Gun Lies

Hillary v Washington

If you believe this meme, Hillary Clinton is a threat to Americans’ Second Amendment rights.  Thing is, you definitely shouldn’t believe this meme.  Every part of it is a lie.

Let’s start with the alleged statement made by Presidential candidate Clinton.  I deployed my considerable resources in a comprehensive fact-gathering mission to determine the veracity of this quote…I’m just kidding; I Googled it.  And do you know what I found?  If you’re the person who put together this meme, I’m going to guess the answer is no.

I found that the Clinton quote is completely fabricated, according to the urban legend debunking website, who rated this claim false:

…the link included with the above-displayed meme didn’t lead to a page containing Clinton’s purported quote. Additionally, a search of the Des Moines Register‘s archives yielded no results for the phrase in question. In fact, this utterance was absent from all major news publications.

We looked into a handful of memes posted by the “Shocking Hillary Clinton Quotes …” Tumblr page and found that the provided source links never matched up with the purported quotes.

And let’s not just take Snopes’s word for it.  The fact-checking website called this fabricated quote “Pants on Fire”, saying:

Clinton campaigned heavily in Iowa throughout the summer and fall of 2015, and Register reporters and the paper’s editorial board interviewed her several times. But she was not in Iowa on Aug. 8, when she allegedly made the statement. Clinton’s first visit to Iowa in the month of August occurred on Aug. 14, followed by public events on Aug. 15 and Aug. 26.

A review of the Register’s archives show Clinton was neither interviewed nor quoted directly on Aug. 8 or in the days immediately following.

It is well known that Hillary Clinton does support stronger gun control laws, including broader background checks, especially at gun shows.  She also proposes restricting gun sales to domestic abusers and the mentally ill.  At no point, however, has she publicly called for banning all handguns or dismantling the NRA.

Now let’s talk about George Washington, the man who, according to myth, could not tell a lie.  Too bad the author of this meme didn’t follow his example.

Politifact weighs in on this quote as well.  Spoiler alert: it’s made up.  According to Politifact, Edward Lengel, editor-in-chief of the Papers of George Washington project at the University of Virginia, says “there is no evidence that Washington ever wrote or said these words, or any like them.”  Lengel then says that while it’s impossible to prove a negative, he’s quite certain that the quote did not originate from George Washington.

What was Washington’s stance on gun ownership, while we’re on the topic?  In George Washington’s own words (his real words, taken from his first State of the Union address in 1790):

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies. (emphasis mine)

Washington experts agree that the first President was referring to a trained militia for defending the new nation, and for national self-sufficiency in creating military supplies.  Lengel explains:

The idea of resistance to tyranny being dependent on a nation of gun-wielding individuals acting at their own behest or even on local initiative would have been anathema to Washington.  Indeed, during the (Revolutionary) war he very frequently lamented the crimes carried out by armed civilians or undisciplined militia against their unarmed neighbors. The solution to these crimes, as he understood it, was to increase the power of the government and the army to prevent and punish them — not to put more guns in the hands of civilians.

If you are in favor of looser gun control laws, it seems that George Washington might not be your primary source for inspirational quotes.

I’m not telling you this to sway your vote, by the way.  To paraphrase a meme from long ago, I don’t care if you don’t like Hillary Clinton – or any political candidate – but I do care if the reason why is a lie.  In fact, I mind it very much if any of your political opinions are based on lies.  Do some research, and make sure you know exactly whom and what you are voting for – as much as it is possible to know – when you step into the booth.  You owe your fellow Americans that much.


Simply Stupid


Once again the fertile soil of the gun control debate has yielded a meme of absolute asininity.  My favorite part of this meme is at the end, when the author brazenly asserts that if you don’t understand (and presumably agree with) his point, as expressed in this half-assed meme, then you are an intellectual lightweight.  Well, anonymous author, I beg to disagree.  The gun control debate is not so simple, and anybody who thinks it can be expressed in such simple terms does not really understand it himself.  Of course, I have a sneaking suspicion that many pro-gunners don’t want to understand the intricacies and implications of gun control.  They have a single-minded dedication to a goal (unfettered access to unnecessary firearms) and anything that demonstrates the idiocy of that goal is anathema.

As I’ve said before, I’m not necessarily in favor of banning all guns, but they should be heavily regulated.  Obtaining a firearm ought to be a real chore, similar to getting your driver’s license.  You ought to have to check in regularly to make sure you haven’t lost any of the completely necessary weapons you own.  Even then, I won’t be convinced that putting more guns into the hands of untrained citizens makes for a safer society.  If you want to convince me of that, you’re going to have to do a hell of a lot better than this meme.  Gun advocates, you do yourselves no favors by creating and sharing memes like this one.

Let’s start at the top, shall we?  The bad guys look absolutely ticked that the good guys have guns, which I find comically ludicrous.  Any bad guy who despairs that his life of crime will be derailed by the presence of good guys with guns has only to examine the data.  How many mass shootings – indeed, how many shootings of any kind – have been stopped by an armed citizen?  Spoiler alert: it’s not that many.

