“If you don’t want to have a gun in your home or in your school, that’s your choice. But don’t be such a damn fool as to advertise to the whole world that you are in ‘a gun-free environment’ where you are a helpless target for any homicidal fiend who is armed. Is it worth a human life to be a politically correct moral exhibitionist?”
— Thomas Sowell
Normally, I would be the first one to rush into print with a column about “gun control” whenever the topic hit the news, but after Newtown I thought better about it.
First, the horrific murders of children and teachers in that once-idyllic community (the name of the perpetrator does not need to be repeated) seemed to require a decent period of silence.
That’s true even though I knew those opposed to Americans’ civil liberties as they applied to firearms would show no such restraint. Second—and this is my main point—it became clear very quickly that liberals in government and the media (that’s one group, not two) were not interested in an “open debate” on the issue of firearms in American life, despite repeated calls for precisely that to occur.
One way to understand that is to know that twice as many children and teenagers are shot in Chicago every single month as were killed in Newtown, yet those hundreds of casualties create no media firestorm.
The reason is that the guns used in those crimes are already illegally acquired, and the Democrats who have run Chicago since forever have failed to control their street-gang wielders. No one currently in power in government or the media wants to call attention to that.
It is also true that Connecticut already has an “assault-weapons ban” nearly identical to the one proposed at the federal level, and the rifle used by the shooter there was legally acquired (by the killer’s mother) under it—which means it was legally determined not to be an “assault rifle,” no matter what the liberals are saying.
Another way to see that no “debate” is occurring is to look at how people who tried to defend their rights under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms were treated when they dared to say something.
Wayne LaPierre, executive director of the National Rifle Association, waited a respectable period of time and then spoke some good sense about the need to protect vulnerable schoolchildren, and he was called every name in the book (and many that most papers wouldn’t print) for daring to defend his (Supreme Court-supported) positions on firearms.
Meanwhile, people calling for the imprisonment and even execution of NRA leaders and members seemed to go without any criticism—or even mention—in the mainstream media.
But, such is the nature of our “tolerant” and “non-violent” elite. It’s odd that when then-President Bill Clinton called for $60 million to be appropriated to put armed guards in schools, he wasn’t held up to liberal scorn.
And it is tiring to hear some of our elected representatives speaking out on topics on which they show no respect whatsoever for the liberties for which our Founders risked “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor,” and for which hundreds of thousands of Americans died on battlefields all over the world to protect in many wars.
One state official shared her views with us in the Forecaster, a southern Maine weekly, a few days ago. Rep. Janice Cooper, D-Yarmouth, whose daughter Becky died in 2011 (not from guns, but in a hiking accident abroad) was moved to set us all straight on our supposed “rights,” and she’s worth quoting at length:
“If anything good is to happen as a result of Newtown and my response to it, it is to stand up and speak against the tyranny of the gun-worshipping culture of powerful parts of our society, and the fear and tolerance that the rest of our country accords it.”
She went on, “… the fault lies in viewing a mother with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction as a ‘gun enthusiast,’ and to see nothing inconsistent about this and her description as a good neighbor and citizen.
“I believe that no one in her right mind should acquire and play (on shooting ranges or otherwise) with such tools. It is a sickness to revere these instruments, or at least self-delusional to think they provide self-protection, if that is why this mother bought them. They are far more likely to be used in suicide, accidental shootings (especially by children) or other tragedies. They are not machines of beauty. They are not manly or sexy. No home should contain them. We must teach our children this, and change the thinking of our adults.”
Now, one has to sympathize with any parent who has lost a child for any reason, and Rep. Cooper is entitled to her opinions. But as long as they remain as full of emotion and as bereft of information as this one is, she can’t expect them to be taken seriously by those who know the truth.
First of all, her “argument” utterly ignores the fact that firearms ownership is a basic constitutional right. What would she say if someone said we had to “teach our children” that papers such as the Forecaster had no right to print opinions with which other people (or the government) disagreed?
And with regard to the use of firearms, studies uniformly show that firearms prevent crimes far more often than they cause them (a federal study put the number of crimes halted by firearms display or use at 108,000 a year, more than twice the number of firearms deaths). Others (Professor Gary Kleck of Florida State, et al.) estimate 2 million defensive uses annually, or perhaps even more—most often without a shot being fired, which is why no one ever hears of them.
