“Let’s just agree to disagree about guns” is irresponsible

“Let’s just agree to disagree about guns” is irresponsible June 24, 2022

Many of the people who need to read this will refuse to do so because they are afraid of facing a challenge to their beliefs. But I hope some will have the courage.

Spend three minutes reading this. If something here makes you queasy or unsure, lean into that feeling and do some research. Worst case scenario: you get wiser.

Anybody still reading? Thank you for your courage.

GUN CONTROL
“See no evil speak no evil hear no evil” by Japanexperterna.se is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Folks, we need to stop with the gun-control cliches and memes, and start having genuine dialogue. Especially as Christians, who are to be the light of the world, we need to make some actual effort.

“Let’s just agree to disagree” doesn’t cut it – that’s what people say who are afraid to face a challenge that might require them to admit they’re wrong. It’s irresponsible to believe something that might be wrong – something that, if it is wrong, is killing people – without bothering to verify it.

My husband likes to dip his fries in mustard; I prefer ketchup. He likes mussels; I don’t. These are issues on which we can agree to disagree.

Gun control is literally a matter of life or death. We need to talk about it.

I’ve written about this issue several times recently, and invited conservatives to engage in dialogue. The feedback I got mostly boiled down to:

  • Your statistics must be wrong because they don’t fit my paradigm
  • We’ll never get rid of all the guns, so we need as many good guys as possible to have them
  • You’re a fascist/a racist/an apostate/an atheist
  • I have a gun, and I would never hurt anyone, so don’t take away my freedom away
  • If people didn’t have guns, they’d use a different weapon to kill because..sin (look at London!)

Let’s spend a few minutes on each of these, shall we?

Statistics

While it is possible to manipulate statistics, not one reader was able to show that I was doing that, or that the data I presented was faulty. No one offered alternatives data.

One reader said he “could” provide stats to disprove my points, but he didn’t feel like it. This is even more irresponsible than “agree to disagree” – this is “I don’t like what you’re saying, so I’ll just assume you’re wrong.” If you are thinking about dismissing the following facts because they’re inconvenient, don’t. It’s irresponsible. Adults can grapple with truth.

That said, let’s start with some general statistics – and remember: “agree to disagree” doesn’t work when dealing with facts.

  • There have been almost 21,000 gun deaths in the US in 2022 (nearly 1,000 children and teens) (source)
  • States with weak gun laws have higher firearm mortality rates (source)
  • Accidental shootings are 3 times more likely in homes with a gun (source)
  • Domestic violence is eight times more likely to turn deadly when there is a gun in the home (source)

To recap: tens of thousands of Americans die each year because of guns. The looser the gun laws, the more likely someone will die from a gun. The more guns we have, the more people die accidentally from guns. The more guns we have, the more women are killed by them.

Fewer guns is better.

Let’s talk about suicide (I’ve never had a loved one take their own life, but I can imagine spending the rest of my life saying, “I wish I could have done something to stop this”). Remember, you can’t “agree to disagree” with facts.

  • There have been almost 11,500 gun suicides in the US in 2022 (source)
  • Suicide rates are much higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership, even after controlling for poverty, urbanization, unemployment, mental illness, and alcohol or drug abuse (source)
  • Suicide attempts by gun have a 10% survival rate; suicide attempts by jumping and drug overdose have 66% and 98% survival rates, respectively. About 90% of those that survive a suicide attempt do not go on to die by suicide (source)
  • States with universal background checks and mandatory waiting periods have lower suicide rates than states without this legislation (source)
  • More than 80% of guns used by youth in suicide attempts were kept in the home of the victim, a relative, or a friend (source)

To recap: thousands of Americans kill themselves with a gun each year. The rate is higher in states and homes where there are more guns, higher than other forms of suicide attempts, and higher where gun legislation is weak.

Fewer guns is better.

Let’s talk about guns and children (I won’t even go into school shootings):

  • Gun injuries are the leading cause of death among U.S. children and teens ages 1-19 (source)
  • Between 2014 and 2018, more than 15,000 children (ages 19 and under) died due to firearms (source)
  • Among younger children (ages 0-12 years) who are killed by a firearm, 85% are killed in their own home (source)
  • In states with increased gun availability, there are higher rates of child gun deaths (source)
  • As gun sales in the US spiked by 70% in March 2020 when compared to March 2019, accidental shooting deaths by minors spiked by 43% (source)

To recap: a heartbreaking number of children are dying because of guns – many in their own homes, many by accident, and more in states with more guns.

Fewer guns is better.

Good guys with guns will save the day

One of the big arguments in favor of more guns is the assumption that the more guns we have, the safer we will be – “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

The idea may make sense on the surface. What scenario do you picture when you think about this?

Maybe someone pulling out a gun in a Walmart, or a mall? But then a shopper in shining armor offs the shooter before he can do any damage? Good guy beats bad guy.

Or maybe you hear someone breaking into your house during the night, and you grab your pistol and shoot him dead? Good guy doesn’t get his laptop stolen; bad guy is dead.

Let’s turn from fantasy and look at some facts.

