From "blame ISIS" to "ban pizza."
Kids at a 2013 pro-gun rally in Olympia, Washington. Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images
In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, the gun control debate is back. On one hand, you have Republican politicians, many of whom are funded by the NRA, offering thoughts and prayers; on the other are their Democrat counterparts, who have called for stronger gun control laws. It's an old dance, and the steps are predictable—almost no one believes that Congress will actually enact anything approaching effective gun control.
But if the debate is bound to hit a brick wall in Congress, it's still happening on social media and op-ed pages—on Thursday, New York Times conservative columnist Bret Stephens came out with perhaps the strongest possible anti-gun take, headlined "Repeal the Second Amendment." Though most right wingers have made the usual pro-gun arguments, it's difficult this time around. The shooter's motive has yet to be discovered, so assertions about mental health or extremism are besides the point; since he fired on a crowd from the 32nd floor of a hotel, there's no way "good guys with guns" could have stopped him.
That hasn't stopped the right from clinging to their usual positions. Here are the 12 most preposterous arguments the right is making against gun control:
1. Murder doesn't account for most gun-related deaths
Charlie Kirk, the director of the conservative organization Turning Point USA came very close to making an argument for why we need stronger gun control legislation when he tweeted:
Yes, most gun deaths are suicides. Suicidal people with access to guns are overwhelmingly more likely to actually kill themselves. That's one reason gun control advocates want to limit access to guns!
2. Guns aren't the problem, murder is the problem
Stefan Molyneux, a popular Canadian conservative podcaster and YouTuber, seemed to suggest that we don't need gun control legislation because gun crimes are already illegal.
If you know what his point is here, let me know.
3. Don't blame guns, blame ISIS
The terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Las Vegas massacre, saying that shooter Stephen Paddock had recently converted to Islam—although ISIS offered no evidence to indicate this is true. Journalists who cover ISIS were immediately dubious of this claim, considering "Paddock was a gambler and had committed suicide, actions that are at odds with ISIS's ideology," to quote the Times. The FBI announced Monday, "We have determined to this point no connection with the international terrorist group."
But former Red Sox pitcher and Breitbart contributor Curt Schilling isn't taking the FBI's word on it:
4. Gun control is fascism
The way convicted felon and conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza sees it, more gun control is disarming "the people," and will inevitably lead to our demise:
5. The Manchester bombing happened, and bombs are illegal
D'Souza also pointed that outlawing bombs didn't stop the Manchester bombers from murdering 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in May. Laws that don't prevent every tragedy are worthless, I guess?
6. Why are we focused on guns instead of heart disease?
Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor who runs the DailyWire, wondered why we're not talking about a "pizza ban," considering heart disease kills hundreds of thousands every year:
Guns are designed to kill, though. Pizza is designed to nourish.
7. Gun control is pointless because criminals don't obey the law
In an appearance on Hannity, Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren said that firearms can be empowering and that a "good guy with a gun" can save lives—a routine argument. Taking a rather defeatist stance on gun control, she pointed out that mass shooters don't obey the law. Then why do we have any laws to begin with? Makes you think.
8. This is just the price of freedom
The disgraced former FOX News host Bill O'Reilly asserted:
"This is the price of freedom," he wrote on his blog. "Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are."
At least O'Reilly is being honest here—he's totally OK with mass shootings.
9. We need guns to protect ourselves from people on Twitter
Andrew Mullins of the Republican Governor's Association used a (now deleted) Nancy Sinatra tweet, which said that "the murderous members of the NRA should face a firing squad," as a reason for why we need the Second Amendment now more than ever:
Conservative pundit Kurt Schlichter also expressed concern over Sinatra's comment, tweeting:
10. I'll only care about gun control when leftists start arming themselves
In a Townhall post about the importance of freedom, Schlichter wrote:
There's only one way we can lose them, unless a lot of leftists buy a lot of guns, conduct a lot of tactical training, and stop being little weenies. I'm not worried about any of those things happening, particularly the last one. So, as a practical matter, we only lose our rights if we allow ourselves to be shamed, threatened, whined, and lectured into giving them up by skeevy tragedy-buzzard pols, mainstream media meat puppets, and late night chucklemonkeys whose names and faces all blend together into one unfunny, preachy blur.
11. Don't blame guns, blame the pharmaceutical industry
After it was reported that Paddock had a prescription for diazepam, an anti-anxiety drug better known as Valium, noted Sandy Hook denier and Infowars founder Alex Jones blamed the attack on psychiatric medication:
As Yupei Hu, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University, explained to Tonic, "When people say aggressive behavior can be related to Valium, they're usually talking about very, very young people or the elderly... [In Paddock's] situation, it seems this was well-planned. I'd be very reserved about the chances that this was related to his use of it. He probably more used it to calm himself down."
12. We need more guns, not fewer
In an article on the ultraconservative Federalist, columnist D.C. McAllister argued, "A mass killing like the one we witnessed in Las Vegas is horrific, but we can't extrapolate from this that gun violence is on the rise or that men who own guns are an inevitable threat. The fact is, mass shootings are still very rare, and most men who own guns aren't out killing people. They're mostly out saving lives or preparing to do so."
I'm not sure how "most men with guns don't want to kill people" is supposed to make people feel better when it's clear that the ones who do want to kill people can, but there you go.
Follow Eve Peyser on Twitter.