Again I feel compelled to alienate potential readers with my stance on gun control. Both my brother and my best friend are card carrying members of the NRA, and yet I feel morally obligated to champion this cause, and the view held by more than half of all Americans. We are morally obligated to make it harder for criminals and terrorists to obtain guns. We are morally obligated to shut down the gun show / online store loophole. And we must ban semi-automatic weapons, and oversized magazine clips which can serve no purpose but for the zombie apocalypse. We should also be encouraging, not prohibiting, organizations like the CDC to do the proper research with regards to gun safety. If the NRA is truly confident in its position, why not allow a third party to prove it?
I happened to be vacationing with my family in Orlando when the terrible shooting that claimed 49 lives took place. Of course, with a wife and two kids, I was nowhere near any gay bars, but it’s frightening just the same, because in the theme park capital of the world, crowds are always plentiful and security is often lax. With millions of impatient visitors eager to jump on the latest rollercoaster, and parks eager to accommodate those visitors, we go through the motions of what can only be described as ‘security theater.’ Someone determined to get beyond the underpaid staff poking around your backpack is going to succeed. Even if security were to be beefed up, there are enough potential victims waiting in line to make the recent shooting seem tame by comparison.
Here’s the sad truth: this is going to happen again. It’s only a matter of time. And when it does, the same rhetoric will get bandied back and forth. What we are not seeing is change, change to help lessen these occurrences, or, when they are likely to happen, change to ensure less people suffer.
Every time a mass shooting takes place, gun advocates refer to their talking points, framing the conversation as to divert from gun legislation. It can’t be the guns. Blame anything and everything but the guns. After Newtown, the NRA insisted mental health was the core issue. If we could rein in every troubled teen, they argued, we could solve the problem of gun violence. This, of course, seems a more reasonable position to a gun lover: legislating people instead of things. But the massacre in Orlando had everything to do with religion and homophobia. Had we listened to the NRA and focused our efforts on the mentally ill, we’d still be mourning the loss of 49 innocent people. Now Donald Trump proposes we lay the blame on Muslims. Again, we are presented with the solution of regulating people rather than things, which is somehow constitutional, whereas gun control remains a violation of civil liberties. So lock up anyone with a history of mental disorder, lock up anyone who is Muslim, and lock up anyone who doesn’t like gays. This might work, until another shooting happens under a different motive. Perhaps a fundamentalist pro-lifer will gun down an abortion clinic. Eventually, we will run out of scape goats, and our capacity to lay blame on people with grievances, because reasons for mass murder might as well be infinite. And when all is said and done, when hundreds, maybe thousands more are killed, we will be left with the problem of guns.
I distinctly recall my first visit to Barnes & Nobles, circa 20 years ago. The magazine section was extensive. Of particular interest to me was N Magazine, which featured naturism, but after two weeks the publication was pulled from the shelves. But what remains to this day are High Times and Guns & Ammo, because apparently, nudity is more offensive than drugs or killing.
Advocates like to paint the gun debate in terms of freedom vs. tyranny, but this is not the reality. Absolute freedom is an American myth. Historically, what people can and cannot do has always been curtailed by common sense restrictions. You cannot legally drink and drive a car because it’s dangerous. You cannot smoke at a gas station or use your cell phone on an airplane for the same reasons. We all abide by these rules without a qualm, but when it comes to guns, we are beholden to the notion that freedom trumps safety. Why? It boils down to one simple word: MONEY. There is a lot of money to be made in the sale of bullets and pistols and semi-automatic rifles, and this money pays for lobby groups like the NRA, who pay off our politicians. Innocent civilians are dying for profit.