According to 2017 FBI reports, for every justifiable homicide (that is, a good guy with a gun killing a bad guy), there were 35 criminal homicides (bad guy with a gun killing someone).

We already have more guns than people. Would 35 times more guns enable us to control the bad guys? And even if it did – assuming all of those extra guns went into good guys’ hands – might we also end up with 35 times more children, teens, and women dead?

People use guns to commit crimes way more often than to protect themselves. More guns and looser regulation will not change that.

Ad hominem attacks

Progressives are used to being called fascists and racists – we know it’s not true. I’m puzzled when advocating for gun control results in being called an atheist or apostate. Doesn’t the Bible say:

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44)
  • “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28)
  • “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
  • “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6)

Christians, we can not ignore the fact that Jesus’ primary message was about love, forgiveness, and putting others first. Yes, he said “buy a sword” (Luke 22:36), but that was peripheral.

My detractors want more guns, but they also said (these are quotes):

  • Only through the power of Christ can we make it through to the end (then what good is a gun?)
  • Jesus is our source of Salvation! This world is not our home, we are just passing through (then what good is a gun?)
  • Our Father in Heaven is our only true source of security (then what good is a gun?)

Car crash? God must be testing you. Cancer? God will give you a testimony. Fired from your job? All things work together for good.

Robbed? DON’T RELY ON GOD – KILL THE ROBBER.

Commercial: if you question “business as usual” in conservative/evangelical Christianity – or want to question it – subscribe to my newsletter, and we can journey together!)

I would never hurt anyone (it’s all about me/I’m taking this personally)

Of course, the bad guys are not interested in a loving community. They won’t give up their weapons and their violence. But the data tells us that “good guys with guns” don’t have much impact on those bad guys.

There are more effective ways to deter the bad guys. Here’s some data:

  • Mass shooting deaths went down significantly between 1994 and 2004, when the US had an assault weapon ban. Assault weapons result in  six times more people being shot than single-shot weapons (source)
  • States that restrict high-capacity magazines have half the rate of mass shootings of states without such restrictions (source)
  • Combine a prohibition on both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and mass shooting deaths are 70% less likely (source)
  • In 29 states, people who would be prohibited from buying a gun (criminals, domestic abusers, etc.) can avoid a background check by shopping at the right places (source)
  • Extreme Risk laws (also known as Red Flag laws) can also save lives, especially by preventing gun suicide (source)

That is to say, it is entirely possible to reduce gun deaths by adding restrictions. 

One of my readers claimed that the problem with the Uvalde killer was that his mother “is a real piece of work” – that is, access to big guns and lots of ammo at the age of 18 can be feasible, as long as your mother raised you right.

The bottom line with this argument is, “I deserve to carry because I’m one of the good guys. My right to pack heat should not be limited because other people don’t know how to control themselves. My neighbors must live with the risk of being shot to death so that I can exercise my right.”

Other ways to kill – the London lesson

Another argument: if people don’t have guns, they will find another way to kill. Do you want to outlaw knives and rope to stop people from stabbing and hanging each other?

The London stabbing trend is often cited (thank you DT for putting out that bit of decontextualized information) as a reason to leave the gun problem alone. “People will be people. They will find a way to kill. What can you do?”

Almost 75% of homicides in London in 2021 were caused by knives or sharp objects. Only 8.3% were caused by guns.

This does sound like a huge knife problem – until you look at the fine print:

London saw a total of only about 130 homicides in 2021. In New York (about the same population), there were 488 homicides in 2021. That’s almost four times as many dead people.

Here’s what happened in London, according to NBC News:

British gun law changed in the months after the Dunblane massacre in 1996, when a shooter killed 16 children and one teacher at an elementary school near Stirling in Scotland. The private ownership of most handguns was outlawed across the country.

There hasn’t been a school shooting since. Several people have tried but failed.

“It’s very difficult to get hold of a firearm in the U.K.,” said Chris Hobbs, a former detective sergeant with London’s Metropolitan Police. “Legally, there are lots of checks and restrictions, and illegally there are only so many in circulation.”

“There are plenty of people out there who would, if they could get their hands on a firearm, probably use it, as opposed to what they do now, which is use knives to settle scores,” Hobbs said. “If firearms were more readily available, these people would quite happily use them.”

Bottom line, London responded responsibly back in 1996, and now “it’s very difficult to get hold of a firearm in the UK.”

Frightened? Feeling vulnerable? Relax: good guys don’t need guns because the bad guys have trouble getting a gun too.

Sin and evil still exist in London. People still kill each other – just not that often. Because they don’t have. guns.

Gun control works. If we love our neighbors, we will “bite the bullet” and do what’s safe, not what we want.

And now, the ball is in your court, dear reader. What do you want to do about these facts?

(If you are energized by challenges to the evangelical status quo like this, you’d enjoy my blog. Sign up for my free newsletter here!)

(If you would like to comment, please pop over to my Facebook page. All of my posts are there and open to constructive comment! I welcome your thoughts. And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter!)


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FEATURED IMAGE: “See no evil speak no evil hear no evil” by Japanexperterna.se is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.


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