“If Guns Kill People, Spoons Make You Fat”

You’ve heard the argument time and time again:

“If guns kill people…

spoons make people fat

cars drive drunk

pencils misspell words”

or some other comparison.

Cute, I suppose. Only, none of these comparisons apply. Rather, they only serve to contrast.

Are guns designed to kill?

Are spoons designed to make people fat?

Are cars designed to be driven drunk?

Are pencils designed to misspell words?

Regardless of your stance on guns, gun ownership, gun regulation, gun control, or gun whatever, the whole “guns don’t kill people” argument simply doesn’t hold up.  They do tend to kill people, when used as intended, with skill. When used without skill, they miss people, or sometimes hit unintended targets, still injuring or killing people. But when a gun is used with its intended purpose, and done so with skill, people tend to die (or get really close to dying).

Guns kill living beings frequently. They are designed to.
make people fat when unhealthy instead of healthy food is put in them.
Cars drive erratically when an irresponsible/drunk driver is in them rather than a responsible/sober driver.
Pencils misspell words when the person holds them spells the word incorrectly.

The one thing each of these items has in common is that when used with skill in accordance with their design they all perform the actions they are made to perform, whether it be injuring/killing a person, delivering sustaining food, transporting individuals efficiently, or graphing language on paper.

But guns are designed to kill, and regardless of the nature of the one firing it, if the bullet hits you in the right place, you will die, because that is what the tool is designed to do.

  • Spoons do not make us fat,
    but spoons pre-packaged with cups of lard-based foods do.
  • Cars do not drive drunk,
    but significant amounts of alcohol do make drivers drunk.
  • Pencils do not misspell words,
    but a poorly designed auto-correct app on your phone does misspell words.

It is in the nature of the very craft and design of guns to kill effectively people. It is in the symbolic nature of guns that the message is being sent: I can and would use this to kill you. A spoon on a menu doesn’t say “people come here to get fat”; A sign on a car doesn’t say “people wreck here”; A pencil beside a paper on a desk doesn’t say “a persons misspelled words here.” But a gun held, or even holstered, says “I am willing to kill using this firearm if I deem it fit to do so, and as you can see I possess one with which to do so.”

A gun does not communicate “this device is just meant to discharge some stuff and make a loud noise, and if you’re not responsible someone might get hurt or killed.” That’s called a firework. It’s also called a number of other things we make not made with any intention of possibly killing a person.

Only under special circumstances, when additional context is provided, would people interpret otherwise, such as the shirt this man is wearing for The Brasstown Brigade, a troupe of entertainers who ceremoniously fire unloaded muzzle loaders for special occasions as a gesture of good will. On his shirt are crossed rifles, which otherwise indicate a willingness to use firearms violently.  Unless you are aware of the Brigade’s traditions, you would likely assume they are a brigade of men and women ready to arm themselves and fire loaded weapons with the intent to kill should they feel compelled to do so.

Guns, when being used, not being used to kill living organisms or in preparation for the anticipation of possibly killing living organisms, are by default the exception, not the rule.

If a gun has not killed a person, there are only 4 possibilities:
1. The gun was not fired.
2. The gun was fired away from a person (intentionally or incidentally).
3. The gun was fired, but the person was only injured.
4. The gun was fired, but there was no live ammunition.

So if guns kill people, then guns kill people, and that calls for discussion about what is to be said and done about it. A realistic discussion, with realistic analogies and realistic terms. Regardless of your stance on any gun-relate issue, rhetoric like this needs to be closely examined. Pithy proverbs aren’t always as wise as they seem.

16 responses to ““If Guns Kill People, Spoons Make You Fat”

  1. You seem to have missed the point of “If guns…” And that is that is that it is the person using the tool who is responsible for the action of killing, eating, driving drunk…. Gun owners want people to understand responsibility. Some one has rightly said, “There are no dangerous weapons, there are only dangerous people.”

    • I understand the point. But there are BOTH dangerous guns and dangerous people. Anything that carries the potential to do much damage is dangerous. Would you say that a highly radioactive mineral is not dangerous, or that a vat of skin-devouring acid is not dangerous?

      If the line is meant to teach that people should be responsible, it should say that.

      • An inanimate object is not dangerous if it cannot perform some action on its own. Radioactive material is not a justified argument. It spontaneously emits harmful radiation. A gun does not. Who told you guns were manufactured to kill a person? Not a fact. Guns are for hunting and for personal protection. People can be killed with anything if the person behind it is purposeful enough. Rope, rat tail combs, forks. It’s not the object that needs to be eradicated. It’s the intent of the person, which has gone bad.

    • I understand the point, but if it is the person using the tool who is responsible, how many children must we name as murderers (or call their deaths suicides) because they became “responsible” for killing merely by handling a tool that was made to do precisely what happened when they handled it?

      Again, responsibility is great (as is arguing for responsibility in a discussion of guns), but slogans mislead, oversimplify, and deflect our attention from the fact that we are a violent people whose violence is amplified by our obsession with guns.

