Jared Lee Loughner Uber Alles? Let's Face It, Gun Nuts Are Just Selfish

My colleague Ray Stern has responded to my reply to his recent pro-gun editorial. In it, Ray wonders what I meant at one point in my rebuttal, which is entitled, "Mental Health Check for Gun Buys? Talk About a Straw Man..."

This is what Ray had to say,

My colleague and water-cooler debate opponent, Stephen Lemons, contends not only that I've made a straw-man argument, but even worse, that I'm wrong. (He may talk of straw-man arguments, but we're still trying to figure out who he means when he wrote "there are many out there who demand carte blanche. They want what they want, and they don't seem too troubled when other members of society have to deal with the bloody consequences.")

The point, Ray, is that too many of your gun-lovin' compatriots don't seem to want any restrictions on gun ownership. That's an absolutist position, one that brooks no compromise. It also seems to be one you favor.

As for your straw man argument, your blog met that definition because gun-control groups like the Brady Campaign are not pushing for pre-gun-buy mental-health checks, which you posit as a realistic suggestion from gun control proponents. 

You've yet to cite a source for this. It seems a product of the standard paranoid imagination of the gun-obsessed. The more you persist in it, the more absurd it becomes.

In actuality, gun control groups will be lucky to get a national ban on extended clips, which should be an obvious first step in the wake of the Tucson massacre.

You write, "Motor vehicles are more dangerous than guns, so more restrictions and training are needed."

But in this state, there's no training at all required for guns, whether you pack that pistol concealed or unconcealed. For cars, the standards are a lot higher.

Your assertion that "motor vehicles are more dangerous than guns," is true, but not by as much as you may think.

The Centers for Disease Control collects mortality-related stats. In other words, they count bodies and how they ended up stiff.

For 2007, the most recent year for which the CDC has comprehensive stats, motor vehicle deaths totaled 44,128 for the U.S., or 14.63 per 100,000. (Note: Source for these stats is the CDC's Web site.) 

Firearm deaths for 2007 totaled 31,224, or 10.35 per 100,000.

Would the death rate for guns have to equal exactly the death rate for cars before you relented and agreed to similar training requirements for firearms?

If gun deaths were twice what they are, I doubt you'd concede the point.

Since New York is your focal point, the CDC's stats for New York state are of interest.

For 2007, New York had a total of 985 firearm related deaths. That equals 5.07 per 100,000 residents.

In Arizona for the same year, there were 951 firearm related deaths. Since we hardly have the population of the Empire State, this equals 14.95 deaths per 100,000.

Arizona's population was 6,362,241 in 2007. New York's was 19,422,777. And yet, New York's total firearm deaths were higher than Arizona's by only 34 dead.

As for the anecdote you tell about your relative, basically he told the cops to go on their way, and it sounds like they did. No big whoop. People are arrested here in Sand Land for a lot less, particularly by the MCSO, as you and I are well aware. Albeit, such arrests are not usually gun-related, but still...

Statistics aside, our disagreement comes down to this:

Too many gun nuts want absolutely zero restrictions on their access to firepower. Their motivation is purely selfish, born of some Freudian fetish for firearms.

I have no problem with people having guns, but I don't know why gun wackos should be exempt from a few modest restrictions.

Inconvenient? Perhaps. To that I say, "Grow up." Adults have to deal with inconvenience all of the time. This need to have everything you want immediately -- even if it poses a risk to others -- is infantile. As if the Glock was your pacifier.

I know, it's in the Constitution. And I respect that. But so is the First Amendment. And yet, there are limits on the First Amendment. Everything from libel law and copyright infringement to death threats, privacy restrictions, "secrecy" issues...I could go on and on.

The political reality is, serious gun laws are unlikely to be passed in Arizona anytime soon. We'll have to rely on the U.S. Congress to do something, and that seems iffy at best.

How much blood will have to be shed before the firearm fanatics are beaten back in this state? A lot more. Rivers of it. Oceans. And even then...

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons