Dennis Henigan would like to remind you of a few things about guns, all of it spoken like a person who is unfamiliar with them. Henigan notes that an NRA certified instructor accidentally discharged a firearm in an instructor class, noting, “I think it’s safe to say that the NRA instructor in this case is unlikely to appear in future ‘I’m the NRA’ promotional ads.” He’ll probably lose his certification, given that NRA courses don’t allow for live rounds in classrooms. He goes on to note that trained police officers have made these mistakes too, but then goes off the rails here:
First, because of the nature of guns, accidental shootings remain a constant threat. Yes, individuals can be trained to be extremely careful around guns and most gun owners no doubt regard themselves as very safety conscious. But human beings are prone to mistakes – they can be clumsy, or distracted, or rushed, for example – and guns are sufficiently complicated mechanisms that even the slightest mistake can result in tragedy.
This is not the nature of guns. Guns do a very simple thing. When you pull the trigger, it fires a bullet. There is absolutely nothing “sufficiently complicated” about this. It’s one of the simplest user interfaces known to man.
That’s why there is seldom such a thing as an accidental discharge. The vast majority of unintentional discharges areÂ negligent, including this one. The DEA agent that Henigan mentions, the poster child for the “only ones,” made his act ofÂ negligenceÂ when he removed his side arm from his holster for no good reason, in front of a group of school children. This instructor obviously violated a number of fundamental rules. Henigan seems to suggest that guns are really too complicated and dangerous for everyone, and though he does not say it, one can read into his statements that he would even include police in that.
I think this illustrates the difference in Henigan’s view of his fellow citizen as opposed to our view of our fellow citizen. Guns are not the complicated devices Henigan is making them out to be. It is completely possible to teach the vast majority of people how to live with them safely. What anti-gun people like Henigan do is take the very small minority of stupid or careless individuals who probably shouldn’t handle anything dangerous, and hold them up as examples as to why no one should have something dangerous like a gun. Because some can’t be trusted, none of you can be. This is not a recipe for a free, and certainly not a recipe for anÂ adult society. Henigan is suggesting the infantilization of America, which raises the question of who gets to be the parent?
Henigan once again makes the comparison to automobiles, a favorite of our opponents:
When it comes to cars, we tolerate the risk of accidents because we regard automobile transportation as essential to our daily lives (though, unlike guns, we have extensive safety regulations on cars and drivers to reduce the risk of death and injury). We are told that we must similarly tolerate the risk of gun accidents because of the overriding protective benefit of guns in enabling self-defense against criminal attack.
We have such regulations on firearms too. There’s not much end user regulation on cars, only driving in public, much the same with firearms. And I would point out that the legal and safety issues surrounding driving an automobile on public roads are far more complex than carrying a firearm in public. The training reflects that.
But to demonstrate what a loss of freedom Henigan’s logic would lead to, and the levels of infantilization it would create among the American populace, we can compare the risks of accidental firearms deaths to other activities. I’ll pick activities that don’t involve necessity, just to help make the analogy with Henigan’s way of thinking. Firearms have a yearly accident rate in this data of approximately 1 in 350,000. That’s comparable to the completelyÂ unnecessaryÂ activity of being a private pilot, which also carries significant external risk, air transport having about the same accidental death rate as firearms. Not much higher than that is water transport accidents. Are private pleasure craft really necessary? Drowning in a swimming pool is roughly comparable, and swimming pools are not necessary at all. Combine that with other household drownings and it’s far higher than firearms. Off road motor vehicles have about the same one year odds as firearms do as well. But how many households have a private plane? Or a boat? An ATV? A pool? Far fewer than have firearms. It’s safe to conclude all these activities are more dangerous. Would Dennis Henigan bemoan an increase in boating activity? Does he celebrate that we’ve had a serious decline in private pilots over the past two decades?
Of course he doesn’t. The reason is that Dennis Henigan doesn’t hate or fear any of these things, only guns. If accidental deaths were really his concern, he’d be railing against boats, swimming pools, and private planes, and all-terrain vehicles asÂ unneededÂ menaces to society. But he doesn’t. That’s one thing the anti-gunners seriously need to explain if they want to have any credibility in complaining about the dangers of guns.