***I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE FOR THE SUPER-SIZED POST (please bear with me and give it a chance)***
V - Your post raises some interesting logic problems. I'd love to have a mature discussion about them, but I have to ask that you (at least temporarily) suspend your believe that I am some evil person who revels in the misfortune of others. The fact that I may see things in a different way than you do does not make me a heartless person in need of intervention. It just means that my opinion differs from yours. I'm more than happy to debate with anyone over a difference of opinion. I'm decidedly less interested in reading about how much of a jerk I am because someone misses my point. Yes, I can be tongue-in-cheek. Yes, I can be acerbic with some of my statements. But you shouldn't confuse sarcasm with malice.
With that out of the way, we can move on to the specific points of your post, V:
1.) "Do you not know it is not the gun that kills but the person or person's holding it?"
Yes, I am aware of that (contrary to Josh's assertion that I don't possess the intelligence to sit at the same table of debate with him).
Just for the sake of argument, let me ask you this: Do you think Justin Schiller could have killed Catherine Woods (or himself) with a baseball bat (or another implement)? The simple answer is yes. The just-slightly-less simple answer is that it would have been infinitely more difficult for him to have fatally wounded someone in a parking lot with a baseball bat. Therefore, the tool he had at his disposal (a gun) made the murder possible
The excuse that "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" is juvenile and dangerous. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold could not have killed 13 people and wounded 23 others at Columbine with a club/baseball bat/knife/boomerang/bad language/post on a message board/NON-GUN. Seung-Hui Cho could not have killed 32 people at Virginia Tech with "mind bullets" or the stink-eye. (This one is for Josh, since hunting rifles are entirely different
things than other guns)- Charles Whitman could not have killed 14 people at the University of Texas with an sling shot, atl-atl or a sharp stick.
To assert that they could have is ridiculous. Yes, they could have hurt people with something other than a gun. But could they have committed the same crime within the same timeframe with a different weapon? No. "But they also could have used a bomb. They tried to use a bomb, but it didn't work!" Again, this is true - but then again, there is no National Bomb Association that rigorously lobbies for the unfettered right to bear bombs, is there?
When people start to see guns as a gift from the heavens and start preaching that guns and their use is beyond question (or attempts at regulation), people start thinking that guns can also solve their problems. The utility of the gun has become disproportunate to its actual value. It's no longer a tool, it's an extension of its owner. The potential for problems increases.
If you give a kid a gun, you make him feel like a man ("Daddy has a gun. Daddy is a grown-up. I have a gun. I must be a grown-up, too."). If a man is a man because of the gun, questioning the gun is tantmount to questioning his manhood. When you question man's manhood, the gun often answers. The potential for problems increases drastically, especially if the owner has other issues.
2.) "It would be just like the car."
Driving a vehicle requires a license. There are restrictions on driving privileges (note they are privileges, NOT rights). Children under a certain age are not allowed to drive. If there were a car show where 8-year old children could sit behind the wheel and drive around in traffic (even if there were a licensed driver sitting next to them), it would be a fairly safe bet that objections would be raised long before a child killed himself with the grown up toy he was foolishly allowed to operate.
Yes, the tragedy at the Massachusetts gun show was an accident. But it was an accident that could - and should - have been avoided had there been a modicum of responsibility when the show was being organized. An 8-year old kid shouldn't be driving down the street in his mommy or daddy's car, and he shouldn't have been shooting an automatic submachine gun.
The main point I have been attempting to make is that guns and children do not mix. Guns aren't toys. Guns have one purpose: to kill. Whether the target is an animal or a human, that purpose remains the same. Adults can be responsible with firearms, but children - are children, and by definition, do not have the same level of responsibility.
Think of it this way - would it be appropriate to raffle off kegs or bottles of liquor for a youth fundraiser? If your answer is "no," then you can see my point. If your answer is "yes," then let me ask you why you believe there is a difference. Guns are for adults. Alcohol is for adults. Both can be enjoyed - RESPONSIBLY - by adults. Neither are for kids. Neither should be for the benefit of kids.
It is my opinion that a fundraiser for the benefit of children
should raise money by raffling items that are appropriate for children
(and adults alike). If a child can benefit from the proceeds from a fundraiser, I think the child should be able to use the items being raffled in that fundraiser. Sides of beef or other food items, gift certificates, trips to Las Vegas, fishing tackle, electronic equipment, sporting goods - a great many things that aren't guns - would be far more appropriate for kids.
When my children are old enough to understand death, and the irreversibility of the sequence of events that happen once the trigger is pulled, then my children and I can talk about going hunting and using firearms in a responsible manner. Until that time, I do not want my children (nor do I enjoy seeing any children) having money raised for them by raffling items they are too young to fully understand or appreciate.
This brings up another issue: Miles City (and Montana in general) holds guns to be nothing less than sacred. Any discussion regarding guns and their place/usage quickly devolves into a knee-jerk pissing match about the NRA, the Second Amendment, syrupy nostalgia about hunting with daddy and shouts of "HOW DARE YOU QUESTION GOD'S PLAN FOR US!?"
That so few people can see the irony of having a gun raffle so soon after having a gun murder/suicide is troubling. Yes, I understand that the raffle was started long before the shooting. But that people would act so surprised that the irony even exists (and get so angry that anyone would notice) boggles my mind. That brings up ...
3.) "The bat thing was a fluke. You are wrong to bring up something that happened along time ago."
I used the argument because it is familiar to the people on this message board. I would not have used the reference had I been in a discussion somewhere else. Miles City has seen tragedy in the form of baseball bats and firearms. There's a logical (if not direct)connection and a parallel that can be debated.
(In other words, IT'S NOT BECAUSE I'M EVIL OR MEAN-SPIRITED, PEOPLE!)
I am as cognizant as anyone in knowing what my reference to aluminum bats would entail. I have debated until I was figuratively blue in the face (or at least the fingertips) that the "thing was a fluke" and the response to the tragedy was possibly misguided. The counter-argument to my stance on the issue was usually something along the lines of "aluminum bats are evil - how dare you question that, you despicable person!"
What I would like to have explained to me in a rational manner is this: Why was the consensus opinion in Miles City that aluminum bats are the antichrist, yet guns get a free pass? If the argument is that it's irresponsible for youth baseball programs to use aluminum baseball bats BECAUSE CHILDREN CAN (even if it's less likely than a shark attack or a