In a recent New York Times editorial — Some Inconvenient Gun Facts for Liberals — columnist Nicholas Kristof says a number of things that would make pro-gun rights folks fairly happy. For example, “liberals often inadvertently antagonize gun owners and empower the National Rifle Association by coming across as supercilious, condescending and spectacularly uninformed about the guns they propose to regulate.” That’s way too accurate for the anti-gun rights NYT. And so they wheeled in Mike “The Gun Guy” Weisser . . .
Nicholas Kristof’s call for a “new strategy” to combat gun violence is both necessary and compelling, but the solutions he advances — in particular changing how gun control advocates explain and justify their positions to gun owners — I think need a different approach.
And what, pray tell, is MTDoubleGW’s better idea? Recognize the fact that gun owners like guns because . . . guns. What he calls “toys.”
Why do I call these lethal items toys? Because that’s how guns are used by the people who buy them. Unlike the good old days, fewer than 5 percent of America’s population now lives in areas where hunting is part of everyday life. Guns are also not generally used for defense against crime and violence, except occasionally in random, unplanned ways. The latest research covering more than 14,000 criminal events indicates that victims used guns to defend themselves less than 1 percent of the time. And notwithstanding overblown National Rifle Association claims that the 2nd Amendment is a fundamental shield in the Age of Terror, the country’s ability to defend itself doesn’t depend on a self-styled militia holed up at Malheur Refuge.
So Mr. Weisser, an actual gun dealer, doesn’t believe that people buy guns for self-defense or a bulwark against tyranny? Apparently not. So why do they buy guns?
Despite what the N.R.A. says about people, not guns killing other people, there is no consumer product as lethal as a gun. But walk up to a guy (and it’s still almost always a guy) who is lovingly caressing the gun he just bought and tell him that what he’s holding is a lethal weapon and he’ll stare at you in disbelief. Ask him why he just plunked down $600 and he’ll stare at you again. He bought that gun because he likes buying guns — it’s as simple as that. He may mumble something about the 2nd Amendment because that’s what he’s been told, but if you think picking up a gun is any less impulsive than buying any other nonessential consumer item, think again.
Sigh. So, how does Mr. Weisser reckon gun control advocates should talk to us impulsive buyers?
Rather than considering them as participants in a modern morality play, they need to be engaged as consumers who, above all, don’t want to lose their ability to quickly and easily purchase guns. The trick is to convince gun owners that by helping to find ways to protect us from gun violence they won’t lose what they love. But that’s a conversation of a very different kind.
In other words, tell gun owners they’ll be able to buy guns easily to get them to support laws that make it more difficult for them to buy guns. That, friends, is what passes for logic from a man who sells guns while arguing for civilian disarmament.