The fact is that good guys with guns very rarely stop bad guys with guns.  In fact, according to FBI data, for every “justifiable homicide” (which could arguably be called a good-guys-with-guns scenario) in 2012, there were thirty-four criminal gun homicides, seventy-eight gun suicides, and two accidental gun deaths.  Let me restate that, folks, so the message is not lost: statistically, you are twice as likely to accidentally shoot yourself to death as you are to use your gun to kill a criminal.  Less than one percent of gun-related deaths are caused by a good guy with a gun stopping the commission of a crime.  Sorry, gun advocates, but that argument simply doesn’t hit its target.

Furthermore, if good guys with guns deterred bad guys with guns, then certainly the amount of gun violence would have risen in recent years.  After all, the General Social Survey report entitled Trends in Gun Ownership in the United States, 1972-2014 (PDF) shows that the number of Americans who own guns, or who live in a household with somebody who owns guns, has declined over the past 25 years.  Fewer gun owners = more crime, right?  Well, no.  Gun homicide rates have actually decreased by 49 percent since a peak in 1993, according to the Pew Research Center.

Let’s pull this all together.  The number of people who own guns has been decreasing over the last few decades, as has the rate of gun violence.  I’m not trying to say that A causes B; after all, I understand that correlation is not the same as causation.  But…and this is important, so pay attention, gun advocates…these data do not show that gun violence decreases when there are more gun owners, nor that it increases when there are fewer.  The implication made by the top part of this meme simply is not true.  No matter how often gun advocates parrot the words of Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, there is no evidence to suggest that good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns.

If you’re a gun advocate and you’re not already frothing mad at me, frantically scrolling down to find the Comment link, perhaps I can push you over the edge with my dissection of the second part of this meme.

If good guys don’t have guns (or if they have to work harder to get them, and are held accountable for what happens to them) then bad guys will have fewer guns.  Allow me to explain how.

A study (PDF) published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice, in 2001, interviewed criminals who were serving time for gun-related crimes.  When asked where they obtained the firearm they carried while committing the crime that landed them in prison, about 40% divulged that they obtained their guns from their social network; i.e. from friends and family.  Another 40% claimed to have obtained a weapon from street or illegal sources.  The “illegal sources” category was not further subdivided, but one presumes that this percentage includes stolen guns.  Not surprisingly, very few criminals obtained their guns through usual legal channels: retail stores, pawn shops, etc.

Aha, the gun advocate might now be saying, that proves that criminals don’t get their guns from legal sources!  Harsh restrictions on law-abiding citizens will do nothing to stop criminals from obtaining weapons.  Well, not so fast.  ATF agent Jay Wachtel, speaking to PBS Frontline, says that stolen guns account for only 10 to 15% of the guns used in crimes.  In other words, 85 to 90% of the guns used in crimes were given to the criminal willingly, often by people who had acquired the guns through legal means.  In some cases a person agrees to purchase a gun for another person who would otherwise be unable to buy one.  In other cases a corrupt gun dealer makes an under-the-table sale to a buyer who wishes to remain anonymous.  In all of those cases, tougher restrictions on the legal sale and trading of guns – and harsher punishments for people who break the rules – would reduce the number of guns that eventually find their way into the hands of criminals.

So, there isn’t any conceivable way in which this meme is correct.  There’s no good evidence to suggest that a more heavily-armed American public will deter gun crime, nor can it be argued that disarming honest people will result in more criminals committing crimes with guns.  And for heaven’s sake, you’re not stupid if you disagree with the point this meme is trying to make.

Quick Memes, Part 3

It’s time to take a look at a few memes that are Stupid and Bad, but which don’t warrant an entire post.  Enjoy! (Here are parts 1 and 2, if you missed them.)

is it legal

The mind of a smart man asks “Is it legal and right, and if it’s not legal, does the rightness of it outweigh the possible legal ramifications?  Is right for me the same as right for everybody else?  Is my right more important than other folks’ right?  If I think that something illegal is nevertheless right, should I try to reform the laws concerning that thing, or should I just do as I wish and damn the consequences?”  And then the smart man starts to realize that ethical decisions are far more complicated than the simple dichotomy suggested by this meme.

Be aware: if anybody has ever called you a slave because you concerned yourself with questions of legality, that person is a fool, and he’s no friend to you.  A real friend would not offer a false dilemma like this one in order to goad you into making potentially life-altering decisions.  A friend would encourage you to consider all aspects of an ethical decision – legality, fairness, long-term consequences, and so on – before making an informed decision.  And if, in the end, you decide that the rightness of an act is more important than its legality (or lack thereof), then so be it.  But at least you’ll have considered all the relevant details and will have made your decision accordingly, and you’ll know that you’ve made your decision not just as a free person, but as a wise person.


Several things wrong here:

  • Just because some “rednecks” enjoy watching NASCAR doesn’t mean that rednecks contracted, designed, or built the fences the surround NASCAR tracks.
  • Even if they did, there’s a huge difference between building a fence that will stop a 190-mile-per-hour stock car (and the flying debris inevitably associated with it) and building a fence that will stop a nimble person determined to get past it.  People trying to cross the United States-Mexico border – let’s be honest…when you said illegal aliens, you weren’t talking about Canadians, were you? – are seldom (probably never) driving 190-mile-per-hour stock cars.
  • There is currently a “wall” along the United States’ southern border, but it’s an incomplete hodgepodge of various fence types.  There have been political pushes to complete it – especially during election years – but the price tag for this project is uncertain and unpredictable.

