Vince Vaughn's baffling guns-in-schools vision: Gun control is "like banning forks in an attempt to stop making people fat"

The "True Detective" star has a cartoonish sense of how the world works

Published June 1, 2015 7:33PM (EDT)

Vince Vaughn            (AP/Charles Sykes)
Vince Vaughn (AP/Charles Sykes)

When we first became aware of him, we knew him for buying us cocktails, wearing retro suits and telling us what was and wasn’t “money.” Now he seems to be about “lock and load.” That’s not a line from his upcoming appearance on “True Detective,” but his hopes for American public schools: He wants plenty of guns as a way to deter shootings. It’s an extension of the NRA’s position that “a good guy with a gun” will solve a bloodthirsty nation's gun-violence problem.

Vaughn has drifted to the libertarian right of late, especially on gun policy. “Banning guns is like banning forks in an attempt to stop making people fat,” he told British GQ. “Taking away guns, taking away drugs, the booze, it won't rid the world of criminality."

He's specific about school shootings: "In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds." But he’s not stopping there. "I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home. We don't have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government. It's not about duck hunting; it's about the ability of the individual. It's the same reason we have freedom of speech.”

No surprise, Vaughn is a supporter of Ron Paul and reality-TV business partner of Glenn Beck.

The “good guy with a gun” line was the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre’s reaction to the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. To the NRA and gun believers like Vaughn, the deadly shooting happened because of restrictive laws that kept weaponry out of schools and places like them. What they don’t talk about is the culture of violence in which killer Adam Lanza, whose mother built a home arsenal and trained her son in the use of dangerous weapons as a way to bond, was raised.

You can read over and over again about guns being brought to public places, and going off accidentally and killing or wounding people. If you pay attention, you’ll also notice that having a gun in the home poses a substantial risk of suicide, homicide or accident. You can also see how innocent bystanders, like this baby sitter, become collateral damage. “Bringing a gun into the home substantially increases the risk for suicide for all family members and the risk for women being murdered in the home,” Dr. David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote of a survey last year. “Evidence not included in their review also indicates that a gun in the home increases the risk for homicide victimization for others in society. This increased risk may be due to someone in the family shooting others (for example, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting) or the gun being stolen and used by criminals. Obtaining a firearm not only endangers those living in the home but also imposes substantial costs on the community.”

Of course, for those with a libertarian extremist view of individual rights, cost to the community rarely comes up.

Vaughn has spoken about how, “as you get older, you just get less trust in the government running anything." That’s become a very popular idea since Reagan and Thatcher told us that government was inherently evil and that the marketplace was magical. But does he understand that most schools in the U.S. are run by… the very U.S. government that he and other libertarians fear? Who does he think will be handling security? Or should we just let whoever wants to pack to bring guns into elementary schools?

It’s too bad about Vaughn. By all appearances, a formerly charming, once-promising actor has become a kind of jock/ fratboy/ dumbass. But maybe we misread him early on – he played a shallow, macho manipulator in "Swingers," and about the same in "Wedding Crashers," in a way that made him seem like he knew better, like he was playing some of the bros he knew back home in Chicago. But maybe these roles weren't parody – Vince was just being straight with us all along.

By Scott Timberg

Scott Timberg is a former staff writer for Salon, focusing on culture. A longtime arts reporter in Los Angeles who has contributed to the New York Times, he runs the blog Culture Crash. He's the author of the book, "Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class."

MORE FROM Scott Timberg

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