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Guns: A Rebuttal

Andrew Clark

An Unwanted Guest
You sit straight up in bed. You heard a noise downstairs, at least you think you did. It sounded like someone bumped something in the kitchen. You ease the nightstand drawer open slowly, trying to be as quiet as possible, and withdraw your pistol. Your heart is beating a little faster now. You creep down the stairs, stopping whenever one of the treads squeaks a bit. You knew you should have fixed that. Finally at the bottom you slowly sweep around each corner, making your way circuitously toward the kitchen. Theres no one in sight, but its dark, and your eyes are still adjusting. You check the whole downstairs, just to be sure, but every window and door is secure. Finally you see it. The plastic lid to a brownie tin has popped off and landed on the floor. You pick it up and replace it, this time securely. Smiling and shaking a bit, you start to relax and breathe a sigh of relief. You head back upstairs to tell your wife that everything is OK, no need to worry about your children still asleep down the hall.

Me and Stephen
Everyone knows who Stephen King is, and lots of people read his works. Im a big fan myself, The Stand being my favorite of his writing so far (I admit to not having read everything hes written).

In the wake of Sandy Hook and the subsequent gun-control push, King published Guns, an essay in the form of a Kindle Single, proposing a path forward in the fight for tighter gun legislation. He has a lot of opinion, some fact, and a lot of bluster. And hes Stephen King. So its vitally important, imperative even, that someone respond to him. My goal is to address his opinion, supposed facts, and bluster. To level the playing field, let me share a bit about myself. Im 32 years old. I have a wife and three children. Im a Christian and a deacon. Im a libertarian, closer to an anarchist really. I love guns. I shoot them for fun. I have them to protect myself and my family. And I carry one in public, sometimes concealed, sometimes openly. Those of us who own and carry firearms have no desire to have to use them. The story above is an ideal outcome for us. But if that plastic lid had been an intruder, Id rather be standing there with my 1911 than a cell phone, waiting for help to arrive.

Why Do We Have Guns?

King starts us off with a rundown of how a tragic shooting like the one in Newtown, CT plays out in the major media. From the initial reports to the body counts and talking heads, King completely nails it. Its actually quite a disturbing showcase of the bloodlust that the MSM and those who watch it have. If it bleeds, it leads, I guess. I suppose his goal here is to elicit an emotional response right up front, to tear down the readers guard before he moves in for the to speak. Emotion seems to be a key weapon used by gun control advocates, but its highly selective. It is right for us to be saddened and angered that anyone would kill a bunch of little children. But this same anger and attention are almost never applied when there are multiple separate incidents each with a body count of one or two. Conversely, we hear very little about the death of someone by a 2,000 pound hunk of metal traveling at sixty miles per hour, unless theres a twenty car pile-up and the death toll is deemed worthy of the six oclock news hour.

32,000 people were killed by motor vehicles1 in 2011 with 14,600 murders2 committed that same year, yet we dont hear anyone clamoring to ban assault vehicles. Nearly 80,000 people die from alcohol or alcohol-related disease3 each year, but we have not seen a push to ban alcohol. (Im not suggesting we should do either of these.) Buried in his essay are arguments against the two main reasons for Americans to own guns: tyranny and self-defense. These are both important reasons, and they are linked. Recently, gun-rights advocates held the first annual National Gun Appreciation Day. The problem with this is that we dont just appreciate guns. We need them, to defend ourselves and our families from criminals, both street and political. More than needing them, we have a right to them, and that right does not come from an old piece of paper saying we can keep and bear arms. for everybody has a natural right, not only to defend his own person and property against aggressors, but also to go to the assistance and defence of everybody else, whose person or property is invaded. The natural right of each individual to defend his own person and property against an aggressor, and to go to the assistance and defence of every one else whose person or property is invaded, is a right without which men could not exist on the earth. And government has no rightful existence, except in so far as it embodies, and is limited by, this natural right of individuals. Lysander Spooner, Vices Are Not Crimes

