Shooting Holes in the Gun Nuts’ “Facts”

I went looking for a gun graphic to illustrate a quick point I wanted to make. I couldn’t find that image, but I found this (on a gun nut’s page) instead:

It's on Johnny's Christmas list

Since I know a thing or two about school shootings, that image was begging for me to shoot it full of holes.

First of all, like all subjects, there seems to be a diversity of opinion on guns, and that’s fine. Some of those opinions are held by rational people, and that’s even better.

The problem is, there are some people out there with extreme opinions, who think and behave irrationally. Those are the people who bother me. They poison the well. They’re so extreme that they make it impossible for rational people in a rational society to have a rational national discussion on the topic.

There are several topics that seem to attract a disproportionately-massive share of the lunatic fringe. Abortion is one. Guns are another. I don’t know which has the craziest crazies, but I do know which are the most dangerous. Never combine irrational extremist emotion with firearms.

(BTW, just so you know where I’m coming from, I don’t like guns, but I have no desire to repeal the Second Amendment. I do question the sanity and/or logical capabilities of the most rabid of the gun supporters.)

Let’s start with the logic of the argument expressed in the above image.

Problem #1: Correlation ≠ causation. For example, CBS began broadcasting color television signals in January of 1950. Joseph McCarthy began his witch hunts less a month later. Therefore, color television caused McCarthyism!

Problem #2: Children did not take machine guns to school. Therefore, the “fact” that they could, in theory, purchase the gun had no bearing on the safety of their school.

Problem #3: It’s just plain incorrect. There were numerous school shootings prior to 1934! Where’s your machine gun now, Charlton?

For example, the earliest known school shooting was the Enoch Brown school massacre (a.k.a. Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre) on July 26, 1764.

Wikipedia mentions a few shootings in the 1800s. By the early 1900s, school shootings were all the rage. Wikipedia lists eleven shootings between 1900 and 1934. That’s an average of one shooting every three-and-a-half years. That’s not very rare, is it? Sounds a lot like our modern era, doesn’t it?

So tell me, gun nuts: How is allowing students and teachers to pack heat going to keep our schools safe?

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BTW, I just wanted to point out one of the especially unpleasant school shootings of the early 20th century. Read the Wikipedia entry for the San Francisco shooting:

February 12, 1909 San Francisco, California. 10-year-old Dorothy Malakanoff was shot and killed by 49-year-old Demetri Tereaschinko as she arrived at her school in San Francisco. Tereaschinko then shot himself in a failed suicide attempt.

OK. Murder-suicide. We’ve seen that pattern play out numerous times. It’s this last part that’s especially disturbing:

Tereaschinko was reportedly upset that Malakanoff refused to elope with him.

She was ten years old!!! WTF!!! I know standards were different then. I know teenagers often got married, sometimes to much older men. But she was ten freakin’ years old!!!

Who the hell did that guy think he was? Mohammed?

22 Responses to “Shooting Holes in the Gun Nuts’ “Facts””

  1. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Gun nuts scare the bejesus out of me. So do antiabortion nuts. Where the two intersect, you get get a no man’s land of insanity.

    For the record, I do support the repeal of the second amendment. That doesn’t mean guns will immediately be taken out of Charlton Heston’s cold dead hands, but it does mean that I believe the constitutionally gauranteed right to bear arms is irrelevant.

    The main argument, at the national political level, for keeping that right is so the citizenry can protect itself from a government gone bad. Aside from the legality of that issue, how crazy do you have to be to think you can survive if the government can send unmanned drones after your ass? Your puny little gun is worthless compared to the U.S. military.

    There are other arguments, of course, ranging from personal safety, protecting yourself and property, hunting, and so forth. But I don’t think we need a consititutional amendment to protect that! It’s just an outdated mindset.

    I wouldn’t have a problem with the second amendment if it wasn’t for the fact that insane supreme court justices twist it around to override local law, like what happened to DC’s gun control law.

    In my opinion, my right to live exceeds your right to operate a weapon that may potentially kill me, whether accidentally or intentionally.

  2. OtherRob Says:

    Sigh. As with so many conservative arguments I run across on the web … why do these idiots have to be on my side??

    Now it probably won’t surprise you that I support the 2nd Amendment, but I like to think I’m reasonable about it.

  3. Sue Blue Says:

    I have guns — I inherited my dad’s hunting rifles. They are dismantled and locked up. I don’t hunt anymore, although I used to when I was a starving single parent living in the ass-end of nowhere. Hunting is the only personally justifiable reason to have a gun, and a rifle with a scope is basically useless for “home defense” or whatever other anti-government, “my rights over all” bullshit the rightwing gun-nuts puke up. I won’t have a gun around whose purpose is the express killing of people (i.e., handguns and semi-automatics). My rifles are also basically useless against a government armed with all sorts of tech, too, so I’m not about to bunker up.

