After the slaying of nine black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina by Dylann Roof, conservatives have had their hands full deflecting. For example, Fox and Friends had a guest who whitewashed the racial aspect of the shooting and instead painted this as part of an ever widening "War on Christianity".
While the possible Christian component of this attack is highly suspect, the fact that the man who committed the murders used a gun is not. So it comes as no surprise that gun advocates are out in full force defending their second amendment rights. Some will say "now is not the time to talk about more gun control measures", though there seems to be no such limit for gun advocates to throw out questionable statistics to show why gun control doesn't work. Others are mad that anyone would politicize this tragedy, when what everyone should be talking about is how liberals are to blame for this and other mass shootings.
Regardless of the angle, what conservatives really want everyone to know is that guns are in no way, shape or form responsible for this attack... outside of being the weapon Roof used to shoot nine people to death.
When it comes to guns, advocates have their own set of facts. I discovered this last week when I wrote a post discussing Vince Vaughn's comments on guns and the support he received from Fox News.
Vaughn stated that "All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one, or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones." Of the 24 deadliest mass murders over the last 50 years only six of them happened at schools or "gun free zones" as described by "Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990". The rest happened at homes, restaurants, places of employment, the street, a mall, and two at Military bases.
The response from gun advocates over this data suggests the problem is an uncertain definition of what constitutes a gun free zone. For example, some gun advocates seem to believe that despite the presence of armed guards, the fact that military personnel are not allowed to carry their weapon on the base makes this a gun free zone. Suggesting otherwise is insulting and moronic. Yet it should be noted that after the shootings at Sandy Hook, the solution to defend America's schools offered by NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre was "armed security". This is the same solution LaPierre offered five years prior, after the Virginia Tech shooting.
Why would an organization that thinks the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, champion an idea that still rendered schools "gun free zones"? The fact that gun enthusiasts can't even agree on what makes a location gun free tells you all you need to know about how tenuous the mass shootings at gun free zones "fact" is.
Another idea that seemed to have gun advocates up in arms is New York's stop and frisk policy that Greg Gutfeld of Fox News defended when he said "it is a fairly obvious point -- stop and frisk gets guns -- that prevents gun crime." Gun control supporters clearly agree with this idea -- less guns, less crime. The problem is, many people suggested the value of stop and frisk is solely that it removes guns from those who shouldn't have them (aka bad guys).
Despite making this claim in support of less gun control, it is really the best argument for more gun control. If gun advocates believe that removing guns from those who shouldn't have them is a good idea, then just imagine what we could do if we expanded stop and frisk to all citizens. Even more guns would be removed and even less crime would occur. Obviously there would be some question of constitutionality, but gun control laws are in many ways very similar to laws that Republican legislatures have been pushing for the last few years, despite potentially being unconstitutional.
For instance, the NRA and many gun advocates argue that background checks and registering guns won't work because criminals will still get their guns. Yet it is many of these same conservatives that support voter ID laws despite the fact that criminals will still find ways to commit voter fraud.
This reality outrages conservatives because they believe voter fraud runs rampant across the country and voter ID will stop it. They argue that since there is no good method for tracking voter fraud, we don't realize how big of an issue it really is. Using this logic it could be said that we don't know how many guns could be kept out of the hands of criminals with tracking tools like universal background checks and gun registration. Like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said about his state's voter ID laws "It doesn't matter if there's one, 100, or 1,000," voter fraud is too important not to at least do something. Similarly, using every option at our disposal to prevent even one criminal from getting a gun should be a goal of everyone.
Of course, the biggest fallacy that gun advocate like to claim as fact is that the government is plotting to take away their guns. Polls show that 73 percent of Americans believe the second amendment guarantees the right of citizens to own guns. Given that congress rejected a bill on universal background checks that was favored by 90 percent of Americans, it seems very unlikely that a full repeal of the second amendment is anything more than fear mongering.
What many Americans are looking for are laws that would make it harder for criminals to get their hands on guns. Like laws conservatives support on abortion, voter ID, stop and frisk, and religious freedom, additional gun laws might be annoying for law-abiding Americans. But if the ends justify the means for laws that inconvenience women, the poor, African and Hispanic Americans, and the LGBT community, it seems unpatriotic for gun owners to refuse to do their part in making America a safer place to live.
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