Replying to Cynthia Tucker, "America is Exceptionally Dumb When to Comes to Guns"

Cynthia Tucker is a columnist with a column called "As I See It" published through uExpress. Her recent article is titled "America is Exceptionally Dumb When to [sic] Comes to Guns". This should be a rather easy response, given some of the language and rhetoric she employs quite early on. So let’s get into this.

While Americans typically laud our national "exceptionalism" — a sense that the trajectory of history has bestowed greatness upon the United States — there are a few of our distinctive characteristics that don’t deserve celebration. On the subject of firearms, for example, the United States is exceptionally irrational. No other nation has set guns aside as an object of worship.

It is true that every nation has characteristics that don’t deserve celebration, some more so than others. But in the United States, guns are not seen as "objects of worship". It is what they represent that is worshipped. Given that you are black, I’m going to make a presumption that you are Christian. Do you worship the cross, or do you worship what a cross represents? If you say the former, you are an idolater according to the Bible.

So what then do guns represent? Quite simply: individual power. And with individual power, freedom.

We have let a blood-soaked gun lobby dictate our laws and regulations on firearms;

"Blood-soaked gun lobby"? These words alone tell me that the rest of your article is going to be nothing but fallacies and lies. You are basically pitting the blame for every firearms death in history on every gun owner in the United States simply by shear fact that we own firearms. Wouldn’t surprise me if you feel that every other gun owner is to blame for Sandy Hook, including the woman whose firearms were actually used in that massacre, the same woman who was killed before the massacre actually occurred.

The one thing many seem to forget, you included, is that the gun lobby is actually every gun owner in the United States. I am part of the gun lobby through my membership to the United States Concealed Carry Association. About 5 million individuals are members of the gun lobby through their memberships to the National Rifle Association.

It isn’t the "gun lobby" dictating America’s policy on guns. It is the citizens belonging to those organizations.

we have passed "stand your ground" laws that allow violent and angry men to murder unarmed people;

And no talk on the "blood soaked gun lobby" would be complete without bringing up Trayvon Martin, now would it? For one, George Zimmerman never tried to use "stand your ground" as a defense in Court. There was no justification for it, as the evidence shows Zimmerman was not even on his feet when he fired his weapon. There was no discernable distance between him and Martin when Martin was shot.

But the laws don’t allow for the murder of unarmed people. "Stand your ground" still requires a justifiable claim of self defense, along with a demonstration through evidence that the law applies to your specific case. Stop taking your education on the law through the press and actually do some real research.

we have given the mentally unstable the ability to buy military-style assault weapons with which they wreak havoc on crowds.

No, the mentally unstable are specifically barred by law from being able to do such.

But here’s the thing, and it hits on a foundational principle in the United States: the person must be declared mentally unstable in a Court of Law to lose the right to possess firearms. You see, we have this thing called "due process". And we have a requirement in the United States that before a person can lose any rights, they must first be adjudicated by a Court.

Now if a person who has been adjudicated mentally unstable is still able to purchase a firearm, that is a concern that needs to be addressed with the NICS system, which is something that the President sought to address through executive order.

In addition, we have allowed the gun lobby to suppress research into the public health consequences of our firearms-worshipping culture. Indeed, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga. — running in a crowded GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat — has recently reversed himself, going back on an earlier pledge to support such studies. It hardly gets any loonier than that.

The gun lobby has not suppressed such research. The research has actually been going on.

What was suppressed was government funding of that research, specifically research that is to be performed by the United States Public Health Service, which has a stated anti-gun agenda. The goal of public research regarding guns is to manufacture or misinterpret data to the point where a ban can be seen as necessary for the preservation of public health. It is one of the reasons the NRA blew up with regard to Obama’s latest nominee for Surgeon General.

Science is not supposed to have any kind of agenda, yet with guns that seems unavoidable for some reason. But regardless, science should not dictate policy that will be used to limit rights. After all, data exists that suggests that atheists have better sex lives than the religious, and sex is seen as a necessary part of a healthy relationship. So should we outlaw religion so people can have better sex, and therefore better relationships and lives overall?

In the 1990s, the National Rifle Association successfully stymied public health researchers who wanted to study the causes and consequences of gun violence.

