Best Amendment: a game that plays out consequences of fighting bad guys with guns with good guys with guns

The Best Amendment is a pay-what-you-like Mac/Win/Flash game that plays out NRA president Wayne LaPierre's infamous statement that "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

The first level is straightforward. You’re a little white cone-shaped fella, and you need to go get the star before the timer runs out. With each successive level, a new black-colored cone guy is added, and you have to shoot them to get more stars. Sometimes they shoot back at you, or even at each other.

The catch: Their behavior is totally determined by your actions in previous levels. If you hang out near a wall and spray a machine gun wildly, on the next level there will be a new bad guy who does the exact same thing, and you’ll have to shoot him with a bazooka or shotgun or whatever the game has armed you with.

The result is an exponential increase in violence from level to level. The game has no set limit on the number of levels, and eventually you’ll be overwhelmed and destroyed by the perpetually repeating actions of one of your past selves.

The game was created by Paolo Pedercini, who previously created "Unmanned" (a game about drone pilots) "Operation Pedopriest" (a satirical game about the Catholic Church); Free Culture; McDonald's Video Game; and most notoriously, Phone Story, a game about mobile phone manufacture that was banned from the Ios App Store (you can still get it for Android).

Pedercini normally gives his games away, but he's asking for pay-what-you-like donations this time to fund a workshop series called "Imagining Better Living Through Play," an "initiative is meant to help activists and grassroots organizations make games for social change and personal empowerment."

The Best Amendment Indie Game Takes On the NRA [Wired/Ryan Rigney]


  1. What a beautiful expression of Wayne LaPierre’s sentiment. You’re an entitled white guy who thinks you can just take other people’s stars, and who is going to stop you?

    But your plucky victims can use a commensurate level of violence to stop you. Even as you succeed, the others learn from your mistakes and your tactics and escalate until the threat is destroyed. The inevitable result: good guys win and your reign of terror is over.

    The Klan hood look is a nice touch. Really brings home the colonialist metaphor.

      1.  That’s part of why the game is so clever.  At some point when you realize the black cones are just imitating the white cone you start to ask who is really the bad guy here?  The white cone initiating violence or the black cone responding in kind?  It complicates the “black vs. white” worldview that seems to motivate so much of the “reasoning” on this issue.

        If Saudi Arabia was the wealthiest and most powerful country on earth the newspapers would call Al Qaeda “freedom fighters” instead of “terrorists”.  When someone tries to tell you an issue is good guys vs. bad guys they’re almost certainly trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

    1. Exactly. As described, the game seems to be a bad metaphor, ass-backwards to the real world that LaPierre was describing.

      In the game, from the sounds of it, the only way you can be stopped is to become a bad guy with a gun.

      That said, as a game, it sounds interesting. If there is a background level of violence significant enough that you cannot avoid it and are required to escalate, but you win by escalating the absolute least amount necessary, that’s a game mechanic I’ve not heard used before, and I like it.

      I’d be interested in mods to existing games – say Skyrim – which had people’s reactions to you be affected by your reputation for violence escalation.

  2. Do the “bad guys” fire at the “good guy” if the “good guy” never fires in the first place?

    1. No.   If you never shoot, the opponent doesn’t.  

      Furthermore, the opponent remains your sole opponent. Also, there is a slight delay of the opponent at the start of each round, permitting you to get a 1 second or so head start on making your way to the star. (Gathering stars is the object of the game).So, if you are patient and refuse to shoot, you can run up as much score as you like.  And you can leave the game running indefinitely, returning to gather more stars at your leisure.

      $2 well spent.

  3. Seems kind of disingenuous for them to frame the scenario like that. This type of rise in violence is something you’d see when you have two factions who are actively attempting to defeat each other (like in a war). It’s not the type of thing you see across scattered instances of violence across a nation. Just because someone stopped a robbery in California with a handgun doesn’t mean that the  next robbery in Florida is going to be committed with a flamethrower, which is kind of the underlying sentiment of this game.

    I’m all for having conversations about this kind of thing. We as a nation spend too much time shouting past each other on this topic and would greatly benefit from just calming the heck down and having a real dialogue over it, but games like this are just adding fuel to the fire.

    (edit: Fixed grammar issue. It’s still real early in the morning for me.)

      1. With respect to my point, I don’t think it’s relevant whether or not his comments constitute real dialogue. The point I was trying to make was that a game like this doesn’t help the state of discourse surrounding this subject. I think that the game designer is failing to make a logically coherent argument (per my comment above). In doing so in this context, all they succeed to do is reinforce one of the following two problematic ideas:

        All gun rights advocates want to create a Mad Max style society where everyone spends all day shooting at each other.

        All gun control advocates are a bunch of snarky arrogant jerks who don’t give even a second’s thought to what gun rights advocates have to say.

        Neither of these thoughts are true. Unfortunately, I feel that we spend 95% of our time on this subject shouting one of these ideas, depending on what “team” you’ve chosen.

        In the context of this article and these comments, my views on the gun debate is completely immaterial. The point I’m trying to make is that the execution of this game serves only to increase the lack of intelligent discourse over this issue.

