I want to like the The New Yorker magazine. OK, sure, they fired Dan Baum. I have a real soft spot for the once and future Fudd, a TTAG contributor whose Gun Guys remains the seminal examination of modern American gun culture. Aside from ditching the Danster, the New Yorker still has some superb writers in their stable. Unfortunately, if you look past the elegant prose, the New Yorker is frequently revealed as a gussied-up purveyor of inelegantly-argued, ill-informed, left-leaning statist tripe. John Cassidy’s piece Lax Gun Laws Are Becoming a National-Security Issue is a perfect case in point . . .
According to news reports, Abdulazeez, a twenty-four-year-old Kuwaiti-born U.S. citizen, was armed with at least three guns, including an AK-47 assault rifle. How he got hold of these weapons wasn’t what concerned Trump, however. “Get rid of gun free zones,” he tweeted on Friday morning. “The four great marines who were just shot never had a chance. They were highly trained but helpless without guns.”
Trump was evidently referring to a Pentagon regulation, dating back to 1993, that prohibits some members of the military from carrying firearms while on base. His comments echoed those of gun enthusiasts, who highlighted, on social media, a picture of a sign prohibiting firearms that was on the door of the Chattanooga military-recruitment office where Abdulazeez reportedly opened fire before moving onto the Naval Reserve center, less than ten miles away.
For once, Trump has raised an important issue. In an era when attacks inspired by radical Islamism are becoming increasingly common, are gun laws magnifying the problem of domestic terrorism?
As I’ve noted before, anti-gunners are really good at stating the pro-gun position. (We thank them for their service.) Cassidy’s opening reminds me of that old English expression “when you’re in a hole stop digging.” If he’d just filled out the above prose with some relevant information and stopped there . . .
As usual, however, Trump has things backward. The issue isn’t gun-free zones; it is free-for-all gun zones, which decades of lax firearms laws have produced all over the country. In an America held hostage by the gun lobby, radicalized lone-wolf terrorists can get their hands on deadly weapons and mountains of ammunition just as easily as disturbed post-adolescents, delusional military subcontractors, virulent racists, and anybody else.
Oh dear. How much more backwards can you get on the gun control issue than to argue that Donald Tump’s call to arm American soldiers in the U.S. gets things backwards – in light of the murder of now five unarmed U.S. Marines? Cassidy can’t seriously believe that it would be more effective to pass gun control laws that would [theoretically] deny potential terrorists weapons than it is to allow, maybe even encourage potential victims to arm themselves against actual terrorists?
Yes. Yes he does. Complete with the usual anti-gun hate and hyperbole (i.e., a glib reference to the “gun lobby” and a nonsensical notion of “mountains of ammunition”). Cassidy’s “we need gun control to protect us against terrorists” logic is so obviously illogical and impractical it’s borderline incoherent – despite The New Yorker editors’ best efforts. No wonder, then, that the writer’s tome is prone to proactive prevarication.
Trump ignores all of this, of course, and he couldn’t even get the details straight about those “gun-free zones.” He ignored the fact that the military police who enforce the laws on military installations are routinely armed, as are other soldiers engaged in security roles, such as guard duty. Moreover, the four marines were killed not at the recruitment center, where the sign prohibiting firearms was located, but at the Naval Reserve center. It was there, too, that Abdulazeez was reportedly shot dead by police, who had pursued him from the recruitment office. Sadly, neither the military guards nor the police managed to stop Abdulazeez before he had killed four people. But to claim that these victims would be alive if they had been armed is pure speculation.
See what I mean? Cassidy labels the idea that armed Marines – Marines – could have stopped the killing in Chattanooga as “speculation.” Compared to what? The “certainty” that gun control laws would have prevented “known wolf” terrorist Muhammod Youssuf Abdulazeez from obtaining weapons to kill Marines?
Trump and the N.R.A, would counter guns with more guns. They would further encourage the proliferation of hidden-carry laws, which enable people to carry concealed weapons, and place heavily armed guards anywhere a potential terrorist could strike—at government buildings, sports grounds, schools, theatres, transport hubs, malls, even churches. Over time, such a strategy would turn the United States into an even more militarized place than it already is. Whether it would prevent more terrorist attacks is a lot less clear.
“Hidden carry laws”? Who uses that term? Someone British-born, perhaps, with no personal experience of firearms or knowledge of the fight for (and against) gun rights in the Land of the Free. The same sort of imported ivory tower ignoramus who feels free to reject “hidden carry” as a preventative measure against terrorism – utterly blind to the fact that Americans want guns to counter terrorist attacks. You know; stop them.
Cassidy is a lazy writer, an affliction which often leads to outright lying. I don’t remember Trump or the NRA calling for armed guards everywhere. Schools, yes. Of course. Why the hell not? I don’t know if Cassidy has school-age children and if so, what sort of educational institution they attend. But arguing that we shouldn’t protect our children against terrorism with armed guards shows just how far removed he is from mainstream American experience and values. Happily and by choice, no doubt.
The other option is the one that anti-gun activists, police chiefs, and sensible politicians have been promoting for decades: reform guns laws to keep deadly weapons, particularly rapid-fire guns, out of the hands of disturbed individuals and people of ill intent. Such a policy agenda wouldn’t stamp out domestically grown jihadism either. But it would surely make things more difficult for would-be attackers.
So Cassidy would have us enact laws that make it harder (but not impossible) for domestically grown jihadis to obtain “rapid-fire guns” (again, who says that?) that also make it harder for Americans to defend themselves against these domestically grown jihadis by force of arms…and then what? Hope for the best? The New Yorker may employ some of this country’s best writers but not its best thinkers.