So, yeah.  Building a 2000-mile-long fence across various types of terrain is altogether a different task than building a 2-mile-long fence around a NASCAR track.  This meme’s author is trying to compare apples to oranges, and probably feels terribly clever for doing so.  To the author:  Stop it.  You’re not clever.

Also, stop calling them illegal aliens, you racist prick.


This is a personal quibble and I understand if you disagree, but I hate these little “math” puzzles posing as intelligence tests.  It’s not that I don’t get it.  I get it.  I see the pattern, and given any pair of numbers, I could generate the expected “solution”.  For example:

55,500,000 + 55,611,111 = 111,111,111,111,111


228,333 + 228,456 = 123,456,789

Now that’s clever.  But I digress.  The problem with these “math” puzzles, besides the fact that they use non-standard definitions for the plus and equal signs, is that they aren’t intelligence tests at all.  They’re nothing but sharebait.  The “puzzles” presented in these memes are generally trivial in order to maximize the number of people who solve them and pass them along.  Why?  Because a challenging puzzle – a puzzle that really makes you work for that shot of self-satisfaction when you solve it – would hardly get any exposure at all.  These stupid math puzzles give you the impression that you’ve done something smart, when all you’ve done is cleared the minimum hurdle necessary to share somebody else’s meme.

Gays and Guns

Capital idea!   Our approach to gun ownership should exactly mirror our approach to marriage: it’s only legal with the state’s consent and it must be thoroughly documented!

Or would you rather just acknowledge that marriage rights and gun rights are separate issues, and that supporting one doesn’t obligate you to support the other?

Your call.

Privileged Earned

I’d say you’re wrong, Morpheus.  You might be successful because of your education and hard work, but you’re privileged because of the station into which you were born, and because of society’s reaction to that station.  Ignoring privilege doesn’t make it go away.

Facebook Feeds The Hungry

No it doesn’t.  Facebook’s charitable donations are not affected by the number of people that share a meme.  Just like the math puzzle above, this is sharebait.  Its only purpose is to reward you with a false sense of self-satisfaction in exchange for a minimum amount of effort.

If you want to make a real difference, donate real money to real organizations that are working to alleviate hunger and sickness in developing nations.  If you’re a genuine activist, leave the comfort of your home and nation to volunteer in the regions struck by famine, war, and poverty.  Real change takes real effort; clicking “Share” on Facebook isn’t going to do it.

Stand Up and Be Men

Did you ever read something so blatantly sexist that you have to read it twice because you’re certain you misread it the first time?  For me, that’s this meme.  Yowza, what a load of sexist bullshit!  I didn’t even realize they had memes back in the 1950s!

Pennies from Heaven

“When an angel misses you”?  Are you operating under the misconception that angels are the departed souls of our loved ones?  Because if you are, I have to tell you: that flies contrary to your own religious dogma.  I researched the topic briefly, and here’s the theological consensus, as best as I can tell: angels are not humans, nor have they ever been.  According to most religious scholars, angels were created by God specifically to be his right hand not-men; humans, on the other hand, are spiritual beings in physical bodies.  Death is not some kind of graduation from human to angel; it’s merely a passage from physical human to non-physical human.  Or so the Scripture goes.

I’m not trying to tell you what to believe, but those who are telling you what to believe say that people don’t become angels when they die.

If we take this meme at face value, it raises all sorts of interesting questions:

  • Do angels materialize pennies themselves, or do they take already-minted pennies from somewhere else?
  • If they create coins ex nihilo, could they destabilize the economy by injecting enough money into the system?  Do angels have to be careful about that, keeping close tabs on how much money they’ve given away?
  • If angels get their coins from somewhere else on Earth, where?  A fountain, perhaps?  Do angels routinely search between peoples’ couch cushions for loose change, which they redistribute to people who are feeling glum?
  • If angels are the messengers of God, does God direct them to drop pennies?  How do they decide who gets a penny and who doesn’t?
  • Is there a way for people who are really upset to get larger values of money – say, quarters?
  • Do angels deliver pennies only to Christians, or can people of other faiths – and atheists – benefit as well?
  • Do people living in other countries also get US pennies, or do they get coins from their own currency?  Given the abysmal buying power of a single penny, it wouldn’t seem to matter much.  But still, if I lived in Uruguay, being given a useless US penny by an angel would almost seem like an insult.

I eagerly await the advisement of learned theologians on these queries.

The Devil’s In The Details

Jeanne Assam

EDIT: I drew most of the information for this post from the Robert Sanchez article linked below.  Recently Ms Jeanne Assam herself has commented to say that the article contained some inaccuracies.  She wishes to set the record straight.  In the interest of honesty, I’ll leave my original text; however, I will also include Assam’s own words whenever her narrative contradicts the Sanchez article.

