Beyond Banning “Bad Guns” and “Arming Good Guys”

Beyond Banning “Bad Guns” and “Arming Good Guys”


By Subhash Kateel

“Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it.” (Proverbs 3:27)

“…and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” (Surah 5:32)

It was those verses, from three different faiths, all swirling around my head as I watched the carnage in Sandy Hook on TV several weeks ago.  2012 marked a year in which many people I know had already lost so many loved ones.  For a while, I had no thoughts, no analysis, no theories…just verses.

Then the debates emerged.  To say that they became poisoned by posturing, divisiveness and sanctimony is both understandable and an understatement.  People’s anger, sadness and defensiveness charged a discussion in ways I haven’t seen since 9/11. In our current climate, it is increasingly hard to see how some of the alternating proposals flowing from these debates, namely, a “good guy with a gun” in every school or a generic “gun control” that bans all bad guns (“assault weapons”) and gun accessories (magazines, pistol grips etc.) will be anything but a distraction from truly understanding and addressing the root of what is causing people to die.

My own beliefs on the culture of violence have put me at odds with many friends.  I consider myself a progressive to the bone. I am pro-immigrant, anti-war on drugs and anti just about any war based on false pretenses and built on destruction.  Like many people, I have seen enough needless death and violence to know how much I hate it, whether it comes from the barrel of a gun, the blade of a knife, the missile of a drone, a US-issued Stinger in the hands of the Taliban or a baseball bat. But even though my parents never owned guns, I grew up around many people that did and I have always believed in what the Second Amendment fundamentally stands for. I never saw the label progressive as meaning a little left of liberal.  To me, it always meant that we address the root cause of every problem we face in a way that challenges ourselves as much as we challenge the powers creating those problems.

As a community organizer, I witnessed with my own eyes a War on Drugs that left communities littered with drugs, violence and mass incarceration, a War on Terror that terrorized communities and an undeclared War on Immigrants meant to “secure communities” that has left many families torn apart. So when I hear folks recite the mantra of “gun control” or “a good guy with a gun” as the cure-all for the culture of violence in this country, I pause.

For another “banning of bad guns” or a “giving all good guys guns” proposal to be held up as a solution to any of this madness means that we are answering our own questions with self-serving facts that reinforce what we are already thinking. The actual facts don’t support any side of this debate completely and desperately scream out for new solutions.

The facts behind “the facts”

Among the most self-serving facts are the constant comparisons between violence in the US and what Piers Morgan calls “the civilized” world. So yes, America leads most of Europe in an intentionally misleading measure of violence called gun deaths. But over half of US gun deaths are suicides that may have still happened without a gun and over a third of US murders take place without any gun whatsoever.  For perspective, if every suicide in gun death-less Japan happened with a gun, it would have a much higher gun death rate than the United States because it has way more suicides. If all gun murders in America miraculously disappeared, we would still have a much higher murder rate than Japan.

Gun rights advocates who point to Switzerland’s’ high rates of gun ownership and low rates of… Read more here


Subhash Kateel is the co-host of Let’s Talk About It!, a real talk radio program that talks about the real issues that affect the lives of real people. Subhash Kateel has been organizing immigrant communities for over twelve years. He was the initiator of the detention and deportation work for Desis Rising Up and Moving and of co-Founder of Families For Freedom, a multi-ethnic network of immigrants facing and fighting deportation in 2002. He was also an organizer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition helping to develop community responses to ICE raids, detentions and deportations. Besides facilitating some of the most sought after know your rights trainings in the South East, he helped lead the We Are Florida! campaign that successfully stopped an Arizona-style anti-immigrant bill from passing in the Florida legislature. He is now the co-host of Let’s Talk About It! He has called many places home, including Saginaw, Michigan, Brooklyn, New York and now Miami Florida.
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  1. Growing up in Saginaw, Michigan, although my youth was spent in more prosperous Saginaw Twp, I have never once felt the need to carry or own a gun. I used to spend my teenage years riding my bicycle through through the most dangerous neighborhoods in Daniels Heights and the east side. I did this on purpose. I refused to believe that poor people are violent. I do not possess a gun today. I feel that if you really trust in a higher power, you will never need a gun. To this day, I have never been wrong on this.

    • Thanks for sharing this big bro,even tho we are on slightly different sides of this. Appreciate it. And I will say for the record, even though I disagree with the ksl classified stuff, am impressed that it worked. I will say that I grew up with tons of friends with guns, legally and illegally. And doing hate crimes work in new york post 9/11 was one of the many times I did wish I was armed in that city. But the thing I know for certain is that the culture of violence in this country has little to do with guns. But I really appreciate sharing this piece.

  2. John.. excellent article. When are you doing your talk show about it? I too grew up in Michigan, not too far from Saginaw infact.. little place called Bay City. I’m sure your familiar with it 🙂 Worst thing we ever worried about in Bay City was one of the “stupid thugs from Saginaw” coming to pick a fight with a knife. I think that happened once honestly. Most of the people that came from Saginaw that we knew wheren’t bad people at all. We also grew up with a culture of guns in the house, safe and responsible gun use, proper gun control (meaning two hands on the weapon, squeeze don’t pull the trigger, proper sight picture, etc etc).. and I don’t recall a single time where a kid shot another while we where growing up, even accidentally. You just didn’t play with dad’s guns. But let me know when your doing your show about this issue, I’d love to call in with a perspective that I see even you using incorrectly.

