Facebook’s Sad, Ignorant, Compassionate, Irresponsible Post-Orlando Freakout

antigun cartoon

If I had the time and wanted to anger about two-thirds of my friends, I could go around Facebook and explain to them why their latest posted anti-gun meme, or latest simple-minded anti-gun cartoon, or furious rant against the NRA, Republicans and “gun nuts,” show them to be ignorant, hysterical, and irresponsible citizens. Maybe I’ll spend a day doing this and see what happens.

The culprits are everywhere, from all backgrounds. These aren’t just my actor friends, who tend to memorize lines with their brains and think with their hearts. It’s many of the lawyers I know too….also journalists, writers, policy-makers—all kinds. As they quote with approval partisan and ignorant anti-gun pundits, actors or elected officials, they also erupt with emotion, counting on a welter of “likes,” “loves” and crying faces from the friends, who uncritically cheer the sentiment without challenging the execrable law and logic. The process repeats over and over, like a rinse cycle, until the original posters are not only convinced that they are right, but that anyone who disagrees is an evil promoter of violence not worthy of human association. I have read, more than once, “If you disagree, keep your opinion to yourself, or I’ll unfriend you.”

I confess, I’ve resisted my natural instinct to take up those dares, because these people are in pain, and, frankly, temporarily deranged. Many of them are gay, an identify personally with the victims. I sympathize with that. They also have a right to their anti-gun opinions, but they are polluting an important debate and making any resolution impossible by being willfully ignorant, and rebelling in it. The lawyers are especially disgracing themselves. Again—it is irresponsible, and it is bad citizenship.

If I were going to be a Facebook vigilante and point out the serious flaws in the various anti-gun rants, my Facebook friends would find more notes like this one, which I left in response to a good friend’s rant against the head of the Gun Owners of America  blaming the Orlando shooting on “Gun Free Zones.”  My friend wrote…

“I’m willing to entertain just about any argument for gun rights, but this one is SHIT. I will not be convinced that on Sunday evening, even a few, trained, people violating the Gun Free Zone in a dimly lit club, with HUNDREDS of panicked, perhaps inebriated, people running in every direction for their lives, could get a “good shot” to take out the man responsible for this atrocity. I believe the result is called more deaths by “friendly fire.”

I responded in part…

The argument is that murderous shooters will be less likely to come to kill when there is a chance that someone will be armed. This is not “shit”…This is the oldest pro-gun/anti-gun divide of all: the criminals and terrorists aren’t the ones who will follow the gun regulations; law abiding citizens are. That should be obvious. I don’t believe for a moment that one can blame the massacre on ” Gun Free Zones.”…but the argument that a shooting occurred because an area wasn’t a Gun Free Zone is even more silly. Is a terrorist going to say, “Ooops! Can’t slaughter gays in that club—it’s a Gun Free Zone!” Of course not. Might a terrorist choose not to attack a venue where he knows that one or more people might be armed, rather than one where he knows the law-abiding victims will be defenseless? Maybe.

Your point of bias, and it’s a common one, is that the presence of a gun makes one unsafe. The presence of a maniac makes one unsafe. If you happen to have a gun, maybe you’re a bit safer. Agree or not, that isn’t “fucking insane.” What I do think is fucking insane is people allowing emotion to eat their brains all over Facebook. It doesn’t help.

It just doesn’t help.  This friend is rational and thoughtful, and I expect him to take my critique in the spirit in which it was offered.  I can’t always count on a reasonable response, however, such as from the friends have posted this meme:

Anti-Gun meme 1

Machine guns and automatic weapons are illegal. The meme goes along with the laments of those who believe that the Orlando shooter used an “assault rifle” or a military weapon in the shooting. When you point out that it was not an “assault weapon,” they just shrug the distinction off as an irrelevant detail, and this is a tell. All guns are indistinguishable to many of my friends. Guns are bad, that’s all. This undercuts the lie—and I am now convinced that it is a lie—that they don’t want to ban guns and repeal the Second Amendment.

Ken White wrote perceptively, as he usually does, on why this approach is both dishonest and counter-productive:

I support the argument that the United States should enact a total ban on civilians owning firearms.

Oh, I don’t support the ban. I support the argument.