      • Nope. The person who made it possible (ie the “responsible” adult) for a child to handle such a tool is, well, responsible

  2. Your addressing of the issue is interesting. Typically all who post comments are looking at the logical side of what is being said. “If guns kill people..” was meant to be thought provoking and engage hard conversations. I have been an advocate for over 25 years. Yes, I own and wear a gun everyday. Most Americans have lost their ability to be critical thinkers. If your going to have a discussion, let us free our minds and really think. 25 plus years down in the trenches with victims and offenders alike. 80% of victims become offenders, it is called Victim offender crossover. What does that say about our solving of problems as humans?Let us take off the rose colored glasses. Life is hard and messy. The issues are complicated. If you are an emotional abuser, the judge does not bind or cut off your tongue. If you are a physical abuser (domestic violence) the judge does not order someone bigger and meaner to beat you until you understand what you have done. If you are a rapist, the judge does not castrate you. Those that buy and register guns legally, are not using them instead of other tools to solve problems. A gun is a weapon of last resort. The gun cannot fire itself it needs human interaction, along with the spoon that puts fat and sugar in your mouth, the pencil needs a hand to pick it up, the car needs the drunk and drug addicted. If you think about it, every one of the statements is really saying: there are humans who need help. Every human is not required to engage in education, and interactive activities regarding all the ways we hurt ourselves and others. Our social norms scream rejection, judgement and blame. We should not make laws that punish all. Our court system is supposed to operate on “Innocent until proven guilty”. It does not. As humans we need to change the way we interact and treat each other. Let us have hard conversations. The only equality between men and women are our brains. The problem: you cannot know man’s heart or mind. We cannot ban, eradicate, legislate, or register all that we can use to hurt each other. However, we can set the standards, not in courthouses, but in very home, every city, every state and every country. Be accountable to each other. I have been FEMA trained, I have the same degree as police officers, I have seen every kind of damage we can do to each other. Law enforcement is allowed to lie to you. The law today is designed to serve the majority. The rights of the majority NOT the individual. That is a long way from every person’s rights when the constitution was written. Do you know what every one of those statements in “If guns kill people..” has in common? Every one is a contrast between educated, thinking use compared to acting out in pain. It is pro active Vs reactive. Have you ever been behind a weapon, in a reactive state? Do you know what it is like to draw and fire and intend to take a life as a first resort instead of last? I do. The realness, you are not thinking. With any weapon, when the time comes …you must make yourself think.

    The next time you are sad, angry, or frustrated..what do you do with that? Do you stop and say..what do I look like? What do I sound like? Have I made assumptions? What will it be like on the receiving end of my words and actions? What is happening from moment to moment in every humans life is reactive, and comparative. Assumptions, judgement, blame come from the comparisons made within the brain..from what we have experienced compared to the moment. Stop buying wolf tickets. Stop being afraid to be real. Every human is only what they KNOW.

    When you are born, some entity does not sit down with your parents and say: Here is what you know to pass on to your child. Here are all the probabilities. You need to teach your child how to fail without seeing themselves as a failure, that their human DNA (physical body) is just gift wrap, some contain beautiful gifts and some contain rotting and ugly things not worth opening. Teach your child boundaries, true tolerance (we agree to disagree, all ideas are NOT equal). If your child is male his mother must teach him what being female is and if your child is female she must be taught the world of males by the father. Every female must learn, define and know what respect is and why males find it important, every male must learn what love really is and why it is important to females. Every child must learn how to communicate effectively, how to truly listen, and how to have hard conversations without fear. Every child must learn to go beyond blame and embrace accountability. Every child must learn that what they are is enough. Every child must learn they can change no one, they must only be concerned with changing themselves. Every child must learn what they do to others will be done in return to them, not maybe, definitely. The list goes on and on.

    Instead, every parent designs their child’s life of protection and success, based on their experiences, as if their child is a replica of them.

    The research has been done, the scientific data is in. The young people of today do not want the illusions and fairy tales of the past. They want what is real. They are lost, searching for what will work. Slogans are meant to engage hard conversations.

    Words are vehicles of expression, we are not going to eliminate language because it is misused, outlaw sugar and regulate vegetables, and eliminate cars in exchange for public transportation.

    The discussion of “If guns kill people..” is not meant to be only logical. It is meant for a hard conversation that is not superficial. Go deep, ask yourself more. Don’t get stuck in the “what if”, in the IF in LIFE. In all discussions we must ask ourselves a thousand or more questions, receive a thousand or more answers, and then..get down in the trenches.

    Registering guns will not eliminate violence. Eliminating guns will not stop violence, Education will not stop violence, legislation and criminalization will not stop violence. Knowing WHY violence exist will not stop it. Yet, “that is just the way it is”, is just a cop out.

    There are countries that have weapons in every house and there violence rate is virtually non existent. What are they doing, that we are not?

    The answer: The way we treat each other is broken. If you hate something enough, you will do anything in your power to change it.