    • Hi Kris, my brother Subhash is actually the author of this article. I would love to discuss background checks on guns, violent video games, and violent movies and tv. I am all for reasonable restraints on them all.

    • Hi John. Sure, let’s discuss the issues you’ve pointed out. My opinion on these is rather simple:
      Background checks; we need them at all levels, including gun show and private ownership sales. I say this for a very simple reason. There are many videos on youtube, special reports done by media (20/20 did one a few years ago), and various reports from federal agencies regarding weapons bought via gun shows (some the so-called “straw purchases”) that have been used in crimes. As a serious proponent of the 2nd Amendment, I don’t think the Gov’t or anyone else has a right to remove our weapons, or even what type of weapon you own. However, background checks are in place to prevent the unlawful and criminal element from obtaining guns, that’s the basis for it. Data gathering is a whole different ball of wax. But if we’re going to make private retailers of weapons be licensed, ensure they follow the laws for gun sales, and conduct a background check on every person they sell to, why are we allowing the p2p sales at gun shows to circumvent this? To me, it makes no sense, and the loopholes should be closed.
      Violent video games; there are actually studies out there that suggest that violent video games have no correlation to violent crimes. One of these reasons which is most often cited, is that kids playing said video games have no time to go commit crimes, their often infront of the computer or tv console game. Now, I’m all for proper parenting and limiting your child AS A PARENT from such exposure, but it’s also the PARENTS responsibility to monitor what their child is exposed to (as much as is possible), and to explain such things as “reality” and “fantasy/fiction”. Saying that violent video games, violent movies, or violent tv is the cause for such atrocities is a way of pointing the finger away from bad parenting. Parents must take charge and responsibility for the children they bring into this world, period.

      Now, I would also like to point this out as well: When speaking of weapons, everyone needs to be on the same page. Their not. The “gun advocates” tend to use the proper terms, while the “gun control advocates” tend to use the media popularized terms. This is always going to cause a great divide in people. Hence the current ruckus in short sight. When you use the popular “assault weapons” term for a weapon that the average gun owner *KNOWS* is not an assault weapon, but a semi-automatic weapon, your going to see that instant divide. Weapons are classified, and titled, based on their mode(s) of operation, not on how they look, which is commonly called “dress” or “dressage”. Taking 2 guns that operate exactly identically and modifying the look does not change the operating of the weapon at all, nor it’s effectiveness or lethality. A common example of this is the Ruger 10/22 rifle. There are literally HUNDREDS of legal modifications you can do to take this rather tame looking, wooden stocked, 22 caliber rifle, and make it look pretty much anyway you want it. The gun still fires the same, and by all legal standards, is still a semi-automatic weapon. It’s not an assault weapon. As prescribed by the DOD and DOJ, assault weapons are weapons which have a selectable rate of fire switch, and are all currently HEAVILY restricted by a strenuous background check, training, and licensing process that goes far beyond that of the everyday gun owner.

    • Hey, Thanks for reading and giving feedback on the article. I really tried to have a different conversation than the divisive debates that aren’t stopping violence. Our show is every Wednesday at 7pm. We talk about a host of issues affecting the lives of real people. Always down to talk to new voices.

    • Anytime Subhash. I agree, we need to have some different conversations, at every level, about curbing violence in this country. And really, Joe Biden recently said it best “there’s no silver bullet for curbing violence”, and I was really happy to see the people he brought in to discuss the issues that are possible causes. I’ll definitely be listening in on Wednesday, and I’ll probably even call in, I’ve never been one to sit quietly on the sidelines 🙂

    • Thanks for putting the proper perspective on gun types Kris. The LEFT just wont open their eyes on the false and wasteful effort they are indulging themselves upon. Why can’t anyone see we do not yet have an answer on how to reduce or eliminate gun violence. More gun controls/laws have nothing to do with what everyone is mud-slinging over. There are way too many factions arguing the point with no effort on what to do except the fruitless notion Obama seems to have thrown into every ones mind. We need to gather experts on the root cause of mass shootings, and any for that matter, and come up with a viable plan of action that works. All we are doing is delaying what needs to be done and in the meantime more will die because the whole country is taking the wrong approach.

  3. Inalienable rights trump facts. When “reasonable” restrictions are placed on inalienable rights, they are no longer rights but mere privileges. The Progressive mindset is more central control, more consolidation of power, the inevitably of gradualism. The inalienable right to life had restrictions placed upon it by the Supreme Court in 1974 and we are close to 100 million state sanctioned murders of the most vulnerable innocents. The sad reality is if every one of those 6 year olds had been murdured 6 years prior in vitro, it would have been labeled choice, and those protesting it would be ostracized.