Gun Regulators, Take Note: Pens Don’t Misspell Words, People Misspell Words

Representative Luke Messer of Indiana gives yet another example — as if another example were needed — showing why it is so difficult to take Republicans seriously.

The tired old “guns don’t kill, people kill” trope is bad enough, but then guys like Representative Messer find a way to strain banality even further.  On Monday, he got his two cents worth when he argued “To blame a gun for a crime is to blame a pen for a misspelled word.”

Representative Luke Messer

Representative Luke Messer


But what’s your point?

Ok, I will back up, I think I understand the analogy.  I think I understand what you’re trying to say.  No gun has hauled itself out of a dark basement and then gone down the road to a local school and shot up a bunch of children on its own.  Therefore we shouldn’t demonize guns anymore than we demonize the pen of a poor speller, is your point?

No gun has ever shot up a school or a mall or a theater or a temple without someone pulling the trigger, that’s true, but that doesn’t change the outcome.  When it comes to death, Mr. Messer, does death occur at the end of the gun or does it come from the force of hate and madness alone?  The gun makes the difference.

When, for example, has an angry young man gone into a school and strangled a dozen people to death?  Or used a different weapon, say a knife? Or how about a bomb?  People use guns because guns kill.  That’s right, guns kill…guns.

Messer goes on to argue that “we cannot allow those events to be an excuse to undercut the second amendment.”  This begs the question, why?

One could argue about the interpretation of the Second Amendment, which I think is a fair consideration, but why wouldn’t responsible people — responsible leaders, for Pete’s sake! — acknowledge the crisis of gun violence and look for ways to improve safety?

People with a propensity to support unregulated gun rights, for example, are the same people who have no trouble with laws requiring identification to prove citizenship.  All in the name of freedom.  (I know…ironic, isn’t it?  No one accuses of conservatives of making sense.)  They argue if you are a legal citizen, you should have nothing to fear.  If you are a sane and legal gun owner, however, do you have something to fear from registering your gun…do you have something to hide?

iconWhatever the case, the pen analogy really isn’t germane.  Ultimately we are not talking about the harm guns do, we’re talking about the harm people with guns do.  It is that simple.  And unless there is a way to control the violence committed by people with guns (versus by people alone or by guns alone) then I think it we need to focus on what we can at least try to control in the people-gun nexus.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but if you want to maintain gun ownership rights, the part of the gun rights that is least intrusive to regulate is the gun part of the duality.  Would people rather subject themselves to search and surveillance, for example, or register a piece of property they own?  This is an issue.  In recent weeks people worry about the unintended consequences of background checks for mental illness, for example.

Furthermore, the cooperation of good gun owners isn’t going to put more guns in the hands of bad gun owners.  If responsible people are always responsible with their guns, then there shouldn’t be any worry about controlling the guns they use.  Unfortunately, too often we see guns owned by “good people” going bad.  Keep in mind that a law-abiding gun owner is a law-abiding gun owner until he isn’t.

I have focused on registration as a form of gun control in my arguments here.  This is only one option, but it is an option.  The extreme side of the gun rights lobby makes no room for options whatsoever.  An important first step is accepting options in the first place.  Arguing from folksy, irrelevant analogies doesn’t do much more than distract people from the realities surround the issue.  It adds nothing of substance.


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