Kings Guilt?
Kings explanation of how he made the decision to remove his book Rage from circulation is quite puzzling to me. After four separate school shooting incidents were each in some way linked to the book, he told his publisher to pull it from circulation. The puzzling part is that King says he has no regret about writing the story, which depicts a boy, Charlie, who takes a gun to school, kills his algebra teacher, and holds his class hostage. es+Declined+by+Nearly+Two+Percent

The violent actions and emotions portrayed in Rage were drawn directly from the high school life I was living five days a week, nine months a year. The book told unpleasant truths, and anyone who doesnt feel a qualm of regret at throwing a blanket over the truth is an asshole with no conscience. But why only Rage? Virtually all of Kings works are violent. The main antagonist in The Stand, Randall Flagg, uses guns to execute people. The lead character in The Dark Tower series is a gunslinger who uses his revolver to kill people on nearly every page. Kings miserable high school experience is by no means unusual. But he doesnt delve any further into it. High school sucks, kids (especially boys) feel anger, frustration, and any number of other emotions, but thats just the way it is. Now give up your guns. Two things are conspicuously absent from Kings description. First, what happens to kids who are feeling these things? The answer, most often, is that they are medicated, usually with mindaltering psychoactive pharmaceuticals which damage their brains and in many cases, cause them to be psychotically suicidal and homicidal. Per a 12-year National Institutes of Health study4, boys are prescribed psychostimulants (like Ritalin and Adderall) more than three times as often as girls. The second question he fails to ask is whether there is any link between the introduction of these types of medicines, beginning with Prozac in 1987, and an increase in violence from school children. Since about 1850 there have been approximately 239 school shootings5. Only 35% were committed in the period up until 1987, the other 65%, 155 shootings have occurred in the last 25 years. One might argue that this is because of the abundance and availability of guns today, compared to previous generations, but this argument rings hollow as you could mail order a gun from Sears up until the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed. Data compiled from the following:

Why Should We Care What Stephen King Thinks?

King tells us that if he was granted a wish related to American politics it would be to force liberals to watch Fox News and conservatives to watch MSNBC for a year. Somehow this would cause everyone to move to the middle, as if thats a desirable place to be. This blending of liberal and conservative agendas never leads to an increase in liberty, prosperity, or safety. Both sides compromise toward the other, giving in on things they dont care about to get things they do. The result is more government intervention and restrictions on our rights. This is especially true in the wake of a horrific event, 9/11 being a prime example. Both sides came together to give us the TSA, the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, and indefinite detention without trial. King preempts his critics by telling us that those of a red persuasion (which I am not) are itching to begin long-winded blogs that will explain how naive I am, how wrong my facts are, and how I should stick to writing books. Well, guilty on the first two at least. Although Id probably rather read an opinion piece by Stephen King than by most other talking heads out there spouting the same crap ad nauseam. Its here that King confesses to owning guns and not being in favor of repealing the second amendment, but admits that he thinks strict gun control would save thousands of lives. Ill deal with this later in the Facts section. To get us rolling he gives us the Chicago murder rate for 2012: 500 plus. What troubles Kings essay throughout is what is missing from statements like this, just itching to be tagged onto the end, but no, he cherry-picks to produce the proper story for gun control. Yes, Chicago did have over 500 murders. It is also one of only a few places where guns (even for law abiding people) are banned. And where guns are banned, only the bad guys have them. Im not sure if Id call this naivet or subterfuge. Were also supposed be scared that during gun buybacks in Los Angeles over the past few years, two rocket launchers were turned in. Again, were not told that they were intentionally nonfunctional and marked as such because they were former military training aids. They also did not come with any rockets.

