Sunday, February 18, 2018

American Parents Love Guns more than their Children, study shows

Dateline: KALAMAZOO—In the wake of the school shooting in Florida, in which a young male killed 17 of his former fellow students, a team of researchers at the Technocracy Institute in Michigan explains the impossibility of sensible gun regulation in the United States, by citing its study which indicates that most American parents love guns more than their children.

The study began by comparing the speed at which randomly selected parents attempted to save their child or their gun from harm.

Drawn from both liberal and conservative states, each subject was positioned at one end of a concrete room. At the other end was his or her child. Suddenly, what appeared to be a metal light fixture directly above the child squeaked, shook, and began to fall. The subject then raced to save his or her child, but the child was in no real danger because the light fixture was painted Styrofoam.

The scientists recorded the time it took for the subject to reach the child, and compared it to the time it took for the subject to reach his or her gun which was also placed in apparent danger. Instead of being threatened by a fake light fixture, an unrelated child with a plastic hammer pulverized the floor as he or she walked towards the gun. Loud, realistic sounds of hammer smashing into concrete were piped in from hidden speakers to preserve the illusion that the child was about to destroy the subject’s gun. Again, the subject raced towards his prized possession.

In 936 out of 1000 tests, the subject ran slightly faster to rescue his or her weapon than to protect his or her child.

In a variation of the experiment, the subject’s child was strapped to the middle of the floor in a narrow hallway, and the gun was positioned at the opposite end from the subject so that the child was between the two. What appeared to be a flamethrower was pointed at the gun, and what looked like flames inched closer and closer before engulfing the firearm. The flames, however, weren’t real, so the gun was in no danger.

The question, though, was whether the subject would trample his or her child or reach into apparent flames to rescue the weapon. Again, a strong majority of subjects chose to do so: 803 out of 1000 American adults stepped on their child in a mad dash to their gun, as well as risking serious burns to retrieve it from the apparent flames.

In the reverse situation, however, with the subject’s gun strapped to the floor and the child in apparent danger of being scorched alive, most subjects were more reticent. Over two thirds of the American parents stepped carefully over or around their gun rather than risk damaging the expensive hardware, and less than a quarter of the subjects reached into the bogus flames to save their child. Those that ran to their child but didn’t reach in only yelled for help. One tenth of the subjects unstrapped their fire arm, turned around and left their child to burn without even attempting to save their offspring.  

The researchers concluded that most Americans care more about guns than their children, and that this is the basis of American gun culture which empowers the National Rifle Association in American politics and prevents any legislation that threatens Americans’ right to own guns.

“Whenever there’s another school shooting in America,” said the lead researcher, “the same tired script about thoughts and prayers is trotted out, and there’s never real momentum behind any attempt to restrict Americans’ access to firearms, even though most developed countries have much fewer shootings because they have tighter control over guns. We think the reason is that most American parents would rather see their children die in a school shooting than to see the government take away their gun.

“Americans love their guns even more than they love their children. So the talk of gun control laws here is futile. The next time there’s a school shooting, we shouldn’t pretend our hearts go out to the victim’s families. The real question on most Americans’ minds is whether the authorities will dare to destroy the perpetrator’s innocent firearm.”


  1. Guns are like cars. You could dramatically cut traffic accidents and fatalities if you lowered the speed limit to forty MPH highway and fifteen in urban areas, but that would make driving more unpleasant and have other costs in terms of lost time etc. This suggests there is an optimal number of traffic deaths per year, and that number is greater than zero. Similarly, if we as Americans believe there are benefits in terms of liberty and self defense as well as costs in terms of murder and suicide associated with widespread firearms ownership and we choose not to change the laws so as to limit or eliminate private civilian firearms ownership, we have to conclude that there is an optimal number of gun homicides and that number is greater than zero. Once you recognize this, you realize that the shock and outrage some people have expressed about this latest massacre (or Las Vegas, or Sandy Hook, or Aurora or Columbine...) isn't really justified. If those same few murders had happened in the usual one or two at a time in the usual domestic dispute or convenience store robbery nobody would care, so there is no reason to care about these kids.

    1. That's a good point. Indeed, I recently read a couple of articles that support it (see links below). The first article points out that, contrary to the meme in this satirical piece, most Americans don't love guns--at least not to the extent of owning a gun. American gun culture is like Christian fundamentalism or Scientology: it's driven by a vocal minority, which thus counts as a mere special interest group.

      Although there's almost a gun for every American in the US, more than half of those guns are owned by just 3% of Americans. These are the folks who are more properly called the super-obsessed gun nuts. Only 30% of Americans own even a single gun, so 70% don't love guns enough to have bought one. However, these facts don't entirely refute the notion that American culture is unhealthily pro-gun, since most Americans love violent movies, video games, and so forth, not to mention their military, which fights in grey areas all over the world, as Matt Taibbi recently pointed out (see the third link below).

      The second link, which will inform my next satirical piece on the American gun problem, points out how the problem should obviously be solved. But this article's most important point, I think, is its last one, which is that the problem won't be solved, in terms of reducing American gun-related deaths to something like European levels, without a highly-unrealistic solution such as something like the Australian confiscation program.

      The real problem, then, is none of the legislation that has a chance of being proposed, let alone passed in the US will do anything other than rearrange the deckchairs on the sinking Titanic. The US is already well-passed-screwed by the gun manufacturers, the NRA's control over the government, and the American gun culture which is tied into the myths of American individualism and liberty, as well as the idolizing of the Constitution. There are already _far_ too many guns in the country for any _realistic_ legislation or enforcement to have a chance of significantly lowering the gun-related deaths in the US.

      That's the factor that distinguishes the US from all other countries--not mental disorders or violent video games or anything like that, but the sheer presence of so many guns, that is, the flooding of the country with guns which has already warped the American identity to be more violent, compelling Americans to be more prone to solving even their petty disputes with lethal force. So it's already Game Over and the entire debate in the US that actually takes place within the Overton Window is irrelevant.

    2. I think Matt Taibbi has the right of it. If your mother drank in excess during pregnancy you will be born an alcoholic. Similarly, because the United States drank African slavery and Native American genocide at its founding it is addicted to violence. How would a twelve step program for blood-thirstiness work?

    3. I think it's also a matter of the US inheriting too much power after WWII and the end of the Cold War, rather like how Christianity corrupted itself when it became Rome's official religion. Power corrupts in all sorts of ways...


    In fairness to the NRA types, the only places where this wouldn't work are places like the United States, in part due to civilian firearms ownership combined with our propensity for violence.

    1. It's hard to get past the rank cowardice involved in eavesdropping on everyone on the internet, using AI to scan for dissident voices, and rounding up potential radicals such as feminists or human rights lawyers, as opposed to allowing for free speech based on the conviction that the government's ideology is in the right and can withstand criticism. That's what's most galling to me about this sort of dystopia in the making, that the government can know implicitly that it's in the wrong and can't stand the light of day, but its power can avert its comeuppance.

      It's very much the same with President Trump. All people of good will want to see is for despicable regimes at least to be outed and for them to collapse from their absurdity or wickedness, after they've had their moment of preying on our weaknesses. To escape that reckoning may be the worst crime of all. Even Hitler knew in the end, at least, when he shot himself in the bunker, that the Nazis had been defeated and thus that his rhetoric about Nazi greatness was erroneous. He had his comeuppance, although obviously he escaped the worst of it, such as trial at Nuremberg. But if Trump dies without realizing he's a monster and that most people on the planet are quite right to loathe him, what we have then is an anticlimax.