In the run-up to the presidential debates, gun control advocates are agitating like a Kenmore washing machine. In particular, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns are using Aurora Midnight Movie Massacre survivor Stephen Barton’s neck wounds (above) to “demand a plan.” The 30-second spot has done its job: stimulating mainstream media “debate.” But what, exactly, is their plan to “end gun violence”? The website attached to the ad doesn’t say. In fact . . .
Gun control advocates know they can’t argue to control guns per se. Aside from urban enclaves—who ignore the Supreme Court’s recent Heller and McDonald rulings banning gun bans—that dog has had its day. The antis’ current headline demand: register all gun sales, including private transactions.
Like all their other proposals (e.g. micro-stamping, magazine capacity limitations, banning “assault weapons”), registering private firearms transactions (a.k.a. “close the gun show loophole”) will do sweet FA to address “gun violence.” As cato.org reports, “According to an NIJ study released in December 1997 . . . only 2 percent of criminal guns come from gun shows.”
So what will reduce firearms-related homicides?
First, let’s assume that “gun violence” means criminal gun use. Gun control advocates usually include firearms-related suicides in the term. Surprisingly, thankfully, the Barton ad does not. So we’re looking at bad guys shooting bad guys and, less frequently, good guys.
Next, let’s remember that it’s impossible to “end” gun violence. As long as guns exist, someone’s going to shoot someone. Unless gun control advocates want to amend the Second Amendment and remove our Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms and confiscate all civilian arms, and probably even (especially?) then, we have to live with a certain amount of gun violence.
So, here’s my three-point plan to reduce gun violence . . .
1. Increase enforcement of existing penalties for criminal gun use
This is the National Rifle Association’s remedy for gun violence and it makes perfect sense. Rather than try to prevent gun violence, punish it when it occurs. D’uh.
The problem with this approach: our legal and penal system is over-burdened. It’s no surprise that people who use guns in the commission of a crime get to plead out: American justice has become a plea bargain machine.
Equally, there’s no room at the inn. The War on Drugs has filled our jails to capacity. And then some.
According to the Wikipedia hive mind, “As of 2006, 49.3% of state prisoners, or 656,000 individuals, were incarcerated for non-violent crimes. As of 2008, 90.7% of federal prisoners, or 165,457 individuals, were incarcerated for non-violent offenses.”
If we decriminalized drugs we’d reduce the prison population; we’d make space for individuals convicted of criminal gun use. Maybe not at first, but eventually and forever. We’d reduce the number of tooled-up perps and, thus, the overall amount of gun violence.
Yes but—would a society with “permissive” drug laws be more violent than one with a War on Drugs? Hey, at least it’s a plan.
2. Arm civilians
Statistically speaking, the number of Americans holding a concealed carry license (an unconstitutional abomination unfamiliar to residents of Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming but there you go) is zero. Despite all the hoopla, there isn’t a state in these here United where even than ten percent of residents have a concealed carry license.
Doing a Mikeb anal fact extraction [h/t Bruce], I reckon less than half of all license holders carry a firearm on an everyday basis. The number who know how to draw and shoot it effectively . . . We’ll leave that for another day. Meanwhile, in short, Americans are disarmed.
If a larger percentage of Americans carried a firearm there would be a significant deterrent effect—at least for bad guy on good guy gun violence. At some point, bad guys would realize that good guys shoot back. The risk – reward ratio would not be in their favor.
[For those seeking statistical evidence of this assertion, please (try to) read John Lott’s seminal work More Guns, Less Crime.]
This raises an important question: what percentage of gun violence is bad guy on bad guy? Antis’ arguments that “flooding the streets with guns” would increase criminal gun use is nonsense; there is no firearms shortage in high crime cities with draconian gun control laws (e.g. New York City, Chicago, LA). Arming law-abiding Americans isn’t likely to reduce the bad guy vs. bad guy ballistic battle.
Still, it is a worry. So . . .
3. Mandatory Armed Service
Culture eats strategy for lunch. No matter where you place the blame—media, mothers, exploitation, political lethargy, the decline of the church, integration, segregation, drug pushers, teachers, unemployment—bad areas are producing bad guys. Chicago’s gangland shootings are legion because there are legions of bad guys.
When it comes to giving young people an alternative to lifestyles leading to gun violence, when it comes to changing the culture spawning these concealed carry killers, community outreach ain’t getting it done. We’ve wasted tens of billions of dollars trying to “cure” the underlying poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, etc. that perpetuates (often drug-related) violence.
The trick: brainwash the bastards. Pull them out of their communities, stick them into our armed services and give them the skills they lack to be productive members of society. I’m talking about the basics: discipline, self-respect, cooperation with others (legally), showing-up somewhere on time; reading, writing and arithmetic. The English language (where appropriate).
This training should include civics. Never mind what they didn’t learn in school. Explain the Constitution and our system of government. Teach young people how to vote (not for whom). And include lessons on the Second Amendment, including hands-on experience. Train the youths how to use a firearm, including handguns.
OMG! Train proto-gang bangers how to use a gun? Yup. If nothing else, firearms training for America’s youth will help eliminate collateral damage (e.g. spray-and-pray drive-bys). More likely, firearms training will instill a sense that young people are stakeholders in our law-abiding society. Because guess what? They are.