Look, you have the right to have a gun. Basically no one wants to take anyone’s gun away, at least not in America. Obama has stayed silent on the issue (despite what you’ll hear from GOP-affiliated folks, who, as always, are living in their own little world), and the most strident gun-control arguments I’ve heard lately are along the lines of, “Maybe we should make it harder to buy handguns so mentally ill people aren’t armed,” or, “Hey, a society where everyone is carrying a concealed handgun at all times might not be the healthiest, safest place to be.” Unlike some blue-staters, I actually get why you’d want to have a gun: Maybe you want a rifle to hunt with, or a handgun to use in extremely dangerous S&M play, or, like Kim Kardashian, you see a gun as a fashion statement. Fine.
The problem isn’t that people have guns, it’s that some of the people who have guns are too stupid to use opposable thumbs responsibly, let alone weapons that can easily kill human beings. For instance, if your neighbors are having a party that’s too noisy, a normal person might quietly endure the noise (if he’s afraid of conflict like me), politely ask them to keep it down, or call the police and report them (if he’s kind of a dick). A moron, on the other hand, might go outside with his video camera and a drawn gun and start an argument that leads to three people being shot and one dying. The moron in question, Raul Rodriguez, was on the phone with 911 at the time of the argument and said things like, “I fear for my life,” and “I’m standing my ground here,” but legal experts say that that those statements might not get him off the hook, surely a moment of triumph for common sense in our legal system. People who are afraid for their lives generally stay in their houses, rather than going outside with a gun to start an argument with their drunk neighbors.
A good rule of thumb is to just keep your gun at home, dumbasses. If you are, say, going to start an argument with your girlfriend’s ex-husband at his car wash, as Deounce Harden did in 2006, if you bring your gun, these things can happen:
1. The guy you’re arguing with runs away, because you are clearly insane.
2. The guy you’re arguing with shoots you, because he has a gun too. Whoops.
3. A fight breaks out, your gun gets taken, and you get shot. Whoops again.
4. The guy comes at you and you’re worried about your gun getting taken, so you shoot him and now you might go to prison for a long time.
That’s the entire list of possible outcomes. At no time in history has someone said, “Oh, I see you’ve decided to exercise your Second Amendment rights. Clearly, sir, you are in the right on this question, and I respectfully withdraw my opposition to you.” The more likely response to a gun being drawn is, “What are you going to do, you stupid-ass motherfucker? Shoot me?” or, “Alright, Imma go get my gun, then we’ll see who’s the big man ‘round these parts.”
This week the Tampa Bay Times came out with a terrific long story about the effects of the “Stand Your Ground” law. It reveals some pretty fucked inconsistencies in how the law is applied and includes a great quote from a judge who says the law “could conceivably result in all persons who exchanged gunfire on a public street being immune from prosecution.” (This is Florida, so persons exchanging gunfire on a public street is something that happens.) The article is also a treasure trove of stories of people getting shot for very, very stupid reasons. A man shoots another man on a basketball court over an argument over a woman. Some dude kills his cousin over 60 bucks. Two people die when a fight starts after the bar at a Chili’s closes.
I haven’t found any statistics on what percentage of shootings are caused by sheer stupidity or spur-of-the-moment anger, but the accepted wisdom is that most murders are the result of sudden emotional rages, not careful planning (this is borne out in statistics that show murderers return to jail less often than other felons). To put it another way, guns don’t kill people, stupid people kill people, often with guns—and then, most likely, those stupid people get sent to prison. Holding a loaded gun might make you feel like a badass, but if you get into a heated argument, you’ll almost certainly have to be ready to use it, and if you use it, you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up dead or behind bars. The simple solution is to just not walk around with a gun like a goddamn lunatic and if you get into a fight, maybe just take the chance that you might get your ass beat. Of course, if you were good at thinking these things through, you wouldn’t be a dumbass in the first place, so I guess we’re back to where we started. People are stupid. Fuck.