    I have to admit, though, that I have been tempted to run outside and blow a couple of rounds through my dad’s old .465 H&H. I’m surrounded by gun-nut neighbors in my rural area who are constantly shooting their .22s and .38s. On any given Saturday you can close your eyes and imagine you’re right there in the middle of whatever war-movie firefight fantasy is playing in their redneck brains. I have these urges to run out, blow a round through that friggin’ cannon, stunning the squirrel-shooters into silence, and yelling at the tippy-top of my lungs, “top THAT, mothafuckahs!!”

  4. Jeff Says:

    color television caused McCarthyism!

    You say that like it’s a bad thing!

    That doesn’t mean guns will immediately be taken out of Charlton Heston’s cold dead hands

    I’d forgotten about that. Now that he’s cold and dead, can we pry the guns away from them?

    Sigh. As with so many conservative arguments I run across on the web … why do these idiots have to be on my side??

    Rob (he said gently), isn’t it about time to think about switching sides?

  5. griffon8 Says:

    Hmm. Interesting that this is posted the same day that Randy Cassingham posts on the same topic: http://www.thisistrue.com/blog-are_you_liberal_or_conservative.html

  6. ericsan Says:

    I just don’t understand this insane obsession with guns. I guess it goes with low brain power; if you don’t really have any intelligence or education, guns must sound like a delightful pastime.

    About abortion, this morning Howard Stern had on a guy who owns the building where a women’s health organization operates and was harassed by anti abortion activists (they went picketing in front of his 10 year old daughter’s school, large banners with dead fetus pictures, his picture and his phone number in large type). Soon after the harassing phone calls began demanding he shut down the clinic.
    What he did was take down all the numbers of the people who called him and enlisted twenty of his friends to call them back. The friends enlisted twenty of their own friends, and before you know it the tables had turned. Want to join and do something about it?
    http://vochange.org

  7. OtherRob Says:

    Rob (he said gently), isn’t it about time to think about switching sides?

    The problem, I’m afraid, is that despite the idiots who profess to believe the same things I do, I still believe what I believe. Or think what I think. Or something. And despite my general conservatism (or libertarianism) there are areas where we are on the same “side”.

    ericsan, while I have certainly met people who shouldn’t be allowed to hold a stapler, much less a gun, I also know intelligent, articulate, thoughtful gun owners. Nor do I think that everyone who supports the right to own a gun is an idiot.

  8. ericsan Says:

    OtherRob, that’s where we part ways. I believe anyone who supports the NRA’s position (right for anyone to own any gun, including automatic assault weapon, hollow point bullets, etc…) is a complete moron.

  9. Jeff Says:

    while I have certainly met people who shouldn’t be allowed to hold a stapler, much less a gun, I also know intelligent, articulate, thoughtful gun owners

    That may be, but the organization that represents them is an abomination.

    I just don’t understand this insane obsession with guns. I guess it goes with low brain power; if you don’t really have any intelligence or education, guns must sound like a delightful pastime.

    Eric, this may help to explain it.

    Also, the Pew Center conducted a survey last year in which it was revealed — wait for it — that the country is divided nearly in half over the subject of gun control. Yes, that was a judicious use of money.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — America just doesn’t work.

  10. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Now it probably won’t surprise you that I support the 2nd Amendment, but I like to think I’m reasonable about it.

    Reasonableness is gone when it comes to gun control. It’s a taboo subject to even bring up gun control, which is just bizarre.

    The second amendment empowers the federal government to override state law on gun control (especially according to the current court). I, personally, would feel safer in a highly regulated, generally gun-free city/county/state. My position is that this is not something that need consistutional protection. Just like with many other laws that are not in the constitution (to the shock and horror of tea partiers everywhere), gun availability, concealment, and transportation should be local issues, regulated by local governments. States rights and whatnot. That’s why I’m anti-second amendment.

    I think when somebody is anti-second amendment, it’s quickly conflated with ZOMG federal gubmint gunna take muh gunz! But that’s not the case at all. If you live in bumfuck and bumfuck allows you to own and shoot crazy weapons — go for it. But so should DC be allowed to ban handguns within city limits and prevent your ass from packing when you visit. Unfortunately, our wonderful supremes say you don’t have the right to walk around somewhere without the threat of somebody pointing a weapon at you. All thanks to the second amendment.