        1.  You’re wrong.  It’s Wayne LaPierre who made the terrible argument and this is a response explaining why that argument is terrible.  It’s not gun control advocates who are framing the issue as “good guys vs. bad guys” — it’s the NRA.  This game shows why that framing is bullshit.

          It’s not the least bit “disingenuous” to rebut an opponent’s argument with a reductio ad absurdum argument. 

          Besides that, escalation is an issue.  If store owners start keeping guns behind the counter because robbers are armed then robbers are going to have to get better armed to continue robbing.  Personally, I’d rather be robbed by someone with a knife or baseball bat than a gun.

          1.  It may be a terrible argument, but it is certainly already part of both (or all) sides of the national discourse on the issue.  It’s given as the slogan of a gun fan, but it’s also the program of anyone who wants to prohibit guns, because this, too, must be carried out by good guys with guns — the police.

          2. No.  The only way you end up with “police are the good guys with guns” is by once again trying to force your simplistic “good vs. evil” model into situations where it does not apply. (It is a terrible model that doesn’t apply to anything. Forget about it entirely. Very few people consider themselves “bad guys” and so “good guys vs. bad guys” can only lead you to misunderstand people’s motivations.)

            Police are not uniformly good guys.  This is quite obvious already.  (Nor are criminals uniformly “bad guys”.)  In fact, most liberals are not particularly fond of cops in my experience so the notion that “this is the program of anyone who wants
            to prohibit guns” is just absurd. 

            However, there is good reason to believe that a monopoly on legal violence decreases the total amount of violence in a society.  That is, as violent as NYC can be it’s probably not quite as bad as Dodge City circa 1888.  There is a reason vigilantism is illegal almost everywhere and it’s not because there are “good guys” and “bad guys”.

          3. Okay, I think I’m getting a better feel for why my gut reaction was what it was with this game. To be clear, I’m not so much concerned with who’s argument is right and who’s is wrong, I’m concerned with the form of the discourse, so I’m going to leave alone whether or not I believe that escalation of this form is actually an issue.

            I think my big problem is that what we have here is a game that is responding to a single statement out of a long speech. All context for the sentence was stripped away and then the game engaged in making a farce of the isolated sentence. Now, I certainly agree that there’s nothing wrong with making a reductio ad absurdum argument, but only if you’re actually addressing the argument that was made. By ignoring all context surrounding the statement, the game becomes disingenuous that way. I believe that LaPierre was addressing a specific situation when he made that comment and I believe that without the surrounding context of the speech, the isolated statement becomes something other than it was originally intended. It over-simplifies the point he was trying to make to a degree at which I believe the point bares very little in common with the originally intended point. I feel like the game, at minimum, verges on making a straw man argument.

            Again, and I can’t say this enough, I don’t want to take a stance on whether LaPierre or the game developer’s underlying condition is right, just that I don’t believe that the game developer was being fair when he made this game. You can be fair and still refute the opposing view-point. I believe that one of the biggest reasons we have so many issues trying to figure out what works with this debate is it seems like neither side is willing to give the other the benefit of the doubt and really listen to what they have to say.

          4.  Again, I don’t think the NRA is interested in reasonable discussion either and is, in fact, doing everything they can to prevent reasonable discussion.  As such, I think it would be pointless to try to be charitable to Wayne LaPierre’s statement.  The statement is meant to be polarizing and distracting.  The game points this out.  Let’s acknowledge this and move on.

            I believe that LaPierre was addressing a specific situation when he
            made that comment and I believe that without the surrounding context of
            the speech, the isolated statement becomes something other than it was
            originally intended.

            I simply disagree.  Wayne LaPierre is trying to prevent reasonable discourse so the NRA can continue to prevent any sort of reasonable gun control measures in this country.  The game is certainly not less fair than the NRA’s approach to “discourse”. 

            This isn’t about which side is “right”.  This is about the fact that the NRA doesn’t want to have to prove itself right — that’s why it actively lobbies to prevent research on gun violence.

    1. You can talk that way because where you’re at the game is still at round one, and it still looks good for the white guy.

      Or, to put it another way: you missed the whole point.

      1.  I’m sorry you feel that I missed the point, Michael. I would appreciate it if you would elaborate on what you think the point is and where you think I missed it. I’d like to respond to your comment, but I rather have you flesh out your position first so that I can be sure to respond to what you think as opposed to what it is I think you think.

        1. The point is that the guy from the NRA’s original comment is unhelpful, simplistic and disingenious – exactly like the game.

          The game isn’t parodying the real world – that’s impossible. Its parodying Mr LaPierre

          1. If that’s the case, then I feel like my point still stands. By answering an “unhelpful, simplistic and disingenuous” comment with an “unhelpful, simplistic and disingenuous” game, the developer is perpetuating the very spiral of escalation in the dialogue of the debate that he’s suggesting needs to be avoided in the real world.

            The end result helps no one. It just entrenches both sides of the debate further into their own respective views while increasing animosity for the other side.

            I want to be clear that I don’t think it’s impossible to make an intelligent and thought-provoking game on this issue, I just don’t think this game fits the bill.