I can think of no other, more personal decision than what I choose to wear, if anything at all. Last time I checked, no one has ever been killed by the sight of a nipple or a penis. And if you really think about it, a penis is a kind of reverse-gun, creating life instead of taking it away, but should I decide to visit even a remote part of the beach in nothing but my skin, I’d get arrested, and possibly be put on the Sex Offender Registry List, to forever be associated with rapists and child molesters. If, on the other hand, I were to show up at a Starbucks armed to the teeth, I’d be heralded, by about half of all Americans, as a patriot. Again this begs the question of why. Why is the sight of the human body, something that has never harmed anyone, deemed illegal and offensive, while owning a device that exists for no other purpose but to kill regarded an inalienable right? I have no doubt aliens would find this dichotomy, between what is “modest” and what constitutes “freedom” utterly absurd, which is perhaps why they have yet to visit us. But again, I have the answer: there is no money to be made in public nudity. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Imagine how much revenue the clothing industry will lose when people realize the uselessness of bathing suits?
If we truly wish to lessen the frequency of mass shootings, not to stop, mind you, but to lessen, we need the political will to pass new safety legislation. The will must come from the people. Celebrities like Seth McFarlane, Samantha Bee, and Stephen Colbert have all come out for sensible legislation. Even Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly admitted “you can’t have a bazooka.” It’s only a matter of time before we’ll look back at this gruesome era of gun violence and wonder how we could have waited so long. How many more needless deaths before common sense prevails?
Now before you start sending me your comments, consider that I’ve read all of the arguments, and have fully addressed them here in an earlier post: One Dead Child is One Too Many
Truly great read! I recently got into a debate with a fellow friend of mine who is a proclaimed Libertarian about how Government laws and restrictions are bad and they promote corruption. I had not revealed to this individual my political views, and I believe that he believed that I had agreed with his views. So then I proposed to him the question, what do you feel about Nudity? At first he thought I was kidding, and he attempted to blow off my question, in which I then told him I am dead serious and that I need to know his answer. He froze for a bit, while playing off the seriousness in the tone of my voice. He then came to the conclusion that Nudity should be illegal because it promotes “degeneracy”, and that it can be corrupting mentally. I then attempted to explain to him that Nudity and sex are entirely different but he said that one leads to the other, and in my mind it saddened me that he and many other conservatives(and liberals) hold the idea that the only thing preventing rape and sex is that humans wear clothing. He then went onto a rant about how we need to prevent “degeneracy” in order to prevent the downfall of “Western Civilization” because when civilizations like Rome became more and more progressive, that is what lead to their downfall. The conversation ended up avalanching into a debate about protecting values and ideals, but I just felt like sharing this experience that I recently had in regards to people being offended by Nudity.
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Hey, Arthur, thanks for commenting! I find it interesting that you had the courage to bring this debate to your friend. Now, there are a few things your friend failed to realize:
#1: Much of his rhetoric, almost verbatim, has been used to justify other religion taboos. For centuries, it was argued that premarital sex would lead to social collapse, as would anything but the missionary position among married couples. In fact, early missionaries visiting primitive peoples in the Amazon (not the website) tried to enforce the view that anything other than man on top, woman on bottom was sinful. Before the Civil Rights Movement, it was argued race mixing would lead to degeneracy, and only in the past few decades have psychologists removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
#2: Now, just because conservatives were wrong in the past, doesn’t mean they’re wrong about everything today. That would be a fallacy. And I personally feel there are some taboos we should abstain from: underage sex, for instance. So the real question boils down to this: is he right? Would public nudity lead to rampant sex and rape? I have done extensive research into this question, and have been surprised to find quite the opposite to be true. In liberal Scandinavian countries, where nudity is much more acceptable, and in some cases required (like in a public sauna) sex crimes are much lower than in the U.S. By contrast, violence against women is especially common in Muslim countries, where strict dress codes are required by law. In the most extreme cases, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where women can’t even show their faces, it is perfectly legal to marry (and have sex with) a 9 year old girl. Looking at history, the Greeks, Celts, and primitive peoples from South America to Oceania, all of whom had more natural views regarding nudity, were not known for having a bigger rape problem, outside of military conquest.
So why do we have a nudity taboo in the first place? It comes from religion, from the same place that has given us racism, hatred of gays, and suicide bombings (there is zero tolerance for nudity in Islam). Early Christian monks equated Nature with the Devil, and anything of nature (including sex and the human body) to be temptation into sin. These are outdated ideas that have no place in a modern and enlightened society. Should we do away with the nudity taboo, and the idea that the human body is a thing to be acted upon, I believe we would actually have less rape, not more, and a more civil society.
