“But Guns Are Made for Killing People”

31 October 2017

Don’t be fooled by this compelling statement against firearms.

Have you ever been in the middle of a discussion/debate/argument/poo-flinging exchange with somebody who feels morally opposed to the existence of firearms, only to have them launch the old “but guns are made for killing people” line at you? That line gets played like a magic card that will suddenly end the conversation. A mic drop of sorts.

The point in the above exchange where this most often comes in is where you point out the double logic in those people against firearms accepting the carnage created with instruments such as cars in society as collateral damage in a bigger picture of access to a neutrally useful instrument, while counting every harm created with firearms as an argument against the existence of firearms.

A prime example of such brain-splitting double logic would be an argument telling you that if your firearm is stolen and used in the commission of a murder that you should share the guilt with the perpetrator, whereas the person whose car was stolen and used to transport the murderer to the scene receives no such burden to carry.

THEY were just the unfortunate victim of the theft of a morally neutral instrument that happened to be used for murder; YOU were a participating agent in the murder by facilitating the availability of a morally reprehensible demon device. Or some such. Either way, you’re on the wrong side, according to the anti-firearm lobby.

A knee-jerk response from a well-meaning yet inexperienced-in-discourse firearm owner might be to deny flat out that firearms are made for killing people. The problem with that though is that while it may be true that a firearm isn’t going to kill somebody of its own accord, and that many firearms are made purely for sporting purposes, lots of others are actually made to be chiefly suitable for killing people. They won’t do it of their own accord (tread carefully, fans of artificial intelligence technology), but they’re made for it.

Ha, they’ve got you there! Murderer.

But wait a second... Is all killing murder? No. As the most relevant example here, self-defence killing is not murder. I dare anybody who disagrees with that notion to be on the receiving end of a maniac stabbing them repeatedly in the guts, watching as their entrails hang out and the last of their blood leaves their body, and have an option of two buttons to press. One that says ‘carry on’, and one that says ‘vaporise attacker instantly’. Quick, choose one.

Killing with consent from the person in question is not ‘murder’. Killing of animals is contentious, right up until the animal is suffering immensely and euthanasia is required. Then most will accept it. In which case, I have to ask – how does the animal consent to its death? It then becomes clear that we use a different ethical code for animals, based on levels of sentience, regardless of whether you’re a hunter or a veterinarian. Again, it’s not murder. Murder is a violation of consent in the choice to live, when your own consent is not being violated and requiring protection.

The entire “but guns are made for killing people” argument is built on the presupposition that all killing is ethically unacceptable. Once we remove that fallacious idea from the picture, the argument is reduced to empty grandstanding rhetoric – much like everything else the anti-firearm lobby churns out.

By: Bernard Allen

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