          2.  The NRA’s intention is to ruin the dialog.  They are winning, they know they are winning, and so they spread completely ridiculous talking points that polarize both sides and make communication impossible.  That is the NRA’s modus operandi.

            Since that is the case I think the game is completely fair.  There is no reasonable discussion with the NRA so why try?  Just point out that they’re trying to prevent reasonable discussion and move on.

          3.  The only thing that stops a bad guy with a bumper sticker is a good guy with a bumper sticker!

    2. This type of rise in violence is something you’d see when you have two
      factions who are actively attempting to defeat each other (like in a
      war). It’s not the type of thing you see across scattered instances of
      violence across a nation

      Not true at all. Violence isn’t “scattered” or “random.” It’s a social phenomenon with trends and evolution, bounded by constraints derived from culture, law, and technology. All the game does is model these constraints.

      1. I certainly agree with that in the macro sense. I feel that the game fails to actually model that though. I can imagine a game in which the user was forced to confront the human cost of those trends. What I took away from this game is that when you use a gun to stop the “bad guy”, the “bad guy team” will just ramp up the John Woo factor the next time around.

        I really don’t want to be unfair to the developer. That may not have been the point he was trying to get across and I may have made some assumptions in that regard, but this is just how the execution of the point came across to me. I saw what the game modeled, thought the progression seemed to communicate an idea that I thought was silly and assumed that the developer was intelligent enough to know it was silly too. From there I made the jump that the underlying tone of the game was one of snark.

        It was that snark that I was bristling against. I just want to hear the two sides of the debate discussing things civilly, which probably makes me a wide-eyed idealist, but so be it! : )

        1. “What I took away from this game is that when you use a gun to stop the
          “bad guy”, the “bad guy team” will just ramp up the John Woo factor the
          next time around.”

          Yes, that is pretty much exactly the model of the game, replacing “use a gun to stop the bad guy” with “proliferate guns and use legislation to do so” and “ramp up the John Woo factor” with “have more and better guns with which to shoot you with.”

          It’s a simple metaphor but that doesn’t mean it’s inaccurate. (nor do I think it’s fair to the creator to blame him for any misunderstandings… it’s a pretty easy metaphor that I think anyone can “get” as long as they think about it enough and don’t dismiss the idea out of hand)

          1.  I think you make a fair point. If the developer was really trying to make that point and wasn’t just flippantly answering with snark, I certainly am more than willing to admit my misgivings may be misplaced. Anything beyond that would be in the realm of the actual gun control issue itself, which wasn’t something I was really trying to argue one way or the other here.

            For what it’s worth, I certainly don’t want to come across as dismissing the game’s point out of hand. I don’t anyone should, regardless of what side of the debate they are on.

            Thanks for the response. It was well spoken and something I’ll have to chew on for a little while.

          2. I agree with the first part of your argument. However, I do not agree with the second. His message is too easy to misunderstand be this the case. As an artist he failed to account for the perspectives of other people when selecting his rhetoric. For this reason I would still say that this game is detrimental to the whole issue at hand.

          3.  I think if you approach the game with a certain bias you dislike it, but there’s nothing exceptional about that.  It’s true for pretty much any argument for or against gun control.  There’s nothing about this game that’s any worse than Wayne LaPierre’s “good guys vs. bad guys” statement to which the game is a response or a great many other arguments made by “either side”.

            I don’t understand why this game in particular is rubbing so many people the wrong way.  It’s not preventing itself as peer-reviewed research on gun violence (something the NRA is actively trying to prevent, BTW).  It’s presenting itself as what it is: a rebuttal to the idea that criminal violence is a “good guys vs. bad guys” issue.

          4. I’m really not liking this comment system right now. But to you, good sir, yes. I would agree that I am biased to some extent and when viewed with that bias, it is very easy to misinterpret. I suppose my biggest issue is that he is playing to a crowd of people who already have a general dislike of firearms. Being someone who is on the liberal side of pro-gun, I can say it fails to really convince anyone who is pro-gun of the downside of supporting LaPierre’s idiocy. Warhorus has already explained this perspective pretty thoroughly. I wouldn’t have as much of an issue if it hadn’t used more extreme rhetoric. As it sits it alienates the group of people who need convincing.

  4. So the game is rigged.  The only thing the game “proves” is the prejudice of its designer.

    I agree with Warhorus, this is just adding fuel to the fire.  It does not constitute conversation or debate on the topic.  It is like picking only the stats that agree with your point, and claiming they prove something.

    1. It is like picking only the stats that agree with your point, and claiming they prove something.

      Kind of like how the NRA lobbies to make research on gun safety illegal and or impossible?

      I disagree with you that the game does not constitute conversation or debate on the topic. What now?

    2. So the game is rigged.  The only thing the game “proves” is the prejudice of its designer.

      Almost as if it were designed to be social commentary…

  5. Yeah, maybe a fun game and interesting food for thought vis a vis Karma, but not much to do with real life or the gun debate.

    For one, just having a gun can in many cases be enough; one doesn’t have to pull the trigger to affect the outcome of a situation.