  11. Sue Blue Says:

    When I was down in Texas this summer, I saw quite a few people carrying handguns. Apparently packin’ whenever you go out is like putting your wallet in your pocket or carrying your purse. I mean I saw this in grocery stores and on the street in an affluent, quiet area. My first reaction was to feel threatened – here I was, walking around with my two-year-old grandson, surrounded by who knows how many people carrying guns on their hips, in their bags, openly or not – and no way to know who was a responsible, safe, and well-trained gun-carrier and who might be a potential powderkeg of crazy. Did I feel safe? Hell, no. My second reaction was that this was ridiculous. Safety and security are what we have law enforcement for. I don’t particularly want Fred next door wildly blowing off his .357 every time a raccoon gets into his garbage and he thinks it’s a prowler or a Mexican drug-runner crawling over the border. I don’t want Vic Vigilante shooting at every speeding car that goes by. And these idiots seem to be the same ones who vote for legislation to bust unions and lay off public government workers like cops and firefighters. Do they think we’re going to be better off with untrained morons shooting up neighborhoods instead?

  12. Ron Britton Says:

    Sue Blue:

    Again and again, you seem to sum up my feelings even better than I can.

    To clarify the statement I made in the article, I have no desire to repeal the Second Amendment and attempt some sort of prohibition on gun ownership. Guns are like religion. They’re an irrational response to a distorted view of reality. They might serve some useful purpose in some limited situations.

    Because of some unfortunate circumstances in our history, they are indelibly imprinted upon the psyche of America, the way a duckling thinks the very first thing it sees when breaking out of its shell is its mother. We have to accept the fact that guns and religion are going to waddle after us everywhere we go in this modern world.

    I disagree with the very liberal loose interpretation of the Second Amendment that the current disaster of a Supreme Court has inflicted upon us. To me, the operative word in the Second Amendment is “regulated”. The federal government very clearly has the right to regulate guns. That means control them, not uncontrol them. That means restricting everything except basic handguns and rifles and simple ammunition. All those high-tech, rapid-fire, Teflon-coated, laser-targeted mini-canons should be outlawed across the board.

    I like ParrotLover’s idea of leaving the final say up to the locals. They can decide whether they want simple revolvers and rifles within their jurisdictions.

  13. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Yup, yup, definitely agree with everything above.

    I’ll just point out that the insane gun nuts see the country as literally one tiny step away from Red Dawn. And they want to be the Wolverines. I mean it really is that simple. They have fantasies about being the only ones highly trained with firearms who can survive in that type of world. All the libtards who shunned guns and never got survivalist training will get killed by the enemy or need their protection.

    But, you know, real life is not a bad 80s movie. So they go through life wanting to be a hero, but never quite getting there. And more likely than not, if they ever try to be a hero with their gun, they’ll end up hurting and killing innocents or themselves.

  14. Sue Blue Says:

    Yeah, PL, so many of them seem to be living in some McCarthyist paranoid wet-dream. I also think – and this is just a personal observation – that the bigger the gun on the hip, the smaller the dick in the pants.

  15. Lindsay Says:

    I also think – and this is just a personal observation – that the bigger the gun on the hip, the smaller the dick in the pants.

    THIS. I’m sitting in my living room clapping right now.

    My concern is, in a city like Chicago where hand guns were (until recently) banned…there were still a shitload of shootings. How on Flying Spaghetti Monster’s green earth do we have so many guns just floating around, and 14 year old boys can get a hold of one easier than I can? I think before we worry about regulating the legal guns we need to worry about how many are slipping through the cracks.

  16. ericsan Says:

    Ron, if you like photography I was wondering if you had seen the new Lytro camera?

    Jeff, loved the link, especially the part about Glenn Beck being hung like a zit ;)

  17. Ron Britton Says:

    Ericsan:

    I don’t see the advantage in it. It may ultimately be useful for point-and-shoot cameras. It might also open up some new application that we can’t even imagine right now. But for fine-art photography, I expect we’ll be doing things by the current techniques for a long time to come (This is the sort of statement that tends to come back and bite the speaker in just a few short years.).

    The one application that it might be good for is macro photography. I need extreme depth of field for what I’ve been thinking about doing with macro. I’m probably going to have to go through the ordeal of focus stacking. Maybe the Lytro technology could ultimately solve that problem.

  18. Parrotlover77 Says:

    My concern is, in a city like Chicago where hand guns were (until recently) banned…there were still a shitload of shootings. How on Flying Spaghetti Monster’s green earth do we have so many guns just floating around, and 14 year old boys can get a hold of one easier than I can? I think before we worry about regulating the legal guns we need to worry about how many are slipping through the cracks.