If you don’t already know who Jeanne Assam is or what she did, I recommend an article called “Jeanne Assam is Still Waiting“, written by Robert Sanchez for the Denver-based online magazine

There are certain parts of this meme that are true.  On December 9, 2007, a 24-year-old man named Matthew Murray attacked two churches in Colorado.  The first attack happened at 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Church in Arvada.  There, Murray killed two people and wounded two others before fleeing on foot.  Later that day, Murray turned up at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, 70 miles from YWAM, where he killed two additional victims and injured three more.  Jeanne Assam, who was present and packing at the New Life Church, confronted Murray in one of the church’s corridors and shot him multiple times.  According to Sanchez, the gunman, wounded and defeated, turned his gun on himself.  Jeanne Assam says:

We shot at each other and after hitting him 10 times, the last 3 rounds from only about 5 feet away and having no choice, I killed him. He gave me no choice. I don’t care what folklore you’ve read on the internet, you weren’t there. I was. You didn’t get his blood spatter on your clothes. I did. And I was no security guard, I was a trained police officer. He did not kill himself. I killed him.

Assam’s brave actions were widely noted by the media, including liberal- and conservative-leaning outlets, so the meme’s claim to the contrary is simply a lie.  Still, her case seems to have new relevance in the wake of the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.  If one armed church-goer could make such a difference in Colorado, could the same have happened at the Emanual AME Church where Dylann Roof murdered nine worshipers in June of this year?

Of course we don’t know the answer to that question, and we cannot infer an answer from Jeanne Assam’s special case.  You see, there is another lie contained in this meme – a lie of omission – and it greatly affects how we perceive the entire gun control debate.

Jeanne Assam was not an average citizen exercising her Second Amendment rights.  Prior to attending the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, she had gone to police academy and served as a police officer in Minneapolis.  As a consequence of her training, she knew how to safely use a firearm.  Although, according to Sanchez, she was no longer working as a cop at the time of the attack, Assam was still licensed to carry a firearm, and she had been specially appointed by the New Life Church as an armed security guard.

In Jeanne Assam’s words:

I am and was a police officer. My license was still active at the time of the shooting. I was merely a volunteer on that church security team, armed of course, because I am a police officer and the church asked me to be (although they need not have since I am always armed).

According to Sanchez, Assam and her fellow guards were already on high alert the day of the shooting because they had heard about the attack at YWAM earlier that morning.  Assam says:

The next morning, same day, [Matthew Murray] emailed a warning email to New Life Church in Colorado Springs that he was coming there to kill next. I was the only person who was never told of this email (until a retired homicide detective told me about it in late 2011. I then verified this information with the Arvada PD who confirmed it was true).

In other words, Assam was not just a gun carrier; she was the ideal combination of professional experience, preparation, and bravery.  Regardless of whether she knew about the impending attack or not, her professional training made her ready to respond.

That’s not to diminish the heroism of Assam’s actions, by the way, but it makes an important point that this meme conveniently ignores.  Assam simply does not fit most gun advocates’ fantasy of an armed Average Joe (or Jeanne) stepping up to halt a madman in his tracks.  Assam’s gun did not make her a hero; her heroism and experience made her gun an effective tool.  And there are other facts of the case that are inconvenient for gun advocates’ arguments.

When Matthew Murray died, he was carrying a modified Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifle, a Springfield Armory 9mm semi-automatic pistol, and a Beretta .40 cal semi-automatic pistol.  An AK-47 assault rifle was found in his car, which might lead one to speculate that he was planning more violence later.  All of these weapons were legally obtained, which ought to give one pause.  Even while Murray posted many of his violent fantasies online – behind an identity-concealing screen name, of course – the law cleared him to amass his arsenal.

If a gun dealer of average common sense knew what Murray was planning, he never would have sold him a gun, let alone an assault rifle (one hopes).  But there are no laws in place that would have revealed Murray’s plan before he committed it; in fact, only a severe violation of privacy would have exposed his intentions – and gun advocates are typically big fans of privacy.  So gun advocates who say that everybody should be allowed to own military-grade assault weapons, free from restriction or oversight, are left with a quandary.  Either people like Murray continue to get big guns and commit mass murders as a necessary side effect of gun advocates’ opposition to tighter regulations, or everybody submits to unconscionably intrusive psych evaluations and surrenders all of their online passwords before they get their hands on an assault rifle.

Or…or…we could just admit that private citizens don’t really need military-grade assault weapons, and that would solve the problem as well.

Now I’m not saying that nobody should have guns at all (in fact, no elected officials, liberal or otherwise, have launched serious efforts to disarm America, which means that this meme’s Official Lie Count stands at three).  If Jeanne Assam had not been packing heat on that fateful afternoon, who knows how many extra people would have died?  But if Jeanne Assam’s story proves anything, it’s that guns are most effective in the hands of highly-trained, morally-upright* individuals who have been appointed to the task of public safety.  I doubt that many of the people who share this meme have one-tenth the training that Assam has in the safe use of firearms, nor that, placed in a similar situation, they would become the saviors they fantasize about being.

*I included the words “morally-upright” to exclude cops who have used their weapons in an act of police brutality.

Quick Memes

I’ve had a few memes sitting around for a while that just didn’t seem to merit an entire post.  Enjoy!

Being Offended

Actually, we have to stop this recent culture of people not giving a f*** when somebody else is offended.  You might not understand why somebody is offended, or if you do, you might not agree with their indignation, but the least you could do – the most basic acknowledgement you could afford somebody – is to recognize that they are offended, and perhaps to offer your condolences.  Don’t worry…you can still maintain your tough guy individualist persona without being a total jerk to everybody.