    Secondly, as has been noted above, in no way do my actions in one situation affect a potential adversaries actions in a totally unrelated scenario. 

    Even considering it on a broader societal level, you don’t counter the last guy you robbed having a handgun by coming with a machine gun. A machine gun does not beat a handgun in a real world setting. One small bullet is all it takes to kill somebody. This type of escalation doesn’t make sense.

    “The last guy we robbed had an assault rifle, we’re going to have to go in with a bazooka this time in order to perform a successful robbery.” Ah, no.

    P.S. Perhaps it was just how the design turned out, but the image of the actors certainly seems racially inflammatory to me. Let’s remember it wasn’t that long ago that private gun ownership as opposed to police only gun ownership was considered an important ‘black power’ issue.

  6. I agree with the gentlemen above. I’m heavily against an unfettered, armed populace, but I think a game doesn’t add to the conversation in a meaningful way in this case.The problem with the gun control conversation is not that it’s too
    complicated, it’s already suffering from destructive reductionism.

    I’m somewhat of a weekend warrior game developer myself, so I’m not hating the medium, but the strength of most games, especially simple ones, is a kind of skinneristic learning where there are limited choices and you are pretty quickly coerced to discover the “right” decision. The other option is consequence-less sandboxes. Making a meaningful middle proves pretty difficult. There are notable examples that expand choice, but as of yet not in a meaningful way that can expand or add clarity to highly complex conversation simply through the metaphorical power of their mechanic. War Games, of course, being the exception… ;). I would argue a compelling storyline rather than a clever mechanic might be more effective in a case like this. I love that developers are feeling the need to do something more with their skills and talents, but I think this one’s a miss.

    1.  I appreciate that someone in this conversation actually knows games, but you didn’t really make a case against the game: why is a game where the mechanics make it unwinnable a bad message? dys4ia had several unwinnable moments and yet it had a marked effect on players, exactly *because* it was unwinnable.

      If you’re trying to rebut an argument, why not use an unwinnable game?

      1.  absolutely, I didn’t even see that aspect even while offering the classic unwinnable War Games my exception. While an unwinnable game mechanic does deepen the metaphor of the game, and is a credit to its attempt to be more emotionally challenging than others, I still think the effect on the quality of conversation remains relatively unchanged.

        To me, in this case, it’s equivalent to the little mneumonic sayings that develop during these complex debates, a-la “Guns don’t kill people, People kill people” it makes you take a second look briefly, if you hadn’t before, but for such a steeped subject, bumper stickers won’t help break the stalemate of misunderstanding

        1. Oh, I agree that this game won’t change the minds of people who already have them made up, but I think it’s also important to remember that there are newcomers to the debate who’ve heard the old slogans but have never really connected with them. 

          I think one thing that the recent massacres and the reactions to them illustrate is that a lot of people *are* becoming aware of the issue (or are thinking about it deeply) for the first time, either because they have recently reached political awareness or because the issue’s been stifled for so long. If you’re a longtime activist, rebranding old conflicts and generating new slogans is the key to staying relevant.

          So I don’t see simple metaphors as being poisonous to conversation so much as the refusal to give them up for more complex ones or even consider counter-arguments. I don’t object to the NRA’s rhetoric as much as I do the influence they’ve had on public research.

  7. P.S. For the anti-gun people out there. Let’s consider LePierre’s statement.

    “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

    Other than programming a flash game, what is your response or rebuttal to that?

    1. The other day in my city, a bad guy with a gun was (mostly) talked down by the cops then shot with bean bag rounds to disarm him. So, while not perfect, certainly shows that there are other ways of dealing with people with guns than an equivalent or greater level of force.

        1. Police are law enforcement and should be armed to preserve the rule of law.  Individual citizens should not be in the law enforcement business, that’s vigilanteism and erodes the rule of law.

          1.  So you’re basically agreeing with La Pierre’s statement, ‘good guys’ being defined as those who serve the government, which presumably can do no wrong.

          2. Police arren’t “good guys” they are law enforcement.  They are flawed, and need more oversight and accountability (government regulation), but they have a modicum of objectivity, they are trained and perform a defined role in a job with a lot of rules.  No civilian acting on his own authority as a “good guy” has those guidelines, rules, training, oversight, or objectivity.  They aren’t agents of law enforcement, they are vigilantes.

          3. > No civilian acting on his own authority as a “good guy” has those guidelines, rules, training, oversight, or objectivity. 

            I’ll remember that if I ever see anyone being raped, that I don’t have the proper training, and to avoid being a vigilante I should just call the police and sit by for ten minutes while they show up.

          4. And what happens when those charged with upholding the law become the enemies of it?

            Ask the average black person in an inner city how much they trust the local police to ‘uphold the law.’
            Assuming their is only one entity who unerringly defines what ‘the law’ is is a necessary precursor to despotism.

          5. “What happens when those charged with upholding the law become the enemies of it?”  We use the democratic process, regulation, and oversight to reign in abuses, or we fail as a society to uphold the rule of law.  The law is defined by legislatures, executed through an executive authority, and judged by a judiciary that are separate for good reason.  There is no “one entity” and there is always a possibility of error which is why we have the separation, a system of appeals, and checks and balances.

