I think I’ve found a flaw in the reasoning of gun owners. After the massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., insisted that it was possible to commit mass murder with any object that can do damage to a human body: “a hammer, a hatchet, a car, a gun.” Around the same time, a columnist on Breitbart.com wrote that “the number of murders committed annually with hammers and clubs far outnumbers the number of murders committed with a rifle.”
Opinion: Who Needs Assault Weapons, When We Have Hammers?
Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 Updated at 12:54 PM CST
Both Blackburn and Breitbart were peddling the same message: you can’t blame guns for murders. If people want to kill, they’ll kill with whatever object they can get their hands on, be it a blunt instrument or a firearm.
Gun owners insist that firearms are unnecessary to commit mayhem, that they are simply a passive tool in the hands of a murderer. It’s the “Spoons Made Me Fat” argument. Don’t blame the weapon, blame the wielder, and focus on changing human behavior, rather than banning a commercial product. But gun owners also insist that only firearms can protect law-abiding citizens from criminals. This month, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed an assault weapons ban sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., protested that the bill “would restrict groups of people who are particularly susceptible to violence – like victims of sexual assault and domestic violence – from defending themselves against future attackers.”
(Cornyn won the debate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., decided not to include an assault weapons ban in a gun control legislation package.)
OK, so there's the gun lobby's logic: guns are not dangerous. In fact, hammers are more dangerous than assault rifles. BUT, we need assault rifles to protect ourselves from criminals. Or maybe from carpenters.
If hammers are more deadly than assault weapons, than a hammer on the nightstand ought to be deadly enough to protect a home. A concealed hammer, carried in a tool belt under a jacket, ought to be enough to protect its owner from street crime. Hammers are also safer to carry around, because they don’t go off accidentally, and drive nails into people’s chests.
Hammers also have a function other than killing people, so they can’t be regulated like guns, and you can carry one around without tipping off your enemies that you’re about to commit violence. Explain that you’re a building contractor, then bonk them in the skull as soon as they turn around.
I think we can all agree that a ban on assault weapons will do nothing to compromise public safety, as long as we have hammers to protect ourselves.