Shockproof detection of sh*t and Vice's take on gun memes

Ernest Hemingway declared that “the most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.”  He was a great one for telling things as they are with as few words as possible, and his advice to writers is a good corrective, especially to those who tend toward the florid prose of the nineteenth century.

That being said, if your nose is out of joint or elevated too much, you may find yourself misinterpreting the smells coming your way.  Thus an article that appeared last week in Vice, titled, “Calling Bullshit on the Internet’s Right-Wing Gun Memes,” by Mike Pearl, a staff writer for the magazine who “writes about bodily functions and investigates hypothetical questions,” according to his description.  In it, we’re given six claims that Pearl tells us are made by advocates of gun rights in response to headline-grabbing shooting events, six claims that he argues are false.  I’ll address each one here:

1.  Background checks are a waste of time

Pearl tells us that “until a universal background check system is in place, it’s impossible to argue conclusively that these screenings are a waste of time.”  In his view, local control over reporting records into the system lets some bad guys escape detection.

But as he admits, the Oregon shooter apparently passed checks to buy guns.  So did the shooter in Charleston, and in that case, it was an error on the part of the FBI that let the sale go through, and I’d imagine that “universal” would mean conducted by the FBI.  The Navy Yard shooter even had security clearance for a military base.  The assumption here is that if only we collect more records and plug them into an inefficient system, things will work out fine.  Of course, Pearl makes no mention of how we’ll get criminals to participate in this program.

2.  New gun laws just stop the good guys from shooting the bad guys

Here Pearl repeats the claim that you’re more at risk of gun violence if you have a gun than otherwise.  I’ve addressed assertions like that before.  But can a good guy with a gun stop a bad guy attempting to engage in the murder of many innocent people?  Pearl says no, though he acknowledges what he regards as rare cases.  Perhaps he missed these examples.  Perhaps he missed the more general fact that several hundred thousand Americans defend themselves each year with a firearm.  Who knows?  I often get the impression that to an advocate of gun control, there is no such thing as a good guy with a gun.

3.  Hitler banned guns

On this one, Peal has a point.  The Weimar Republic, founded after the end of World War I, enacted strict gun control laws under requirements of the Treaty of Versailles.  Hitler relaxed the law for Germans in 1938, but he banned Jews from owning firearms.  References to the Nazi dictator are the subject of Godwin’s Law, the observation that the longer a discussion goes on the Internet, the probability that a Hitler comparison will be made approaches one.  This is not to say that no analogies can be made to the German experience of the 1930s and 40s, but get the facts straight.  And be aware that gun control supporters are allergic to such references.

4.  Honduras is bizarro Switzerland because of gun control

Here I agree with Pearl.  Stop using Switzerland.  Yes, that country has a long firearms tradition—a strictly regulated, conformist tradition that sees the gun as a tool of service to the state.  The laws of Honduras are reminiscent of California, while that nation’s homicide rate has been the highest in the world.  If these two nations show us anything, it’s that gun laws don’t make a peaceful country homicidal or a violent country safe.

5.  Chicago has gun control laws and a lot of murder, so gun control laws are dumb

The error made time and again by advocates of stricter gun laws is in claiming that Chicago’s number of murders done by gunfire are due to the flow of firearms from states they see as having lax regulation.  It’s interesting that guns feel the need to migrate where they’re not wanted to do their dastardly deeds, but if we acknowledge that guns can cross borders, what’s to keep them from crossing national borders, presuming that gun control were to be imposed nationwide?  All a smuggler would need to do is hide guns in bags of drugs.

6.  Liberals found a backdoor to repealing the Second Amendment: The United Nations

On this one, let’s agree that the United Nations is a fine place for generating hot air, and that the organization from time to time stumbles into doing good with regard to medical care and the like, but on the whole it is, to use Douglas Adams’s phrase, mostly harmless.  Fantasies about needing to make blue colanders have no chance of escaping dreamland.

Of all the statements Pearl makes, though, the most troubling is his assertion that it’s ridiculous to believe that “anyone deserves a pass for being honest.”  Note the attitude there.  He seems to think that we are guilty until proved innocent.  He uses the example of passing through a metal detector to get on a plane as support for requiring everyone to pass a background check before buying a gun.  But an aircraft is the private property of its owner.  Do we have a right to travel?  Yes.  Do we have a right to plant ourselves inside any given vehicle we wish, regardless of whose it is?  No.

But as American citizens and as human beings, we do have fundamental rights.  Among those is the presumption that must be made by any government of a free nation that we are each of us good participants in our society and that the more we have to ask permission to exercise our rights, the less free we are.

If Pearl or others have difficulty with this concept, let them substitute “abortion,” “speech,” or “marriage” for “guns” and see if they’d support the restrictions, curtailments, and outright bans they now endorse.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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