Jonathan Kay of Canada’s National Post is weighing in on America’s “gun culture”. Before asking what in Hades a Canadian could know about the subject, know that he spent two years studying the conspiracist subculture on his way to authoring Among The Truthers, so his current polemic, America’s firearms culture forged by paranoia, racism and civil rights unrest, is based in part upon that experience. Which may also explain the paranoia he attributes to us “gun nuts”. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to have researched this topic as fully as his book. If he had . . .
he wouldn’t have made goofs like this:
This week, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld a 2011 Florida law that makes it illegal for doctors to ask parents if they keep a gun in their house— notwithstanding the fact that the presence of such a weapon is, according to one expert, “43 times more likely to be involved in the death of a member of the household than to be used in self-defence.” [link in original]
I would never accuse a journalist of flat out lying so Jonathan must either be incompetent or simply too lazy to do proper research. I base this on his opening paragraph which has three statements of fact (the ruling, the law and “43 times”) two of which are flat out wrong. Yes the 11th Circuit upheld Florida’s 2011 Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, but no, the law does not bar doctors from asking about guns in the home. Section 790.338(2) of the law explicitly states: “Notwithstanding this provision, a health care provider … that in good faith believes that this information is relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety may make such a verbal or written inquiry” (regarding the presence of guns in the home).
As for Dr. Kellerman’s infamous “43 times” number, any member of the Armed Intelligentsia could have told Kay that A) the number is almost 3 decades old and 2} has been debunked at least a dozen times in at least a half-dozen different ways. My personal favorite debunking is over at GunCite.com where they use Kellerman’s own method and dataset to show that in homes without a gun your not-a-gun is ninety-nine times more likely to be involved in the death of a member of the household than to be used in self-defense.
Jonathan then switches from bogus numbers and flat out lies to more nuanced untruths:
Earlier this year, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed legislation known to critics as the “guns everywhere bill.” The law allows Georgia residents to carry guns into bars, most government buildings and gun-friendly churches.
Yes Gov. Deal signed the law, yes it allows permit holders (whether or not they are GA residents) to carry in bars. Kay neglects to mention the facts that carriers can’t drink and that bars can opt-out by posting a sign. Yes the law allows permit holders to carry in government buildings, except for those which have security screes and controlled entry. Jonathan also neglects to mention numerous other aspects of the law, but since he probably did so for the sake of brevity I’ll let that pass.
On the same day, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill that would ban any local government from enforcing ordinances that restrict the open carrying of firearms.
Ooh, yeah, again not really. The main thrust of the law was preemption, designed to remove the patchwork of different (and sometimes conflicting) local gun laws and regulations. The bit about open carry was to prevent hoplophobic localities from arresting people lawfully open-carrying for “disturbing the peace” or “creating a public nuisance” as had been happening before the law was passed.
But having set the tone Jonathan now goes for the meat of his diatribe:
Meanwhile, members of a group called “Open Carry Texas” are marching proudly through busy stores and parking lots armed with assault rifles, small children in tow.
I guess Jonathan is as ignorant about firearms as he is about firearms laws, because the ‘omg OMG OMG women open carrying with children’ photos show that two of the three moms are carrying unloaded rifles and the third is carrying what appears to be a shotgun. In addition, since these folks are in Texas if they want to open carry then they must open carry either long guns (aka “assault rifles” and shotguns) or antiques (firearms and replicas of firearms manufactured prior to 1899).
In one iconic photo, an overweight man with a massive gun slung over his shoulder stands in front of a rack of baby toys at Target, drinking from a bottle of water.
If you can’t attack the message then attack the messenger, eh Jonathan? Here’s a hint for you; lots of us are “overweight” and those of us who are often are the ones who most need to carry for self-defense (hence the OFWG tag). We also like to stay hydrated.
According to Open Carry Texas founder CJ Grisham, such stunts will help show Americans that liberals’ collective fear of guns is “irrational.”
This is an ongoing debate in the gun community (one of my early pieces on TTAG concerned this issue) with some of us believing that seeing regular folks open-carrying in regular situations has a normalizing effect on the general public. Others in the community believe that open-carry is too scarifying for the Muggles to deal with. Jonathan apparently falls in the latter camp:
Well then colour me irrational. And colour all of Canada irrational, too — even the conservative parts. There is a fine line between responsible gun-rights advocacy and America’s GOP-enabled Yosemite Sam gun-cult carnival — and I feel comfortable drawing that line around the diaper section of my local big-box store.
Okay I’m not sure I even know what Jonathan is trying to say here; the Second Amendment was written long before the GOP existed and shall-issue permit laws have been approved by bi-partisan majorities (and opposed by bi-partisan minorities) across the country. Yosemite Sam was a cartoon character meant to be a more aggressive foil for Bugs Bunny (some people thought Elmer Fudd was so inoffensive that Bugs was a bully for besting him). As for gun-cults . . . Wikipedia defines cult as:
In the sociological classifications of religious movements, a cult is a religious or other social group with deviant and novel beliefs and practices.
I imagine Mr. Kay and others of his ilk find the idea that “the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility” quite novel but that does not change the fact that according to the Gallup Poll, as of October 2013 39% of households in the US had a gun, nor does it change the fact that there are currently an estimated 11 million permit-holders in the US (this does not count the 11.5 million or so inhabitants of Constitutional Carry states). According to the Census Bureau numbers (Table 1) 71.8% of our population or almost 222 million people are 21 and older, which means that even ignoring CC states, 5.1% of our population has a permit to carry. Couple that with 2 out of 5 households having guns and I think this hardly qualifies as “deviant” behavior.
Finally, it’s nice that Jon feels comfortable drawing lines, now if only criminals would pay attention to those lines.
But wait, we should listen to him because he’s a gun owner too:
Make no mistake: Millions of Canadians value their guns. Since the gun-control excesses of the Chrétien years, our hunters, target shooters and collectors have been fighting back against excessive bureaucracy … But for these Canadians, guns are tools, not objects of psycho-sexual religious veneration.
Seriously Jonathan? You are actually going with “psycho-sexual religious veneration”? Again, what the hell does that even mean besides being some sort of pseudo-intellectual swipe at gun owners? And why is it that you list three types of gun owners while skipping what is, in America, the #1 reason for owning a gun? Again according to Gallup sixty percent of Americans who own guns keep them for “personal safety/protection”.
To a Canadian shooter, a gun is something used to kill gophers. To his American equivalent of the Heston school, it’s a sort of giant wand for killing Voldemort. How, exactly, did this massive gulf open up in our perception of “that wooden stock and blue steel”?
Simple; Canadians (and Brits and many Aussies) have been over-socialized to the point of virtual double orchidectomy. You can’t even conceive that people have the right, indeed the obligation, to protect themselves and their loved ones from violent crime and criminals. It has gotten so bad that in the UK people are told to yell “Call the police!” instead of “Help” when they are being assaulted, because only the police should ‘fight’ crime. Just look at Canada’s self-defense laws; they specify that victims have a duty to retreat and require that any defensive force used “is no more than is necessary to enable him to defend himself.” You are only justified in causing “death or grievous bodily harm in repelling the assault” if you have a “reasonable apprehension” that you will suffer D/GBH and you have no other recourse.
I could continue, but I think this horse is dead. Jonathan talks about our paranoia and bigotry while demonstrating his own irrational fear of peaceable open carriers and characterizing us as “Yosemite Sam” and cultists.