    As they say..”Put your money where your mouth is”. Hard conversations are necessary. We should not end with them, we should begin with them.

    Be an UPSTANDER. It is not someone elses responsibility, it is every one’s responsibility.

    Most think rape is a female issue, bullying is a weakness issue, suicide is a mental health issue. They are wrong, rape is a male issue, bullying is an acceptance issue, and suicide is a pain issue.

    DARE: I dare you, everyday for the rest of your life, compare yourself only with yourself. I dare you every morning to get up and make your first words out loud “I am grateful for today”. Then throughout your day find 3 new things to be thankful for. I dare you every week to only engage in 1 negative the whole week. Everything else must be framed in the positive: ie example: Thank you for being real enough to show me your frustration, my wish is that your day gets better. I dare you to have hard conversations and then JUST listen. I dare you to make someone elses issue your issue. I dare you to leave your comfort zone. I dare you to have hard, not superficial conversations. I dare you to be real. I dare you to be more.

    Why does a rapist rape? Why does domestic violence exist? Why do humans bully each other? Why do gangs exist? They all get “something” from the actions. They are a product of the intertwining of nature and nurture. They are only what they KNOW.

    Over and over again…the issues of the world are someone elses until they become ours.

    Check out the Acestoohigh study (the consequences of trauma) and Resiliencetrumpsaces (how to overcome it).

    The data is in..what we do to each other is more than just experiences.

    When you are forming your opinions, do it carefully, go slow; hasty judgement and assumptions are often followed by regret in the “I know”.


    • Sometimes the truth is controversial — sometimes falsehoods disguised as objective truth is controversial… you had a little of both, thus the negative feedback. Being an expert on a subject, or admitting when you’re not an expert on a subject, both those tactics help avoid stirring up controversy.

  3. In regards to this logic. Yes guns are tools, as spoons and cars and planes and other inanimate object are. But it comes down to the use, there’s a reason why nuclear bombs are restricted from the public. Automatic rifles, hand weapons, rifles, their sole purpose is for killing and doing it efficiently more than any other tool (i.e realistically try killing 50 ppl with a knife as quickly with an assault rifle) , whether the human motive is self defense or murder, spoons, cars, books though possible are not. Complete all out banning is unrealistic. Reduction or restriction is for common sense safety reasons, civilians should not have access to such things, they should be in the hands of trained military and police enforcement authorities. It just makes criminals stand out more if they own such things, face it also having a gun is just more for psychological security, are you realistically going to carry a gun in public all the time, or have the time to rush into your closet, unlock your box or cabinet, then load your gun when someone already bursts into your home or has a gun already held to your head if mugging you. It really offers little protection. It really comes down to pros and cons, for every story of successful use of protection using a firearm, there are countless more of murders, accidental deaths, mishandling. Is it really worth this cost? The reason why crims, psychologically deranged have guns is because the gun industry, us legislation, ingrained US culture, make it so readily and easily acceptable and available in the first place.

    If fear is of an oppressive government or the country under attack the second amendment, by the logic that banning cars, spoons, books, fertilizer, gas tanks, saws, nailguns, fuel, matches, might be done as well if you ban guns is really implying they are just as effective weapons with a mind intent. So why need guns then? But if you are saying guns are indeed needed for protection you are then implying that they are indeed an effective tool for killing more so than the spoons and cars. And again it defies common sense to make such things so readily accessible to the public whether they be crims, law abiding citizens, or mentally deranged individuals or terrorists.

    And PS the US is already under attack, from deranged lunatics and terrorists and your gun carrying has made no difference.
    I see it in the US news EVERY MONTH OR TWO, if these were to happen in other countries believe me you would hear about it. But they don’t to what is now a pandemic extent for the united states.

    Please…. please …please realize this has nothing to do with Democrats vs Republicans, or asking complete outlaw of guns in America which is unrealistic, they have their place in the military and enforcement groups… which means they aren’t toted by deranged persons in schools killing innocent children…it is just common sense.

  4. Pingback: Greatest Hits: “If Guns Kill People, Spoons Make You Fat” | CALEB COY

  5. Just wanted to recommend a little work on avoiding logical fallacies – I think it would be helpful…
    A false premise was picked up in the first 2 seconds.
    Guns aren’t designed to kill people. You said they are. That is incorrect.
    Guns are designed to shoot bullets.
    There are many reasons to shoot bullets.
    I’d recommend having a conversation with someone from the military, we like the use of suppressive fires a great deal.
    Also, hunting was one of the original purposes of guns – killing wildlife in order to eat. Guns don’t make people fat either. Keep working on it!

    • Thanks for the feedback. I actually went back and changed the terminology, as I’d meant to include animals. Guns being designed to kill organisms. It is not their only function, but it is their primary function. When they’re designed, the designers ask, “how can we make this most efficient at tearing through human or animal flesh in the desired target location?”
      I would also argue that suppressive fire only works if it sounds like it’s coming from a gun designed to kill effectively.

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