Child and Gun Control

Either this meme is a complete non sequitur, or it’s suggesting that many of the societal issues which are frequently blamed on guns (and the public’s easy access thereto) could instead be solved by a liberal application of parental strictness.  It’s hard to imagine how we might test this hypothesis in the United States, so let’s look to other nations.  A 2010 study assessed the relative toughness of parents in Canada, France, and Italy.  The results showed that Italian parents are the most strict, French are moderate, and Canadians are fairly laid back.  If I’m correctly interpreting this meme’s implied hypothesis, gun violence should therefore be most pervasive in our neighbor to the north, and least common in Italy.  But is that the case?

In a word: no.  A 2012 tally of firearm-related deaths per 100,000 population per year lists 0.51 for Canada, 0.06 for France, and 0.71 for Italy.  There doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation between parental strictness and gun-related deaths, at least among those three nations.

The firearm-related death rates of all three nations pale in comparison to that of the United States: about 2.97 of every 100,000 people in the United States are killed by guns each year.  Instead of blaming lax parenting for the United States’ relatively high rate of gun-related violence, maybe there’s another explanation.  If you sort the list in terms of gun ownership, the United States is at the top of the list for which data is available: there are 88.8 guns for every 100 people in the United States.  Let me put that into perspective: there were only about 83 registered passenger vehicles per 100 people in the United States in 2009.

Now I’m not going to preach about gun control this time: you may make of these statistics whatever you like.  But know this: there’s no reason to think that stricter parents will lead to a decrease in gun violence.


Although the Bible never explicitly states that all Angels are male, it always refers to them in masculine terms, and they always seem to appear as men.  Some argue that Angels are genderless.  While I suppose it wouldn’t be beyond the power of an Angel to assume a feminine form, this picture is not, strictly speaking, Biblically-based.  That’s not a point against the picture, by the way.

Also, here we see another example of the awesome power of Facebook to bend the will of the Immortals.  Zuckerberg be praised!


Perhaps you remember learning the Order of Operations in elementary school.  You may have learned Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, or PEMDAS, which tells you that when you evaluate a sequence of mathematical operations, you should first heed anything in parentheses, followed by exponents, multiplication and division (left to right), and addition and subtraction (left to right).  If you’re a PEMDAS purist, you get 7 as the answer:

6 – 1 x 0 + 2 / 2

6 – 0 + 1

6 + 1


Here’s the trouble: contrary to what you may have been taught, there is no single correct Order of Operations, as this video demonstrates.  In fact, the Order of Operations we’re taught in school is quite arbitrary.  This problem could be correctly evaluated to give several different answers, which means it is ambiguous and therefore useless.  Writing intentionally vague math problems and then demanding that your audience use one particular Order of Operations to get a prescribed answer does not show how smart or dumb your audience is; it shows how much of a pedant you are.

Two Different Bands

Ah, so the message is: Throw your money around and you’ve got a dance partner, but put a ring on it and you’ve got a slave!  Classy.

Now I know there are women who happily make their living as housewives, cooking and cleaning and so on, and that’s okay.  I’m just really uncomfortable with the idea that a marriage band mandates a woman to that kind of life.  I just can’t get rid of this idea that a marriage should be an equal partnership, with each partner able to pursue his or her ambitions.  The view of marriage expressed in this meme is…well, it’s kind of Medieval.

Analogy Failure

Gay Marriage and Guns

If you took the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, in high school, you may remember the analogy questions in the verbal section. An analogy question offers a pair of terms that share some logical relationship, then asks you to identify another pair of terms that share the same relationship. Here’s an example from the Kaplan Test Prep website:


(A) law:anarchy
(B) hunger:thirst
(C) etiquette:discipline
(D) love:treason
(E) stimulant:sensitivity

Medicine is used to prevent illness, in the same way that law is meant to prevent anarchy; hence, answer (A) is the best choice. None of the other choices have the same function/purpose relationship. In any analogy there must be a solid logical connection on both sides. If the logic that binds the analogy is faulty, then the analogy doesn’t work. And if the analogy doesn’t work, you probably shouldn’t use it in a Facebook conversation and then turn it into a meme.

That’s the problem with this meme; the logical connection between Red’s statement and Blue’s statement is weak. Red repeats the gun control mantra: they are not in favor of banning all guns – just the military-grade assault weapons that can kill the most people in the shortest time. Blue responds by arguing that Republicans (which Blue claims not to be) don’t want to ban all marriages, just the ones that ick them out the most. I’m sure Blue is patting himself on the back for his clever argument, but before he feels too proud of himself, Blue should consider that there is a big difference between wanting to prevent the average citizen from purchasing his eighteenth machine gun, and wanting to prevent Adam and Steve from cementing a commitment forged in love.

Now I shouldn’t have to explain the difference, but just in case Blue (or somebody with a similar mindset) wanders across this blog some day – I’ll indulge you. Gay marriage doesn’t kill people. It doesn’t allow one person to kill dozens of people in a matter of seconds. Need proof? Since 2008, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized gay marriage, either by court decision, state legislature, or popular vote. Since 2008, the homicide rate in the United States has declined from 5.4 per 100,000 people to only 4.7. See? Legal gay marriage doesn’t cause murders – it prevents them! (I know: there’s no causal connection between legal gay marriages and decreasing murder rates. It was a joke.)

