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 people?
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 people frequently. They are designed to.
Spoons 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 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 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.
Guns, when being used, not being used to kill people or in preparation for the anticipation of possibly killing people, 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.