I support the argument because it’s honest and specific. It doesn’t hide the ball, it doesn’t refuse to define terms, it doesn’t tell rely on telling people they are paranoid or stupid in their concerns about the scope of the ban. The argument proposes a particular solution and will require the advocate to defend it openly…There’s a very good reason to care about what you mean when you argue that “assault weapons” should be banned: the term is infinitely flexible. If you think it inherently means something specific, you haven’t bothered to inform yourself about the issue. “Assault weapon” means whatever the definers decide it should mean. Banning “assault weapons” is the gun version of banning “hate speech” or “disruptive protest” or “dangerous persons” or “interfering with a police officer” — it’s a blank check. And I don’t like handing out blank checks to the government to ban things and jail people…

A lot of my Facebook friends do, however. Here’s a link approvingly posted by a lawyer friend, saying in part..

“Last year, 45 members of Congress tried to take action on gun violence and were shouted down. S.A. 2910 took a Republican political move—yet another Obamacare repeal vote—and would have turned it into a modest but important and common-sense gun control measure that would have prevented the sale of firearms to suspected terrorists, those on watch lists or under investigation by the FBI. Fifty-three Republicans and one Democrat knocked the amendment down as a matter of course. It’s too late to prevent the deaths already caused by guns purchased while federal investigators looked on, but it’s never too late to do something about it. Making the senators who defeated gun safety regret their vote by supporting their opponents, both in Congress and on the campaign trail, is a place to start.”

I’ve already written about this legal, democratic and ethical atrocity, here, and here. How does someone go through law school, study the Constitution, and still favor a system where the federal government can, without due process, put you on a “no-fly list” because of some vague suspicion and then take away a Constitutional right because of it? We have to “do something,” so let’s just give the Feds the power to disarm and remove rights from “suspected terrorists”–like, maybe, you— and leave that definition or “suspected terrorist” up to the government. Less than 20% of the public trust the government, yet they want to give it this power! Over 50% of the nation worries that one of our Presidential candidates is a nascent Hitler, and yet part of that group wants to give the government, maybe his government, this “modest” leave to repeal an individual’s rights.

Irresponsible citizenship.


Another approach that is popular on Facebook is to appeal to the authority of outlier pundits who have no authority at all. This character, Dylan Matthews…


…who writes for Vox (Is it unkind of me to post his photo? I suppose. On the other hand, if you want me to take your totalitarian ideas seriously, don’t go on TV  looking like Jerry Lewis in “The Nutty Professor”) said on Twitter that he believed the President should be able to unilaterally ban all Americans from purchasing guns. Well okay then! That settles it! Dylan says.

By the way, I believe that if I glue a pangolin to my head, I’ll live forever.

A journalist friend on Facebook posted an op-ed titled “What America’s gun fanatics won’t tell you” by a financial advisor as if this guy’s rejected opinion that the Second Amendment is just about militias has any relevance to the discussion. What the gun fanatics won’t tell you, apparently, is that Supreme Court opinions don’t count.

This article has exactly the same value as one headlined, “There is no right to have an abortion!” or “Gay couples have no right to be married.” Yes, I get it, my old friend: since you would never own a gun and hate them, you have no respect for my rights, and are happy to eliminate them. After all, you’re losing nothing you care about. Got it.

But why don’t you see, as a journalist, that this is exactly like someone who never reads a newspaper saying that Freedom of the Press shouldn’t exist?

Then there are the embarrassing brain-storms, like my actor friend who shouted Eureka over the divine revelation that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect bullets. Ha! Why didn’t anyone suggest this before? They didn’t because the argument would be laughed, literally laughed, out of court. The right to bear arms is illusory if the government can prevent those arms from serving their purpose. Nonetheless, this easily googled principle didn’t stop everyone from responding to the embarrassing post with hosannas and cries of “Brilliant!”



The argument being spread around Facebook by this meme and others like it is just box of hammers stupid…

musket meme

…as if “arms” wasn’t encompassing enough to apply to future arms as well as current ones.. Fascinatingly, the same people who are making the musket argument in other settings insist on a “living Constitution,” not, apparently, because they really believe in that principle, but because it’s an expedient view to expand a right they want to expand, like the right to marry. (No, the Founders were not thinking about gay people, who they regarded as perverts, when they wrote of “equal protection.”)  Ah, but when the right involved is one they don’t like, suddenly everyone is Antonin Scalia.