So when Republicans cast their votes against gay marriage, they’re not really championing a cause that protects the health and safety of United States citizens; they’re just trying to solidify their own biases into law. That’s why the arguments of a gun control proponent do not sound like the arguments of an anti-gay-marriage Republican. Once you scratch the surface, there are vastly different motivations and likely consequences.

It tickles me, though, that Blue – an avowed non-Republican – is improperly using Republican arguments as a weapon to discredit the argument of a gun control proponent. Are Republicans the new Hitler in Internet-based “debates”? There’s an intriguing thought.

Despicable Meme

Sandy Hook Non-Hoax

No matter how gruesome a tragedy is, there’s always some jerk ready to claim that it didn’t happen, or that it was all a government plot. The Holocaust, 9/11, the Sandy Hook massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing…there’s no catastrophe too enormous for paranoid conspiracy theorists to wrap into their twisted dark fantasies. If the actual facts of the case don’t support their pre-formed conclusion, they will distort or fabricate new facts with a shameless ease that can only come from a total disregard for both reality and other people’s emotions.

Correcting these individuals is next to hopeless: they are thoroughly invested in their fantasies and will steadfastly refuse to see reality. Confronted with evidence that denies their position, the paranoid conspiracy theorist throws up the same comfortable and impenetrable shield: anybody who adopts a more mainstream point of view is among the uneducated sheeple. They manage to insult not only the memories of the people who died in these tragic events, but also the intelligence of anybody who doesn’t rush to blame the government / Illuminati / freemasons / Jews / etc.

Ask me about shady goings-on in the government, and I’ll tell you that I’m sure the government has its share of dirty secrets (*cough* NSA spying *cough*), but that doesn’t mean every disaster is somehow the work of Uncle Sam. And if you point to a specific tragedy as proof of a government conspiracy, you’d better have some damn compelling evidence. So without further ado, let’s examine the “evidence” suggesting that the Sandy Hook massacre was in fact a government-perpetrated hoax, and while we’re at it, let’s discuss the assumptions that one must make in order to swallow this evidence.

To this day, no parent or witness has shed one tear on camera. They attempt to cry but no tears ever show.

The Response: Ever? So you’ve watched every parent and witness interview that has ever been filmed? I sincerely doubt that, or you would have seen many mourners who cried freely. Here’s what Hunter Stuart, writing in Huffington Post, says about this particular “truther” claim:

Of course, there were plenty of tears shed in Newtown. One of the most widely-circulated photos of the event shows the sister of Victoria Soto, the first-grade teacher who died in the shooting, as she sobs into her phone on Dec. 14. ABC News interviewed Krista Rekos with her husband Richard, the parents of a 6-year-old girl who died that day. During the interview, Rekos broke into tears as cameras were rolling. Gene Rosen also cried on camera while telling his story to the Associated Press. Robbie Parker, a parent of a slain first-grader who has also been accused of being an actor, also broke down on camera while speaking at a press conference the day after the shooting. Even President Barack Obama cried.

The Assumption: I know enough psychology to determine the proper amount of public grief that should be expressed by people I’ve never met who are experiencing a tragedy I’ve never experienced. If I don’t count the correct number of tears during a two-minute interview with a parent or witness, then it’s all fake! Still photos that show people not crying are definitive proof that those people never cried. If anybody did cry, they were obviously paid actors who know how to make themselves cry on cue. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether I saw people crying or not: it’s fake!

Parents and family appeared just hours and within a few days on t.v. shows and interviews, nice and cleaned up ready to talk about their slain kids and siblings.

The Response: Which is it: did parents and family appear just hours after the shooting, or within a few days? Oh no, a minor inconsistency! YOU MUST BE LYING!

The Assumption: Everyone deals with grief in the same way. People who have experienced tragedy are incapable of taking showers or putting on nice clothes and makeup to hide the dark circles under their red eyes. Also, television crews should shove cameras in the faces of disheveled emotional wrecks who are virtually unintelligible through their heaving sobs, instead of people who are able to pull themselves together, despite their tremendous pain, for a few minutes to talk to the press.

Children eyewitness testimony contradict the official story that a mass shooting even took place

The Response: With no disrespect to the children who survived the Sandy Hook massacre, many psychologists dispute the validity of eyewitness testimony. High-stress situations like a mass shooting are particularly likely to blur the memories of eyewitnesses, according to Saul McLeod writing in Simply Psychology, so it is neither surprising nor damning that some children’s eyewitness testimony contradicts the official version of events. In fact, I would be much more suspicious if everybody’s story was the same: that would smack of rehearsal.

The Assumption: People’s memories are perfect, especially those of children, and especially in life-threatening situations. If anybody’s story varies from the official record, then that person must be lying which means the whole thing is fake!

Cameras at entrance of the school would show if there was a shooter or not, but they will not release it.

