Barack Obama recently conducted an interview with the BBC. He said his failure to pass “common sense gun safety laws” was the greatest frustration of his presidency so far.
“If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands,” said Obama.
Roughly translated: when Americans didn’t resist and willingly sacrificed their liberty and privacy the government solved the problem of terrorism. Therefore, if they let me introduce gun control laws it will solve gun violence, save many lives and generally make the world a better place. Americans should stop resisting gun control.
We can’t know whether Obama is being sincere when he puts forward arguments as specious as this or whether he is deliberately reasoning at the level of the average person and simply saying what he believes his audience wants to hear, but let’s tackle the implicit premises of his argument anyway.
It’s perfectly possible that so few people would have died from terrorism attacks even if the government had not created illiberal terrorism laws, kidnapped and tortured foreigners in Guantanamo Bay, destroyed privacy, militarized the police and Obama hadn’t conducted his deadly drone raids in the Middle East during that period of time. The president is committing a logical fallacy by claiming two events that occurred together must have a cause-and-effect relationship.
Relatively few deaths from terrorism since 9/11 is not necessarily an effect of the American government’s actions since 9/11 and it can never be proven so. Given that there is countless variables involved, there could be any number of causal factors. The president’s first premise is false.
Even if it could be proven that the American government’s actions prevented many deaths from further terrorist attacks after 9/11 and resulted in the low death rate mentioned, that would have no bearing on whether gun control laws would have prevented or could prevent tens of thousands of deaths from gun violence.
Regardless of whether Obama’s claim about the number of deaths from gun violence since 9/11 is accurate or not, his implicit argument that gun control laws reduce gun violence is false. Virtually everyone believes that much less gun violence in the UK, for example, is an effect of gun control laws, but this is another instance of garbled cause and effect – largely caused by the mainstream media and politician’s unthinking acceptance of static comparisons of the two nations in fairly recent years as solid evidence.
However, this evidence is flawed because these comparisons overlook one crucial fact: the UK had far less violence than the US long before the former had strict gun laws. Causation cannot run backward in time. Yes, the UK has a proportionately much lower murder rate, but it’s not because we have gun control laws – it’s for other reasons, whatever they may be. Gun control laws = less murders is a ‘common sense’ conclusion that is mistaken, surprising as that may be. Some mistakes like this we can get away with, but not this one. There’s a real human, social cost.
The president, like all politicians, fixates upon deaths whenever talking about guns, but evidence shows that the use of guns in society is actually about protecting life. The most comprehensive studies of gun use in the US (which I’ve discussed in detail in a previous piece) show that for every instance in which a gun is used aggressively there are three or four occasions where one is used to (often effectively) defend person or property.
Furthermore and pleasingly, approximately 75% of the time people don’t even fire the gun (not even warning shots), so usually no one dies or gets shot. Where gun ownership is prohibited this prevention of crime and protection of life doesn’t get to happen. That’s the cost of gun control.
The number of lives saved by a gun in the hands of someone being aggressed against is almost certainly larger than the amount lost to gun violence. It’s not just about life and death either. It’s also about quality of life. Imagine how much mental anguish and psychological trauma is avoided as a result of sexual assaults and violent crime that doesn’t happen because the victim had an effective tool of self-defense (which they often don’t actually have to fire).
Obama’s second premise, then, is also false. His implicit argument that prohibiting gun ownership makes people safer is false. The group of people it benefits most is criminals; they are made safer. His belief that gun control laws would have prevented many of those “tens of thousands” of deaths is mistaken.
At this point we should acknowledge how ridiculous and disgusting it is for a man who has killed thousands of innocent people with the deadly tech of the world’s most powerful army to preach about the dangers of guns and to claim to be so concerned about human life.
Is Obama a highly intelligent sociopath who will do anything to achieve his ends? Or is he a humanitarian with a guillotine who sincerely believes the liberal ideal of gun control will make American societies safer? Who knows, but we may ask why would a man who believes that guns make us less safe tolerate the presence of armed men around his family 24/7?
Sure, they are trained marksmen, but they are only human. They could make a mistake, which could end in tragedy for Obama. Perhaps he has no choice and must have armed men around him and his family at all times, in which case he must constantly be worried sick. Well, I guess that’s one of the many sacrifices you must make to lead the most powerful nation in the world. What a guy.
Perhaps Obama should replace his bodyguards with armed drones, which he seems to have a penchant for. He knows only too well how ‘effective’ they are. Five years of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia has snuffed out approximately 2,500 souls. Death was delivered silently to them from the sky by a Noble Peace Prize winner who plays basketball. Not even our best novelists could imagine anything more twisted.
How noble of those two and a half thousand to sacrifice themselves in the name of democracy and freedom. Shame it was Obama who chose to sacrifice them, and not themselves. That makes it murder. Not sacrifice.
Whether Obama is a pure sociopathic power-seeker who is only pretending to care or a hubristic liberal humanitarian who believes violence leads to peace, the outcome is largely the same. The president of the United States is dangerous and has clearly demonstrated his lack of regard for human life, and yet the world’s media continue to hang on his every word as if he’s the Second Coming; they joyfully broadcast his words to the world as Gospel.
Actually, Obama is much more like God than Jesus. He’s above the laws of morality, beyond judgement and punishment, kills thousands in the name of virtue and yet everyone continues to listen to him.