A flaw in the gun control argument

Another tragedy involving guns, another national discussion about gun control. However, one thing I noticed is that nobody on either side of the gun control debate is praising the current gun laws – the pro-gun side decries the inability to carry in bars and the anti-gun side decries how easy it is to get military-style weapons.

Of course it’s not surprising that nobody is praising the laws as they are, 49 people died in Orlando and it was an awful tragedy. Yet, more could have died. Nobody on the anti-gun side is saying “Thank goodness he wasn’t able to get a minigun, rocket launcher and bricks of C4 at the local 7-11.” Hundreds, even thousands could have died, but only 49 did.

Given that, how can anybody expect the reaction to be any different with increased gun control? If the US had enacted widespread gun bans before Orlando and only five people died in the attack, is that a win? Have we succeeded? 44 lives would have been saved but would people sit back and say “Well at least the shooter didn’t use a military rifle, it could have been much worse.”?

Of course not. People would still have died and it still would be a colossal tragedy. The anti-gun side would still call for more strident gun control and rage against the “gun problem” in America. If only five die where 49 could have, while that sounds good it’s not an acceptable outcome. This is a fundamental flaw with the gun control argument – the minimum acceptable level of casualties is zero and no amount of legislation will bring that around, ever.

If the more ridiculous gun control wishes came true with the Second Amendment being interpreted on a more literal basis and Americans could only buy muskets, shootings would still be tragic and completely unacceptable. If the Orlando shooter brought in a musket that he could only fire once every couple of minutes and shot one person, nobody’s going to think it’s an adequate outcome. One person dying is not a victory. Nobody is going to say “We sure came out of that one on top, 48 people that otherwise would have died now live.” One dead is a colossal tragedy, as evidenced by the shooting of Christina Grimmie two days before Pulse. One innocent person died, and the outcry against guns was almost immediate.

The only possible acceptable outcome of a violent attack is nobody dead, or at the very least only the attacker dies. Any death is unacceptable. It’s a pretty basic sentiment but that seems to be lost on the gun control crowd who call for banning guns.

If there was some sort of hypothetical magic button that was pressed and every single gun and bullet winked out of existence, what happens then? If the Orlando shooter walked into the club and stabbed someone to death with a pointed stick, not a single person is going to praise that outcome. Not a single person is going to be happy simply because the attack wasn’t carried out with a gun.

This is the crux of the matter – the problem is not that people are dying because they are being shot. The problem is that people are dying, period. The tool used to carry out the violence isn’t the problem, the problem is that violence is being carried out in the first place. Again, the only possible acceptable outcome of a violent action is that nobody is hurt and nobody dies. The goal of an attacker is never “kill people with guns,” the goal of an attacker is simply “kill people.” Removing the tools does absolutely nothing to dissuade someone from going on a rampage with a musket, truck, pointed stick or large rock.

Of course, the anti-gun side says “if it saves even one life, it’s worth it.” It’s an aphorism that makes people feel good but it’s completely absurd. If 48 people had died in Orlando instead of 49, it wouldn’t be any less of a tragedy, nobody would be happy and nobody’s going to feel like a desirable outcome has been achieved. People aren’t going to pack up and go home and quit protesting against guns just because less people die from guns, to do so would imply that the anti-gun crowd only cares about people killed by guns and not those that die by other means and I’m sure that’s not the case.

Just look at Nice, over 80 people were killed and the main weapon used was a truck. No legislation will ever prevent mass tragedies from occurring and if the anti-gunners spent half the energy they spend trying to get guns banned going into the community to understand and fight the root causes of violence in the first place, some actual good might come of it.

The only way to bring about acceptable outcomes is to prevent the violence from happening before it starts. Prevention is what should be strived for and not making it marginally more difficult to kill people.