I’ll give this much credit to the National Rifle Association: By opposing all sensible gun control policies, they’ve made the American gun debate strikingly simple. Other hot button issues like immigration and health care are riddled with pesky thorns like detail and nuance. But thanks to fringe gun fanatics who don’t want to discuss anything else, the discourse around this issue is as narrow as a single question — “Are guns good or bad?”
And that’s an easy question. Living in a home with a gun makes you more likely to be killed in a homicide, suicide or accident. Developed countries with higher rates of gun ownership also have higher rates of gun death. These machines are designed to take lives. Of course guns are bad.
And complexity around this issue is manufactured. We’re expected to believe that the saying “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is a subtle and meaningful distinction — instead of a lunatic platitude that could just as easily be applied to nuclear weapons (Kim Jong Un would be thrilled). And lately, some on the right have argued that a lack of technical expertise on firearms should preclude liberals from arguing for restrictions on them. However, this is absurd: The relentless epidemic of gun violence in the United States tells us everything we need to know.
Tomi Lahren, a Fox News contributor, exemplified this argument on Twitter last week: “You want to take our guns, but you don’t know jack about guns. See the problem?” Similar points have been made in the pages of conservative publications like the Federalist and the National Review. An op-ed in The Washington Post on Tuesday referred to this tactic as “gunsplaining.”
Personally, I’ve never even touched a loaded gun, let alone fired one. But here’s the thing: I don’t care. I can’t imagine what mechanical knowledge of the inner workings of a firearm would convince me to forget what I already know about the machines — to forget Aurora, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs and Parkland.
What intricacies could outweigh the obvious? Is there a secret trigger that cures cancer? A hidden compartment containing the elixir of eternal life? Barring such miracles, what the layperson already knows about guns is enough to make what they don’t know irrelevant.
I’m not advocating ignorance. The people designing gun regulations should absolutely know how guns work. But no matter what the “AR” in “AR-15” stands for, it’s too easy to buy one. No matter what their reasons are for owning them, American citizens own up to half of the civilian-owned guns in the world. If you live in a country flooded with instruments of death, you’re more likely to experience death at the hands of those instruments. There’s nothing complex about that, and anyone who says otherwise is muddling the truth.
Groves is a philosophy junior from Dallas.