\It seemed strange last week, watching California's second most outspoken proponent of gun control (after Diane Feinstein) being loaded into an umarked prison van, accused of selling machine guns to California drug gangs (and potentially foreign terrorists) in exchange for campaign contributions. But there was Sen. Leland Yee, author of California's fancy new Assault Weapons Ban, loaded up for processing at San Fransisco's federal intake center. For selling machine guns. To gangs and terrorists. Oh boy.
But that's all fodder, really. You read that stuff or you don't. You find it ironic and troubling, or you don't. This post was meant to provide a quick guide for gun control advocates who are honest, concerned people, like my friend Dave, who posts on social media every single AP article with the word "shooting," in order to demonstrate that (I guess?) All The Guns Must Be Melted Down ASAP. But if you read the stories (I do!), what you see is that they all have very little in common, and even less in common with the currently popular ideas about enhanced gun control (gun registries, gun bans, etc). Luckily, Dave (and others), I'm here to help!
I'd like to propose just one rule (is this one of those "One Weird Tip" websites?) for Dave and my other friends who are gun control advocates: Read The Website Before You Spread It. Each time something awful happens with a gun, many gun control advocates react loudly on social media, "SEE! THIS IS WHY WE NEED TO BAN GUNS!" The problem is that they might not have read the article they're sharing, and they might not understand the legalities of what happened in that instance. Two recent stories from Dave's feed:
Perceived gun control angle: How idiotic! Some redneck let his gun go off in a public building. Ban guns!
Actual story: Police officer accidentally shoots his gun while at his desk, on duty.
Actual gun control angle: None, especially since cops and former cops are exempt from most gun control measures, and since gun control advocates routinely tell us that the police, unlike the public, don't have firearms accidents. In fact, discharging a gun in a government building is 100% illegal already.
Perceived gun control angle: Regular people shouldn't have guns, because accidents happen. Ban guns!
Actual story: Convicted felon is drunk in back seat, inexplicably shoots passenger in front seat.
Actual gun control angle: None, since convicted felons are specifically prohibited from buying or possessing guns. And obviously, shooting someone is illegal.
In both of these stories, something awful happened with a gun. A shooting of anybody, anywhere, is never a good thing. Even if it's a "good guy" shooting a "bad guy." Human life is important. Gun control, in theory, might be a way to help sustain human life. I get it. However, gun control has not yet been paired with the most important ancillary parts of human safety - mental health, changes to our educational system, changes to our penal system, or most importantly, each individual's desire to be part of a safe community (as opposed to "Stop Snitching!").
In the future, here's how Dave and other gun control advocates should actually analyze media pieces that include the word "gun" or "shooting."
1. Was the incident a crime or an accident?
2. Did the shooter violate an existing gun or safety law?
3. If so, would this incident have been prevented by any of the currently proposed tactics (assault rifle ban, handgun licensing, gun registration, background check)?
4. If the answers to 1-3 are muddled or don't support a perceived need for additional gun control,
don't share it on social media. I'm saying that to honestly help you.
Read stuff before you throw it out to the world. Just read.