Opinion: Nobody Says We Should Ban Fingers to Stop Mass Shootings

Walter Rhein

Image by Walter Rhein

You need a finger to pull a trigger right? Therefore, shouldn’t we be able to stop all mass shootings by banning fingers? Why isn’t anyone suggesting that?

The answer to why nobody is suggesting that is because it’s an idiotic idea.

For some reason, the media likes to pick up ridiculous ideas and run with them. The result is that it has become normalized to make arguments based on false equivalencies. These arguments only prevent our society from having productive discussions.

People often compare banning guns to banning cars.

“A lot of people die in accidents, I guess we should ban cars!”

Why not suggest banning steering wheels? Why not suggest banning highways? At what point does the comparison become so absurd that people start laughing at you instead of with you?

I suppose a call to ban highways might be a problem because then there might be a movement to invest in a railway infrastructure like citizens in other parts of the world enjoy.

There seems to be a complex structure designed to keep Americans from enjoying advancements people in other countries take for granted. Electric trains would reduce our oil dependency right?

Politicians and the general public always complain, but then they never do anything about these problems. Why do we allow them to make absurd comparisons instead of offering reasonable solutions?

We don’t ban cars. Instead, we require people to have a license. We require people to carry insurance. We make people legally liable if they cause an accident.

That’s why it’s a false equivalency to compare guns to cars. The truth is that we’ve already taken action as a society to regulate cars. The main difference between cars and guns is that guns aren’t nearly as regulated.

Until guns are regulated to the same extent as cars, you can't compare the two.

A republican politician recently made headlines for his comments regarding airplanes and September 11th.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Wednesday invoked 9/11 when arguing against gun control measures as a response to recent mass shootings, saying that the U.S. did not ban planes after the terrorist attack—Emily Brooks

Comparing guns to airplanes represents another example of false equivalency. First of all, young people can’t afford to walk into a store and purchase a Boeing 747. Even if they could purchase it, they wouldn’t be able to fly it.

Guns and airplanes are not the same. Comparing guns and airplanes is ridiculous.

Also, airports have extreme security. There’s a reason “nobody suggested” banning airplanes. It’s because it’s a stupid idea that trivializes the tragedy of September 11th.

A more accurate statement would have been to say, “Nobody suggested we shouldn’t do anything to stop future terrorist attacks after September 11th.”

It’s highly offensive the way individuals in positions of authority use false equivalencies to make a mockery of gun violence. Don't they value human life?

You can go on forever with a list of unrelated things that nobody has ever suggested we should ban.

Banning fingers wouldn’t stop mass shootings.

Banning cars wouldn’t stop traffic accidents.

Banning airplanes wouldn’t stop terrorist attacks.

All those statements are accurate, that’s why nobody is saying those things. We don’t need politicians to give us lists of things that nobody is saying. These comments make a mockery of a very serious issue.

Instead of wasting our time discussing ridiculous ideas that nobody is proposing, we should focus our attention on the solutions that might work.

The United States spends way too much time listening to the opinions of irresponsible people who waste our time making frivolous remarks.

The Constitution says we have a right to arms.

It doesn’t say we have a right to a trigger.

It doesn’t say we have a right to a firing pin.

It doesn’t say we have a right to ammunition.

It doesn’t say the gun industry has a right to protection from legal liability.

It also establishes our gun rights in the context of a "well-regulated militia."

Keep those arguments in mind the next time the media or the general public lets a politician get away with a frivolous, nonsensical comparison.

"You're trying to compare guns to cars? You are aware that they are radically different things right? You're aware that you can't have a 'mass shooting' with a car because a car is incapable of firing any bullets right?"

We need to normalize respectful and responsible discussions that contain real-world solutions. We can't allow politicians to waste our time with nonsensical and irrelevant comparisons.

Nobody is coming to take your trigger finger or your car or your airplane. Don’t waste everyone’s time making absurd comments.

Gun violence, on the other hand, is a real and present threat to your children. Don’t trivialize it. It’s not going away. This isn’t a joking matter. We owe our children at least the courtesy of a mature and civilized discussion.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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