    That’s a perfectly rational and valid “pro-gun” point of view. My response, as a generally anti-gun person, would be that legal and illegal guns are all made in the same exact factory and all start out life as legally sold from some distributor/dealer somewhere before OOPS finding their way onto the streets.

    Gun manufacturers don’t give a shit how their weapon is used. They just want it to be sold. Once it’s sold, NOT THEIR PROBLEM. Well, I say make it their problem. Punish them for leaky holes in their distribution chain. Make the gun manufacturers stop turning a blind eye to what happens when their product falls outside legal supply channels.

    That’s where you start cracking down.

  19. Parrotlover77 Says:

    The Lytro thing intrigued me, so I did a little gazoogling. Based on what I found, it’s a bit of a gimmic compared to its industrial light field camera brethren (most of the magic happens in software, as opposed to the optics), but it’s still a very novel concept in the sense that it is able to record more information about a scene than a conventional camera.

    I can definitely see why Ron would not be super excited about it. Even my untrained eye can tell something looks funny/off about the Lytro sample pictures. After reading this, I can see what the problem is. The focus of the pictures is just software. It’s not true optical focus. They just intelligently and selectively apply blur and sharpen algorithms based on the distance information recorded from the sensor. That gives you the magic of refocusing the picture after the fact. Since the raw/source photo is almost never in focus (focal depths are apparently fixed), you get sort of an artificial looking soft/blur/sharpen across the entire picture.

    It’s cool tech and some of the sample photos are impressive, but without sounding like too much of a ludite, it’s not “real.”

    I guess a good analogy from me, being a music/audio dude, is the comparison of a digital signal path versus an analog signal path. I use digital all the time, but I always try to run everything through an analog signal path at least once. It’s hard to put your finger on, but there’s just something more natural sounding about it. I guess it softens all the hard digital edges.

    I suppose that’s similar to the difference between Lytro’s digital focus versus optical focus.

    Oh and the Lytro camera apparently has a pixel density under 0.5MP. Holy crap. That’s low.

  20. Ron Britton Says:

    PL:

    All of that is true, but the most fundamental flaw with the Lytro camera, at least for my purposes, is that an art photograph is created in the mind of the photographer before he even picks up the camera. That includes the focus.

  21. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Intersting. Again, from my audio perspective, I record the guts of the song long before I’m completely settled on the nuances of how the sounds are presented. In other words, I record all the pieces of the song before mastering them. The mastering process is where volume, mixing, EQ, compression, and so on, are done.

    I would have thought the ability to change focus in post-production would be a benefit similar to an attribute of mastering, if it actually worked the way the Lytro advertised, instead of being a software gimmic. I wouldn’t have thought it would be a decision completely settled on before the photo is snapped.

    Interesting.

  22. OtherRob Says:

    Been a while since I had a chance to check out the site and this thread, but here a couple of quick observations/thoughts.

    @ericsan:

    OtherRob, that’s where we part ways. I believe anyone who supports the NRA’s position (right for anyone to own any gun, including automatic assault weapon, hollow point bullets, etc…) is a complete moron.

    @Jeff:

    That may be, but the organization that represents them is an abomination.

    I just want to say that I’m no particular fan of the NRA and I doubt they’re a fan of me. For though I definitely believe in the right to bear arms, I really don’t get too upset about reasonable regulations on firearm purchases/ownership either.

    PL:

    Well, I say make it their problem. Punish them for leaky holes in their distribution chain. Make the gun manufacturers stop turning a blind eye to what happens when their product falls outside legal supply channels.

    I’ve heard this argument before and it does have some appeal — and I certainly agree that illegal guns are a big problem. But I’m not really sure how it could effectively work. Where do you draw the line of responsibility? If I legally buy and sell it to someone illegally, how is the manufacturer to blame for my actions? If a bar serves me too many beers and I injure someone in an accident, could the victim sue the brewer? I believe there have been case where people have successfully sued the bar in such an instance and won — and certainly the person who got drunk — but I just don’t see culpability falling on the beer “manufacturer”.

    What if I legally buy and gun and it’s stolen? Would that change the manufacturers responsibility? What if I buy and legally sell and then the secondary buyer sells it illegally? Does the mfg still have responsibility? How many legal sales would it take to absolve them? Obviously you go after the person/group/whatever selling them illegally. And if the manufacturer were to sell the illegally, well, you definitely go after them then. But I just don’t see how you can hold someone responsible for the actions of another.

    If you want to argue that there should be more and stronger restrictions on the sale and purchase of guns, we can talk about that. As I said, I’m not afraid of reasonable regulations.

    As has been pointed out elsewhere in the thread, this topic is too often a “religious” discussion and I’m not going to change anyone’s mind and I haven’t seen any arguments that will change mine.