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I agree with you to a certain point, but let us be realistic here. Where do you stop at banning something or passing a law that says you can’t own or do something. I agree no one should own a bazooka, or a fully functional machine gun, or even a Tank. And let us set the record here on what is a semiautomatic gun, one pull of the trigger equals one bullet fired and the gun automatically loads another round then you have to pull the trigger again. That system has been around since before WW1. An automatic gun is when the trigger is pulled it will continue to fire until it runs out of bullets, and those are against the law to have unless you have a special permit. But let us get back to banning certain types of guns to prevent something like what happen in Florida will not happen again, IT WILL NOT WORK. And here is just 3 reason it want, Tulsa, Boston, and the Twin Towers. Okay, yes, those first 2 was bombs and the TT was planes, but it was still a man that set those off to kill as many as possible, Oh and let us not forget about poison gas that is still around. I could go on and on about using what ever is at hand for mass killings and injuries to the human race. Yes he used a semiautomatic rifle and killed 50 people and injured even more , he was determine to kill and he knew he wasn’t getting out of it alive. But let us say he couldn’t us a gun, what if he used a car loaded down with explosives, drove into the club, or a small plane filled with gasoline.How do you stop something like that. We already have a system in place to check for perching a gun but the quality control of it lacks accountability. But how do you stop someone who is bound and determine to kill as many as they can because their twisted logic or faith told them too. You can ban guns until the cows comes home but you cannot ban someone like that. And here is the sad truth, more and more of those types of people are coming out of the wood work because we are letting them. It’s not the gun people, it’s the people themselves.
Billy, much of what you argue I address in my earlier post, “One Dead Child is One Too Many.” But let me address a few points here:
First, you are making a “slippery slope” fallacy, by saying, ‘if we ban semi-automatic weapons, where does it stop?’ Well, quite simply, we stop at semi-automatic weapons and magazine clips carrying over 6 rounds. Yes, rifles have been around since World War 1, but the keyword you’re missing here is “war.” Civilians are not at war. This is what makes us civilians, and hence, why we do not need such weapons for self defense.
Secondly, you argue that banning these weapons will not work. How do you know? What evidence do you have? The only facts we do have is that in the UK, Australia and Japan, where such weapons have been outlawed, mass shootings dropped close to zero. But let’s assume you are correct. Where’s the harm? An AR-15 is a lousy choice for self-defense. It is, at best, a toy. And we could just easily reverse the ban, as we did before. However, if you happen to be wrong, we will be saving potentially countless lives. If I were a gambling man, I would not bet innocent people’s lives, especially my kid’s, on the off chance you’re right.
Now you go on to talk about bombs and poisonous gas and other harmful things, which kind of proves my point. Bombs and poisonous gases are not legal, and if you try to procure them, that’s a big tip off to the FBI. This doesn’t mean a bad guy cannot make a bomb, but it does make it more difficult to obtain. If you could visit your local Walmart for sticks of dynamite, I am fairly certain bomb related fatalities would go up. You also bring up 911, but as Trevor Noah pointed out on the Daily Show, we’ve taken measures to ensure that doesn’t happen again. For instance, we’ve installed locking pilot doors, and gone to great lengths to beef up security at airports. What have we done about guns? Nothing.
As for your final point, I agree people are the problem. But it is entirely unreasonable to argue that we should, or even could, regulate people. How do you propose we go about this, exactly? How do you screen people for hateful thoughts and violent intentions? Even if we could spy on every single person 100% of the time, do you really want to live in such an Orwellian nightmare? How do you not see this as a greater violation of civil liberties than gun control? Or do you suggest we are powerless to make things better and that we should simply surrender ourselves to tragedy?
If someone really wants to commit mass murder, I have no doubt they will succeed. Nowhere do I argue that we can stop such things from *ever* happening. All I have ever said, from the very beginning, is that we are morally obligated to take measures to LESSEN the number of victims. LESS is the keyword here.