Terror attack or not, the San Bernardino shooters bought their guns legally

The shooting in San Bernardino might possibly be related to ISIS, but that doesn’t change the fact that the shooters purchased all of their guns legally. In fact, I think it makes the fact that he was able to legally get his guns even worse.

My gut reaction to hearing the words “gun control” is “yes, that sounds great,” so I admit I’m biased right off the bat. I live in a city, I don’t hunt, and I’ve never shot a gun (although I would love to go to a range and see what it feels like). I was curious to see why some people so vehemently oppose gun control — we have an entire political party who refuses to do anything to limit how people buy their weapons and killing machines — but the reasons I found didn’t seem particularly logical. Maybe I missed something?


“Stop politicizing national tragedies!”

If talking about how to stop mass shootings is politicizing them, then hell, let’s politicize.

“Criminals will still get their guns; only the law-abiding citizens will be affected!”

One of the biggest arguments against gun control is what I like to call the “cops and robbers” defense. These are people that say gun control would only stop “law-abiding citizens” from getting guns, not criminals. Honestly, it’s almost heart-warming to see so many people adhere to such a simple worldview, even if the argument is kind of bogus.

Good guys versus bad guys? Really? Do we live in a Western? Even in a Marvel movie the filmmakers try to inject some ambiguity into their heroes. I know a few people who had some stupid run-ins with the law in their late teens and later totally turned around to become great citizens who contribute to our society. I also know a few people who broke the law and simply didn’t get caught. This idea that there are “good guys” and “bad guys” is an untenable way to govern, especially when it comes to laws about weapons. People mostly live in the gray area in between. If we regulate gun sales more, it will make it harder for everyone to get guns, even the “criminals.” The criminals have to get their guns from somewhere. The more regulations we have on guns, the harder it is for anyone to buy a new gun, which is not a bad thing — guns are fine to own, but they should be difficult to buy.

Do you know how annoying it is to buy birth control, even in 2015? If I need a doctor’s prescription for birth control, you need to prove without a shadow of a doubt that you won’t go on a mass shooting if you buy a gun.

And yet, people use this good guy/bad guy argument all the time. It is an incredibly childish worldview, and we can’t base our gun laws on a point of view so divorced from reality.

“Guns aren’t weapons; they’re for self-defense.”

It’s self-defense because it’s a weapon. That is how it defends the self. That’s also how one uses it for hunting.

“But it’s a mental health issue!”

Great! I agree! We should definitely help those in our society who need it the most. Our veterans who deal with PTSD don’t get the assistance they need. Up to a third of our homeless population are people with severe mental disabilities who don’t have anywhere to go. I am 100% on board for increasing funding to help people who need it. The problem with this argument is a) it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also think about regulating the sale of weapons, and b) it never includes a serious conversation on exactly how to address the “mental health” issue. If every single mass shooting is a “mental health” issue, then we as a country have a serious “mental health” issue. So what then? What’s the next step? Because I still haven’t heard the follow-up.



“Gun-free zones don’t work!”

Of course gun-free zones don’t work. If I want a gun bad enough, I’ll just drive over to a place that isn’t a gun-free zone. There are no regulations in place that stop me from bringing a gun into a gun-free zone. That’s actually kind of the problem.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!”

Oh, a fun variation on the “cops and robbers” defense! I’ve heard people say the Paris shootings could have been stopped if people had brought guns to their rock concert and started shooting back. Okay, two things: one, who brings a gun to a rock concert? That person is a not a level-headed “good guy.” That person is someone you don’t want to upset at family dinner because he probably brought a gun with him to family dinner. And secondly, a mass shooting is chaos. You’re not taking a few minutes to steadily set up your shot. Everything is an immediate reaction. Plus, there are a ton of innocent people around that could be your own collateral damage. More gun shots, even from the “good guys,” would only result in more chaos and death.



“Cars kill more people than guns do!”

Um, okay. I sold cars for a few years, and there are a few hoops you have to jump through to purchase a vehicle. There’s a list of people you can’t sell to (OFAC list). You also can’t sell to anyone who plans on reselling the car in a different country.

Most germane to the “guns versus cars” argument, however, is that you can’t make a straw man purchase, and it’s even tricky to buy a car for someone as a gift unless they’re in your immediate family. As for guns, prosecutors pretty much never go after straw purchases, and if they do, it’s typically considered a misdemeanor. Even The National Review sees a problem with that. We definitely need to get tougher on straw purchases.

“Guns don’t kill people, people do.”

Have you read any stories about toddlers getting their hands on guns and killing either themselves or other people? Because those stories pop up on a weekly basis. Weekly!

A few days ago I innocently googled Atlanta, the city my brother just moved to, to look up restaurants in the city, and the very first article that came up was about a six-year-old who shot herself to death with a gun she found in a couch cushion. I wasn’t even looking for that story! That’s just the world we live in now. I can’t accept that. There has to be a way to stop these deaths from happening.

Also, sure, there are other weapons people can use to kill others. That’s not a reason against gun control. That’s like someone on a diet saying, “eating cookies is bad for you, but so is ice cream, so I might as well keep eating cookies.”

Actually, that sounds good to me. I could use a sleeve of Oreos right now.

“It’s a God-given right to own a gun!”

I’ve seen this one pop up every now and then. I have nothing to say to it.


The Constitution is a living document. That can’t be your only argument. Without our First Amendment, there is no democracy — that’s the argument for keeping the First Amendment. If our argument for keeping the Second Amendment is simply that it’s the Second Amendment, that’s a sh*t argument.

“These people bought their guns legally, so obviously restrictions don’t work.”

Yeah, that is literally the problem stricter gun control laws hope to fix.

Overall, the issue I have with people who hate gun control is how little they offer in the terms of solutions for our mass shooting problem. I don’t want to have to carry a gun “just in case.” I don’t want this to be our new normal. It shouldn’t even be a political issue. It’s a humanity issue.

Featured image via Flickr

Caitlin Cohen

Caitlin Cohen graduated from Boston University with a degree in History. She has written for DeadState for three and a half years. She technically speaks French. She lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and has big plans to one day get a dog.

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