Kill Your Heroes

The battle over gun control, or rather a parody of the battle over gun control, frequently takes the place on the great interwebs, on Facebook and Reddit and 4Chan and the like. It’s a parody because both sides wade into battle not to convince others to change their ways, but usually for the arguer to feel good about himself and increase his standing among those who share his opinions. If the argument on Facebook were a civil war, the fighting technique of choice would look something like this:

Usually the ammunition chosen for these frequently-bloodless and always-silly battles are quotes from Venerated Heroes Who Agree With Me. You get big points across the board for using quotes from big names in history like Washington, Patton, or Reagan. Man, Reagan. I do miss that man. Let’s hear what he has to say about guns.

As long as there are guns, the individual that wants a gun for a crime is going to have one and going to get it. The only person who’s going to be penalized and have difficulty is the law-abiding citizen, who then cannot have [it] if he wants protection — the protection of a weapon in his home. – Ronald Reagan

You tell em, Gipper!

There are those in America today who have come to depend absolutely on government for their security. And when government fails they seek to rectify that failure in the form of granting government more power. So, as government has failed to control crime and violence with the means given it by the Constitution, they seek to give it more power at the expense of the Constitution. But in doing so, in their willingness to give up their arms in the name of safety, they are really giving up their protection from what has always been the chief source of despotism — government. – Ronald Reagan

Darn straight! From my cold dead hands!

I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense. But I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home. – Ronald Reagan

Yeah! U-S-A! U-S-wait.

It’s true. In 1989, a nutjob scribbled “Death to the Great Satin” on a Chinese AK and lobbed a bunch of rounds at a school from behind a porta-potty, killing five kids and wounding 30, before offing himself with a handgun just as the police closed in. Freshly-retired former President Reagan made that comment in response to a question about how society should deal with almost any American being able to walk in off the street and buy one of these scary-looking rifles. President Herbert Bush would that same year ban the importation of so-called assault thingies, and would do so by executive order, bypassing congress entirely.

Two anti-liberty Fudd presidents in a row, both Republicans. How quickly we’ve turned our betrayers into our heroes!

Why do we do this to ourselves? Like most troubling questions about our own behavior, the answer to this one is “Laziness, mostly.”

It’s an argument from authority, and it frequently comes back to bite us when our chosen champions throw us under the bus or turn out to be narcissistic psychopaths. At best it’s useless noise, and at worst you set yourself up for people who have both a superior memory and access to Google.

So how can we stop looking like a Liberian rifleman and start firing for effect?

When was the last time you took someone shooting for the first time?

If everyone who freaked out about not being able to find Pmags took a coworker or distant relative to the range for the first time to be introduced to the Sprong of Freedom, we’d win the war faster than you can say “gun control meme gif.”

So do that. Kill your heroes. Stop leaning on spokespeople who don’t really speak for you to convince people who don’t really have any interest in a discussion. Instead, convince someone close to you. You’ll make a bigger difference than you think, and you won’t stay up as late arguing on the Internet.