Speaking of hypocrisy, the political cartoons being paraded before my eyes on Facebook enable my Facebook friends in their self-disgrace. This is my favorite:

Anti-Gun meme 2

Right. Trump is the only one exploiting Orlando to further his political agenda. How about every Facebook poster, journalist, the President, Piers Morgan, and other anti-gun elected officials, activists and journalists—and cartoonists—who who are using a terrorist attack by an ISIS follower, based on conservative Muslim hatred of homosexuals, using guns that no current or proposed regulations (legal ones, anyway) could have prevented him from acquiring, to attack lawful gun owners, the Second Amendment, Donald Trump, Christians, Republicans, the NRA, and gay marriage opponents.


Finally, some Facebook friends tried to make a blood vessel pop in my brain by approvingly posting yet another disgraceful and juvenile cartoon by the worst and most irresponsible of all political cartoonists, the Washington Post’s Tom Toles:

Toles anti-gun

If I have to explain what is wrong with that, you’re beyond help.



43 thoughts on “Facebook’s Sad, Ignorant, Compassionate, Irresponsible Post-Orlando Freakout

  1. As for it taking 90 seconds to load a musket that is in error. As Richard Sharpe (yes, i know he is a fictional character) says, “A British soldier can fire three rounds a minute in all weather.” That is backed up in the history books.
    However, on a more serious note I think that Justice Stevens dissent has the better analysis of the meaning and right guaranteed by the Second Amendment then the majority in Heller


    • I am persuaded that you’re wrong, not that it matters. Stevens, who is a statist, and not the top of the legal scholar tree by anyone’s assessment, relies on a 1932 case that mentions the Amendment obliquely and in passing, on the issue of whether Congress can ban a particular kind of gun that was a favorite of gangsters at the time. The statement “The opinion the Court announces today fails to identify any new evidence supporting the view that the Amendment was intended to limit the power of Congress to regulate civilian uses of weapons.” is either obtuse of disingenuous. Wow. No, that opinion relies on very old evidence: the Bill of Rights, which entirely involves limitations of government’s ability to constrain citizen autonomy and liberty. Steven was wrong if we view the safety of individual rights important at all.

      Meanwhile, from a practical standpoint, there is no going back. An effort to confiscate guns a la Australia will encounter real, modern militias, and as much ugliness as Trump’s proposed mass deportations.

  2. The alwyas brilliant “iowahawk” on Twitter beautifully and efficiently punctured that musket meme: “If the 2nd Amendment applies only to muskets, the 1st Amendment applies only to wooden printing presses.”

    Unfortunately, people who spread memes like the musket one are immune to persuasion of any kind.

    • This is my favorite analogy, but I usually say that, just as the founders never imagined an AR-15, they never imagined the Internet.

  3. In my opinion: Tom Toles has the same sarcastic non-logic and unethical full of crap mindset as Alan Colmes, it’s all about the smear. This mindset is standard fare for activists in political left but it’s becoming far too common among the common individual in political left.

    Anti-gun activists will continue their crusade regardless of logic; they are ignorant fools.

  4. Hi Jack,

    Just a point of interest here that doesn’t really change your analysis, but since it was juxtaposed with a photo of R. Reagan I thought I would comment. You said: “Machine guns and automatic weapons are illegal.” This is not actually correct. In order to own a fully automatic firearm you have to possess a federal tax stamp that costs about $200.00 plus fingerprinting costs etc. This tax scheme was put into effect around 1939 (when $200.00 was a much larger obstacle). As long as you have that tax document, the weapon is as legal as any other on the market.

    While President Reagan was in office, he signed a bill that created a limited registry of fully automatic firearms (somewhat more than 175,000 of them are currently on the list). After the passage of that law, no new fully automatic firearms were allowed to be added to the registry and if you want to own one, you have to get one of those units that was placed into the registry in the 80’s. (After you qualify for and possess the tax stamp). This situation has obviously made it horrifically expensive to buy one of these, since the demand for them continues to rise, but the supply of them has been eliminated.

    I may have some of the details of this wrong, but in general this is how it works and why it is the way that it is.


    • By the way, possession of that same tax stamp will make a suppressor (aka silencer) legal to possess – though you need a separate stamp for each item unless you create a special kind of trust.

