Myth busting the myth buster

A new book written by anti-gun bigot Dennis Henigan has just been announced. He calls it Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths that Paralyze American Gun Policy. If I could borrow a copy rather than have my money go toward his furthering of discrimination against gun owners I’d take the time to read it. I’d love to take it apart in public for him. But since I don’t have a copy in hand right now I’ll just do what I can with what I presume are his best shots as given in the press release:

In Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths that Paralyze American Gun Policy, published by Potomac Books, Henigan takes on the highly memorable, but completely unsupportable slogans that for decades have been the staple of the National Rifle Association and other relentless opponents of sensible gun laws, and dismantles them one by one. Lethal Logic also is the first book to assess the impact on the gun control debate of last year’s Heller decision by the Supreme Court and the book’s conclusions about Heller will surprise many on both sides of the issue.

Some of Henigan’s observations on the gun lobby’s “bumper sticker” slogans:

  • “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Henigan counters with Ozzy Osbourne’s take on that: “If that’s the case, why do we give people guns when they go to war? Why not just send the people?”
  • “But what you really want [is to ban all guns.]” Henigan explains that for the gun lobby, “the gun debate needs to be a debate about banning all guns. The slippery slope argument is the NRA’s primary means of achieving this goal.”
  • “An armed society is a polite society.” The more guns, the safer we all are, the gun extremists say – and they cite Switzerland as Utopia. But Henigan points out that Switzerland has high gun ownership because of mandatory militia service, and that citizens in mandatory militia service face government inspection of the guns in their homes and must account for all their bullets. “Can you imagine the fury of the NRA’s opposition to any suggestion that guns in the homes of U.S. citizens be subject to government inspection?”

As to “If that’s the case, why do we give people guns when they go to war? Why not just send the people?” Try sending the guns without the people and see how well the war goes. It’s the people that make the difference.

Try this experiment (okay, do the thought experiment if you don’t think you can get the human subjects testing approval):

Suppose you were to drop Dennis Henigan and Sarah Brady in the woods with all the guns and ammo they can carry. And a half mile away you drop in an Army Ranger or Navy Seal completely naked, one hand tied behind their back and a patch over one eye. If you tell them only one side can leave the woods alive I’m betting that by the next morning, despited being outnumbered 2:1 and out armed, the warrior will be walking out of the woods fully clothed, armed, and wearing Sarah and Dennis’s ears as a necklace.

Gun are tools used by people. Without the people the guns don’t kill, with or without guns people can kill. Guns just make violence against people easier. Sometimes that violence is for good and sometimes it is for evil. Most of the time guns are used for good. Reducing the access of guns to good people enables evil.

As to “But what you really want [is to ban all guns.] … the gun debate needs to be a debate about banning all guns.” No, the debate doesn’t have to be about that. Why not answer Just One Question? Justify the existence of any legal restriction on guns with data that conclusively demonstrates the restriction improved public safety. Or if that is something Henigan wants to avoid then explain why a “reasonable restriction” against gun owners wouldn’t be just as constitutionally repugnant as a similar restriction against black slaves who had been freed by the 13th Amendment.

As to government inspection of guns and accounting for all the bullets in the homes of the Swiss Henigan has to heavily distort the truth to make his point.

Here is the part where what Henigan says is mostly true:

Each such individual is required to keep his army-issued personal weapon (the 5.56x45mm Sig 550 rifle for enlisted personnel or the SIG 510 rifle and/or the 9mm SIG-Sauer P220 semi-automatic pistol for officers, medical and postal personnel) at home with a specified personal retention quantity of government-issued personal ammunition (50 rounds 5.56 mm / 48 rounds 9mm), which is sealed and inspected regularly to ensure that no unauthorized use takes place.[2]

Here is what Henigan completely ignores in order to make his point:

The government subsidizes the production of military ammunition and then sells the ammunition at cost. Swiss military ammo must be registered if bought at a private store, but need not be registered if bought at a range. Registration consists of entering your name in a log at the time of sale. No serial numbers are present on the individual cartridges of ammunition. Technically, ammunition bought at the range must be used at the range, but according to David Kopel “the rule is barely known and almost never obeyed.”[2] Ammunition for long gun hunting is not subsidized by the government and is not subject to any sales control. Non-military non-hunting ammunition more powerful than .22 LR (such as custom handgun ammunition) is registered at the time of sale.[10]

