A couple of days ago, I sat next to a fellow parent at my daughters’ school barbecue. Turns out he’s a cop who’s been working with inner city kids for over a decade. When I suggested that we should form a rifle team to teach these troubled youths discipline and provide a safe outlet for their aggression and natural competitiveness, he stared at me as if I had pin lice in my eyebrows. “Are you serious?” he asked, seriously. I nodded. “Guns are a huge part of black youth culture,” I said. “We should go with it; turn it in a more positive direction.” My new friend was appalled . . .
“I don’t think people will want us to train kids to be able to shoot people from a longer distance,” he countered.
I was going to say something about the fact that taxpayers only get upset about gang violence when a stray bullet takes out an innocent bystander. I also considered mentioning the positive effects of Darwinism. But I thought better of it.
“Our job is to take guns off the street,” the officer said. “Not train kids how to use them more effectively.”
Although my fellow school parent is African American (as am I, though white), I was left wondering if the rifle team rejection was racist. Would the concept get shot down as quickly in a rural area plagued by teen crime if the community was largely white?
Equally vexing: did I say train gang members how to shoot a rifle? I did not. Are all troubled teens in urban enclaves criminals or gang members or destined to become criminals or gang members? They are not.
Anyway, I got to thinking about his response. Specifically, the oft-repeated phrase “taking guns off the streets.” In my endless search for ballistic blog fodder, I encounter this mantra every day—whenever police or politicians react to gun crime with a promise to DO SOMETHING. Which is always.
Setting aside the cancerous growth of boneheaded buyback programs across America, here’s an example of an entire story built around the assumed virtue of working to rid the streets of firearms, taken from this morning’s nypost.com:
He said “it’s exciting” that the NYPD nominated him for a Post Liberty Medal. “This type of job isn’t usually publicly recognized — which I’m OK with because that keeps me safe. The reward is taking the guns off the street.”
I find it interesting that journos, the po-po and pols don’t talk about “taking illegal guns off the streets.” This omission reflects the prejudice of those who use the term: they believe guns are inherently bad. Less guns equals less crime. Period.
The opposite suggestion—that law-abiding citizens in gun crime-plagued areas might want a firearm to protect themselves, which might reduce crime and benefit society—is completely off their radar. Doesn’t occur to them for a moment.
Gun rights groups don’t even attempt to challenge this “taking guns off the street is the key to reducing gun crime” mindset. Which is kind of strange. After all, pro-gun advocates have a mantra too: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. So why are they letting gun control advocates focus on guns rather than criminals?
There’s no way on God’s green earth that the police, our elected representatives or community leaders will ever remove guns from America’s criminals. Pandora’s arsenal was opened a long time ago; there are tens of millions of guns out there, somewhere. Even an outright ban on guns and a relentless campaign to enforce it, as seen in the United Kingdom, can’t stop gun violence. As seen in the United Kingdom.
Actually, never mind the UK. The Supreme Court’s McDonald decision, striking down Chicago’s handgun ban and incorporating the Second Amendment, removes the possibility of blanket gun bans. They’re unconstitutional. The argument that less guns equals less crime is, effectively, moot. So why not concentrate on eliminating the behavior of gun crime rather than concentrate on the tool used to act out that behavior?
The counter-argument to this counter-argument rests on another catch-phrase: “easy access.” If society eliminates criminals’ “easy access” to guns we’ll make it harder for gang bangers and other criminals to get guns. At least we’ll reduce gun crime. If restricting access to illegal guns means that ONE gun crime doesn’t happen, it’s worth it.
Nonsense. Measuring crime that doesn’t happen is like measuring jobs saved by the federal pork and debt exponentializer. I mean, stimulus program. Besides, after decades of expensive initiatives designed to remove inner city guns, it’s clear that the approach doesn’t work. It’s time for a new deal.
Call it SAFE: Share America’s Firearms Equally.
Instead of talking about “allowing” law abiding citizens in high crime urban areas to defend themselves by using their constitutional right to bear arms, let’s do it. Give the people who need to protect themselves and their property the most the skills and tools they need to do so. And the best time to do that? Catch ’em while they’re young.
I know it sounds crazy. But it just might work.