Saturday, July 21, 2012

Weapons aren't really my thing...

I spent a bit of time on the internet today and found out about the chap who went apeshit at the screening of Batman. Now, I'm usually the last one to hear about these things, so I'm just going to assume that you all know about it. It was brought to my attention by the Sydney Morning Herald, then by George Takei and then by one of my lovely neighbours. All three of these sources seemed to indicate that their primary concern was for the victims and their families and the sci-fi/fantasy/comic book fan community. These are responses I can understand and relate to, and somewhat mirror my own feelings when the news started to sink in.

Then I saw a link to a newsblog website which started out fairly sane (in the scheme of things), though I was (and am still) extremely dubious about the authority of the text. It gave great detail about the event to the point where I found myself scrolling up to see who this person was that they should be so in-the-know. Then it started talking about how the gunman was the result of a neurological experiment designed to repress those who hold their second amendment rights dear in the face of the UN small arms treaty vote. Yes. This was all a plot by pinko lefties (and the FBI) to stop people being allowed to carry guns.


And then, from the same person who linked the above article, I see the usual overly dramatic nonsense about how this all could have been prevented or minimised if more people in the audience had brought their own firearms with them to the theatre.


Obviously, the best response to a crazed gunman is for amateurs to start shooting into the darkness! That will solve everything!

So...context is out of the way.

So a facebook friend says:

How many innocents have to die before American voters recognise that the willful misreading of the 2nd Amendment (designed to protext the right to join the National Guard) which allows civilians to purchase military-style weapons is insanely wrong?
And for the benefit of my American friends: Here in Australia we are every bit as free as those on the other side of the Pacific - indeed, with no Patriot Act, rather more so - but we worked out, from the painful experience that no sane civilian needs to own a semi-automatic weapon. As a consequence, Australians are 10 TIMES less likely to die from a gun crime than Americans - while at the same time our armed forces are widely recognised as the finest in the world, with an expertise the US military have come to depend upon.

My response:

I have a few friends in the USA who are very pro-guns. They ask me how I can possibly feel safe without a weapon to protect myself with. I carefully explain that the only reason everyone would need a gun is if everyone else has already has a gun and you're concerned they will turn their gun on you at a moments notice. In this situation, I will die whether I own a gun or not. I'm not John McClane, and when the bullets start flying there's not much that will stop me from getting killed or injured. Owning a gun does not suddenly imbue me with military training for emergency situations. It just makes me more likely to shoot myself or hurt someone else by accident.

They talk about the need to protect themselves and their families in case of home invasions. I think bringing a weapon into this kind of situation only makes things more likely to escalate to deadly violence. I've seen first hand how easy it is to be disarmed by someone with a moderate amount of training. I try to talk to them about how the things in my house are just *things*. They're not important. Then they talk about their sentimental belongings. I'm pretty sure that sentiment doesn't magically imbue objects with additional resale value on the black market and the pics of your grandfather and your mums recipe books are not going to be prime targets of your average home invader. And it is statistically unlikely that anyone is going to climb into your window to rape your daughter. It's just not how these things happen.

It feels like people have been caught up in some dramatic fictional narrative about themselves and they are preparing themselves for the dramatic climax where they protect either their family or the public from some crazed gunman. There are simply not enough crazed gunmen to fulfil all the hero fantasies of all the pro-gun nuts out there.

Apparently (and I don't actually remember where I read this, so take it with a grain of salt) the gunman in Colorado was a role-player. I am now waiting for the outcry against fantasy or science fiction roleplaying games on the basis that they create homicidal maniacs. I've already seen one person bring out the old violent video games trope.