        2. Point of clarification for this argument: Bean bag and rubber rounds are both fired out of pump action shotguns. The choice to use less-than-lethal ammo here was dictated by the officer behind the trigger. For that I commend him or her or any combination of the two. 

        1. Would that be a result of the proliferation of guns in the first place?  When people had one rifle to hunt deer with it seems like they kept track of it pretty well.

          1. That’s because the time period this argument applies to sees men gutting one another in the streets with swords. I know members of my family had three or four guns back in the 19th century. A rifle for deer, a rifle for buffalo, a shotgun for birds, and a pocket pistol.

          2. Those are mostly singe shot rifles.  Would you say that increasing the quantity of rounds that can be dispensed in a shorter amount of time has become an issue?

          3. Yes and No. It depends on a lot of factors ranging from understanding firearms mechanics to understanding the evolution of crime and how it relates to the proliferation of firearms following WWI and WWII and how all of that relates to the military industrial complex, abortion, leaded gas and white flight.

          4. The guns have already proliferated. The underworld has enough guns to last for 100 years. And the police/military have enough to last for 1000.

            No matter what gun laws you pass, it will not remove the ability of determined criminals to acquire guns.

          5. That’s right, the law is not enforceable because people can break it. No law is. So there should be no laws. Go, have fun. Anything that happens to you is now your own problem.

          6.  Weak argument.  Laws against murder have failed to eliminate murder, laws against theft have failed to eliminate theft.  By your logic, such laws must therefore be completely useless.

          7. No, gun control laws can be crafted with common sense in mind.  Canada seems to have done this quite well:  Gun permits for handguns, no automatics, enjoy your hunting rifles.  Gun deaths in the low 200’s for the year.

            The US basically gets that in about a week.

          8. Sasha: Yes, however, not for the reasons you mention. The issue with banning guns is the fact that almost none of them are registered and establishing a registry of any kind involves participation from the states, not the Federal government. It’s because of Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution and how it affects federal law.

        2.  They are stolen from legal gun owners.  One reasonable solution might be: “If fewer people legally owned guns, fewer legally owned guns would be stolen by “bad guys” for use in crimes.”  In other words, gun control advocates are the ones with a solution to this already.  if you don’t like it propose a better one.

          1. His version of better appears to be “more guns.” Because when a bad guy breaks in, because I have two guns I can shoot him more.

          2. Actually, this is the main argument of the NRA. After all, they’re only attempting to sell more Bushmasters.

          3. Isaac, that’s ridiculous!  That would imply that the NRA was seeking profits over human lives, when  we all know they’d never want to take blood money like that.

        3.  I remember reading recently that the majority of guns used in crimes come from about 1% of dealers.  I searched for more information just now and found this link (among many others) that I thought was interesting:

          Some quotes:

          “Research with crime gun trace data revealed just
          one percent of licensed firearms dealers sold more than half of the guns recovered in crimes„ and that
          most gun dealers rarely have one of their guns show up in crime.”

          “A study in California indicated that the disproportionate involvement of a small percentage of gun dealers in selling guns later used in crime could not be explained solely by differences in sales volume, purchaser demographics, or crime rates in the
          surrounding neighborhood.”

          “In Chicago and Detroit, police used trace data to conduct undercover stings of gun dealers. Measures of illegal trafficking – also based on traces of`crime guns – declined following the stings.”

    2. A response to the infantile statement: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

      Have you looked around? The world is not black and white. “Good guys” and “bad guys” do not wear labels telling us what group they belong to.

      And one person’s “bad guy” is another person’s “good guy”.

      The world is not a Batman comic book.

      1. A weak reply. There are many cases where there is a definite ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy.’ The ‘bad guy’ is initiating a violent crime. THAT is black and white 95+% of the time.

        1. Weak reply.  You’re ignoring the actual reasons that people commit crimes.  It’s not because they’re “bad guys” and know they’re bad guys and commit crimes because that’s what “bad guys” do.  You’re trying to impose an overly simplistic model on a very complex phenomenon.

          strugglngwriter is absolutely correct that life is not a Batman comic.  Criminals are not cackling villains who revel in their own evil deeds.  If you fail to grapple with the real causes of violent crime then I don’t see how your “solution” (give everyone guns apparently) is likely to address those causes.

          1. Let’s just frame the original quote as referring to a particular subset of crime, where there is an agressor and a victim.

            Of course, not all crime is like that, but those crimes are not insigificant.
            To be fair, statistically most crimes are probably ‘bad guy’ on ‘bad guy,’ which I don’t think that many people are terribly upset by.

        2.  to suggest that random mass shootings and more average homicides are the same is just dishonest. ‘many’ can mean several or a majority, why didn’t you say ‘majority’? that’s what you meant, right? the good guy almost has to shoot first, and that isn’t a given, that a guard will detect the threat before becoming a target.  

