By Bob Cesca
On HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday there was an extended and heated debate about gun control. The participants included Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker and author Sam Harris, who, in case you don’t recognize the name, happens to be an insufferable marketeer of the “both sides are awful” false equivalence. The debate mostly centered around Cory Booker arguing for a massive effort to seize illegally-obtained firearms, with Maher and Harris telling him he’s crazy to try. Toward the end of the exchange, Maher paraphrased a question that Harris raised on his blog and presented his panel with a scenario in which they’re all in a public place and “a mad man has a gun.”
Then Maher asked the question, “Are you really happy that he’s the only one there with a gun? Really?” He continued, “Is what’s going through your mind: thank God he’s the only one with a gun, because I wouldn’t want to be caught in a crossfire?” Maher pointed to Booker and asked him, “Is that really what you would want in that situation?” It’s easy to see where Maher was leading the panel with this line of questioning. Shockingly, yes, Maher was invoking Wayne LaPierre’s classic NRA bumper-sticker myth: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
I’ve always been a huge Bill Maher fan, but on this issue he’s either been reading too many of Sam Harris’ “both sides are equally crazy on the gun debate” posts, or he’s seen too many movies in which the hero miraculously appears from around a corner and, barely aiming, pops off a single lethal shot to the villain’s head with laser precision even though innocent bystanders and human shields are all around.
If I had been sitting on that panel I would’ve emphatically replied, “No. I don’t want some other dude with a gun in the room. Generally speaking, the addition of a second gun has effectively doubled my chances of being killed by one of the gunmen, intentionally or not.”