Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

Please Stop Being Dishonest: Guns Are Not “Just Tools”


There is a discussion to be had on America and guns.

I think the average person gets this– I mean, it’s pretty hard not to. We have a proliferation of guns and near-daily acts of unspeakable death and violence committed with many of those guns.

It seems only reasonable that we, as a nation, talk about common sense steps towards reducing all this violence. And, since this violence is typically committed with legally purchased guns, it’s also reasonable that we have a discussion on who should have guns and how to prevent those with nefarious intent from obtaining them.

However, I think the average person also knows that this discussion is almost insufferable to have. Each side has both reasonable and unreasonable people and arguments, and it is this insertion of refusal to reason by unreasonable people, that often make the discussion a no-go-for-launch.

One of those such arguments comes from the pro-gun crowd, and it goes something like this:

“You idiots! Guns are just tools.”

I’m convinced that each time this sort of logic is pushed forward an angel loses their wings or something. Because no, guns are not just tools.

If we’re ever to have even the most basic discussion on gun violence in America, we’ll have to move beyond a non-starter that is either ignorant or blatantly disingenuous.

This attempt to make those who wish to have a discussion on guns look foolish, backfires. Even if a gun were “just a tool,” those who use this argument often forget the full definition of the word tool:

“Tool: a device or implement, especially one held in the hand, used to carry out a particular function.

When saying, “but a gun is just a tool!” it seems they often mean, “it’s just an implement or device like a screwdriver, so stop acting like it’s dangerous.”

These folks ignore that a tool, by definition, carries out a particular function. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think one needs to be a member of Mensa to know what the particular function of a gun is.

We wouldn’t say the electric chair is “just a chair” or “just a tool” because we know that it is designed and used for a very specific function: killing people.

A gun isn’t some all-purpose tool– I mean, come on now, it’s not a freaking letherman.

Never in my life have I said, “Gee, honey, that picture looks crooked. Can you go grab my pistol so I can straighten it?” or, “Man, this IKEA furniture is really hard to put together without an AR-15.”

The way gun-advocates use the word “tool” is almost always the fallacy of false equivalency– guns are not equal to the other objects in life we commonly call tools, nor do they serve similar functions.

A 6 year old didn’t accidentally kill his father this week because Dad left a screwdriver on the table.

A 3 year old in Michigan didn’t accidentally kill his mom this week because he got his hands on a pencil sharpener.

A woman in Alabama didn’t inflict life threatening wounds on herself because she accidentally discharged the palm sander that was under her pillow.

The 6 people who died in Kalamazoo didn’t die because an Uber driver decided to drive around town and throw tape measures at people.

I mean, for the love of Lemmy people, a gun isn’t just some sort of tool that is divorced from a very specific function.

In fact, “tool” isn’t a very precise word for a gun at all; the word we should be using is weapon:

“Weapon: a thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage.”

Inflicting bodily damage is the entire purpose of a gun. It’s what they do. It’s why we don’t send people to war armed with screwdrivers, and why gun-advocates would not be satisfied if we just let them open carry hammers. They don’t want some generic tool– they want weapons, and they know it.

And this is also why the conversation must be centered around how we responsibly regulate deadly weapons, because that’s what guns are designed for.

There is reasonable dialogue to be had somewhere here in the middle, but that dialogue is quickly stifled when extremists disingenuously argue that we’re only talking about “tools.”

Because that’s not at all what we’re talking about.

I am hopeful we as a people can move forward in some fruitful conversation, but that can’t happen until the blatant dishonesty about guns being “just tools” comes to an end.

Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and earned his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller.

He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus.

It's not the end of the world, but it's pretty #@&% close. Trump's America & Franklin Graham's Christianity must be resisted.

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