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Yesterday’s The New York Times ran a piece in their Education section entitled Second Amendment and Beyond: Pondering Gun Rights, Laws and Culture. Bloggers Holly Epstein Ojalvo and Katherine Schulten offered readers five ways to use the Times to teach children about firearms. RF emailed me the link, suspecting that the writers had biased the discussion in favor of gun control. Our Fearless Leader asked me to answer the questions posed by the paper so that TTAG could provide a gun rights resource for enquiring if impressionable minds. Number one on their list: “Hold a Debate.” Provided we can bring facts to the exercise, why not? First up:

Well that’s an easy one! As Dr. Lott points out in this piece:

Among peer-reviewed national studies by criminologists and economists, 18 find that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime, 10 claim no effect, and just one claims one type of crime temporarily increases slightly. The possibility that permit holders might lead to more crime is easily evaluated by looking at how incredibly law-abiding they are, with them losing their permits for any firearms-related violations (usually trivial ones) at hundredths or thousandths of 1 percentage point.

This one is a little trickier because it all depends on how you define you terms. Is it helpful to require police to have probable cause to believe a DGU was unlawful before they can arrest the shooter? Not to them it isn’t; it is much easier not to have to worry about things like probable cause and reasonable articulable suspicion and just arrest people they “know” are bad guys.

Is it helpful to require prosecutors to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt instead of requiring a defensive shooter to prove their innocence? Again, not to prosecutors it isn’t.

Is it harmful to increase the number of homicides that are ruled justifiable? Only to criminals.

This is a ludicrously open-ended question; so meaningless that it is all but impossible to provide a meaningful answer. Do they mean regulation of the actual physical guns themselves? The sales and ownership of guns? The use of guns? Gun appearance or accessories? I shall try, however, to answer their question(s).

Ideally actual physical guns should be regulated like any other product, by the marketplace. Does the weapon fulfill a perceived need, does it operate properly, etc. If it is defective (i.e. does not go BANG when the trigger is pulled or does go BANG when the trigger isn’t pulled) or dangerous to the operator (for example going BOOM when the trigger is pulled) then that is a matter for insurance and liability lawyers.

The avowed purpose of regulating gun sales and ownership is to prevent criminals from getting access to firearms or to punish them if they are caught with them. There is nothing inherently evil or wrong or bad with owning or possessing a gun, and like so many mala prohibita laws before, not only do they not succeed, but their failure is used to argue for further such laws which, themselves will fail.

Regulating the use of guns is frequently another exercise in mala prohibita fantasy. There are already laws against shooting at or into people; there are already laws against shooting up someone’s house, car or other property. Attempting to regulate the use of guns is simply an attempt to prevent this already unlawful behavior.

Regulating the appearance of guns (like prohibitions on flash-hiders, barrel shrouds or bayonet-lugs to name just a few) or how they are accessorized (banning pink guns, limiting magazine styles and sizes, etc.) is just plain silly. “Oh but if a gun has a barrel shroud you can spray fire from the hip and keep your hand on the barrel to control it and kill lots of people at once” exclaims my inner anti!

Okay, first, “spray fire from the hip” is hardly accurate enough to “kill lots of people” but we’ll let that pass to address the “keep your hand on the barrel” part. Have you people never heard of The ‘Ove’ Glove? You don’t need a barrel shroud/shoulder thing that goes up to protect your hands from heat. See here for a detailed deconstruction of the other elements of the Clinton-era “Assault Weapons” ban.

Gun control advocates should fetch coffee not just for the “gun lobby” but for all of the law-abiding citizens who own guns and the 25,000 annually who save lives in DGUs. But seriously, this is another meaningless question. First the so-called “gun-lobby” is largely grass-roots and consists of working people who, in their spare time, address civil rights issues with their legislators.

Gun-control advocates, on the other hand, are largely paid flacks representing Astro-turf® organizations supported by deep pocket contributors like the Joyce Foundation, frequently relying on bought and paid for “studies” which distort the truth to support an anti-gun agenda. The classic example of this is the VPC’s License To Kill study (which for some reason seems to have disappeared from their website) which, among other things, reported that:

In 1996 Texas concealed handgun license holders were arrested for weapon-related offenses at a rate 22 percent higher than that of the general population of Texas aged 21 and over.

Which sounds pretty damning unless you dig into their study to discover that their definition of “weapon-related offenses” does not include assault, robbery, kidnapping etc. (those numbers are dealt with separately), but instead consist almost entirely of mala prohibita crimes like not keeping your weapon concealed or carrying in a prohibited location.

So essentially the argument they are making is that since licensed drivers commit the most “car crimes” no one should be allowed to drive. Howard Nemerov does an excellent job deconstructing their whole study here.