    • You’re correct. After Reagan passed the law in 1986, no machine guns manufactured after that date were fully transferable. Only SOT 8 manufacturers could possess them. These are manufacturers whose weapons fall into the category of “dealer samples”, which can only be sold to law enforcement, the military, and other manufacturers. Naturally, these guns are worth much less than the exact same model manufactured before 1986. The price of fully-transferable machine guns will continue to climb. Not long ago, I saw a 1921 Thompson, with original finish and parts, being sold for $1,000,000., and it was sold, though this gun usually goes for about $50,000 or so, depending on a number of factors. Supressors are an entirely different matter. Same tax stamp and process, and in most states, you can take it home or build it (form 1) within a few months.

          • What I’ve never understood about that law, is that it seemed to be aimed at a problem that never existed. Since the 1934 NFA act, four (4) of those many thousands of registered machine guns were used in the commission of a crime. In fact, two of the owners were cops.

            • Correction: I just read that the actual number is two registered weapons were used in violent crimes, and that even illegally obtained or converted full-autos are very rarely used ;much less than one percent, the most notable of which was the North Hollywood shootout.

  5. Friend Jack – Of course I took the critique in the spirit it was offered and can’t believe I’m finally getting a quote on Ethics Alarms!

    I know you and know you have a huge heart in there amongst all the ethical gears and levers. That heart is accompanied by a brain that processes faster than most computers and almost all of the rest of us. What you’re seeing on Facebook – at least from me because I know I’m among the “irresponsible” – is all heart and very little brain. In my world, that’s okay. Facebook ceased being a place of unpolluted arguments the moment someone took up an argument and someone else disagreed with them. It is for people like me who enjoy writing, opining, and admittedly, the sound of their own voices. Or bloviating idiots; they need a voice, too. When we are talking concerts and kitty cats it makes sense. These “important arguments”? Not so much – obviously – and the tone becomes toxic almost beyond an ability to participate or respond.

    When I look over my posts of the last week, I don’t see my well-reasoned self. I’m just another gay guy who is far, far more shaken by this than I thought I was. I’m a bleeding heart liberal – a label I don’t mind – whose sense of fairness and what is right is continually violated by these incidents and the arguments that follow. And to quote you “The process repeats itself over and over, like a rinse cycle . . . ” Indeed.

    I am also an idiot who didn’t think fast enough to stop myself from working through my own emotional shit on Facebook. Lesson learned and my reward will be a Facebook-free weekend to rid myself of some of this toxicity. I appreciate this post and always anything you have to say to me personally over in the ethical void.

    • Perceptive, as usual, Mark, and thanks. The reason I centered my attention on you was exactly what you allude to: you are usually an anchor of objectivity, and therefore have more influence on others than you may know, or want.

      You should have the right to vent and let emotion take over with your social media friends in especially stressful times, and it’s unfair that at such times, people like you, with your credibility, have to be our linear constant through chaos. But if the reliable foundations of reason collapse, all is lost.

  6. You know what sickens me about gun grabbers the most? When they use that tired meme “you can only use flintlocks” canard, ok fair enough you can only use a soap box and a hand cranked printing press to exercise your 1st amendment rights since TV, radio and the internet weren’t around in the 18th century

  7. The other day my sister, who is an avid MSNBC watcher, mockingly informed me that Donald Trump had said that the solution to an Orlando style shooting was to have everyone carry guns. Not wanting to contest the talking point directly, I just said “Well, sure, might work.” or something along those lines. However, it did spark a couple lines of thought.

    The first was a sort of historical perspective: If we set down this man in the single-shot firearm era, what would happen? Let’s say 1850, when the latest technology is muzzle loading rifles and single shot pistols, your shooter shows up in a crowded church (I’m not sure what the 1850 equivalent to a night club was), armed with an AR15 and opens fire. What would the result be?

    I would assert that, while he might or might not cause 100+ casualties, the gunman would be taken down by people in that crowd long before any police or military arrived.

    Why? Well, it seems to me that earlier generation Americans were more prone to take action (I may be articulating this poorly), rather than rely on ‘the authorities’ to solve these problems. I reckon it’s a cultural thing, but it isn’t extinct — look at the 4th airliner on 9/11, for example.

