Guns don’t kill people, do they?
Abraham Lincoln was born on Feb. 12, 1809. Today is the 205th anniversary of his birth. Lincoln was the first president elected as a Republican, but what would he think about today’s Republican Party? It would be especially interesting to know his thoughts about gun control, since he was killed by a bullet shot from a gun held by an assassin. Did the gun actually kill Lincoln? Not according to a popular mantra quoted by the “guns for everyone” folks: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”
Think about that for a minute. If guns don’t kill people, then we could argue that bombs don’t kill people, and chemical weapons don’t kill people and box cutters don’t kill people. If that’s true, why do we have to go through airport check points where the TSA checks for weapons of all sorts? If none of these things kill people, why aren’t they allowed on planes?
Also, why are we so concerned about Iran getting nuclear weapons? After all, nuclear weapons don’t kill people, people kill people. Why did we stop Syria from using chemical weapons? Chemical weapons don’t kill people, people kill people. Make sense yet?
You could say that guns don’t kill people; it’s the bullets that kill people. You could say bombs don’t kill people; it’s the explosion or the radioactivity that kills people. You could say chemical weapons don’t kill people; it’s the exposure to the chemicals that kills people. The common factor in all of these is people using weapons to kill other people. A bomb or gun by itself won’t do anything. It’s people using guns, or bombs, or chemicals, or whatever, that causes damage. Refusing to acknowledge that truth is being disingenuous. So if we can’t regulate guns, we need to regulate people — “A well regulated militia…” People using guns need to be trained and licensed. That won’t prevent all the needless deaths, but it will cut them down.
Cars can kill people. They can even be used as a murder weapon. To reduce car deaths, anyone driving a car is required to learn to drive, pass a test, and get a license. We still have vehicle deaths, but if cars were treated as guns are, anyone could buy a car, climb in and start driving. No training, no testing, no license. We would just hope that the drivers we meet on the road had the self-discipline to actually learn how to drive. But there would be no requirements to prove the driver actually knows how to operate a motor vehicle. Any car they want, any time they want, with any type of training they choose to get or not get. Would that make our roads safer? That’s how gun ownership works in the U.S.
If guns don’t kill people, then when a four year old boy in New Jersey picks up a loaded gun left lying around and shoots and kills his six year old playmate, what did kill the playmate? The “responsible” gun owner who left the gun where a child could get it? When a 4-year-old in Arizona shoots and kills his father, who is responsible? The “responsible” gun owner father?
How about the 10-month-old baby shot and killed accidentally by his father in Tennessee? Or the young man in Florida who bought a gun and showed it to his girlfriend? While they were playing with the gun, the girlfriend pointed it at her boyfriend’s chest and pulled the trigger, because it wasn’t loaded. Only it was, and the boyfriend is dead. With no mandatory training on how to use a gun, who is responsible? Studies show that 1.7 million homes have loaded, unlocked guns present. Who is responsible when a child picks up one of these guns and kills himself or someone else? Why is this okay? It must be okay, since the NRA hasn’t made prevention a top priority. They are more concerned with getting more guns into more homes.
One last historical note. Lincoln, a Republican, spent his presidency trying to save the union. He was assassinated in an act of revenge. Yet today, Republicans leaders are talking about nullification and secession, the very principles Lincoln fought against. The modern Republican ideals are principles Lincoln gave his life to defeat. When Republicans celebrate at their Lincoln Day dinners, maybe they ought to give at least a little thought to the principles of the man they claim to be honoring, the man who was killed with a gun.
Jeanette Strong’s column appears every other Wednesday.