Of course they should! The number one risk factor for being the victim of a homicide is a felony conviction. Felons, more than any others, need access to the safest, most effective self-defense tool in existence; the firearm. Even aside from that, felon prohibitions lead to gross injustices like an 80-year-old man being arrested after shooting a burglar, because he is a “prohibited person”.

If they get you asking the wrong question, then the answer does not matter. The question isn’t whether weapons should be permitted, the question should be: “What right do you have to limit my freedoms because you are afraid?”

Remember: 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.

That’s an idea that needs more play at the playground. Alternatively, maybe it’s time for the NRA’s Eddy the Eagle a costumed pal for high school age children. Malachi (or Melissa) the Minuteman could discuss the gun rights that made this country great. Just a thought.

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  1. You had me in agreement until the part about felons owning guns. If you support violent offenders having legal access to firearms, than you’ve completely lost me. Why would we not even attempt to restrict the unalienable rights of a felon who has flagrantly violated the rights of someone else?

    Some felonies are non-violent in nature, and should not necessarily restrict gun ownership. However, I see zero benefit in condoning gun ownership for rapists, burglars, spouse abusers, etc. Nor would I condone gun ownership for the insurance – fraud or Ponzi scheme felon.

    Simply put, I’d rather have my next assailant armed with a nerf football than a 9mm. Certainly criminals still arm themselves, but their illegal weapons use constitutes additional crimes with additional penalties and prison time.

    If felons are more likely to be the victim of a homicide, probably due to their criminal lifestyle, I’m alright with that.

    • Sorry, but I disagree with you. The only felons who are affected by laws prohibiting their possession of firearms are law abiding individuals.

    • I’m in agreement with Dave Codrea on this one – if an individual cannot be trusted with a firearm, then they cannot be trusted without a custodian. “Felon” has become almost as meaningless as “Racist”, though. Count the ways that one can be a felon now – knowingly or unknowingly – by either doing nothing, or by going about one’s business and stepping into one or another of the many “zones”- criminal protection zones, government protection zones – that have been established to control us.

      In the old days, when “felon” == “violent offender committing an act punishable by a prison term > 12 months or thereabouts” perhaps there was a better argument for that restriction, but just like the alternative minimum tax is grabbing more of us around the throat every year, so is the term “felon”.

    • Many felons (a double-digit number) repeat and go back to prison. However, they do so in a fairly short time period.

      If a felon makes it past a certain period of time I’d be OK with them owning a long gun legally for home defense.

      • And to me, that’s where probation comes in. A person gets out of jail, has a two year probation where they have to check in with a parole officer and during that time period they are not allowed to own a firearm. If that two years passes without them getting into trouble all rights are restored.

        • Agree.

          If they paid their debt to society, then they should not be under any cloud of suspicion, and should be able to own firearms, vote, serve on a jury, etc.

          If they haven’t, they shouldn’t. And if penalties are not harsh or lengthy enough for convicted felons to pay their debt to society, then that’s an issue for lawmakers and ultimately the electorate.

          • Accur81’s statement seems to indicate that a debt to society can never be paid once incurred. Any offense that warrants taking them in the first place is the overriding act for the rest of the offender’s life.

            Which is insane, by the way.

    • If a person is so violent that they cannot be trusted with a firearm then they cannot be trusted to be among the general poputation.

        • When I was younger, I snuck into a ski slope without a lift ticket and got caught. The security guard informed me that in Indiana that is a “Class D” felony. I wasnt charged, but if I was, I would have technically been a felon. Things like this make me question the validity of a blanket “no firearms for felons” statement. Violent offenders should be kept in prison until they need someone else to feed them due to arthritis. Non-violents should have all rights restored after release.

    • If you support violent offenders having legal access to firearms, than you’ve completely lost me. Why would we not even attempt to restrict the unalienable rights of a felon who has flagrantly violated the rights of someone else?

      If a felon is deemed “rehabilitated” and fit to return to society, then they should not be considered a threat to others. If they are still considered a threat to others, then they shouldn’t be released from prison to commit more crimes.

  2. Brain is right here. I never thought that they should be allowed to own guns until recently, but if a felon wanted to be clean after his jail stint, then he’ll be the only felon sans firearms. If a newly freed con wants to pick up where he left off, he’ll find a gun quickly.

    • This. I cannot understand people who scream about felons owning firearms, and in the same breath complain about the high incarceration rate in the US. Make a choice, people. Keep ’em locked up until they’re no longer a danger to society and restore their civil rights, or release them because their term is up and continue the current sad state of affairs.

