A common argument from allies of the National Rifle Association is to say “guns don’t kill people,” even though studies show more people die when more guns are on the streets. Rather than pursue gun violence prevention, the NRA and allied Republicans have made some extreme stretches to compare guns to everyday objects and gun control to some of the most notorious actions in history.
Whether it’s frying pans or Saddam Hussein, the problem is never guns themselves:
1. Spoons: Following the Navy Yard massacre in Washington, D.C. this week, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said guns shouldn’t be blamed for the 12 lives lost. Rather, “Blaming this on guns is like saying the big problem with obesity is we’ve got too many spoons,” he said. He isn’t the first congressman to compare guns and shootings to spoons and obesity. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) quipped, “Would banning spoons stop obesity?” in a discussion about the Newtown massacre of 20 children.
2. Hitler: The NRA and others quickly latched onto the myth that likens gun control to Hitler’s fascism post-Sandy Hook. If only Jews were allowed to have their guns, they suggest, Jews could have prevented the Holocaust. It’s been repeated at length, no matter that this claim has no credibility whatsoever, historically and factually. Yes, Hitler confiscated guns from Jews, along with persecuting them in virtually every other way, but he also simultaneously exempted Nazis entirely from gun regulations. Even the fact that Nazis had unregulated access to guns is not really a full explanation: Jews who did have guns had little success fighting back against the state-sanctioned military regime oppressing them.
3. Saddam Hussein: Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) compared Obama’s efforts to tackle gun violence to Saddam Hussein using kids as human shields during the first Gulf War. “He’s even using children,” Stockman said on Fox. “It reminds me of Saddam Hussein when he used kids.” Obama’s “use” of children has been reminding Congress that kids’ welfare is part of the gun control debate after a slew of school shootings.
4. Castration: The NRA and gun manufacturers tend to capitalize on the notion that guns are a symbol of masculinity, which has led certain advocates to the idea that gun violence prevention serves as a form of castration. Illinois House state Rep. Jim Sacia (R) made that claim in a rant against the statewide effort to address violence. “You folks in Chicago, want me to get castrated because you’re families are having too many kids,” Sacia said. The Atlantic Wire traced back this analogy to a single conservative’s essay dating back to December 2012, only 10 days after the Sandy Hook shooting.
5. Frying Pans and Hammers: The NRA, as well as Republicans from Gohmert to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN) to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, have compared hammers to assault weapons. One Georgia state senator went so far as to speculate that frying pans can kill more people than guns. FBI data shows that guns kill at least 14 times the number as blunt objects, like hammers or bats, do each year. Frying pans and hammers are never the choice for mass murders, either.