At the end of a by-the-numbers anti-gun rant in the New York Times, Contributing Op-Ed editor Timothy Egan [above] asserts “As a way to make everyday life seem less frightening, the new reality [of “enforced gun free zones”] is absurd. But that’s the cost, apparently, of an extreme interpretation of a constitutional amendment designed to fend off British tyranny, a freedom that has become a tyranny in itself.” Freedom is tyranny! More importantly, did you notice that . . .
Egan states the Second Amendment of the United States Constitutional was designed to fend off British tyranny. Huh? The Second Amendment was designed to fend off American tyranny. The Amendment was enacted to ensure that the people of the United States aren’t left disarmed and defenseless against their own government. Arguably nothing more, inarguably nothing less.
It’s an astounding mistake. It reveals Egan’s profound misunderstanding of both the history and nature of American gun rights (not to mention the lack of fact-checking at The Grey Lady). But at least he brings the threat of government tyranny into the gun control equation. Most proponents of civilian disarmament make their case based entirely on social utility: the killing must stop! Something must be done! To be sure, that’s the core of Egan’s essay Guns and the Two Americas.
The waves of mass shootings continue to roll over the United States like surf on the ship of state’s prow. Every few weeks now we get hit with a jolt of cold water. We shake and shudder, and then brace ourselves for the next one.
So we beat on — a nation whose people are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of most other developed countries. The only thing extraordinary about mass shootings in America is how ordinary the killing grounds are — elementary schools, high schools, colleges, military recruitment centers, theaters, parks, churches.
Is no place safe?
Is no high-brow anti-gun polemic complete without comparing the United States’ firearms-related homicide rate to that of “developed” countries? Allegedly intellectual anti-gunners depend on this “America as outrageously armed outlier” meme to paint U.S. gun rights as an embarrassing abominable aberration on the world stage. In fact, the argument’s an indication of their collective contempt for America’s founding and ongoing belief in limited government.
Think about it. The oft-quoted stat’s veracity depends entirely on your definition of “developed.” Is Jamaica developed? Wikipedia pegs its official firearms-related homicide rate at 39.74 per 100k inhabitants (as compared to the United States’ 10.64). Is South Africa developed? They clock-in at 21.51. Brazil? 19.03. Venezuela? 50.9. Clearly, by “developed” the antis mean European countries (along with Australia and Japan). They firmly believe that “civilized” countries outgrow civilian firearms ownership.
Is it too early to evoke Godwin’s Law? Let’s set aside the fact that Germany was the dictionary definition of developed prior to World War II; a country where strict gun control enabled the systematic slaughter of six million disarmed Jews (not to mention five million more disarmed members of inconvenient political and ethnic groups). Concentrate instead on Mexico, whose official 11.7 per 100k firearms-related homicide rate tells us nothing about the slaughter of tens of thousands of unarmed civilians at the hands of both narco-terrorists and the Mexican military and police.
And what of China? While their [unreported] firearms-related homicide rate must be minuscule in relation to ours, what price do the Chinese pay for their “freedom” from the “tyranny” of gun rights? The Chinese have none of the Constitutional protections Americans enjoy. Freedom of religion? None. Freedom of speech? Nope. Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure? Freedom of assembly? The right to a speedy trial? No, no and no. And so on.
The antis can’t connect the dots between Americans’ gun rights and American liberty. Won’t connect the dots. Instead, they applaud those cities and states that curtail gun rights in the name of public safety. They hold them up as exemplars of what should be done to stem the tide of firearms-related homicides, to create an America as supposedly peaceful as its European allies (and Japan).
Like Egan, they cherry-pick data to point to the South – the uneducated backwards South – as proof positive that only uncouth idiots support the Constitution’s prohibition against infringement on the right to keep and bear arms.
Nationwide, if you want to lessen your chances of getting shot, stay out of the South.The South is the most violent region in the United States,and also the place with the highest rate of gun ownership. More guns, easily obtained by the mentally ill, religious fanatics and anti-government extremists, mean more gun deaths.
Better to go to a city or state with gun restrictions, at least if you’re playing the odds. Most of the states with tighter gun laws have fewer gun deaths.
That’s one America, the slightly safer one. It includes government gun-screened zones like airports, courthouses and many high schools. But more significantly, it also covers property used by our most popular obsession, pro football — the free market at work.
The other America is an open-fire zone, backed by politicians who think it should be even more crowded with average people parading around with lethal weapons. Just after the tragedy in a Louisiana theater a week ago — a shooting by a hate-filled man who was able to legally obtain a gun despite a history of mental illness — Rick Perry called gun-free zones a bad idea.
Egan sees the same bifurcation of America that we’ve been talking about on this website for some time. Well, not exactly. Where we see America split between states that favor small government and individual liberty and those choked by high-taxation and regulation (including gun control), Egan sees America separated by states that shun “common sense” limits on liberty and states that embrace these limits in the name of public safety.
The idea that violence can and does occur everywhere – that the underlying, ever-present threat of government tyranny is both a local and a national threat – is neither here nor there. The more important point: the natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms is an individual right that transcends geography – as [finally] acknowledged by the Supreme Court in the Heller and McDonald decisions.
Egan believes that “enforced gun-free zones” are “slightly safer” than places without them. The distinction between “enforced” and non-enforced zones gives Egan the space to ignore the fact that the Louisiana theater shooting occurred in a gun-free zone – as do many, if not most spree killings. His faith in pro-football’s metal detectors is (and hopefully not will be) laughable. But it shows the depth of his ignorance and self-delusion.
Egan’s ultimate delusion: that America would be better off without firearms freedom. It ignores the long and ignoble history of gun control in this country, born in post-Civil War America to deny African Americans their gun rights. Their right and ability to defend themselves against laws that left them defenseless against [what was in effect] state-sanctioned torture, rape and murder…also known as American tyranny. [h/t JP]