The other day a couple of friends and I were thinking about going to the National Gun Show held last weekend over near Dulles Airport. We eventually decided against it, due to a combination of bad weather, crowds, sickness, and other considerations. (In my case, the cost of driving out there and back and buying a ticket would have cost more than the gun magazine I was looking for, so if we weren’t going together to socialize, it didn’t make sense.)
Predictably, the mere suggestion that we were thinking about going provoked a barrage of outraged comments from the uninvolved, about the impropriety of gun shows or even gun ownership in light of the “national mood” (as though a unified mood somehow exists) in the wake of the tragedy in Connecticut. I can’t remember so many derogatory terms tossed about since I said I was going to see “2016: Obama’s America” earlier this year.
Anyway, this prompts a little commentary, offered here, about the reaction to and political exploitation of gun violence in the news recently.
Plenty of people — especially among America’s political and journalistic classes . . . [would be] . . . more comfortable seeing ordinary Americans disarmed. And whenever there is a mass shooting, or other gun incident that snags the headlines, they do their best to exploit the tragedy and push for laws that would, well, take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.
There are a lot of problems with this approach, but one of the most significant is this one: It doesn’t work. One of the interesting characteristics of mass shootings is that they generally occur in places where firearms are banned: malls, schools, etc. . . .
Given that gun-free zones seem to be a magnet for mass shooters, maybe we should be working to shrink or eliminate them, rather than expand them. As they say, if it saves just one life, it’s worth it.”
“Gun-free zones provide false sense of security,” Glenn Reynolds, USA Today, 12/12/2012 | http://tinyurl.com/d8xlnao
A posted gun-free zone is pretty much equivalent to posting a sign on your house stating that there are no guns, burglar alarms, or vicious dogs inside: No one with any common sense would do this. Most people post no sign at all, which leaves the prospective burglars fearfully in doubt.
Getting back to the news, most of what we’re seeing is the usual statists doing what then President-Elect Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel advocated during a televised CEO Council hosted by the Wall Street Journal in November 2008:
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is doing something you think you could not do before.” (http://tinyurl.com/6ymmaq)
Never miss an opportunity to extend government control. In this instance, by having another go at seizing guns, even if that isn’t working so well for Rahm in Chicago at the moment. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D, CA) wasted no time introducing legislation to go get those “assault weapons,” whatever those are, in addition to banning sale of all handguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds and fingerprinting those who already own them. Chuck Connors would get a break – a rifle capable of holding over 10 rounds in a tube magazine is still ok for some reason…
Thank goodness! You have to wonder whether the government would allow Chuck to keep custody of his son these days, living alone with a houseful of loaded guns all the time.
Speaking of actors, there’s today’s celebrities, who profit from glamorizing gun violence and go about protected by heavily armed bodyguards, yet have the brazen audacity to make a video entitled “Demand a Plan” to advocate more gun control laws. Brought to you by Mayor Bloomberg (I, NY), who can’t seem to keep his hands off your salt shaker or large-sized soft drink.
Personally, I thought this spoof to be more creative and entertaining: “Demand A Plan – Demand Celebrities Go ___!”
Oh, those celebrities!
Every time there is an incident of gun violence, there is an immediate flurry of demands from media, politicians, and celebrities for changes in gun control laws with no examination of the facts about gun violence and the enforcement and relative efficacy of existing measures. It is not an appeal to reason, but to emotion, which is something we typically would not prefer to have in our justice system, except in the form of the merciful tempering of punishment.*
The minute the headlines hit the news, the train leaves the station; destination: an already existing political agenda advanced by those who wish to disarm everyone but themselves. Those who suggest “Let’s put politics aside” are either kidding themselves, have been deceived, or are trying to deceive:
“From the 1990 election cycle through August 22, 2010, the following political contributions were made by gun rights and gun control interest groups to federal candidates:”
• 94% of political contributions advocating gun control were made to Democrats
• 85% of political contributions advocating gun rights were made to Republicans
“Gun Rights: Long-Term Contribution Trends.” Center for Responsive Politics, via JustFacts.com | http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp#politics
Jesse Wilson, writing for Reason Magazine, summed up my thoughts about the coverage of and reaction to the Connecticut incident rather well:
“. . . [The] feeling that the crime took place in our backyard isn’t a bad thing in itself. It represents empathy, and when the press amplifies our empathy, it’s doing good. But it’s also important for the press to give us a context for that empathy, lest those natural feelings for the victims and the people who loved them turn into an irrational fear that the next victims will be our own children or ourselves. Look at the ways so many schools locked down after Columbine: the increase in inflexible zero-tolerance policies, the speed-up in the school-to-prison pipeline. Those changes made a lot of students less secure, not more. And they were driven by contextless, free-floating fear.”
“Are Mass Shootings Becoming More Common in the United States?,” Jesse Wilson, Reason Magazine, 12/17/2012 | http://tinyurl.com/a2zpont
Unfortunately, the press, politicians and celebrities seek to use the news to stoke the very irrational fear that Mr. Wilson cites, with the object of exerting ever more control over our lives. And the answer to the title question in Mr. Wilson’s article is, no, they are not.
Excellent article, John. Thanks for writing it.