Saturday, December 15, 2012

On Gun Control

I recently got an email from avaaz.org saying in essence what this page says: People keep dying in school shootings, yet the NRA prevents the government from fixing the problem. I'm tired of hearing that clearly incorrect position. I certainly consider the Connecticut shooting, as with any crime of similar magnitude, a horrible tragedy. I certainly don't want to see it happen again. But misrepresenting the situation to assign blame for the problem incorrectly won't fix anything. So I wrote back to avaaz, with essentially what follows:

I'm surprised you've ascribed to the NRA the responsibility for opposition to "every reasonable proposal to regulate guns." I'll agree our democracy has its fair share of imperfections, but the NRA could hardly wield that kind of power without support from average Americans, and you'll find, if you choose to look, that in fact Americans largely support the loosening in gun regulations that has occurred in the past few years. Moreover, Americans who are familiar with firearms, their function, their capabilities, and their uses, by and large see through the idiotic statements the media and many politicians label "reasonable" gun control.

Your email "In honor of Sandy Hook" asserts that Australia and "across the world" countries have seen declines in gun violence after enacting gun control legislation, but that assertion is patently false. I read a British article just last week pointing out the increase in violence since the gun control legislation they enacted following the Dunblane shooting. The United States has seen massive increases in gun ownership recently with no overall increase in violence. States that have enabled concealed carry of firearms -- even in schools -- have not seen the bloodbaths the gun control lobby loudly predicted.

No one wants to see tragedies like what happened in Connecticut and elsewhere, but the "reasonable" legislation gun control proponents bring forth invariably fail to address the actual problems. For instance, the Clinton assault weapon ban advocated anew by the Obama administration bans weapons based on cosmetic features, not on their lethality or function. Many legislators have proposed magazine capacity restrictions on the grounds that "no one needs that many bullets," yet in case after case of actual, legitimate self defense, the would-be victims have needed more bullets than these legislators' proposals would allow. Legislators and gun control activists consistently fail to understand terms like "automatic" and "semi-automatic", "high powered", and "assault"; meanwhile they also fail even to recognize the argument that, had some responsible adult (or better, adults) at Sandy Hook, Columbine, or any other mass shooting been armed or otherwise able to resist meaningfully, the outcome would likely have been much better. In fact, mass shootings tend overwhelmingly to occur in places where carrying a weapon is illegal. Gun control activists have yet to indicate on what grounds they expect someone already planning a shooting spree could be dissuaded by a ban on weapons in a given locale. Murderers, as a rule, tend not to pay attention to the law very much. Many incidents in recent history have shown that lawful, armed resistance stops would-be mass killers more quickly than police can, but because those shootings have fewer victims, they garner less media attention.

In short, I'd love to see a "rational", "reasonable" discussion of gun control. But gun control advocates' religiously guarded ignorance prevents such a discussion from taking place. It would be impossible to draft meaningful, reasonable legislation when one party to the discussion consistently and willfully fails to understand the subject matter.

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