In the discussion above, all the women of The View agree that background checks are the key to limiting “gun violence.” Jedediah Bila, a self-professed “Second Amendment girl,” is on board, even as she admits that “people who are criminals are going to get [guns] anyway.” What is it about background checks that turns so many pro-gun folks into blithering Fudds?
I’m a car guy. Well, I used to be — before my first and second divorces. Back when I could afford to indulge my need for speed. My four-wheeled affliction reached its apotheosis when I lived in the U.K. I bought a Ferrari F355B at the exact moment when The Land of Hope and Glory transformed itself into the most surveilled country on planet earth.
Speed cameras sprung up like Bluebonnets in the Texas spring. Suddenly, cameras were everywhere. At first, the law required signs announcing their presence. Those went away. The police soon hid speed cameras in rubbish bins. Busy stretches of the M25 London Orbital Motorway are now timed; computers calculate your average speed between cameras. If you exceed the limit, a ticket arrives in the mail.
Whenever I railed against speed cameras and the proliferation of inner city surveillance systems (using facial recognition to track Brits’ every movement), I received the same retort: “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.”
It’s Nanny State über alles: a basic belief in the beneficence of government. You can trace its roots to Thomas Hobbes, the English philosopher who asserted that life without a stable political structure is “nasty, brutish and short.”
Americans are less prone to this false sense of security — an infantile delusion that can’t withstand even cursory consideration of state-sponsored tyranny and mass murder. But make no mistake: Nanny statism is alive and well in America, on all sides of the political spectrum.
Why else would background checks find such favor exist amongst those (like Ms. Bila) who are aware of both their ineffectiveness and the danger of sliding down the “slippery slope” to firearms registration and confiscation?
There’s a parallel between background check believers and followers of Joel Osteen’s ministry. The preacher’s positive thinking polemics posit God as Santa Claus. If you do right by God, God will do right by you. He will bless you with health, wealth and happiness. You will be rewarded for your faith here on Earth. You will enjoy “your best life.”
Background check supporters believe the government is their protector. Mandatory “universal background checks” will thwart criminals, crazies and terrorists, denying them the tools they need to cause chaos and carnage. We will live in peace. It will be our best life.
Osteen and gun control supporters fail to address the simple fact that bad things happen to good people, regardless of the law or their virtue. (A conundrum explored in rabbi Harold S. Kushner’s best-seller When Bad Things Happen to Good People). Things that wound us to our core, or kill us, are out there, somewhere. Things we didn’t bring upon ourselves.
Simply put, bad people do bad things to good people. By the same token, good people do bad things while trying to do good. Which is as good a description of big government as I can offer. A cynical view, of course, but again, one that’s born out by history.
While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, there are things we cannot prevent. Nothing we can do will stop violent criminals from gaining access to firearms. Not background checks, not policing and not economic or cultural assistance to areas where armed gangs hold sway.
Background checks for firearms sales and transfers are nothing more than security theater. Worse, the time and paperwork required to satisfy them makes it more difficult for good people to obtain the best possible tool for the defense of innocent life. At the same time, background checks consolidate power where it least needs consolidation: in the government.
That’s my view. What’s yours?