The folks at the NPR program ‘Here & Now’ do a God-awful job at covering up their desire to cram new gun control regulations down the throats of Americans. They speak in calm and even tones, but everything from their choice of phrases to their choice of guests proves that they couldn’t care less about an impartial view on the day’s news. On Friday their guest was Paul Barrett, author of the recent GLOCK history, and together they mourned the lack of “progress” on gun control in the United States following Newtown. And in trying to explain the failure of their civilian disarmament efforts, they fell back on some of the favorite (and widely disproven) groupthink of the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex . . .
Democrats (and liberals in general) feel that they’ve “won” the debate when they’ve aligned themselves with the biggest group, as outlined in an amazingly interesting piece I recently ran across. So naturally, the first order of the day is to try to downplay the popularity of guns in the United States.
BARRETT: Well, they got a vote at the federal level, but the mere fact that the president was pleading for a vote, as opposed to charting a course toward actually winning that vote, showed you the politically vulnerable position he was actually in. The president suffered a defeat on Capitol Hill, and we got no significant change in federal gun control rules as a result of the atrocity at Newtown.
The pro-gun forces, even though they may be a minority in the country overall, are a very, very well-organized minority. And the way Congress is structured right now, it is not possible to pass significant gun control at the federal level.
Having said that, there was considerable progress in blue states at the state level, where laws were passed to put in place some of the kinds of restrictions that Obama sought to enact at the federal level.
HOBSON: And, of course, the primary opponent to gun control measures was Wayne LaPierre, who leads the National Rifle Association. We remember his press conference right after Newtown and his appearance on “Meet the Press.” He was saying there should be armed police officers in every school.
And we transition into the second major objective for any good gun control advocate: the demonization of the evil National Rifle Association. Nevermind the fact that it’s an organization backed by over 5 million Americans, the talking point about the NRA being funded by gun manufacturers and only wanting to boost sales over the dead bodies of American citizens comes before any logic.
HOBSON: So why weren’t the president and other Democrats able to get more of the American people on their side in favor of stronger gun control measures?
BARRETT: I think there’s a couple ways to look at this. One, I think you need to look at the larger sociological backdrop, the larger mood of the country. In the immediate wake of any kind of mass shooting, of course people are horrified. But once the horror has subsided slightly, there’s a larger sociological truth that, to some degree, undercuts any push for stiffer gun control, and that is that, overall, violent crime is coming down in this country, and has been for many years.
In other words, overall, we are a safer country. Fewer people are killing each other with guns. In that environment, it actually is more difficult to stand up, as a politician, and say what we need to do now is add restrictions on how law-abiding people are able to acquire firearms. So that’s, I think, the first step of the answer.
And within the president’s own party, the Democratic Party, he had a number of members of the Senate from red states who were unwilling to go along with him, because they were unwilling to face the wrath of pro-gun forces in their home states. We have a very large country, and attitudes towards firearms are very different.
And if you’re in Alaska or Idaho or Arkansas, even if you’re a Democrat, you’re likely to be very, very pro-gun. So, even if the president is of the same party that nominally controls the Senate, that does not mean he’s going to be able to tell the Senate what to do on this issue. And the other part of the Capitol Building, the House, that’s run by the Republicans.
This is the point in the discussion where Hobson and Barrett run out of Democratic gun control advocacy talking points, and the reason is that if the talking points were actually true then they would have won. But they didn’t, and now they’re slowly facing the reality of the situation where their opinion is in the minority and Americans disagree with their proposed solutions.
The interview aired on Friday, which means that there was sufficient time for Barrett to check in on the latest polling numbers. And according to CNN, the percentage of people in the United States who support gun control has dropped to 49%. So while Barrett might like to claim that gun ownership is on the decline and gun control is inevitable, the reality of the situation is that the opinion of the program (that increased gun control is necessary) is the one that’s in the minority and on the decline. They’re in the wrong group.
And the reason for their decline in popularity might have something to do with the lack of facts that supports their position. Even Barrett is forced to admit that the proposals put forward by gun control advocates just don’t make sense.
HOBSON: So Paul Barrett, answer that question. How do we live in a country that allows this to keep happening?
BARRETT: Well, the problem is that the very heartfelt emotion expressed by Ms. Watts there, who as it happens I spoke to yesterday at some length about all of these issues, while completely understandable at an emotional level, really doesn’t take you very far in policy terms or in practical terms, and here’s why.
Let’s look at the Navy Yard shooting as an example. Really nothing that Ms. Watts has been pushing in terms of banning assault weapons or magazine capacity would have had any bearing whatsoever on that horrific incident at the Navy Yard. The weapon used was an old-fashioned shotgun, a long gun that is on no one’s ban list. In fact, it’s the exact kind of gun that Vice President Biden suggested earlier this year was the kind of long gun that everyone should have in their home, and he said he had advised his wife to use if she heard a rustling out in the front yard, she should go out on the porch and fire off a couple of rounds.
So this illustrates that in a country that is already permeated by gun ownership, where the civilian possession of guns is seen as commonplace, it’s simply not as easy, and shouldn’t be as easy, to simply say this isn’t the country I want to live in, I want to live in a different and better country. That just doesn’t take you anywhere.
In the case of the Navy Yard shooting, I think the only direct, applicable thing to talk about is mental health treatment, is how could this man, who had been identified as someone who was unstable, the police had had an eye on him in the days and weeks prior to this shooting, you know, why was it that he hadn’t been involuntarily taken in to custody and given some type of treatment, whether he wanted it or not.
Now, if you want to talk about that, I think that’s a very practical approach, but talking about assault weapons or the horror of the fact that some people like guns really has nothing to do with what happened at the Navy Yard.
It’s kinda refreshing to see such staunch liberals take a realistic look at why their prized political movements are failing so dismally. Especially when the answer they’re getting is “because your opinions aren’t based on actual facts.” Barrett continues:
HOBSON: OK, but you would also have people say, well, why shouldn’t we just have universal background checks.
BARRETT: I’m all for it, but I’m not – but universal background checks wouldn’t do a darn thing…
HOBSON: In that case.
BARRETT: In that case or in most of the cases of these mass shootings. They wouldn’t have done anything to Adam Lanza up in Newtown either. All of those guns were legally purchased and legally in the home of that disturbed young man. So you see, unless you’re proposing actually confiscating guns, or you’re talking about, you know, people not being allowed to buy guns at all, OK, those very extreme proposals might have bearing on these situations.
But talking about tinkering with the rules of how we lawfully acquire guns doesn’t address the mass shootings situations, and I think it’s also the case that it doesn’t really have much to do with violent crime on the streets on a day-to-day basis. I am not arguing against universal background checks, in fact I’ve written over and over in favor of universal background checks.
What really warms my heart is that you can hear the frustration in Hobson’s voice in the interview. He thought that gun control was a slam dunk, and now he’s reeling from the impact of reality slamming him in the face.