The article goes on to say:

Purchases from dealers of hunting long guns and of small bore rifles are not even recorded by the dealer. In other words, the dealer would not record the sale of a .30-06 hunting rifle, but would record the sale of a .30-06 M1 Garand rifle.[2] According to chapter 2 article 10 of Swiss law, people over the age of 18 do not need a permit to purchase a rifle for use in hunting, off-duty shooting and sport-shooting events.[10]

So why is it that Henigan didn’t tell us the rest of the story? That’s right, the facts hurt his case. He can’t make his points without cherry picking the data.

If those are the best shots Dennis could come up with the rest must be so poor as to be the equivalent of not getting his shotgun to get on paper with an USPSA target at five feet. Which of course means he must be shooting blanks.

7 thoughts on “Myth busting the myth buster

  1. Aww, Joe…

    I almost want to tell you to quit being a bully; quit beating up on the poor retarded lil’ Henigan.

    Except that Henigan, while he may suffer from a Mental Disorder, is probably not retarded, and brought this abuse on himself by proving, by his own writing, to be a bigot.

    Keep up the good work, and continue beating the bigots about the head & shoulders with facts they can’t refute. You’re doing good work, Sir!

  2. Joe, You lost me a little bit with that Switzerland business. How did leaving out the parts you quoted help Henigan to make his point? Doesn’t his point about the young Swiss men being subject to government inspections still work even if they can go the the shooting range and go hunting?

    Your scene in the woods with Henigan, Sarah Brady and the naked Navy Seal was hysterical. It was a bit gruesome for my taste, but very funny and probably true. But, aside from the humor of it, is there a point? Is it simply that “guns are tools?”

  3. Henigan’s point appears to be that ammunition is very strictly controlled and hence the Swiss society was not, in fact, effectively armed. The facts are that ammunition and many non-militia guns are freely available. Hence Swiss society is very relaxed with their gun laws, have a very high gun ownership, and still have low crime rates.

    Although beyond the scope of my post, it is also my understanding that in order to vote the Swiss people have to periodically qualify on the range. If they don’t keep in practice they don’t vote. Which is something I would like instituted in the U.S. as well.

    I think you got most of the woods story with “guns are tools”. Elaborating a bit–the arms don’t determine the outcome nearly as much as the people involved do. It is their skill and their intent that determines the outcome. Guns don’t cause crime. They may enable crime but they also enable self-defense. A gun in the hands of most people will be used for good simply because most people are good people. A screwdriver, a hammer, or an automobile in the hands of a criminal with ill intent will result in a bad outcome because of the person involved. Not because the tool was dangerous. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Hence, the NRA is justified in the use of that “bumper sticker slogan.”

  4. “…walking out of the woods fully clothed, armed, and wearing Sarah and Dennis’s ears as a necklace.”
    Stop it. You are making me giggle uncontrollably.

  5. Well if it is the Guns that kill people why don’t we just drop crates of guns and leave the soldiers at home.

  6. I would be interesting in knowing if there are any new arguments to restrict gun rights made in this book. Any at all. Any that have not been refuted 50 times over by pro-rights data, facts and context (as in the post here).

    I get so tired of seeing the same BS, ad hominem attacks, lies by omission, incorrect conclusions from improper use of data, and just illogical thought from the anti-rights bigots.

    I’d actually welcome something new, ANYTHING new, from the anti-rights bigots, even though it likely would be as wrong as Bellisailes’ book on gun ownership in the Colonies. At least that sparked some new research and led to a greater understanding of that era’s history (which Bellisailes did his best to rewrite, and ultimately failed to accomplish).

    I don’t want to see a new argument enough to pay for this book, of course; that’s what I pay you bloggers to do, thoroughly research anti-gun-rights bloviation, and even though all I “pay” is attention to your blogs I expect you to keep doing a good job.

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