IF GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE, WHY DO WE NEED THEM?
The General officer in charge of procurement entered the inner office of the Secretary of Defense. “How are you General?” “Very well, Mr. Secretary. Thank you for seeing me,” replied General Smith. “You said you believe you have come up with a way to save the nation a great deal of money in our Defense Budget, didn’t you?” Asked the SecDef. “Yes sir, I have been reading the tabloids, especially the cartoons on Facebook, and I think the logical is inescapable. If we follow it I believe we will save billions of dollars,” the General responded with great animation. “Well?” asked the SecDef with raised eyebrows, “Let’s have it!” The General, smiling in anticipation of a great financial coup, began to lay out his idea. It went something like this…since people kill people and not guns we really don’t need to buy any guns. In fact, after seeing so much mockery of people trying to limit the proliferation of weapons, and by listening to a logic that seemed to flow from people with ‘steel trap” minds, the General had become convinced that guns don’t kill people but people do, and realized people can be killed with anything from a rock, to bare hands, to scissors, to letter openers, to chain saws, to hammers, etc., he thought it wise to follow that logic to where we didn’t have to buy guns for national defense. The SecDeF looked at the General with a penetrating stare. “You might be on to something General. But I have some questions first. Why have we been buying guns in the first place, I mean what started the whole thing? That would be one question. Maybe another might be why do we always go out and buy bigger ones? I have read things in Budget Requests and Authorizations before about lethality, kinetic force, stopping power, range, rate of fire and so forth. What does that stuff mean and why have you always justified asking for money for these kind of weapons if we really don’t need them?” The General looked a bit sheepish, but he rallied. “Sir, I used to think that way, but I have to admit that these discussions about gun control have really helped me to begin to think outside of the box. This is really blue sky thinking and I think we can make some really robust modifications to the budget. Sir, somewhere along the way we became confused and thought that gunpowder and projectiles were more lethal than those weapons delivered by hand. I mean if this new logic is correct than anyone can kill anyone, and even a whole lot of people, just by being another person. Guns don’t really change the equation, the people are still dead. Yes, for a while we thought we could kill one or a hundred folks quickly from a distance so they wouldn’t be able to hurt or kill us, and we thought that the power in a firearm was pretty conclusive. I mean, antibiotics really messed us up when wounds were able to be effectively treated but by and large a piece of lead flying at supersonic speed seemed to be pretty effective at a quick kill. But I admit to having been deceived, I had begun to think guns really did kill people. All the purchase of explosives, bombs, missiles, mines and such have been a colossal waste. We could have just as easily dropped people on Hiroshima, and with less residual radiation.” The Secretary of Defense looked amazed. “General, just where did you go to school? West Point, the Citadel, VMI? You are amazing I must admit. I had always thought there was a difference between a simple syllogism, you know, where two premises can make a valid conclusion, and the truth of a premise.” The General looked puzzled, “I don’t follow sir.” “Yes, that is the problem isn’t it? I’m just wondering how many others follow your logic. All of these dumb police officers wanting larger ammunition clips and larger caliber weapons because they thought they needed that to have more fire power than the criminals. Our marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen naively thinking that the quantity and quality of our small arms made a difference for victory, when actually it was just people who kill people all along. I guess this means the Chinese are eventually going to win since they have so many of them. General, before you come back would you please study up a little on fallacious arguments, and try to figure out the difference between what looks like a simple fact, and what might be more complicated. Could you do that please? Otherwise start thinking of your next assignment in Djibouti.”