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Ottawa, Ontario

Just a little corner of the interwebz where I occasionally jot down a thought or two. Why do I do it? Partly to communicate in some way with you, the reader, and partly because it's some sad way of leaving a legacy of some kind I guess.


guns and ships... ok, no ships

Jonathan Tom

Full disclosure, I consider myself to be fairly liberal and not particularly in favour of guns to begin with.

February 14th 2018 in Parkland, Florida, seventeen students were killed and more than fifteen injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This tragic event brings the total number of school shootings this year in 2018 up to 18 which works out to roughly three per week according to Everytown for Gun Safety. The problem with this statistic is that it’s not necessarily completely accurate... although all the incidents used to come to this number involved the firing of a weapon on school grounds some of them aren’t really what most people would consider when the term “school shooting” is used.

I’m not going to delve too much deeper into the fact that the statistic isn’t quite accurate - if you’re interested in that aspect of the story check out Snopes here. The reason I’m not going any further into that fact is because it doesn’t matter. Let me say it again for those of you at the back of the room it doesn’t matter that the statistic is not completely accurate (though not inaccurate) because any school shooting is too many.

Parents sent their children off to school trusting that it should be a safe place of education and, to some extent, socialization. No one sends their child to school thinking “I wonder if this will be the last time I see my kid alive” and no one should have to have those thoughts. There are plenty of arguments for and against gun control and regulation in the US - the NRA and pro-gun faction argue that it’s all covered under the second amendment which should be held sacrosanct to all else. They’ll argue that they need to protect themselves against a tyrannical government and that firearms are the only way to accomplish that protection. They’ll argue that if you take away their right to own firearms then the “bad guys” will find a way to get them anyway.

Let’s address these in sequence and without any name calling because that’s not the way to converse about the subject in an adult matter: firstly, the second amendment was created in a time when people had muskets and not assault rifles. A musket has a firing rate of 2-3 rounds per minute while a modern semi-automatic rifle is able to discharge 45-60 rounds per minute. Without being a time traveler there’s no way to completely prove this point for or against but I strongly believe that this is not the type of weapon that the founding fathers had in mind when the second amendment was written.

Secondly, with regards to the need to protect yourself from a tyrannical government and with the definition of “tyranny” including “crude, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control”. It could be argued that the current administration could be considered tyrannical, but that aside, even if the people were to rise up against a modern government it would be the equivalent to bringing a knife to a drone fight. With technology being as advanced as it is today the current armed citizen with an assault rifle barricaded in his or her home would never see the strike coming - the rebellion would end as quickly you could read this article.

Finally, the point about taking away “good guy” guns and the “bad guys” being able to get them anyway... where to start? I wish I could find the video clip to link here but there’s a great video available where President Obama speaks to this exact point. Essentially he starts by saying that at no point did he try (or want) to take away people’s guns - what had been proposed was stricter gun control. The argument that bad guys will always be able to get weapons is countered by the overwhelming data from the rest of the countries in the civilized world. Just because the determined will be able to acquire something doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be made more difficult to get. It’s an argument akin to saying “Cocaine will always be able to be gotten by determined addicts so we should simply make it legal to buy at any pharmacy”. Doesn’t that sound preposterous?

Recently the students of Parkland’s shooting protested in Washington and some of the resulting social media comments were , at the very least, reprehensible, deplorable, repugnant, and downright unforgivable. In response to a live stream of students lying down at the White House in protest against the current administration’s stance on gun control people commented with comments about high pressure hoses, rubber bullets, and motor vehicles being used to clear them away. Several people jumped right on these monsters and started doing research as to who they really were, where they lived, and who they worked for with a “let’s make them famous” attitude. In multiple instances these people’s employers were forwarded screenshots of their terrible comments and the commenters profiles were quickly either deleted or made private.

I am immeasurably impressed with the students who are standing up to the current administration and doing what countless others have not done. I stand with them and and support them; so should you.