The Response: I can only assume that a “truther” traveled back in time to the morning of December 14, 2012, to assess the location and operational status of security cameras near the front entrance of Sandy Hook Elementary School, because that seems like the only foolproof way to determine what those cameras could or couldn’t see. Let’s be serious: investigators are under no obligation to release the footage for public scrutiny. There are numerous reasons to withhold the footage, not the least of which include the privacy of and respect for Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, both of whom were murdered within seconds of Adam Lanza violently forcing his way into the school.

Besides, even if officials did release the footage showing Lanza forcing his way into the school and shooting his second and third victims (his first was his mother, Nancy Lanza), Sandy Hook “truthers” would simply claim that the video was faked.

The Assumption: There is only one possible reason why the CCTV footage has not been released, and that’s because the shooting did not happen as it has been reported in the media. Even if footage is released clearly showing Adam Lanza shooting Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach in cold blood, it will obviously be faked video filmed later using doubles; ergo, the Sandy Hook shooting was fake regardless of whether video is released or not.

Only handguns were found at the school next to Adam Lanza, no Assault Rifle was even used.

The Response: “Truthers” probably get this false nugget from the predictable confusion that surrounded the shooting in the first few days. Following the shooting spree, law enforcement officials rushed to secure the crime scene and to determine what happened, while the press scrambled to provide up-to-the-second coverage of the unfolding disaster; of course mistakes were inevitable. One of those mistakes involved the number and kind of weapons used by Lanza during his attack.

Original reports indicated that Lanza had carried four handguns into the school, and that a Bushmaster XM-15 (an AR-15-type assault rifle) was found in the trunk of his car. In fact, his primary weapon – the one he used while inside the school – was the Bushmaster. The weapon found in the trunk of his car was a shotgun. Lanza also carried two handguns into the school. So the “truther” version is a mixture of fact and misinformation from various points in the investigation: Lanza did have four guns, but he only carried three of them into the school, one of which was an assault rifle. “Truthers” cling to this confused narrative, even months after it was officially cleared up, despite the fact that it makes them look woefully out of touch.

The Assumption: The government wants to demonize assault rifles, so they invented the involvement of the Bushmaster XM-15 out of whole cloth, then paid off or coerced numerous law enforcement officials and private citizens to support their narrative. Oh, and remember all those times I questioned whether the shooting even happened or if Lanza was there? Ignore that: there was absolutely a shooting, and he was totally there, but he didn’t use an assault rifle. It’s okay if I make conflicting statements, because I’m telling the truth! Please don’t take my guns away!

The sick irony of the Sandy Hook “truther” movement is that they are doing exactly what they accuse the government of doing – whether intentionally or not, they are using inconsistent facts, half-truths, and outright lies to piece together a narrative that pushes a political agenda. While some “truthers” may simply be incapable of accepting harsh realities, I suspect that most of these jerks are motivated by a fear of stricter gun control laws. Why else would you pour salt on the wounds of the families of twenty-seven innocent victims?

Bad “truther”. Bad.

Conservative Meme is Conservative


Sort of a double dose of douchebaggery in this meme, isn’t there?

First we have the illegal vs undocumented debate, which generally applies not to guns but to immigrants. Earlier this year the Associated Press, responding to pressure from immigration rights advocates and Latino news outlets, decided to drop the term “illegal immigrant” from its style guide. A person’s actions are illegal, goes the argument, not the person himself. Some media agencies have decided to use the word undocumented in lieu of illegal (although the AP is eschewing that word as well). The decision raised the ire of many conservatives (but what doesn’t anger conservatives?), who immediately took to Photoshop to create memes about how political correctness is destroying our country.

Yes, friends, you read that correctly: conservatives are frothing at the mouth because one group of people has opted not to use language that might be construed as offensive by another group of people. The very nerve.

Anyway, this talented memer manages to link two completely unrelated topics that are nevertheless equally offensive to conservatives everywhere – thereby forcing me to discuss those same unrelated topics in one post. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to craft a witty segue from the topic of immigration to the topic of gun control?

And speaking of gun control (Nailed it!), how scary are you if you imply that you intend to keep your death arsenal hidden from the government? Oh, that’s right…you need your AR 15 so you can overthrow that very same government, right? Because…um…remind me why you need to overthrow the government again? Let me guess: it’s because you live under an oppressive totalitarian regime, right? A regime whose iron grip on the population is so complete that… people like you were able to get your hands on assault rifles in the first place. A regime whose control is so thorough that it… allows the National Rifle Association to continue to operate within its borders even through that organization successfully opposes laws that might cause you to lose your beloved assault phallus. Yeah…real tough times we’re living in.

Reality called, sweetie. It misses you.

A Gun For All Occasions

Guns For All Occasions

Okay, I can understand how having a handgun would protect you from would-be muggers, rapists, and carjackers. It could also get you killed, because it escalates the confrontation into whole new territory, but you know what? I’ll give you this point, just to be nice.

So how come the hand gun that protects you from muggers, rapists, and carjackers doesn’t also protect you from burglars? I guess you could argue that the shotgun gives you superior stopping power (read: increased ability to turn another human being’s organs into mush). Shotguns have that extra scary factor, which could help you repel a burglar without actually having to shoot him, if you’re in a “live and let live” sort of mood. (You don’t have to be a vicious death merchant all the time, you know.) So I can give you this point as well. Shotguns can be effective tools for home protection, but easy on the trigger finger, killer.

