New York Times throws front-page temper tantrum on gun control

In a remarkable display of mush-headed illogic, the New York Times has run a front-page editorial for the first time in 95 years advocating gun control measures it admits would be ineffectual.  In the 447 words prompted by the San Bernardino slaughter, there was not room for the word “Islam” or Islamic” – only for a demand to take guns away from law-abiding Americans.  Even though the Times concedes that it is all about symbolism, not practical effectiveness:

Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.

But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not.

This is stunning.  “Trying” (as in violating the Constitution) is more important than results.  I can only imagine that this means the Times editorial board are sick and tired of facing their European friends who natter on about Americans being armed, and therefore somehow less civilized than the nations that took away guns from their citizens.  (Does anyone at the Times remember that Hitler regarded gun confiscation as critical to his ability to make fundamental change to Germany?)

By conceding that terrorists and other villains will still be able to get guns, the Times is following the logic of “gun-free zones,” insisting that depriving the good guys of the ability to defend themselves will somehow deter armed malefactors.  This didn’t work at Columbine, Sandy Hook, or the Inland Regional Center.  But feeling good about oneself  (“trying”) is more important than the facts.

There are examples of mush in the editorial, in particular the insistence that the appearance of a gun somehow makes it more dangerous and justifies confiscation:

Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.

The Times does not bother with defining the “clear and effective” characteristics of the “certain kinds” of weapons it wants to outlaw, but as many people have pointed out, the term “assault weapon” is all about appearance.  And even Soros-funded ProPublica admits that the “assault weapons ban that expired ten years ago was ineffectual:

 "There is no compelling evidence that it saved lives," Duke University public policy experts Philip Cook and Kristin Goss wrote in their book "The Gun Debate: What Everyone Needs to Know."

A definitive study of the 1994 law – which prohibited the manufacture and sale of semiautomatic guns with "military-style features" such pistol grips or bayonet mounts as well as magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition – found no evidence that it had reduced overall gun crime or made shootings less lethal. "We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation's recent drop in gun violence," the Department of Justice-funded study concluded in 2004. "Should it be renewed, the ban's effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement."

By choosing to highlight its views in the most conspicuous way available to it short of hiring a fleet of skywriters, the New York Times is doing the printed page equivalent of shouting.  Perhaps nobody thought of using all caps.

Jonah Goldberg lists some of the events that weren’t important enough to merit front-page editorials:

The Peace of Versailles, Buck v. Bell, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor,* the Hitler-Stalin Pact, the Ukrainian famine, the internment of Japanese-Americans, the Tuskegee experiments, the Holocaust,  McCarthyism, the Marshall Plan, Jim Crow, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy Assassination, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Kent State, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, Watergate, withdrawal from Vietnam, the Killing Fields, the Iran hostage crisis, the Contras, AIDS, gay marriage, the Iran nuclear deal: These are just a few of the things the New York Times chose not to run front page editorials on.

The effort will no doubt result in approving head-nodding in liberal circles.  I doubt very much that anyone who personally knows any members of the board will engage in any back-slapping or “attaboys” – that is far too déclassé, and besides, it would have to be “attagirl” in many cases.  But the cocktail circuit will still be impressed. 

The Times considers itself a conning tower for the Demcoratic Party, and I can only hope that the party defers to its betters and follows suit.  Tom Maguire knows what would happen:

… if this is the official Times editorial position position there will be pressure on Democratic candidates to support or reject it, and good luck to them. Run, indeed. Picture the Democratic campaign message: the jihadists are here, we can't stop them, so turn in your guns. Obama is sufficiently arrogant and out of touch to think that might be the winning ticket, but it's hard to believe Bill will let Hillary walk that plank. Which portends trouble in progressive paradise.

NYT front-page image via Politico.