Your description of the research is incomplete. They wanted to study the consequences of gun violence with the express intent of justifying a ban on all firearms, that dastardly Constitution and its Second Amendment notwithstanding.

The gun lobby clearly fears that science will discover that guns are dangerous and that, well, more guns are more dangerous.

It’s not the science that is feared, but the politicians who will use that science to further their agenda. Plus, as I’ve already said, the research has been going on absent the public funding, so the gun lobby hasn’t suppressed anything except a source of funding. In fact, I believe the NRA has actually funded research regarding guns and violence.

However, after the Sandy Hook atrocity in December 2012, it appeared that the dead bodies of 20 small children — and six adults — might be enough to finally restore some sanity to the national conversation.

So because the "national conversation" hasn’t been going the way you feel it should, it has not been sane? Interesting take on that. It’s also interesting that you you mention the six adult victims of that atrocity as merely a side statement instead of part of your main thought. Were their lives no less valuable than the children who were killed, or are their deaths somehow less politically convenient?

Indeed in mentioning the Tuscon shooting that put a bullet through Gabrielle Giffords’ head, I see it hardly ever mentioned that there was a 9 year-old girl who was killed that day: Christina Taylor Green, who was born September 11, 2001. Instead all of the focus is on Giffords, and not really on any of the dead from that day. Why is that? Likely because Christina was the only child killed that day – i.e. there weren’t enough dead children to give it much attention.

Sandy Hook, on the other hand, was a blood-filled gold mine for the anti-gun crowd.

But Sandy Hook didn’t restore sanity to the national conversation. It filled it with even more insanity. All you have to do is look at the legislation introduced in its wake, not just in Congress, but in the State legislatures throughout the United States and look at what States like New York, Colorado and Connecticut have passed in the name of Sandy Hook.

So Kingston has dutifully signed up to block Obama’s request for CDC funding for gun violence research, telling ProPublica recently that "the president’s request to fund propaganda for his gun-grabbing initiatives through the CDC will not be included" in the next appropriations bill.

Again, that is because the CDC and the United States Public Health Service have a stated anti-gun agenda and a stated anti-gun bias.

That means that some of the questions we desperately need answered won’t get the inquiry they deserve: Do background checks deter gun violence? How many mass shooters had a detectable mental illness? What is the link between suicide and gun ownership? Even Kingston’s question about a possible link between violent video games and mass shootings won’t be studied.

Actually all of these questions and more have been studied.

Do background checks deter gun violence? The correlation exists, but I don’t believe causation has been established, and likely won’t as the NICS went into operation in late 1998, five years into the declining trend in overall violence in the US.

How many mass shooters had a detectable mental illness? I believe the answer so far has been close to all of them. You don’t even need a study to answer that question. Doing some research just with Wikipedia will give you that answer. But I know the continuation of that question is "and what can we have done to prevent those people from having access to guns?" Answer: not much without a Court intervening.

What is the link between suicide and gun ownership? Quoting Harvard University:

The preponderance of current evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for youth suicide in the United States.  The evidence that gun availability increases the suicide rates of adults is credible, but is currently less compelling.

And it has been shown that there is no link between violent video games and mass shootings, so there is no need to address that question. Close to all of the mass shooters were not known gamers, and virtually all gamers are not people who will commit mass shootings. Ever since the rumors circulated that the Columbine killers played Doom, video games have been a scapegoat because it’s something easy to blame rather than looking at the real problem.

Interestingly, guns are quite easy to blame as well, and have been readily blamed.

Even before Columbine, the Federal government was looking into violent video games, in particular due to the infamous Mortal Kombat, along with lesser-known titles. And there has actually been nothing to suggest that violent video games increase violence, and plenty of data to the contrary.

Recall that since 1993, violent crime in the United States has been on a steady decline, despite the consumption of violent video games being on a constant increase. Even the United States Army decided to get in on that action. Mass shootings have been nothing but a drop in the bucket as far as overall violence is concerned as well. Horrible as such tragedies are, they are dwarfed by the number of other firearms victims – homicide, suicide and accidental combined – which is still further dwarfed by the number of people killed in car accidents.