Do you need a rifle with a scope to put food on the table? Maybe. I use my debit card, but I’m a liberal softie. Actually, I have nothing against hunting. I haven’t ever participated myself, but if you want to trek out into the pre-dawn woods and freeze your derrière, be my guest. I will point out that you can put food on the table using a bow and arrows or a snare, both of which are much less likely to blast your face off while you’re cleaning them, but to each his own. Go on and get your dinner. I won’t stop you.

But I have to draw the line at the AK47. See, this is really the crux of the gun debate. When you ask a gun lover why he needs a handgun, a shotgun, or a rifle, he might be able to provide a reasonable answer, but when you ask him why he needs an assault weapon, he gets downright frightening. What kind of enemies do you have, Mr Private Citizen, that you need military-grade assault weapons to defend yourself from them? Did you piss off the mafia?

And what kinds of “freedom & liberty” are we protecting? Something tells me you’re not going to carry your AK47 down to your state legislature and wave it in the faces of lawmakers who are curtailing a woman’s freedom of reproductive choice, or a black man’s liberty to vote without having to show an unnecessary identification card. No, when a gun lover talks about “freedom & liberty”, he is almost always referring to gun rights. That’s what makes the gun proponents’ mantra so scary; the America they want to defend is their own idealized, non-existent version of America. They don’t represent the good of the nation, but they’re armed to the teeth.

If the phrase “prevent government atrocities” doesn’t greatly worry you, then you probably own an assault weapon. By whose judgment shall an atrocity be determined? For my part, I don’t want a man with a machine gun making that kind of call, especially in this age of political extremism. That’s my greatest concern about gun proponents: that they have taken it upon themselves to decide when the government needs an overhaul, and they are trying to build up the firepower to accomplish that task. The irony of this situation is that it is completely untrue to the principles upon which America was founded. This isn’t democracy, gun lovers; it’s terrorism. I’m not being dramatic. Implying violence in pursuit of political aims…that’s part of the definition of terrorism.

Now hang on, I don’t mean to say that every gun enthusiast is a terrorist; that would be irresponsible. If you imply that you need assault weapons to keep the government in check, though…well, maybe you’d be happier living someplace else. Clearly the United States have somehow failed to become the might-makes-right nation you were expecting.

We Don’t Need No Guns In Education

Armed Teachers

I think the more appropriate question is: Which of these signs will invite another tragedy?

Never underestimate the rabidity of gun enthusiasts. The NRA (No Regulations Anywhere) is so terrified of even one iota of reasonable gun control that they have promulgated the idea that our schools would somehow be safer if teachers, principals, and presumably custodians were all packing heat.

What kind of backwards nonsense is that?

Let’s imagine some scenarios that might play out in a world where teachers carry gats:

  1. In the gun lovers’ favorite fantasy, a would-be shooter draws his weapon on the front steps of the school he intends to terrorize, and is promptly turned into something resembling salsa by an answering hail of bullets. The swift and violent response sends a message; other potential attackers reconsider their actions (because they’re all very rational people).
  2. Or…an enterprising student with basic lock-picking knowledge breaks into a teacher’s classroom while the teacher is out making copies, and helps himself to the weapon and ammunition. In this scenario, we have unwittingly armed one of the people we’re trying to protect ourselves against. The student doesn’t go on a rampage (at least, not in the school) but an investigation must now be conducted, spending taxpayer money to solve a crime that need never have happened.
  3. Or…same scenario as before, except this time the student does go on a rampage. He’ll be gunned down eventually, but how many people will he drop before somebody has the presence of mind to unlock their own gun cabinet, load their weapon, and fire on the attacker?
  4. Or…if the teacher is actually carrying the weapon on his person, a passing student might make a grab for it, resulting in somebody getting dead.
  5. Or…a teacher with anger management issues has finally had enough of Billy talking in class.
  6. Or…a teacher or administrator who has to break up a fight between two students acts too hastily and pulls his gun, resulting in mob panic and injuring many more people than would otherwise have been hurt. Teachers and administrators usually don’t have the same level of training as police officers and soldiers, so it might be more difficult for them to determine when the threat of deadly force is appropriate and when it isn’t.

Along with these (in my opinion) inevitable tragedies, you also get the elevated risk of accidental gun deaths. All of these deaths could be prevented (along with the mass shootings themselves) by making guns harder to get. Arming an entire school would make the school more dangerous, not less so. It’s a terrible, terrible idea. The solution to gun violence is not to throw more guns at the problem.

Since rationality dictates that any jerk suggesting that we arm teachers should be made to wear a chicken suit and a dunce cap for the rest of the day, and since I don’t see any dunce-capped man-sized chickens strolling around, we may conclude that the NRA’s suggestion is inherently irrational. This should come as no surprise: the NRA and its supporters are not driven by logic and rationality; they are driven by an unstable mixture of anti-government paranoia and a desire to hold on to their private arsenal of mini-WMDs. They won’t admit this, of course, but they’re as transparent as the windows of a schoolhouse. When you are so in love with guns that you’d rather see teachers, principals, and children needlessly endangered than submit to a little bit of reasonable regulation, it’s time to admit that you’re no longer firmly rooted in reality.