Clearly, no one is going to be able to take away the hundreds of millions of firearms now in private hands in America or prevent their lawful use.
No laws will be passed to prevent self-defense with firearms; no confiscatory orders will be published (not only would they be widely disobeyed, but few law enforcement agencies would try to enforce them); and no law ever will keep firearms out of the hands of criminals (armed robbery has gone up by nearly 50 percent in England after the private possession of most firearms was banned).
And, despite all the firestorm of criticism, no one will make an open attempt to repeal the Second Amendment. Nobody thinks that Congress would approve such a measure, or that three-fourths of the states would pass it.
Yes, we know that if enough liberal judges can be appointed, the Supreme Court may eventually emasculate it. However, that still remains an unrealized hope in leftist circles—and if they want to start a social movement that would dwarf what happened after Roe v. Wade imposed the Court’s desires about abortion on an unwilling nation, let them try.
What’s happening now is an attempt to stampede Americans to support laws that will restore the utterly ineffective “assault rifle” and “high-capacity magazine” bans passed under Clinton and allowed to expire under Bush.
Interestingly, polls are showing more people like LaPierre’s cops-in-schools idea than support such bans. And certainly people stripping the inventories of gun stores bare are voting with their wallets on the undesirability of more futile “gun control” laws.
The bottom line is that what we have seen in the responses of our national media and many government officials since Newtown has not been a reasoned debate, but is instead a coordinated effort to deny Second Amendment rights to American citizens.
The purpose of the campaign is not gun control, it’s people control.
When the goal after one person kills someone else with a gun is to disarm all the millions of people who didn’t do it, the tyrannical motive behind the rhetoric becomes obvious to anyone not blinded by collectivist ideology.
If we can count on the government to protect us, why did it take the police 20 minutes to get to that Newtown school after the first calls for help were received? You can kill a lot of people in 20 minutes if they can’t fight back, whether you’re using guns or any other lethal weapon, including knives.
Just 20 years ago in Rwanda, 500,000 defenseless people were killed with machetes, knives, clubs and other such weapons. In this country, more people die of knife wounds or beatings with hands, feet or clubs than by “assault rifles”—or rifles of any type.
Most firearm deaths are with handguns, which is why the liberal propaganda machine has switched to “assault weapons” instead, as if semi-auto pistols, which have been in existence for well over a century, were some new invention.
It’s also important to note that those calling the loudest for restrictions on firearms rights quite often have armed guards of their own.
The head of the new presidential task force on firearms is Vice President Joe Biden, a long-time gun-control partisan who benefits from armed Secret Service guards. And people like David Gregory, who as the host of NBC’s Meet the Press program last Sunday mocked the NRA’s LaPierre for demanding armed guards at schools, themselves send their children to schools with substantial security forces.
Gregory’s children go to Sidwell Friends, the same school the Obamas’ daughters attend, so obviously the Secret Service guards them too. But, in addition, the Quaker school’s web site says it has an 11-person security force of its own.
Other prominent media critics work in buildings protected by guards with “assault weapon” semi-auto handguns, and politicians such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and media lords like Rupert Murdock have squads of armed guards.
Yet, they would deny the same kind of protection to everyone else who can’t afford a personal protector’s salary.
What we need more than “gun control” is “crime control.” The convicted killer who shot two firefighters in New York a few days ago had served 17 years for killing his grandmother with a hammer. Yet, he was out on the street to kill again.
I thought the reason we were supposed to oppose the death penalty for murder was that killers would be locked up for life. This one certainly wasn’t, and yet the headline at the top of the front page of the paper Wednesday was focused on the type of gun he used, rather than the utter failure of the “justice system” to keep him off the street.
As Adam Smith said 200 years ago, “Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.”
Meanwhile, the truth remains that the best way to stop someone with a gun is to for someone else with a gun to confront them.
The reason that there were only two people killed by a shooter at a mall in Oregon earlier this month is that a shopper with a carry permit (who didn’t know the mall was a “gun-free zone”) confronted the shooter, who promptly shot—himself.
That incident, of course, has not been all over our front pages for the past two weeks. Does anyone wonder why?
M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.