Six years ago I wrote an article in this space called Logic and Guns. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t catch it. Nobody else did either. Maybe the title scared people away, or maybe it just wasn’t as relevant to their lives as Halo 4.
There’s not much about it that I would change. I said you can find some illogical ideas on both sides of this issue, and that’s true. If nothing else, there is the difficulty that would come with enforcing gun bans, which is never discussed in any depth by gun control advocates. (Granted, Australia’s gun buy back worked well.) Rural areas don’t have the same ready police protections of more populated places, so they could make a claim for a need of some guns. I also said in 2012 that I thought we were moving away from right-wing politics in this country, but most Americans are, so that stands. We’ll see what the 2018 election looks like.
It was true in 2012 and it is true today that the overwhelming majority of the illogic in this debate is to be found on the side of the gunslingers, as I call them. The people who seem to think that the Second Amendment is the one and only one of our constitutional rights that must have no restrictions. (Sorry, but all of the others do.)
Having just come from March For Our Lives Boston, I think mostly what has changed since 2012 is the sheer intensity of the gun control movement. And you can factor in an emerging new generation, which is, genuinely and sincerely, well-and-truly, over the Yosemite Sam gun cult.
The fact is that most arguments from the gun camp are not intellectually sound. (Like, “knives can kill, so why don’t you want to ban knives???”) Of the intellectually valid points raised in opposition to gun control laws, the great majority of them don’t stand up very well to scrutiny. All of the famous old clichés go down in flames in the face of anything like a rigorous examination. The real stake-in-the-heart for the gunslingers is that virtually nowhere else in the world do you find our combination of loose gun laws and massive gun carnage. No other developed country can compare with our body count. Just why is that?
It’s not video games or violent movies or anything else (which all the other countries have.) The simple fact is that homicidal maniacs in the USAUSAUSA are the best equipped, best resourced homicidal maniacs to be found anywhere in the world. All countries have homicidal maniacs, but nobody, anywhere, can boast the firepower of those in America. Nobody. Hands down. Bar none.
It’s not just overseas. American states with the toughest gun laws have the lowest gun crime. And the South, conservative wonderland, the wondrous Bible Belt, has the worst crime. Gun proponents will point out high crime zones in states with strict gun control laws, like the south side of Chicago, or inner-city Detroit. They will never look at the big picture, however. Because it shows clearly that states with tough gun laws, overall, have less gun crime. The crime they have is generally committed with a gun brought in from a Southern or Mid-western state, where there are no gun laws.
The frantic nature of the opposition to gun control is telling, and it begs the question – why are these people so passionately (fanatically?) devoted to their guns?
One factor is the fear stoked up by demagogues. I addressed some of this in my earlier article. People see guns as a magic protection against home invaders. The fact is, almost no criminal is going to challenge you to a fair fight. It won’t be like Sheriff Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, facing off for a showdown. Crooks are going to use deception to get the drop on you, at which point it doesn’t matter how much firepower is in your gun safe. Most burglars are there to steal guns in the first place, if they think you have any.
Then comes the old claim that your gun is going to protect you from a tyrannical government. I said in 2012 that you and your gun club would most likely be toast against government troops, and that the Communist Bloc was not overthrown in 1989 by civilians running around with guns. It collapsed, economically. From there, non-violent civil disobedience took it apart.
One thing never mentioned is – just who is going to protect us from these “protectors?” Most terrorist attacks in the US are perpetrated by right-wing cults. Not Islamist jihadis, or anybody else. Who protects the American people from this “well-regulated militia” that is stomping around the countryside? What if they wanted to set up an armed tyranny of this society?
Sometimes you hear that the Second Amendment was originally conceived as a white supremacist tool. We had gun laws in this country in the past, just not for everybody. All kinds of creative restrictions were developed to keep weaponry out of the hands of black folks. As late as the 1960s, Governor Ronald Reagan of California signed laws to keep long guns off the streets. The Black Panther Party were walking around with rifles, doing street patrols of black neighborhoods. Something to do with police brutality, way back then.
At the same time there were people who took the side of the Black Panthers, saying that, far from being a white supremacist tool, the Second Amendment was just what these racial minorities needed. Only guns would keep them safe from a tyranny of police brutality.
What I say is that ultimately you can have civilization or not have it, and guns are a poor guarantor. The rest of the developed world is getting by very well without an arsenal under every bed. (They have universal healthcare, too.) Non-lethal devices and basic martial arts skills will protect women and children from attack. At the very least, we don’t need high-powered military weaponry on the streets.