“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” – Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago and President Obama’s former Chief of Staff
In the wake of the murder of 26 innocent people at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, it is not surprising that the liberal-led gun control crowd leapt at the opportunity to capitalize on the emotions of well-intentioned people sick of such devastatingly senseless butchery.
The bodies of the dead had not yet begun to cool before the predictably exasperated demands that something must be done began echoing from the microphones of broadcasters and TV hosts across the nation and rumbling off the keyboards of opinion columnists and bloggers alike. Each time something dreadfully appalling happens – like the Sandy Hook massacre or the Aurora, Colorado theatre shooting back in August – the nation collectively gasps in horror and abhorrence, and rightly so. We hug our loved ones, count our blessings, and wonder what may be done to halt such heinous acts. The appropriate response at least in terms of governmental initiatives, and while not popular and certainly not satisfying, is usually nothing.
Charles Cooke at National Review Online writes about this reaction in his essay on this very topic:
“It is often glibly asserted that mine is the “easy” response. On the contrary, it is the difficult response. To shout “do something” or “ban guns” is the facile suggestion, and nonchalantly to content oneself that laws passed in a faraway city will fix society’s problems is the comforting conviction. My judgment, by contrast, is the terrifying one: to realize that there is very little than one could have done to stop yesterday’s abomination is to understand that we are sometimes powerless in the face of evil, however much we shout about it.”
This is contra how so many on both sides of the political spectrum react when a crisis is at hand. The compulsion to do something, anything, feels far better than admitting that bad things happen, and cannot all be prevented. Taking action is only beneficial if those actions are…beneficial.
While I hope President Obama’s words at Newtown Sunday evening were a comfort to the families and loved ones in that poor little town, there were also vague and void of substance. “As a country, we have been through this too many times. … And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
How might the President define “meaningful action”? What do pundits mean when they spend weeks of news cycles insisting that “appropriate and necessary steps must be taken” to prevent things like this from happening again? If history is any indication, it usually involves a hysteria-driven sacrifice of personal freedoms because doing nothing seems so callous and inappropriate in the face of such immense iniquity.
The two supposedly imperative causes that must be advanced are that of mental health awareness and gun control. While mental health issues are important and should be given due attention (though I think evil acts are more often just that, evil, stemming broken souls and weak family structures rather than a lack of the proper concoction of pills), it is the perceived gun problem that draws the entire pride of lions’ share of attention from the chattering class.
While the left pines for a “national conversation on guns,” what they truly want is more and more gun restrictions and bans. Just as there is no line at which liberals would draw at government too big, there is no gun restriction or ban they believe goes too far or impedes on personal rights too greatly if given the chance. It seems always “the time to talk about guns is now” directly after a monstrous crime when emotions are high, passions are at their peak, and calm reason is in short supply. Jonah Goldberg’s piece at NRO this week warns of the perils of emotionally hasty legislation:
“One piece of advice you often hear in such situations is “don’t make any big decisions” in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy. It’s sound advice that is routinely and predictably ignored in the political realm…When politicians say they want to do something regardless of the politics, or that they want to go “above” or “beyond” politics, what they generally mean is they want to do something regardless of the normal rules or what their opponents have to say or, often, the facts…All I’m sure of is that we should be very careful about making big decisions when we are so angry and mourning so deeply.”
When heads are level, the gun grabbers consistently lose that national conversation, as well they should (leaving no wonder why they choose to strike when level heads are few and far between). Not only does the empirical statistical data contest those who demand harsher gun restrictions, but the rational arguments favor those who advocate even the strictness of our current gun laws be tapered.
The long and short logic of it is this, as Thomas Sowell penned so succinctly for Townhall this week: “The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available.” This reasoning reverberates from an old quote, often misattributed to Thomas Jefferson, but whose rightful professor is Cesare Beccaria’s in her Essay on Crimes and Punishments:
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one.”
In the U.S., violent crime is far less prevelant in areas where more people are free to bear arms than where they are not. Phoenix, where one may carry a concealed handgun without even a permit, has less than half the murder rate of Chicago, where concealed carry is banned. According to John Lott, Jr. and Bill Landes’ book More Guns, Less Crime, “States that allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns enjoy a 60 percent decrease in multiple-victim public shootings and a 78 percent decrease in victims per attack.” From that same book, the authors note that “With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”
The opposition to us bitter clingers will generally play to the sympathetic side of human nature that sees an atrocity and wants all of society to feel guilty for it. A recent trend is to blame some ambiguous and ultimately meaningless notion of a rampant and unyielding “gun culture” in America, or to show pictures of the unjustly fallen and say things like “These are YOUR children and MY children, what can WE do to stop this?” Consider CNN’s Don Lemon, who last week worked himself into a near rage proclaiming “…to say that gun violence is down does not make sense. To me, it’s insulting to everyone who lost a loved one here and who was dealing with that. It doesn’t matter if gun violence is down!” His desired case for legislative construction are anecdotal narratives, not statistical data; emotional panic, not rational evaluations.
This brings us to the subject of gun free zones, the inconceivably careless invitation to all ill-intentioned crazed madmen. Ask yourself this question: Which sign is more likely to prevent a violent intruder at a school full of children – one that says “No guns prohibited on these premises” or “Staff heavily armed and trained, any attempt to harm children will be met with deadly force”? The answer is as obvious as it is ignored by those who believe someone who would kill a slew of blameless little ones would obey gun laws.
The depressed don’t decline suicide because it’s against the law, and likewise no would-be murderer abstains from slaying innocent people because he might break a gun free zone rule. Would you rather defend your home with a gun or with kitchen knives? Your answer is the former, a thief or killer would prefer you chose the latter. James Holmes chose the Aurora theatre when seven others were closer to his home because no guns were allowed in the complex. He knew no one could shoot back.
Restrictive gun control is failed social engineering. It favors criminals, not law-abiding citizens. It protects the man intent on raping, not the woman trying to defend herself. Of its own volition, the Second Amendment doesn’t grant us the right to own guns, but rather ensures that the God-given right to self and familial defense through arms cannot be excised by the government or anyone else.
Our system is working, sans calls for further implementation of usually erroneous legislation. Violent crime, gun violence, and school violence have decreased substantially in the past two decades even as gun ownership has increased markedly. As conservative writer Michelle Malkin stated on Hannity Wednesday, “We need politicians, for once, to just stop, shut up, and think before they act recklessly again.”
If we really want to do something that will provide a net societal benefit instead of just fulfilling our foolish desires to act in hast regardless of negative ripple effects, if we really want to take the path that might prevent another Sandy Hook, we should support increased gun protection, not decreased. There is no logically supportable reason to arm pilots and bodyguards but not principals and teachers. Criminals are less likely to attack a place where they can be met with resistance capable of fighting back.
Let’s stop assuring them that defense won’t come. Let’s stop paving the way for evil.
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