stream of guns winding up in the hands of criminals.

Obviously it would take time to remove the millions of guns already held by criminal elements, but if Americans really were serious about wanting to cut down the likelihood of teenagers getting their hands on numerous weapons etc, then they’re small inconveniences for long lasting benefits.

Sounds very reasonable to me. Thanks!


Related Reading:

Gun Control and Deep-Rooted Societal Causes of Massacres [10-5-17]


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