Wayne LaPierre Is Not My Friend

At this point, lest the reader think Im simply out to bash Mr. King, let me be charitable and say that I agree with him on the current NRA vice president and spokesman, Wayne LaPierre. LaPierre is full of it. Not that there isnt a culture of violence in America (there is),

but that LaPierre couldnt care less about it. His only job is to maintain the illusion that the NRA cares about your right to own a gun. And its just that, an illusion. The NRA is no more than a political organization. And like all such organizations it is susceptible to corruption. The NRA, including LaPierre, in conjunction with the Brady Campaign, supported Project Exile6, which moved the prosecution of technical gun possession offenses from state to federal court and imposed mandatory minimum sentencing. The NRA is also a big proponent of prosecuting people for unconstitutional gun laws and for making concealed carry a privilege while droning on about supporting your right to keep and bear arms. Need I mention that they have also contributed to the election campaigns of politicians who voted for gun control? I guess not. As for the culture of violence, yes, we do live in one. King tries to disprove this by regaling us with statistics on superhero movies, TV shows, and videogames, feeding us the conclusion that The message is clear: Americans have very little interest in entertainment featuring gunplay. Perhaps King doesnt have a TV, so well forgive him on this point. The majority of popular television shows may not feature non-stop gunplay, but what they do feature is the deification of all things law enforcement and military. And what do these agencies specialize in: Violence, in the form of the murder of half a million Iraqi children through economic sanctions, the seemingly endless preemptive foreign wars, drone strikes, and the murder of innocent people by trigger-happy cops. The US Army has even developed its own first person shooter video game, Americas Army. The US government, including Obama, is the number one purveyor of violence today. Its a bit hard to take being preached at by someone about ending violence when they turn around and sign orders to murder innocent men, women, and children because they were born in the wrong country. Why is it that those who continually wring their hands about gun violence are rarely, if ever, seen challenging their dear leaders on the gun and drone violence being committed in their name against innocents all over the world?

Just The Facts, Stephen


Before giving us his solution to gun violence, King tries to offer evidence that gun control works. He details the shooting incident that led to Australias gun ban in 1997. Since then, were told, homicides by firearm have declined almost 60 percent in Australia. This is a common trick of gun control advocates. They like to compare gun crime rates, rather than actual overall crime rates. Its a bit disingenuous to focus specifically on gun crime statistics if your stated goal is an overall decrease in crime. That is unless you werent really serious. I have yet to have anyone tell me that theyd rather be stabbed, beaten, or drowned to death rather than being shot. While the graph of Australian gun crime does show the decline King mentions, the knife/sharp instrument graph is a near mirror image7, trending upward at exactly the same rate. Total murders are virtually unchanged since the ban8. Assaults and rapes have also continued to increase steadily9. Instead of being shot to death, the Australians are now being stabbed to death. Its hard to understand how this is a win in any sense of the word. The UK suffered the same fate after their gun ban, with violent crime increasing by 2.5 times since then10. These statistics are freely available from the respective governments websites for those who would care to look at the arithmetic. The statistics from the United States are just as telling, but completely ignored by those seeking to strip law-abiding people of their firearms.


The UK doesnt provide a year-over-year table of crime. 1998/1999 Report: 2011/2012 Report:

Per FBI crime statistics11, over the 20 year period from 1992-2011 the violent crime rate and murder rate have dropped 50% in the US. Note that the assault weapons ban ended a little more than halfway through that period. Incidentally, this is the same time period where many states passed shall issue concealed carry laws.

History, A Cruel Master

King only briefly touches on the Nazis disarmament of the Jews but its a totally incoherent argument. People whove studied history and understand that governments who disarm their people do indeed become totalitarian are labeled as hysterical and paranoid. King begrudgingly assents that the Nazis refused to allow Jews to have guns, but himself refuses to acknowledge that maybe they would have been able to fight back when the time came if they hadnt given up their weapons. King tries to calm these paranoid gun-loving hystericals down by assuring them that no one wants to take their hunting rifles, shotguns, revolvers, or automatic [sic] pistols, except if they hold more than ten rounds. History is not on his side on this point. Where there has been gun registration, there has been gun confiscation, and in many cases during the 20th century there has been genocide. Turkey, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, China, tens of millions of people murdered by their government after being disarmed. But, gun-grabbers object, it could never happen here. Were the United States, land of the free, home of the brave. As recently as 2005, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, New Orleans police, National Guard, and US Marshals confiscated thousands of legally-owned guns from people, leaving them defenseless while looters roamed the city. The same has happened in other states like California where people voluntarily registered their weapons, only to have the government show up at their door later to confiscate them. The maxim We need guns so the government cant take them away is a mutation of the truth, created as a joke to insinuate, as King states, that were all just paranoid lunatics. The real


maxim is this: We need guns so government cant take them away and then kill us as they see fit. To believe that it could only happen in Europe and Asia during the 20th century is the height of arrogance.