    My second train of thought was something like this: We cannot prevent these sorts of killers from striking, nor can the police keep these killers from wreaking carnage when they do strike. That leaves us, as citizens, to fight back when something such as this occurs, armed or not.

    I confess that I don’t know how we generate that sort of mind set but it still seems to me the most American solution to this problem.

  8. The Constitution IS a living, breathing document. To me, it is irrelevant to ask “What would the 18th C. framers want today?” Because, as you point out, they certainly wouldn’t have had favorable views toward other classes who enjoy constitutional protection now, but didn’t at the point of creation. So really, the BETTER question is “What would 21st C. framers want today?” I personally believe that they would acknowledge that certain weapons cannot be in the hands of most citizens. Further, that gun manufacturers would have to design their weapons so they could not be modified in a dangerous fashion. The U.S. was a great experiment at the time. The framers weren’t sure that it was going to work, and there was a real fear that we would return to a monarchy. But we didn’t. The Republic prevailed. I firmly believe that our greatest weapon to a tyrannical government is our vote. The success of our government combined with advances in technology and the transformation away from an agrarian economy makes an armed insurrection unlikely to succeed. (General Washington would have been toast if the Brits could have located his armies via satellite.)

      • Wow indeed.

        Beth, the Framers also gave us a mechanism to do exactly as you wish. It’s called the Amendment process.

        If you can convince enough other people of the reasonableness of your cause (specifically, a vote of a 2/3 majority in both the House and the Senate, followed by ratification by 38 of the States), you could get the 2nd amendment repealed in its entirety.

        It is not meant to be easy – or fast. And count your lucky stars that you live in a nation in which limitations upon citizen rights are extremely difficult to accomplish..

        • I agree. And I do think there needs to be an Amendment for clarification purposes because I am sick over all the ink that gets spilled on this issue.

          Here’s the problem. Is there a Constitutional right to ALL arms? I think different Supreme Courts can come to different conclusions. Truthfully, Heller (which didn’t hold this anyway) is probably going to be overruled. But that doesn’t end the fight, because if the Court turns conservative again then the new ruling will get overturned. This is a waste of everyone’s time. State laws are a waste of time too, because someone can just drive to another state where the law is more lenient. There can be federal regulation, but whatever federal regulation happens won’t necessarily have a long shelf life — either because of the make-up of the Supreme Court or Congress. So, best case scenario is an Amendment.

          • There is not a constitutional right to all arms. One can legally possess an automatic weapon, but only under highly controlled circumstances.

            What’s missing in most of the gun debate right now – and most of the reporting 0 is that the weapon used on Orlando is essentially a low-caliber hunting rifle. It’s effective for varmint hunting, but you’d want a bigger gun to hunt deer, and that’s because the bullets are small enough that you probably wouldn’t kill it right away and the animal would run away and suffer.

            But it isn’t a machine gun. It can’t fire any faster than a hunting rifle. Yes, there are magazines for them that hold more rounds than your average hunting gun. But there are millions of these magazines out there already and they’re very easy to make. Further, large magazines were banned the first time so-called “assault rifles” (a political term, by the way, NOT a firearm classification) were restricted. Once the restrictions were lifted, there was NO difference between the number of people that were killed by these weapons.

            If you really look at the issue – REALLY look at it – the conclusions are inescapable. Those calling for bans on these weapons either have no idea what they’re talking about. That’s most people. A handful DO know and want to frighten you into supporting a ban on ALL weapons.

            Just in case you wonder, I do not own guns.

    • “The Republic prevailed. I firmly believe that our greatest weapon to a tyrannical government is our vote.”

      Silliness. If a tyrannical government (which by the way will always CREEP into existence in a Republic, that is too say it will slowly infect the Republic until a type of turning point where it’s obvious a republic is dead) makes it’s move to finalize it’s hold on power, how on earth do think voting is going to stop anything? You do realize tyrants don’t care about votes right? But tyrants do know that getting shot is a sure fire way to be stopped.

    • “(General Washington would have been toast if the Brits could have located his armies via satellite.)”


      Because a modern insurrection would look like 18th Century warfare…

      Just stop.

  9. Pingback: Ethics Quote Of The Week: My Friend Mark On Facebook, Politics, Community, And Fathers Day | Ethics Alarms

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