A very serious proposal by a serious author to ban all guns...seriously
The left-wing magazine The New Republic has jumped into the gun control debate with both feet – or, more accurately, arse first. The very serious magazine published an article by a very serious author, who makes the very serious proposal to ban guns – "All of them," as Phoebe Maltz-Bovy writes, stamping her foot for emphasis.
She honestly claims she has no idea how to do it. All she knows is that all Americans have to speak up and be heard so that the idea of banning all guns is taken seriously.
It's too bad her article is more akin to a Marx Brothers routine than serious analysis.
Ban guns. All guns. Get rid of guns in homes, and on the streets, and, as much as possible, on police. Not just because of San Bernardino, or whichever mass shooting may pop up next, but also not not because of those. Don’t sort the population into those who might do something evil or foolish or self-destructive with a gun and those who surely will not. As if this could be known—as if it could be assessed without massively violating civil liberties and stigmatizing the mentally ill. Ban guns! Not just gun violence. Not just certain guns. Not just already-technically-illegal guns. All of them.
Marx Brothers comedy is broad and physical and has a certain manic quality to it. When Maltz-Bovy says we shouldn't "sort the population into those who might do something evil" and those who won't, it reminds me of the crowded cruise ship cabin routine in Night at the Opera. Has there ever been a more wildly ridiculous, rancid, ignorant proposal connected with the gun debate? In other words, she is telling us to ignore the fact that banning all guns means banning guns for law-abiding citizens, while criminals will find a way to keep theirs.
It gets even dumber:
I say this not to win some sort of ideological purity contest, but because banning guns urgently needs to become a rhetorical and conceptual possibility. The national conversation needs to shift from one extreme—an acceptance, ranging from complacent to enthusiastic, of an individual right to own guns—to another, which requires people who are not politicians to speak their minds. And this will only happen if the Americans who are quietly convinced that guns are terrible speak out.
Their wariness, as far as I can tell, comes from two issues: a readiness to accept the Second Amendment as a refutation, and a reluctance to impose “elite” culture on parts of the country where guns are popular. (There are other reasons as well, not least a fear of getting shot.) And there’s the extent to which it’s just so ingrained that banning guns is impossible, legislatively and pragmatically, which dramatically weakens the anti-gun position.
What percentage of Americans actually believe that guns are "terrible"? Well, a Gallup poll in October found that 72% of Americans do not believe that handguns should be completely banned. And the idea of banning hunting rifles is so absurd I couldn't find a poll on it.
Ban Guns, meanwhile, is not discriminatory in this way. It’s not about dividing society into “good” and “bad” gun owners. It’s about placing gun ownership itself in the “bad” category. It’s worth adding that the anti-gun position is ultimately about police not carrying guns, either. That could never happen, right? Well, certainly not if we keep on insisting on its impossibility.
On the pro-gun-control side of things, there’s far too much timidity. What’s needed to stop all gun violence is a vocal ban guns contingent. Getting bogged down in discussions of what’s feasible is keeps what needs to happen—no more guns—from entering the realm of possibility. Public opinion needs to shift. The no-guns stance needs to be an identifiable place on the spectrum, embraced unapologetically, if it’s to be reckoned with.
Maltz-Bovy and her anti-constitutional cadres could talk about "no guns" all day, every day, for the rest of their lives, and banning all guns would still not be feasible. Even gun control advocates – for the most part – nibble at the edges of our constitutional rights, supporting more background checks, closing "loopholes," and trying to ban sales to the mentally ill. Their lack of success is not because "gun nuts" or the NRA is so powerful. The power here rests with the people's simple understanding of the U.S. Constitution, which is so self-evident about gun rights that you would think even a liberal could understand it.