My condolence, whatever it is worth, to everyone who was injured, and to the families of the murdered, in today’s attack at Ohio State University. There are never any words to ease the aching heart of those affected by such tragedies, and I’m not going to attempt to. Nothing but time will heal the wounds suffered today, and there is no amount of time that will wipe away the scars of it. If you are one such impacted person, click away. It’s not because I’m about to say anything insensitive, but because you have better things to be doing.
I’m pissed off at Second Amendment advocates and libertarians for jumping the gun on this attack. Fueled solely by media reports of a shooter at the university, people pounced and immediately started blaming Gun Free Zones. I’ve seen it primarily on Facebook, but it’s hardly limited to Facebook. It was also on every news article about it that I saw–the comments were absolutely filled with people blaming Gun Free Zones and bitching about how liberals were going to use this to create more gun regulations.
Then something very, very bad happened.
It was revealed that it wasn’t a shooter at all, but a lunatic who committed vehicular homicide and who then went on to attack people with a knife.
The New Media
It immediately occurred to me this morning why traditional media is dying: it simply can’t compete. The “shooting” was still freaking happening when I learned about it, when people all over the Internet were still talking about it. It made me aware of several other things, too, like the fact that here in America we now politicize mass shooting while they’re still happening. Of course, most of the people who do this–who argue against Gun Free Zones while a mass shooting is “taking place”–insist that they’re not politicizing it, and that they’re just defending against the liberals who will politicize it and attempt to regulate guns further.
However, I’m not sure that it’s really a good thing that we gain access to such news while it’s still happening. Even before I knew that it wasn’t a shooter at all, I remarked to a friend via email that it causes us to jump to conclusions with little-to-no information. I can’t guess how many people jumped to the conclusion that this shooting wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been a Gun Free Zone. With traditional media, we wouldn’t even learn about the attack until the evening news tonight, at which point we’d hear that a lunatic with a knife did it. Without social media, the Ohio State incident would never have been called a mass shooting.
Gun Free Zones Are Bad
The narrative was that this mass shooting took place in a Gun Free Zone, and, because it was a gun free zone, no one on site had a gun to put a stop to it, and they had to instead call the police, which includes a delay. Instead of a student going, “Oh, hell naw!” and whipping out a gun to put a stop to the shooting, they had to wait, hide, cower, and run, unarmed, and wait for the police to come and rescue them. Their point is one that I adamantly agree with. I’m a member of the Bear Nukes Caucus of the Libertarian Party–I advocate total freedom of arms. Tanks, nukes, whatever, yes, I think you should be allowed to buy it. No, I’m not joking.
So that’s the context for everything I’m about to say. I’m as anti-gun-regulation as a person gets. I’ve got several guns. I’ve made a flamethrower. I’ve got the Anarchist Cookbook, I am armed, and I am ready.
If it had turned out that this was a shooter, they would be absolutely right. The criminal, after all, doesn’t care that it’s against the rules to bring a gun somewhere. Only people who care about the law will abide a law that says they can’t carry a gun somewhere. This is Common Sense 101. The only way to have a Gun Free Zone work is with absolute gun control and zero gun ownership. Obviously, this requires closing down the borders, since people can and do smuggle weapons across the border; you can’t have gun control when you have insecure borders.
However, the moment it was revealed that the attacker had a knife, not a gun, the entire argument got flipped on its head, and the pro-gun crowd had handed liberals evidence that gun free zones work on a silver platter.
The Attacker Didn’t Have a Gun
The moment that it was revealed that the attacker had a knife, libertarians and pro-gun people went from arguing that the victims should have had guns to defend themselves to arguing that the attacker should have had a gun rather than a knife. They don’t realize it, but that’s precisely what they ended up arguing. Abolish Gun Free Zones? In a Gun Free Zone that was just attacked by someone with a knife, almost certainly because they couldn’t get a gun? So you wish they’d have had a gun for their rampage?
