The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is dedicated to . . .wait for it . . . preventing gun violence. To that end, the gun control group beats the drum for “common sense” gun regulations: rules [supposedly] designed to prevent criminal access to firearms. Like most of the regulations the Brady Campaign champions, it seems like a reasonable stance. Who wants criminals to have guns? Like most of the regulations that the Brady Campaign champions, things are not exactly what they seem . . .
The Brady Campaign doesn’t only want to stop criminals from tooling-up. They also want to limit law-abiding civilians’ access to firearms—to the point of a de facto ban. Many of you already know that. But it’s important to make this clear, as the organization doesn’t. Except when it does. To wit:
The Brady Campaign blog proclaims “Too Many Accidents with Guns.” The post links to four negligent discharges: two Montana teenagers who died in hunting-related incidents, an eight-year-old Phoenix boy who shot a four-year-old, and a New Mexican man who shot his son and mother. Tragic lapses to be sure, but what do any of them have to do with gun violence?
Of course, you can widen the definition of gun violence to include negligent discharges. Any time a bullet enters a human body, it’s a violent act. But it’s not an “act of violence”—not as most people commonly define the term. I repeat: the tragedies above were not intentional acts of violence. The shooters were not criminals. And it’s not The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Death.
I’m not splitting hairs. By highlighting these stories, the Brady Campaign affirms its stated desire to reduce negligent discharges by banning certain types of guns (see: Massachusetts and California’s approved firearms list), toughening-up background checks (perhaps including psychological exams) and enacting safe storage laws (stored guns must be rendered inoperable).
More generally, the Brady Campaign wants to create or extend gun control regulations that would restrict guns to “competent” owners. They see any and all safety-oriented laws as reasonable requirements that would engender responsible firearms ownership and limit criminal use.
Gun rights groups see them as an unnecessary infringement of the Second Amendment, leading to an outright ban. They point out that none of these safety measures target criminal use of firearms. They consider the Brady Campaign’s campaign for “common sense” regs as nothing more than a back door ploy to limit the number of gun owners. [see: Chicago’s post-McDonald decision package of gun laws.]
Yes, there’s overlap between attempting to limit negligent discharges and reducing gun crime. In theory, safe storage laws could help reduce the number of stolen guns entering the black market. The more important overlap: gun rights groups and gun control advocates’ common desire to reduce criminal access to guns and gun crime in general.
There’s only one thing standing in the way of the Brady Campaign joining hands with OMG the NRA and entering the political mainstream: the Campaign’s thinly disguised desire to disarm law-abiding Americans. They may deny it, but their words and deeds betray them.
I have a challenge to the President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence [Paul Helmke, as above]. If you and your organization aren’t against gun ownership per se, buy a gun. In fact, carry a gun. You’d lose support amongst the die-hard gun grabbers. But the support you’d gain amongst middle America would empower your group, attract new followers and return the organization to its roots.
Until then, those of us who value our Second Amendment rights will continue regard the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence as the opposition, even though we share its stated goal.