The King of Guns

Finally we get to Kings first real argument against keeping guns for self-defense. Again, these are three cherry-picked stories about accidental shootings of family members during a selfdefense situation. Were told these are three of hundreds in the last four years. But unless the shooter unloaded an entire magazine into their family member its hard to understand how Kings solution of limiting magazines to ten rounds would have helped. The problem gun rights advocates face here is that we cannot prove a negative. We have no statistics for how many crimes are actually prevented by guns, but every once in a while one or two slip through the anti-gun filter and people hear about it. In mid-December 2012, a 22-year-old man entered the Clackamas Town Center in Oregon and opened fire. Another man, Nick Meli, with a concealed handgun drew his sidearm, ready to shoot. He did not fire, however, seeing there were people behind the shooter and knowing that if he missed he could hit someone with a stray bullet. The shooter saw Meli, and possibly knowing his spree was over, turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. You may also recall that in the first week of January 2013 a Georgia woman successfully defended herself and her twin boys from a home invader in the middle of the day. She did not, as King suggests, use a burglar alarm. She used a .38 caliber revolver and she used all six rounds. The man was still standing and even managed to drive the car away. But were told by King that If you cant kill a home invader...with ten shots, you need to go back to the local shooting range. Stephen, please tell us about all the gunfights youve been in where you put down a home invader with ten rounds without missing. What if there are two of them? Or four? I guess youd better be pretty judicious about the use of those ten rounds. And if you happen to run out, well, I guess you just didnt spend enough time at the range. Too bad for you and your children.

Kings Solution To Gun Violence

So here are Kings three solutions: Comprehensive and universal background checks Ban the sale of clips and magazines containing more than ten rounds Ban the sale of assault weapons such as the Bushmaster and the AR-15 The first problem King, and all other well-intentioned (as opposed to the cynical) gun-control advocates have is one of presupposition. They believe that you can stop violence by removing one of the instruments used to commit it. If only we didnt have those pesky guns around, no one would get hurt. We have a violence problem not because of guns, but because of the human heart. It is flawed, broken, fallen, and sinful. Cain did not need an AR-15 to kill his brother Abel. As the Australians, English, and many other countries have seen, getting rid of guns does not get rid of crime, it only exacerbates it. The second, and perhaps more irritating problem they have, is assuming that a law will stop criminals from doing certain things. If that were the case, then why are Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. the gun crime capitals of the US?

So, dear reader, you ask, what is my solution for the problem of gun violence? To the extent that I care to differentiate gun murder from any other type of murder, here are some radical suggestions. Repeal the Gun Free School Zone Act 1990 These Safe for Criminals Shooting Galleries seem to be a magnet for the Adam Lanzas of the world. Note that Im not suggesting the government designate or post armed guards. Just remove the restrictions on having guns within 1,000 feet of school property and let anyone carry a firearm.

I would add shutting down all government schools, but that may be a bit too radical for most readers, and deserves its own essay. Repeal all concealed carry laws and allow anyone to carry a concealed firearm Most will not be able to stomach this, but it goes hand in hand with the above. Stop subsidizing big pharma by drugging children with mind-altering drugs Its amazing I even have to write that. Who can object to it? Will these measures stop violence? Of course not. Will a good guy with a gun always stop a bad guy with a gun? No again. But even the government admits that having a gun improves your odds over not having one. Otherwise the police would give up their guns in favor of that burglar alarm.

Andrew Clark February 1, 2013

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