I know that isn’t the argument that libertarians and pro-gun people are trying to make, but it doesn’t matter what they’re trying to say, not when “what they mean to say” conflicts so spectacularly with what they’re actually saying. Abolish the Gun Free Zone? Oh, yeah, because it would have been so much better if the attacker had a gun, right?
Once more, I completely agree that gun free zones are ineffective, and that the attacker could certainly have gotten a gun if he’d been willing to wait or shell out the money. But these arguments don’t matter! If guns had been cheaper–because they weren’t black market–or more readily available, then this would have been a shooting. If you’ve fallen so far into your dogma that you can’t see that basic fact, then please, for the love of god, stop arguing for libertarianism.
Because you are arguing that the attacker should have had access to guns.
In your hypothetical, Lunatic buys a gun, and goes to shoot up Ohio State. Instead, he is shot by another student who has a gun for self defense. The only person who dies is the lunatic. Yeah, I get it. I agree. A properly trained population of people acting as their own defenders, their own police force–that is the only way to curb murders and mass shootings. However, your hypothetical is too far removed from reality for the liberal to agree, and it’s the liberal who must be convinced.
When you say that, the liberal hears “The attacker should have been able to get a gun.”
You’re thinking about this only from the perspective of a victim; the liberal is thinking about it only from the perspective of an attacker. That’s an interesting distinction worth analysis for another day, though. You’re thinking about all the victims who could stand up and defend themselves instead of being victims. The liberal is thinking about the attacker and all the damage the attacker can do with a gun. That’s how the liberal sees the world.
And if you want to persuade people, you must be willing to look at the world through their prism. This is not optional.
You absolutely will not persuade them that it would be a good idea for the attacker to have had a gun, and the moment it became known that this was a stabber and not a shooter was the moment you found yourselves arguing that the attacker should have had access to guns. Whether that is what you meant or not, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s what you’re arguing.
A Lesson Learned
I can’t tell you how glad I am that I only emailed a friend about the “shooting” at Ohio State. And while I am not minimizing anyone’s suffering, it is almost certainly true that the violence would have been much worse if the attacker had been wielding a gun. Compare it to the tragedy in Orlando, where 49 people were killed by a guy with a gun. At Ohio State, the only person who is dead is the attacker.
Contrary to what you are saying, this is strong evidence that the Gun Free Zone, the mandatory wait times, and the high prices of guns… actually work as methods of deterring gun violence. You can’t say otherwise. Even in our system, the attacker could certainly have gotten a gun if he wanted to. Maybe he would have had to take a second job to afford it, but there’s no doubt he could have gotten one. But instead he attacked the university with a knife. And you’re arguing that more people should have guns. Your “more people” now includes that guy who attacked the university with a knife. Why didn’t he use a gun? I don’t know, and I’m not going to pretend to know. But there are good chances it had something to do with the cost, the mandatory wait times, maybe the background check he might not have been able to pass, who knows?
Whatever is the reason that the attacker didn’t have a gun, the fact remains that he didn’t have one when he attacked.
And you’re arguing that he should have been able to get one.
So please, I beg you, stop trying to argue for our side. You’re not helping.
Or continue arguing for our side, that’s fine. But for the love of fuck, please learn the valuable lesson from this experience that:
- You should not politicize an issue at least until the event is actually over.
- You should not attempt to hold a tragedy up as evidence of your ideology until the facts are in.
- Wait until a shooter is confirmed before you start railing about why everyone should be able to have a gun.
I think that last point is the disconnect that people aren’t seeing. Once it was revealed the attacker didn’t have a gun, they suddenly were arguing that “everyone should have a gun, including the attacker.” That is not an argument that is going to persuade people.
We have to be willing to see the world through the eyes of people who disagree with us. And those people who disagree with us were just handed evidence that gun free zones work, that gun control regulations prevented the attacker from getting a gun, and that one mass shooting at least was prevented by these measures. Additionally, you backed up their position that you would rather attackers have guns than knives. It is irrelevant whether you believe what they believe or not; you have to understand what they believe and why they believe it. How else could you possibly show them that they’re mistaken?