Guns & trolls on Facebook a bad mix

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

It was the first accident at the gun range in 24 years, I commented on a Facebook thread concerning a young woman being fatally shot at a range in another state.

“Someone dies every 15 minutes in the U.S., and 50 people were shot in Chicago over the Christmas weekend. What’s safer?” I wrote.

The comment was on a Washington Post thread. I usually avoid jumping into the fray, but I could not resist.

“Is that supposed to be impressive that only 1 person dies at a gun range in 24 years?” replied someone, from somewhere.

You bet it’s impressive. Statistically, you have a lot greater chance of dying sleeping in your bed or in a car crash than on the gun range. Accidents happen all over the place. Human beings make errors, and tragedy happens. But I’d rather be on the gun range than in Chicago.

“There should never be a death at a gun range,” my adversary from somewhere responded.

Correct. But there should never be a death due to a car crash, or airplane or train crash, either.

“John Toth, your a moron,” the discussion continued, taking a little turn towards the negative.

I usually just abandon these threads and focus on more important things, like watching reruns on TV, but I could not resist, partly because my critic didn’t use the right word.

I’ve seen this quite often on Facebook. “Your” is a possessive. “You’re” means you are. It’s not that complicated. My debate opponent did not take kindly to being corrected.

“You need cars to go from one place to another. You need planes to go places you can’t reach without months of travel. Why do you need a civilian firing range?” he replied. Then he set out to list why, which I cannot repeat in a community publication.

Since these threads can be joined worldwide, many participants don’t mind being really rude and crude, which is why I try to stay away from them. But, since I was already commenting, what’s wrong with just one more comment? Of course, it is never just one more.

“Maybe (you need a civilian firing range) to become a better marksman, because the cops are 10 minutes away, and by the time they can get to your home, the intruder already did his damage (if you even get a chance to call 911). Or maybe because it’s a lot of fun because you don’t hunt, but still want to do some target practice,” I replied in a somewhat longer than usual message.

I just returned from the gun range with my daughter, and we’re doing fine, I tried to explain.

Safety is of foremost concern at those places. But I was trying to reason with an extreme view, knowing all along that such extremes on either side are pretty well locked in place.

But as least I tried.

“Enough of the straw argument you muppet.… Cars are for transport....Guns are for killing…” chimed in another opposing view.

But cars can be used for killing, too. Or, trucks, some of which have been used by the terrorists to ram into large crowds in Europe. So, both can be used for killing, but I am the muppet, right? My feelings were hurt.

An airplane can be used for killing, like on Sept. 11, 2001. Just about anything can be used for killing, even a harmless-looking fluffy pillow.

“Somebody dying in a car is expected, but not on a gun range,” replied another commenter.
I gave up. The reason fatalities are not expected on a gun range is because there are very few of them. But life is precious on the range, or in a car, where a lot more people die. I was starting to turn blue in the face.

An additional New Year’s resolution: Never get into a discussion with trolls on Facebook. Lesson learned.