This afternoon my sister posted an article to Facebook about the number of mass shootings there have been in the United States this year, wondering what it would take for Americans to care enough to do something about guns.

Some guy responded to her saying that it wasn’t the fault of guns, because there have been guns in America since the beginning, and that society is just getting more evil, and that’s what we have to do something about.

I responded by saying that in the past the number of people in the general population who had access to powerful guns with huge magazines was much lower than it is today, so of course there would be more mass shootings now than then. Anybody attempting a mass shooting with a front loading musket wasn’t going to get too far.

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I also pointed out that other industrialized nations do not have mass shootings at anywhere near the same rate as the United States, so does this mean that Americans are more evil than the rest of the world? If that’s the case, maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to have guns...

Dude responded by mocking me for being “misinformed” and saying that we had automatic weapons 50 years ago, and didn’t have as many mass shootings. I responded pointing out again that fewer people in the general population had automatic weapons back then, and challenged him to cite some evidence showing that the number of people owning automatic weapons 50 years ago was the same as today.

He responded again, this time arguing that we had automatic weapons 100 years ago, but that mass shootings are only a problem now, so it has to be people who are the problem, and once again mocking me for being “ignorant”.

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I made my final response, telling him that 100 years ago the automatic weapon on offer would be the Vickers gun, which is huge, and requires two people to operate it, one to fire the gun and the other to feed it ammunition, and as such would be highly impractical for anyone to use in a mass shooting, and reiterated that the percentage of of civilians who owned Vickers guns 100 years ago would be far lower than the number of people who currently own automatic weapons in the United States.

I challenged him to respond to my comments with actual facts, and said that by ignoring my arguments and trying to mock me instead he was essentially conceding the field.

Dude responded with “think what you like ignorance is only going to make the problem worse.”

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On this point, I think we are completely agreed. However, I think we define ignorance very differently.