      2. No, it is considerably more violent and the villains less interesting. But that doesn’t matter, because you’re evading the actual argument by focusing on the semantics of “good” versus “bad”. The actual meaning of his statement, obvious to anyone who isn’t playing a disingenuous word game, is that the only thing that stops violence is violence.

        Now, that is a statement you can sink some teeth into, but before you go on a tirade about escalation, consider the distinction between “stops” and “prevents”. In that context, the truth of his statement is self-evident.

        What you really want is to prevent violence from occurring in the first place, and there are only two ways of doing that. You either remove the motive, or you remove the means.

        This stupid debate is focused squarely on the means, and it leads both sides to a siege mentality, as if gun owners are an insurgency that must be eliminated.

    3. I’m neither pro-gun nor anti-gun–I consider it a complex issue that’s not easily resolved with simple statements, but, given the dismissive attitude of your comment and the implication that LePierre’s absolutist statement is perfectly reasonable, would you really be willing to listen to anything the “anti-gun people” have to say?

      I hope, and assume, that LePierre came to his beliefs after much thought and study of the issue, even though he and his organization have done a great deal to make sure no federal funds are used to study whether gun control is effective. And I hope and assume that he’d be willing to engage in a dialogue to explain how he came to his conclusion. I also hope you’d do the same, instead of simply throwing out “all anti-gun people have done is make a video game” as a justification.

      1. I apologize, the two things you imply in my question were not intended. I didn’t word it very well. I mean to ask the question in a very even-handed, matter of fact way.

        I’m hardly a gun nut, I haven’t touched more than a springloaded BB gun in my whole life. My conclusions come from examining society and history rather than a love of guns.

    4. People typically imagine they are “good guys” regardless of whether  they are doing something right or wrong.  “Good guys” are never objective.  The Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case is a perfect example.  Zimmerman thought he was a good guy and Martin was a bad guy and by thinking like a vigilante as La Pierre wants us to, he needlessly escalated a situation to the point that someone was shot and killed.  That was not a one-off.  This is a serious issue with vigilante justice and why the rule of law is superior to arming everyone and letting self-proclaimed “good guys” enforce what’s right and wrong.  The shocking thing is that anyone is so naive as to imagine that the world is cartoonishly divided into good/bad guys.

      1.  My impression was that Zimmerman thought of himself, not as a vigilante, but a representative of law and order.  No?

        1. He deluded himself that way, but he was not a law enforcement representative, but rather a vigilante. When law enforcement on the phone told him to leave Trayvon alone, they couldn’t give that as an order since he wasn’t an officer, so he acted of his own accord to enforce the law as a vigilante.

        2. If he was truly a representative of law and order he would be accountable for his actions to the police dispatcher on the phone telling him to stop following Martin.

        3. Zimmerman claims he was jumped, and was neither vigilante or self-proclaimed johnny law, but simply acting in self defense.

          But that case is a media circus and an anomoly, rather than an examination of the true nature of crime in America.

          1. Nonsense. By his own admission (and the 911 tapes) he was following a young man who he suspected of criminal behavior. 

            If Zimmerman didn’t fancy himself occupying some kind of citizen law-enforcement role then why the hell was he stalking the kid in the first place?

        1. There are a few cases of good/bad guy where the armed citizen saved the day, these instances are regularly cited by gun rights advocates.  There are also cases where the idiot with the gun made things worse.  These  instances are regularly cited by gun control advocates.  The reality is that there are benefits and costs to society of perpetuating vigilanteism, bit I see the judgments of gun rights advocates being warped by the stream of fantasies that distort the positives and denies the negatives.  In my judgment the costs to society of gun culture far outweigh the benefits, since it erodes rule of law, enables more violence than it prevents, is inherently anti-social, and is executed by people whose views of justice can be deeply warped -among their number are those who have shot unarmed burglars, valuing their property over human life.

          1. I am saying vigilantes are not beneficial to society, but I didn’t say anything about bans.  I would merely prefer people quit dragging out the armed “good guys” vigilante fantasies as something that is an unambiguous positive while ignoring the harm.

    5. The game itself is a rebuttal to that statement.  If it was really true that the world was a Manichean struggle between “good guys” and “bad guys” we would see the kind of escalation that happens in the game.  That’s why the game is useful — as a rebuttal to the simplistic notion that it’s “good guys” vs. “bad guys”.

      Since most guns used to commit crimes are stolen from legal owners it seems to me that the “good guys” aren’t particularly good at holding onto their guns.  (Maybe they could do better if only they had guns….oh wait…) Do you have a solution to that one?

  8. At it’s core, LaPierre’s statement is true. The ‘good guys with guns’ could also refer to the police. Last I checked, at least in the US, they have guns and they try to stop bad guys with guns. They just usually show up too late to really do much besides clean up the mess afterwards.

    1. First, I think many of us have met police whose ‘good guy’ credentials can be challenged.

      Your second statement was entirely too true, and the reason why counting on this one highly limited segment of ‘good guys’ inherently falls short.

        1. How many “unknown assailant type crimes” occur each year with no prevention?  

          How many “unknown assailant type crimes” occur each year that are thwarted? 

          What are the numbers for successfully thwarted “unknown assailant type crimes” by law enforcement intervention?   

