An honest liberal writes about gun control
When someone on the left reaches the same conclusion on gun control as a libertarian, you have to sit up and take notice
I wrote earlier this month about an honest liberal who acknowledged the problems created by government dependency. Well, it happened again.
First, some background.
Like every other decent person, I was horrified and nauseated by the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
Part of me wishes the guy hadn’t killed himself so that he could be slowly fed into a meat grinder.
And my friends on the left will be happy to know that part of me, when I first learned about the murders, thought the world might be a better place if guns had never been invented.
Sort of like my gut reaction about cigarettes when I find out that somebody I know is dying of a smoking-related illness or how I feel about gambling when I read about a family being ruined because some jerk thought it would be a good idea to use the mortgage money at a casino.
But there’s a reason why it’s generally not a good idea to make impulsive decisions based on immediate reactions. In the case of gun control, it can lead to policies that don’t work. Or perhaps even make a bad situation worse.
I’ve certainly made these points when writing and pontificating about gun control. But I’m a libertarian, so that’s hardly a surprise. We’re people who instinctively are skeptical of giving government power over individuals.
But when someone on the left reaches the same conclusion, that’s perhaps more significant. Especially when you get the feeling that they would like a ban private gun ownership in their version of a perfect world.
That’s why I heartily recommend Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic.
Here are some of the most profound passages in the article, beginning with a common-sense observation that there’s no way for the government to end private gun ownership.
According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 47 percent of American adults keep at least one gun at home or on their property, and many of these gun owners are absolutists opposed to any government regulation of firearms. According to the same poll, only 26 percent of Americans support a ban on handguns.
…There are ways, of course, to make it at least marginally more difficult for the criminally minded, for the dangerously mentally ill, and for the suicidal to buy guns and ammunition. …But these gun-control efforts, while noble, would only have a modest impact on the rate of gun violence in America. Why? Because it’s too late.
There are an estimated 280 million to 300 million guns in private hands in America—many legally owned, many not. Each year, more than 4 million new guns enter the market. …America’s level of gun ownership means that even if the Supreme Court—which ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment gives citizens the individual right to own firearms, as gun advocates have long insisted—suddenly reversed itself and ruled that the individual ownership of handguns was illegal, there would be no practical way for a democratic country to locate and seize those guns.
Which is why prohibition was a flop. Which is why the current War on Drugs is so misguided. And so on and so on.
The author then wonders whether the best way of protecting public safety is to have more gun ownership.
Which raises a question: When even anti-gun activists believe that the debate over private gun ownership is closed; when it is too late to reduce the number of guns in private hands—and since only the naive think that legislation will prevent more than a modest number of the criminally minded, and the mentally deranged, from acquiring a gun in a country absolutely inundated with weapons—could it be that an effective way to combat guns is with more guns?
Today, more than 8 million vetted and (depending on the state) trained law-abiding citizens possess state-issued “concealed carry” handgun permits, which allow them to carry a concealed handgun or other weapon in public. Anti-gun activists believe the expansion of concealed-carry permits represents a serious threat to public order. But what if, in fact, the reverse is true? Mightn’t allowing more law-abiding private citizens to carry concealed weapons—when combined with other forms of stringent gun regulation—actually reduce gun violence?
He cites examples where armed citizens stopped mass killings.
In 1997, a disturbed high-school student named Luke Woodham stabbed his mother and then shot and killed two people at Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi. He then began driving toward a nearby junior high to continue his shooting spree, but the assistant principal of the high school, Joel Myrick, aimed a pistol he kept in his truck at Woodham, causing him to veer off the road. Myrick then put his pistol to Woodham’s neck and disarmed him.
On January 16, 2002, a disgruntled former student at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia, had killed three people, including the school’s dean, when two students, both off-duty law-enforcement officers, retrieved their weapons and pointed them at the shooter, who ended his killing spree and surrendered.
In December 2007, a man armed with a semiautomatic rifle and two pistols entered the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and killed two teenage girls before a church member, Jeanne Assam—a former Minneapolis police officer and a volunteer church security guard—shot and wounded the gunman, who then killed himself.
Read more on: gun control, Daniel J. Mitchell and gun control, Daniel J. Mitchell, Cato Institute, gun crime, guns, and Jeffrey Goldberg
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