      • Yeah, I agree that if a convicted felon “pays his/her debt to Society” and wants to go straight after release, they should have their Rights restored FULLY.
        Those who want to continue to be criminals, will do so and obtain a gun (as we see frequently in the News Media), commit more crimes and (hopefully) be caught and imprisoned again (and again ad nauseam).

      • The two are related, but not so directly. The masses overpopulating prisons are mostly nonviolent drug possession stints, while the violent ones keep getting out on various ridiculous things like overcrowding and second through twelfth chance agreements giving them parole for no reason. Violent people getting out too often is a problem, but it is part of the same problem as overcrowding, the political class just desperately want more violent criminals protected and free on the streets and as many non-violent offenders as possible kept in jail.

    • If you can’t be trusted with a gun you shouldn’t be released.

      Agreed. But unless we can keep all violent but non-lethal offenders in prison forever, they’re going to be released.

      I don’t trust them. Anyone in their right mind would be disturbed if they determined that their next door neighbor had done ten years for beating the piss out of somebody in an alley. That’s the last guy I want with a gun.

      • “But unless we can keep all violent but non-lethal offenders in prison forever…”
        And? Why would that be a problem? Cost is the only logical argument I can think of.

        Ralph, I think you may be basing your mistrust on fear (emotion), rather than logic.

        • And? Why would that be a problem? Cost is the only logical argument I can think of.

          Or we could execute the ones too violent to be rehabilitated. Before anyone whines about cost of lethal injection, it’s actually rather painful and it’s far cheaper (and painless) to put a 9mm hollowpoint through their head and pay a janitor to mop up the floor.

  3. I would like to officially endorse renaming “Logical Reasoning” to “Kraftian Reasoning”. Very good job sir. My hat is off to you yet again.

    My Farago,
    I do hope you are forwarding Mr Kraft’s fine works on to the “good people” at NYT and other such establishments. A rebuttal from a NYT Editor or the such would be most pleasant to read.

  4. Excellent job, Bruce – hats off to you for the analysis. I particularly liked your last point:

    “If they get you asking the wrong question, then the answer does not matter. The question isn’t whether weapons should be permitted, the question should be: “What right do you have to limit my freedoms because you are afraid?”

    This kind of “wrong question” trick is typical of the anti- self-defense crowd. They use it to try to get people to argue about minor nuances, while assuming that we have to accept their initial premise. ALWAYS argue the premise – don’t give that to them.

  5. That video outlining the AWB is rife with factual inaccuracies and name calling… wouldn’t the Wikipedia article on the matter be better?

  6. I would like to see the victimless crime laws and incarceration go bye bye.
    I have no problem with non-violent offenders having a firearm.

  7. Somebody had mentioned once that 2/3 of felons re-offend. And I am not talking about just missing a few showers either. It was a different post but I will say half do, just to be safe. Everything else I agree with. I even believe if it
    is a non violent crime but happens to be a felony, and you have been on clean behavior for a few years then by all means. I guess the idea is that if you keep your nose clean and a are a law abiding citizen then at some point you as a person need a second chance, which includes gun ownership.

    I love the last part:
    “That’s an idea that needs more play at the playground. Alternatively, maybe it’s time for the NRA’s Eddy the Eagle a costumed pal for high school age children. Malachi (or Melissa) the Minuteman could discuss the gun rights that made this country great. Just a thought.”

    This would be awesome! I mean first and foremost gun safety. Don’t point a gun at your brothers or sisters it is not a toy or a game etc. I think if kids in the US were to grow up with firearms safely in their lives, and understand that they are not toys then I think we would see a drop in gun related crimes after those kids grew up. And that is without doing a single thing else.

    Ok now for gun control:
    I am frustrated, I mean seriously pissed off disheartened and frustrated.
    Diane Feinstein, DEM CA, I guess feels that other states who issue concealed carry can’t be trusted by California.
    Here is the local news announcement: *I hope this posts
    I am just blown away, this is what we need, actually we need SCOTUS to simply invalidate all local and state laws straight up, that will give us something to work with.
    Do I feel constitutional carry, no gun control, no E-Trace will exist. Probably not, but if we can at least get the crazy idiotic laws off the books and make everything sent down from the federal level then we have one place to go to. Gun friendly states will have input to shape any legislation. It isn’t perfect, and yes we can debate till we are blue in the face that the constitution can not simply be infringed upon by congress, but the states and cities are doing this and more with impunity. why???? We need SCOTUS to grow a pair of balls and tell the states you can not treat our citizens differently just because one lives in Arizona and the other in California. Really that is what it comes down to.

    Also does anyone have any numbers on how many mass shootings, i.e. 3 or 4 people injured or killed are done in gun free zones? I think it is a number no one looks at.

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