          What are the numbers for successfully thwarted “unknown assailant type crimes” by vigilante intervention?  

          Without data on your very carefully chosen class of crime we’re spinning wheels.

          1. If you don’t have the numbers you’re as ignorant as I and should be careful about making the kind of judgments you’re making that assume you have knowledge you clearly don’t have.

  9. The prosecutor in Texas who was murdered was a 23-year Army veteran who kept guns.  He died.  President Reagan was surrounded by armed guards when he was shot.  Huey Long was riddled with bullets by his own armed bodyguard.
    Just throwing more guns in the mix is not the solution.  Figuring out why we live in a culture in which “blowing people away’ is acceptable is the solution.

    1.  Actually, I believe gun use (or at least homicide) is in decline, except of course for the militarization of the police, and the various ongoing imperial activities like drone assassinations.  Perhaps the perception that the government is satisfying our appetite for violence is having a calming effect on the lower orders. 

    2. Nobody can claim they are perfect, just that they are useful. If they have no value at all, then why does anyone bother to pay bodyguards? Why don’t the police ditch them?

      Agreed with anarc; we DON’T live in a society where blowing people away is the acceptable solution, but the media would like to make us believes it is so, and amplifies a few outlier incidents over and over beyond their statistical truth.
      A huge chunk of murders are gang member on gang member anyhow; if criminals think that blowing people away is the answer, well, what to do. 

      1. A huge chunk of murders are gang member on gang member anyhow; if criminals think that blowing people away is the answer, well, what to do.

        Try to deny them easy means of doing so?

        1. If we can’t keep drugs out of prisons, how are we to keep gangsters from acquiring guns?

          Gun running will become just another profitable business for organized crime.

  10. “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
      Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    (The only way to win this game is not to play.)

  11. Huh. Any suggested solutions for where the bad guy with a gun is a cop who just kicked down the door of the wrong house?

    Or any solutions for the situation where it is a better strategy for the bad guy to just shoot the good guy and loot his body than waste time mugging him, because he knows the good guy probably has a gun?

  12. (continuing here, since being literally marginalized won’t permit reply to specific message)

    “However, there is good reason to believe that a monopoly on legal violence decreases the total amount of violence in a society.”  I think that’s debatable, considering that governments killed quite a few people in the 20th century.  Estimates go up to hundred of millions.  Mr. O’s drone assassinations alone now seem to be up to about the same level of deaths as 9/11.  Of course one can argue that even more violence would occur if governments did not suppress it — Jared Diamond does — but we can’t test the theory because of the ubiquity of state organization.

    However, what I find most interesting is not this unanswerable question but the irony of both predominant parties being formally in agreement.  Both agree with La Pierre’s slogan, they just differ as to who the ‘good guys’ are.  Gun fans believe they and people like them are the good guys; gun control fans believe that governments are the good guys, because, obviously, they want the government to send people with guns to take guns away from other people with guns.  Meanwhile, neither party seems very concerned with the carnage being wrought by these same governments in the Middle East and elsewhere, so I have to conclude that the professed distaste for violence is rather selective.

    Personally, being from another planet and in something of a minority here, I believe in and hope for non-violence.  Fat chance, eh?  

    1.  ” a monopoly on legal violence decreases the total amount of violence”

      Probably we could plot this as an inverted bell curve, with Somalia at one end, 1960’s Scandinavia in the middle, and Nazi/Communist states at the other end.

      1.  However, according to what I read, Somalia does not represent an absence of government, but a rather authoritarian assemblage of feudal and tribal governments.  The country is also the target of various kinds of foreign intervention.

        Sweden’s turn at empire came somewhat earlier than those of its neighbors, in the 17th and 18th centuries.  As is usual with imperialism, the home country was eventually ruined and became the satellite of other powers, like Germany, Great Britain, and the U.S., benefiting from their imperial practices elsewhere.  A strong dose of social democracy (Welfare statism) kept the peace at home during the 20th century, but this doesn’t seem to have worked in Germany and many other places, so it seems premature to declare that an ideal solution has been found.

  13. Couple of points not necessarily related to the game:

    1) The NRA does not speak for all, or even most, American gun owners.

    2) Guns represent power. Power can be wielded responsibly or not. Should all of us relinquish the power of real, usable physical
    resistance because a small minority of us are irresponsible, criminal or
    insane? Or are NONE of us to be trusted for their acts?

    While we’re at it. Let’s just go back to prohibition. Alcohol serves no “real” purpose. The cost in lives is multiples higher than gun violence. And we’ll be able to use all the ethanol in our cars!

    Same argument…freedom and responsibility.

        1. …and among those screaming the loudest about “gun rights.”

          “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary,” he continued. “You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”

          —Ted Nugent, 1997

          (I’ll spare you the video, but the gestures he made during that little oration support my thesis.)

          1. I think that, like many of our national debates, the extremists are overly represented.

            Too many folks trying to shout over everyone else.

            The most reasonable are never heard.

      1.  Or vice versa.  That is, you can construe the penis to be a kind of weapon — a tool of destruction and injury — rather than of reproduction and pleasure.  First the desire to do harm, then the search for tools to do it with, finally the identification of body parts to be the tools.

