Ah… you might want to pick a different poster-​​boy there, champ

Cross posted from Divisible By Pi.

I’ll never really understand the rampant paranoia that seems to accompany the gun-​​loving subculture of the USA that clings to the Second Amendment like a needy ex-​​girlfriend. It’s not just that they hold as a basic right the idea that people should be free to own guns — bizarre though that may be in itself — but the fact that in order to justify that belief they make the argument (contrary to all evidence) that owning guns makes a society safer. The corollary to this, also often stated, is that societies with gun control are either police states, or are on a downhill slope descending into fascism.

Case in point: This article, which brought all of this to the front of my mind. You know you’re in for a treat of reasoning when the first thing on the page is a graphic proclaiming that The Experts Agree — Gun Control Works! and listing as experts:

  • Hitler
  • Qaddafi
  • Castro
  • Stalin
  • Mao Tse-​​tung
  • Idi Amin
  • Pol Pot
  • Kim Jong-​​Il

I’m pretty sure that, as per the rules of the internet, this guy has already lost by this stage. You might as well make a graphic proclaiming, The Experts Agree — Asia Is Awesome and just list Mao, Pol Pot and Kim Jong-​​Il for all the sense it would make.

But I digress — surely the article gets better from there on? Surely after this bizarrely inflammatory opening graphic, there must be some semblance of logical discourse; an philosophical and political treatise that defies conventional stereotypes and paves the way for a new paradigm of human rights and ethical understanding?

Alternately, it could be a series of dick jokes.

Unfortunately the post that followed had neither had the intelligence of a treatise, nor the wit and class of a dick joke. Essentially, the entire post is one big “ZOMG GUN LAWS MAKE THE UK A POLICE STATE” post. It begins with a ‘hypothetical’ situation:

You’re sound asleep when you hear a thump outside your bedroom door.
Half-​​awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear, you hear muffled whispers.
At least two people have broken into your house and are moving your way.

With your heart pumping, you reach down beside your bed and pick up your
shotgun. You rack a shell into the chamber, then inch toward the door and open it.
In the darkness, you make out two shadows. One holds something that looks like a crowbar.

When the intruder brandishes it as if to strike, you raise the shotgun and
fire. The blast knocks both thugs to the floor. One writhes and screams while the second man crawls to the front door and lurches outside.

As you pick up the telephone to call police, you know you’re in trouble.
In your country, most guns were outlawed years before, and the few that
are privately owned are so stringently regulated as to make them useless.

Yours was never registered. Police arrive and inform you that the second burglar has died.

They arrest you for First Degree Murder and Illegal Possession of a firearm. When you talk to your attorney, he tells you not to worry: “Authorities will probably plea the case down to manslaughter.”

Oh noez! What ever will happen?

A few months later, you go to trial. The charges haven’t been reduced, as your lawyer had so confidently
predicted. When you take the stand, your anger at the injustice of it all works against you.

Prosecutors paint a picture of you as a mean, vengeful person. It doesn’t take long for the jury to convict you of all charges.
The judge sentences you to life in prison.

Begorrah, what a shemozzle! Thank goodness this is only a hypothetical situation…

This case really happened.

…oh, well shit.

On August 22, 1999, Tony Martin of Emneth, Norfolk, England, killed one burglar and wounded a second. In April, 2000, he was convicted and is now serving a life sentence.

Now, this all sounds rather sinister, if you believe the description given in the article. After all, even though the gun was unregistered, surely the killing was in self-​​defence? Isn’t first degree murder a bit rich?

Actually, no. A bit of cursory searching finds that the version of events put forward in the article bears little resemblance to reality. Tony Martin had, for example, taken to booby trapping his house to defend against intruders, and sleeping fully clothed with a loaded and unregistered shotgun beside his bed. And far from acting in self-​​defence, Martin actually shot the teenage intruder in the back, while he was attempting to escape through a window.

It bears asking then: Is this the best poster-​​boy this blogger could come up with? A paranoid Brit who laid traps for intruders and then shot them in the back as they tried to escape? Really? I figure, if that’s your best bet, perhaps you ought to fold.

Going back through the comments people at the time, you find some remarkably un-​​self-​​aware statements made by opponents to gun control. Take this quote from Sir Peter Cadbury, for example:

A lot of my friends sleep with loaded guns under their beds and I don’t think they can be criticised for doing that, because if they ring the police, it will be 35 to 40 minutes before a car gets there.

I have had a loaded gun by my bed for the last 40 years, but in July last year, when a burglar took every piece of jewellery my wife had and my wallet and a lot else, he took the gun too.

Yes, well done Sir. Your well-​​informed decision to keep a gun by your bed has certainly made the world a safer place.