How many of you have seen this floating around the Intertubes?
This purports to show how guns make us safer by depicting the President of the United States walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, flanked by the Secret Service and the D.C. Police, all of whom were armed with guns. The implicit argument is that the President is safer because he's surrounded by all those concealed firearms.
I'm kind of busy today, so I don't have time to examine all of the ways that the argument makes no sense, but here are the highlights:
- From what, exactly, are these police and agents protecting the President? Could it possibly be: guns?
- Does anyone seriously doubt that having dozens of armed bodyguards might make anyone safer? (Unless, for example, you can't trust your bodyguards.)
- Does it matter that the President is a hugely-valuable military and political target whose assassination could jeopardize the interests of the United States (not to mention millions of lives), and therefore is especially vulnerable to gun violence without his guards?
- Did the presence of armed bodyguards prevent people from shooting at presidents Reagan, Ford, Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, McKinley, Garfield, Lincoln, or Jackson?
- Could the presence of millions of guns make an attempt on someone's life more likely in the U.S. than elsewhere?
- Continuing the thought, the United Kingdom's Prime Minister is similarly a high-value target, but...well, here is the PM and deputy PM walking down Whitehall in broad daylight with, it appears, a single armed guard (who's staying discretely back from the ministers):
Even better, here's David Cameron walking to Parliament surrounded by random tourists:
Now, you have to remember, the Prime Minister's residence has actually been shelled, from a mortar emplacement right in front of the Ministry of Defence. So why isn't the UK's political leader at all worried when he walks down Whitehall?
Pointing to the President's bodyguards and saying we're all safer when armed is like pointing to David Vetter and saying we're all safer from disease when in a sterile environment. (I'm sure some gun nut will say "guns are like antibodies." That only shows the problems with similes.)
I'm sure I'll come back to this. I will leave you with this photo of another head of government, Canada's Stephen Harper, surrounded by complete strangers at a public event with no visible security (though I'm sure he had at least one Mountie guarding him):