You gotta love intellectual gun control advocates. They’re so . . . intellectual. Eggheads like New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik [above] would like nothing better than to sit you down and calmly explain gun control—so you can see that he’s right and you’re a brainless inbred racist redneck. I mean, wrong. Here you are, Mr. Gun Owner: A Few Simple Ideas About Gun Control that you, even you, can understand. If you try really really hard. So, idea number one . . .
No one disputes that there are sane reasons for ordinary people to need a rifle. But there is no imaginable, meaningful sense in which Canadians, or Australians, are “less free” when it comes to guns because they have to take a safety course before they use one.
Here’s another idea: a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
The Founding Fathers wrote and ratified the Second Amendment to the Constitution to keep the government out of the business of contravening, violating, transgressing, breaking, breaching or otherwise infringing upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The way I read it, the 2A prohibits any government regulation of the right to keep and bear arms.
Yes, I know we have governmental firearms regulation. Lots of it. I know that the Supreme Court’s Heller decision OK’s “reasonable regulations.” And I know that Gopnik views a mandatory safety class as a perfectly reasonable regulation. But here’s another simple idea: I don’t. Millions of Americans feel the same way. They don’t want the government deciding what constitutes firearms safety and what doesn’t.
Illinois’ new concealed carry regulations require 16 hours of training. I’ll bet Gopnik’s dad didn’t spend 16 hours listening to an instructor before he fired a gun. And neither will thousands of low-income Prairie Staters, who cannot afford the time, travel or expense mandated by the training requirements. That’s before we talk about the kind of training that the government deems suitable.
Training requirements are barriers to firearms ownership. Gopnik thinks that’s a good thing. I think that’s a bad thing. More generally, whenever a government compels a citizen to perform an action—any action—they are less free.
So there, sir, are two meaningful ways in which Canadians or Australians are “less free” when it comes to guns because they have to take a safety course before they use one.
What we can learn from Canada is how to legislate common sense without violating anyone’s liberty—unless you imagine that anyone’s liberty depends on having as many weapons as he wants whenever he wants them. Perhaps no existing gun law could have been explicitly designed to stop the shotgun killer of the Navy Yard. But to repeat the central truth of modern criminology: building low barriers against violent crime has a disproportionate effect in ending it. Make something difficult and you begin to make it impossible. You don’t have to back-engineer every law to cover every past criminal circumstance; you just have to sensibly craft laws to discourage the next one.
Call me simple-minded—or not simple-minded enough—but how does one legislate common sense? That’s a bit like legislating lust, only not nearly as much fun.
Equally odd: the caveat dismissing the idea that liberty depends on having as many weapons as [one] wants whenever [one] wants them. Surely Mr. Gopnik knows that liberty must be created and protected by force of arms, as it was when our our Founding Fathers forged this nation. As it is today.
Limiting citizens’ access to arms limits citizens’ ability to limit tyranny. Mexico? Syria? Pick a nation, any nation. Norway? Sure! Time and time again we can see that gun control emboldens and empowers tyrants, whereas gun right defend and extend individual liberty. Hence the Second Amendment.
Besides, why not have as many weapons whenever one wants them? Where’s the harm in that? Isn’t the problem what people do with guns (most likely “a” gun) rather than the number or type owned by an individual? And aren’t American gun owners a peaceable lot? Not to mention that that the right to keep and bear arms protected by the Constitution is without caveats.
As for that “building low barriers against violent crime” having a “disproportionate effect in ending it,” huh? I would have thought that our existing criminal laws (including gun laws) are a pretty damn high barrier against violent crime. And here’s the good news: they’re working! Violent crime in America continues its downward trend. So what is Gopnik on about?
Something about laws discouraging crime. Hmmm. It seems to me that laws punishing crime have a disproportionate effect on preventing crime—especially when compared to laws trying to prevent it. In other words, how’d that Prohibition thing work out? Or the War on Drugs? Why would laws regulating legal ownership of guns be any different?
Holy shit! Those aren’t the four simple ideas on gun control! They’re just the warm-up! Silly me. Here they are:
First, fix the background-check system by doing small things such as giving the F.B.I. ten days, instead of three, to complete them; prohibiting “high-risk” individuals from getting their hands on guns (anyone with a restraining order filed against him for a threat of violence, for example); and accelerating federal legislation to keep the violent and mentally ill from having guns. Second, make the A.T.F. more effective through such simple measures as getting the agency a director. Third, encourage research on “personalized” guns and gun triggers. Fourth, ban assault weapons, carefully defined, and with them magazines that fire more than ten rounds. And finally—radical idea—fund research on what actually works to end gun violence.
The FBI doesn’t need ten days to complete a background check. It’s instant! The ATF already has a director! Personalized guns don’t work! The assault weapons ban didn’t work either! Restricting a firearm’s ammunition capacity restricts Americans’ ability to defend themselves and leaves them open to attack by criminals who don’t respect ammunition capacity restrictions! There’s plenty of research already! None of it shows that gun control reduces crime.
Wow. That was simple.