“If Guns Kill People, Spoons Make You Fat”

You’ve heard the counter-argument time and time again:

“If guns kill people…

spoons make people fat

cars drive drunk

pencils misspell words”

or some other comparison.

Only, none of these comparisons apply.  Rather, they only serve to contrast.

Are guns designed to kill people?
Yes.

Are spoons designed to make people fat?
No.

Are cars designed to be driven drunk?
No.

Are pencils designed to misspell words?
No.

Regardless of your stance on guns, gun ownership, gun regulation, gun control, or gun whatever, the whole “guns don’t kill people” argument simply doesn’t hold up.  They do tend to kill people, when used as intended, with skill.  When used without skill, they miss people, or sometimes hit unintended targets, still injuring or killing people.  But when a gun is used with its intended purpose, and done so with skill, people tend to die.

Guns kill people.  They are designed to.
Spoons
make people fat when unhealthy instead of healthy food is put in them.
Cars drive erratically when an irresponsible/drunk driver is in them rather than a responsible/sober driver.
Pencils misspell words when the person holds them spells the word incorrectly.

The one thing each of these items has in common is that when used with skill they all perform the actions they are made to perform, whether it be killing a person, delivering sustaining food, transporting individuals efficiently, or graphing language on paper.

But guns are designed to kill, and regardless of the nature of the one firing it, if the bullet hits you in the right place, you will die, because that is what the tool is designed to do.

  • Spoons do not make us fat,
    but spoons pre-packaged with cups of lard-based foods do.
  • Cars do not drive drunk,
    but significant amounts of alcohol do make drivers drunk.
  • Pencils do not misspell words,
    but a poorly designed auto-correct app on your phone does misspell words.

It is in the nature of the very craft and design of guns to kill people.  It is in the symbolic nature of guns that the message is being sent: I can and would use this to kill you.  A spoon on a menu doesn’t say “people come here to get fat”; A car on a sign doesn’t say “people wreck here”; A pencil beside a paper on a desk doesn’t say “a persons misspelled words here.”  But a gun holstered, or even held, says “I am willing to kill using this firearm if I deem it fit to do so, and as you can see I possess one with which to do so.”

Only under special circumstances, when additional context is provided, would people interpret otherwise, such as the shirt this man is wearing for The Brasstown Brigade, a troupe of entertainers who ceremoniously fire unloaded muzzle loaders for special occasions as a gesture of good will. On his shirt are crossed rifles, which otherwise indicate a willingness to use firearms violently.  Unless you are aware of the Brigade’s traditions, you would likely assume they are a brigade of men and women ready to arm themselves and fire loaded weapons with the intent to kill should they feel compelled to do so.

Guns, when being used, not being used to kill people are by default the exception, not the rule.

If a gun has not killed a person, there are only 4 possibilities:
1. The gun was not fired.
2. The gun was fired away from a person (intentionally or accidentally).
3. The gun was fired, but the person was only injured.
4. The gun was fired, but there was no live ammunition.

So if guns kill people, then guns kill people, and that calls for discussion about what is to be said and done about it.  A realistic discussion, with realistic analogies and realistic terms.

6 responses to ““If Guns Kill People, Spoons Make You Fat”

  1. You seem to have missed the point of “If guns…” And that is that is that it is the person using the tool who is responsible for the action of killing, eating, driving drunk…. Gun owners want people to understand responsibility. Some one has rightly said, “There are no dangerous weapons, there are only dangerous people.”

    • I understand the point. But there are BOTH dangerous guns and dangerous people. Anything that carries the potential to do much damage is dangerous. Would you say that a highly radioactive mineral is not dangerous, or that a vat of skin-devouring acid is not dangerous?

      If the line is meant to teach that people should be responsible, it should say that.

      • An inanimate object is not dangerous if it cannot perform some action on its own. Radioactive material is not a justified argument. It spontaneously emits harmful radiation. A gun does not. Who told you guns were manufactured to kill a person? Not a fact. Guns are for hunting and for personal protection. People can be killed with anything if the person behind it is purposeful enough. Rope, rat tail combs, forks. It’s not the object that needs to be eradicated. It’s the intent of the person, which has gone bad.

    • I understand the point, but if it is the person using the tool who is responsible, how many children must we name as murderers (or call their deaths suicides) because they became “responsible” for killing merely by handling a tool that was made to do precisely what happened when they handled it?

      Again, responsibility is great (as is arguing for responsibility in a discussion of guns), but slogans mislead, oversimplify, and deflect our attention from the fact that we are a violent people whose violence is amplified by our obsession with guns.

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