As I write this, I am less than five miles from the site of the largest mass murder in U. S. history. No one needs to tell Las Vegans mass shootings are a problem. Regardless of where you live, if you don’t understand the devastating impact of these incidents, you frankly don’t deserve to be taken seriously.
That said, most of the debate around guns is not particularly constructive. As an unapologetic gun owner, it astounds me how many tired tropes (why don’t tropes ever get enough sleep?) are routinely treated as inspired wisdom. Not just relevant, but insightful. One of them is the lamentation that “We have to do something!”
That sentiment tells us more about our desire to help than it does about the presence of any options that would actually work. It’s completely understandable that people are hugely concerned about murder. Duh. The more useful question is this: what can we do that meets two essential criteria? Any new law needs to be constitutional and it has to make a difference.
Those hurdles are incredibly difficult to clear.
Every problem screams for a governmental solution. Our species is nothing if not arrogant. We are completely convinced of our own importance and of our ability to effect positive change if we just try hard enough.
The more outraged we are by a problem the more disgusted we are that no one has solved it. Unfortunately, the ability of human beings to accomplish something is not determined by how upset we are about it.
Effort matters, of course. But who would you rather have performing your own heart surgery: a doctor who got perfect grades, excelled at his residency, and aced his boards, or one who failed them all but worked really, really hard? Right. Me too.
We are so cocky that - think about this - we actually believe we can impact the weather. Hey, let’s make it snow in Rio, bring back the passenger pigeon, stem the rising tides, end hunger, eliminate murder, and call it day!
Another tired trope (please, someone get some Ambien for all those tropes who are staying up too late) says “Save the Planet.” This just in: the planet is not in danger. It is not going away, it doesn’t need to be saved, and we couldn’t save it if we wanted to. We might be in danger, and so might the snail darter and its cousin, but the planet is just fine, thank you very much.
Yet another: “If we can save even one life by banning guns we should.” Well, no. You don’t solve a problem by looking at only one side of an equation. In a Constitutional Republic –in a free society - you look first at what is legal, constitutional, then at its efficacy, at collateral issues, and unintended consequences. As the column from the Atlantic, here, observes, nearly everyone supports something which, if banned, could save lives. Using such a zero sum approach is neither practical nor useful.
Do you want medical care, food, shelter, and security? Guaranteed? Great. Go to prison.
Consider: many say we should not enforce our borders or vet immigrants, even though doing so could have, according to the DOJ, prevented some 4,000 murders by illegal immigrants in the past two years alone. Why is it that people who reject that reasoning are apoplectic in supporting any law that will save even one life, regardless of the ramifications? It isn’t because they care about life. It’s because they care about their own power and want to grow government.
The left reflexively protests they are not advocating outlawing guns. In fact, many are, including Joe Biden, who advocates banning “assault weapons.” He wants to buy them back from people who legally own them. (Oddly, this is called a gun “buy back,” as if we bought them from the government in the first place. We did not. This is gun confiscation, pure and simple, if one with compensation.)
He has also advocated banning magazines (one doubts that Biden could tell the difference between a magazine, a newspaper, and a brochure) that hold more than one bullet. That is, of course, all of them. The purpose of a magazine, the reason it exists, is to hold bullets, plural. His suggestion makes as much sense as banning six packs that hold more than one can of beer.
Under Biden, the most popular rifle in America, the AR-15, would presumably be taken from millions of people who have never committed a serious crime and are no threat to do so.
We should consider changes in gun laws, and other areas, that might make us safer while at the same time respecting our constitutional rights. If that’s a conversation you want to have, let’s do it. In the meantime, why do so many on the left oppose those things - better security, metal detectors, having well-trained and armed guards on site, etc. – that could today protect many of the lives that are vulnerable?
Finally, those who seek to benefit from the shootings, and blame them on political leaders, white supremacists, conservatives, NRA members, or any other political group, are among the most despicable creatures ever to slime across the political horizon. A bucket of rotavirus has more class than candidates like Warren, Harris, Booker, Sanders, Beto, et al, who rush to use tragedies for political gain and raise money for themselves and the DNC on the backs of families who are still grieving.