The Fallacy of Gun Control
As a parent of two boys under the age of four, a responsible gun owner, and an NRA member, I'd like to take this opportunity to rebut "Sensible Arms Control," in which my good friend Brett Joshpe argues for more gun control following the Newtown tragedy.
Gun Rights are Inalienable and Natural
There is nothing "lazy" about characterizing the inalienable right to defend self, family, and property, and the right to hunt, as "natural rights." Preaching from their ivory towers (typically capitol buildings, college campuses, gated communities, and urban apartments), gun control proponents casually dismiss the dire consequences of disarming law-abiding citizens. I own a home in an empty corner of Maine, where my family and I are generally out of range of rapid police assistance both on our property and while traveling in the area. As a concealed carry permit holder, I have the opportunity to save our lives if we are confronted by violent criminals.
Bad Guys Will Get Guns No Matter What
Putting aside for the moment the absurdity of banning semi-automatic firearms (almost all commonly owned handguns are either semi-automatic pistols or double-action revolvers capable of firing in a manner similar to semi-automatic, and many commonly owned rifles and shotguns are semi-automatic), historical and current events should sound blaring alarms to well-intentioned individuals like Brett.
Across the Atlantic, the failure of the United Kingdom's gun control program was recently displayed during the 2011 London riots when unarmed shopkeepers and homeowners were forced to watch marauding gangs of powerful young men loot and destroy while overwhelmed police failed to contain the raging throng. Ironically, in a most uncivilized turn of events, civilized citizens in the United Kingdom live in a creepy Orwellian surveillance state in which dystopian fiction has given way to the nightmarish reality of "might makes right."
Closer to home, our broken neighbor Mexico is a failed state in which drug cartels kill government officials with impunity, where beheaded and bullet-ridden corpses litter highways, and respectable citizens cower in fear. Mexico has among the strictest gun control laws in the world.
Back in the United States, Chicago, subject to some of the most stringent gun control in the nation, observed a timely milestone this week: its 500th murder of 2012. Conveniently, the fanatically anti-gun media ignores the daily body count in the combat zones of urban America, where violent young men slaughter each other daily and gangs terrorize with impunity. Mass shootings like Newtown are much more suited to the hysterical modus operandi of today's "journalists." As Chicago demonstrates, gun control is an abject failure precisely because it only affects the good guys who need guns to defend against attacks by criminals who have access to guns regardless of gun control laws.
More Restrictive Laws Would Not Have Prevented Newtown
Brett relies on the speculative argument that gun control could have stopped Newtown, or could stop future mass shootings. Anything is possible, but the word "could" without factual substantiation is never a good argument.
Further Gun Restrictions are a Slippery Slope
What will gun control proponents say after the next school shooting? Will they admit that gun control is an abject failure? Don't bet on it. They will call for further gun control. Incremental restrictions occur until gun ban precedent is so overwhelming that the right to bear arms is lost. Eventually, there comes a point where the new hysteria is "knife control." And after all the knives are taken away, what then? Hammer control? Where does it end? The slippery slope is real: in 2008, samurai swords were banned in England and Wales! (The current debate in the UK involves banning steak knives.)
Guns Protect the Weak from the Strong
Brett argues that in the case of Newtown, access to guns allowed a weak person to perpetrate a massacre, and that we therefore must reconsider the argument that guns are the "great equalizer." The dark place to which Brett's assertion inescapably leads us is unacceptable -- a society in which criminals can overwhelm victims through greater physical strength. There is only one thing that speaks with clarity to bad guys -- superior force. Despots like Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Idi Amin took whatever they wanted unless and until confronted with superior force. Violent criminals operate on a smaller scale but think the exact same way.
Guns are a Protection from Government Tyranny
As a Jew who views the Nazi rise to power and subsequent Holocaust as a lesson never to be forgotten, I am shocked that even the horrifying murder of 6 million Jews and countless other human beings by the Nazis is not enough proof that trusting any government is a terrible idea. Before the Nazis came to power, many German Jews believed themselves to be part of the fabric of German society. These tragically naïve and unarmed Jews were easy pickings for the Nazi thugs who destroyed Jewish property and synagogues, then came in the night to abduct their families in order to banish them to appalling death camps, most never to be heard from again. History has much to tell us if only we will listen.
Gun Ownership is a Constitutional Right
The evidence concerning the intent of the Founders and the prevailing cultural attitudes at the dawn of our nation with regard to the right to bear arms overwhelmingly indicates that the Second Amendment right was drafted with expansive firearms ownership and use in mind. Thomas Jefferson perceptively wrote: "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the Body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind . . . Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks." Jefferson and other colonists-turned-rebels didn't risk hanging as traitors to create a country in which the right to bear arms ends at the front door.
Second, in Heller, the Supreme Court did not reach with precision the question of what the exact limits on the Second Amendment are. The Court held that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to bear arms for "traditionally lawful purposes," such as (but not limited to) home defense (emphasis added).
Gun control involves the unacceptable devil's bargain repeatedly proven to be calamitous folly throughout history: freedom traded for perceived security. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin: those who would support such a perverse bargain deserve neither freedom nor security. Instead, take the emotion out of this issue and educate yourself about firearms and the history of gun control. Above all, remember: gun control has nothing to do with controlling guns and everything to do with controlling citizens. As the late Falkland Islands governor Sir Rex Hunt replied to the Argentine commander who took exception to Sir Rex's refusal to shake hands after Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands: "It is very uncivilised of you to invade my country." In the spirit of Sir Rex, I say to gun control proponents: "It is very uncivilized of you to try to take my guns."
Edward Paltzik is an attorney at the law firm Joshpe Law Group LLP.