    1. 1 – I suggest that most American gun owners start joining the discussions then, as the NRA is currently driving the discussion for them.
      2 – People who would like to use power should show they can responsibly wield it then.  It’s not an all-or-nothing choice, the same way that, say, not everyone is allowed to have the power to consume all the mind altering beverages they would like while out with their friends at a bar.

      Freedom comes with responsibility, they are not mutually exclusive (insert Spiderman catchphrase here if required). 

      1.  1) You’re totally right. I’m trying to do just this…one forum post at a time.

        2) Guns are wielded responsibly on a daily basis by many Americans. Simply putting a gun in someone’s hand does not make someone homicidal. I respect the lethality of a firearm as much as a motor vehicle and take care to abide by the laws  set forth(formal and informal) to protect myself and others from that power. Most gun owners fall into this category. The ones that do not are the ones that end up on the evening news but we rarely ever hear about the responsible ones.

        I was not trying to state that freedom and responsibility were mutually exclusive (I didn’t make myself clear). I meant to state that any freedom we have is accompanied by a set of responsibilities we must accept to exercise those freedoms in a way which is not destructive to society. However, we should not abridge those freedoms because some of are not capable of accepting those responsibilities…and no…I don’t think responsible people(outside of the military) should be able to own tanks and bazookas.

        1. However, we should not abridge those freedoms because some of are not capable of accepting those responsibilities…and no…I don’t think responsible people(outside of the military) should be able to own tanks and bazookas.

          Those last two statements are contradictory.

          We absolutely must abridge certain freedoms because some of us are not capable of accepting those responsibilities. Your last sentence clearly shows you agree with this in principle. The only difference between you and someone who wants to restrict ownership of some or all firearms is where to draw the line.

          1. I suppose you’re right.

            We disagree on where the line should be drawn as opposed to whether should be line at all.

            The point I was trying to make was that those who act responsibly and within the law should not be punished for the acts of criminals.

            For instance, do you believe that the govt. should remove Pseudoephedrine from the market in the U.S. because of meth abuse?

          2. I am not arguing that lawful gun owners should be punished, but they should be regulated and licensed.  Like drivers.  And gun shops should cut off bullet sales the way bartenders do.  You get a gun, you get a permit to have 10 rounds to go shoot on your farm or 1000 rounds you can shoot in the adjacent gun range.

            We have a line, unfortunately, it’s been abused, so we have to move it back.  No more automatics, no more 100 round clips.  The same way we have speed limits, BAC tests, and limits to the amount of pseudo that you are allowed to buy at one time.

            Cars are used by criminals every day but we don’t ban them, we regulate them well enough to allow freedom of use, but if you do something illegal with yours, it’s going to be on you.

          3. @boingboing-b02d27666964db9258b673accd36c27a:disqus : You say, about guns:”We have a line, unfortunately, it’s been abused, so we have to move it back.” And about cars: “if you do something illegal with yours, it’s going to be on you.”
            Why one rule for cars and one for guns?
            For guns, if people use it in crime, we restrict the access of everyone else; for cars, we don’t, and it’s just “on you”?
            Personally, I’m in favor of better licensing, tracking and monitoring of firearms. Not to the insane “only ten bullets” point suggested in another post, but at least some level of licensing. Which at the moment you do need for a concealed carry permit in many states.
            But I understand that different people have different opinions on where the line of regulation should be drawn. And given that none of us have any hard facts or figures, everyone’s equally right in their opinion.

    2. You want to be able to stage a rebellion (or, as it’s also called, a coup), but you want it to be legal?

      1. Just the opposite. I’m for “power to the people” but not in an anarchist manner. More like “by the people for the people”.

        The same people who oppose the Patriot act should be opposed to gun bans…think about it for a sec.

  14. …that is where I’m drawing the line.

    So, in brief, you get to draw the line for everybody. THANKS JAROD!

  15. It appears to be that this game is being interpreted entirely wrongly.  You have a white aggressor that shoots people to get things…and black defenders arming themselves to equal the armament level of their aggressor.  Eventually, based on the increased aggression from the white character enough black characters arm themselves to be able to eliminate the aggressor.  Sounds like Mr. LaPierre (despite his generally less than stellar presenting skills) had a valid point and should write Mr. Pedercini to thank him for providing such a clear illustration of how self-defense can reduce the risk from aggressors.

    1.  Well done.  The game, like the debate it represents, is so simplistic that it is fairly easy to reinterpret it into a variety of metaphors, some of which may be considerably richer than the original concept.

      Are there not other games (shooting and other) where the opponents provided by the game adopt the tactics of the player?  I’m not familiar enough with the gaming world to know.  I’m wondering also whether the players have any choices other than various modes of combat.  If not it’s obvious that they are doomed no matter what they do, just as in real life.

    2. I had the same response. The game makes much more sense, to me, as support for LaPierre’s quote, than as opposition to it.

      Either way, as a gamer, it sounds an interesting challenge and an amusing game, even if I think it fails as a political message.

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