Monday, December 7, 2015

God, Guns, and Science: A Humble Proposal

There's terror in the air once again. Guns, terrorist sleeper cells, metastasizing civil war in the Middle East, a new season of Game of Thrones that could disappoint fans.1 There are ordinary decent citizens asking: what's next? Must I buy a gun to protect myself?2 Right now, in this country, we've got liberals terrified of the endless stream of mass shootings, and conservatives arming themselves to the teeth because they're terrified of terrorists who suddenly seem to be encroaching with unimaginable rapidity on the West. So what are we to do?
A lot of religious folks out there see guns as a kind of balm against the fearsome and devilish world out there.3 But there are plenty of scientists and followers of the scientific path who feel the same way. Likewise regarding those of us with a disdain for guns: you'll talk to believers and non-believers alike who feel we need to have fewer guns in fewer hands, or no guns in no hands at all. There's no single profile for a gun control supporter or a total gun freedom die hard, no matter the stereotypes you may have heard.
Activists for gun control, if they do not call for an outright ban on guns altogether,4 generally suggest we need common sense regulations on the manufacture, sale, and use of guns, comparable to laws on the books in places like Australia or Japan.5 Members of the NRA, as well as also opponents of gun control who aren't total nutcases, believe something very different about the gun violence that wracks our country on a daily basis. They believe we actually need fewer regulations on guns, so that everyone can carry a gun wherever they go just in case a fight breaks out and we need to settle this like men.6 In extreme cases, they might even believe in the opposite of a total gun ban, that is to say they want to institute mandatory gun ownership and usage.
But today we are looking for answers, for consensus. And I think it's high time we found some common ground. It can't be that hard. We all have teeth and toes and belly buttons.7 So where's our common ground? Well, believers think that God created Earth8 in seven days. A reasonable hypothesis. And humans of a more scientifically-minded persuasion tend to think we should test hypotheses to see if they're actually true. I bet you see where I'm going with this.
But you're wrong. What you're thinking is wrong. I'm sorry, it's just wrong. Get it out of your head. Is it gone? Good. Now we can move on.9 Instead of using one of the ways of thinking to test the other, which would be really stupid and wouldn't please anyone,10 I'm suggesting we combine the two, to renew our way of dealing with guns.
If God created the world in seven days, then surely a week of total gun proliferation - as in a gun carried by every single man, woman and child on the planet at all times - would be enough to satisfy the religiously-inclined that respect has been paid to the idea that the problem is too few guns. And then, after that week is over,11 we can throw all the guns away, and have seven days with no guns at all anywhere. And with that, we satisfy the scientists, because that will be a double blind study of whether more or less innocent people are hurt during "all gun week" or "no gun week." After these trial weeks are over, I think we'll be all be ready to agree on what to do next. That's right, you guessed it! We'll all agree it's time to go back to anticipating the next season (or being disappointed by the current season) of our favorite television program.12

1 I'm not saying it will, but it MIGHT.
2 The answer…is yes. Or maybe not. Full story at 11.
3 You're saying you think I used the same clumsy and cliché formulation twice in one sentence?. I don't know, buddy, that sounds pretty out there.
4 HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA!
5 Because we wouldn't want to be like Europe, now would we? I mean, there's a reason we sent Mad King George that strongly-worded letter all those years ago...
6 Or apes. Apes have always settled disputes with firearms, ever since the U.S. began outfitting troops of apes with top-of-the-line weaponry in the 70s to fight communism following the sage advice of Charlton Heston who had personal experience with the ferocity of apes and absolutely knew what he was talking about and was not at all exploiting Gerald Ford's fondness for late night pot smoking sessions, not even a little a bit.
7 Well, not all of us, but I'm not looking to find common ground with fucking freaks! Are you?
8 Formerly known as Joe's Planet.
9 Where do you go get all these big ideas all the time? They're just not going to happen you dumb stupid ape.
10 Except for you smug scientists. We are so sick of you riding around on your tall horse made of ivory. It's not even real ivory. And if it was, we wouldn't care.
11 Thank God! Wait, I mean-
12 Because we get to choose what television program we like to watch! That's freedom! Can you taste it? Because I can.

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