TTAG email addy’s been pinging like a babe-detecting radar outside of Alisa Basyuk’s house. Our Armed Intelligentsia report that Jeffrey Goldberg‘s Atlantic magazine story The Case for More Guns and More Gun Control is a fair and balanced look at America’s firearms debate. Initial indications aren’t good . . .
Guns are responsible for roughly 30,000 deaths a year in America; more than half of those deaths are suicides . . .
Other [gun control] measures could be taken as well. Drum-style magazines like the kind James Holmes had that night in Aurora, which can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition and which make continuous firing easy, have no reasonable civilian purpose, and their sale could be restricted without violating the Second Amendment rights of individual gun owners.”
And then . . .
“But these gun-control efforts, while noble, would only have a modest impact on the rate of gun violence in America. Why?
Because it’s too late . . .
There are an estimated 280 million to 300 million guns in private hands in America—many legally owned, many not. Each year, more than 4 million new guns enter the market. This level of gun saturation has occurred not because the anti-gun lobby has been consistently outflanked by its adversaries in the National Rifle Association, though it has been. The NRA is quite obviously a powerful organization, but like many effective pressure groups, it is powerful in good part because so many Americans are predisposed to agree with its basic message.
America’s level of gun ownership means that even if the Supreme Court—which ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment gives citizens the individual right to own firearms, as gun advocates have long insisted—suddenly reversed itself and ruled that the individual ownership of handguns was illegal, there would be no practical way for a democratic country to locate and seize those guns.
There’s your common sense gun control. Or lack thereof. As we’ve said here many times, culture eats strategy for lunch. Although America’s gun culture doesn’t extend to democratically controlled urban enclaves, it’s alive and well and living just about everywhere else.
From there Goldberg is off and running, giving serious consideration to the idea that arming more Americans might be a good idea. To wit: “. . . if someone is shooting at you, it is generally better to shoot back than to cower and pray.” And providing a host of excellent quotes from gun rights advocates.
Unfortunately, Goldberg’s article fails at the final furlong:
The ideology of gun-ownership absolutism doesn’t appeal to me. Unlike hard-line gun-rights advocates, I do not believe that unregulated gun ownership is a defense against the rise of totalitarianism in America, because I do not think that America is ripe for totalitarianism. (Fear of a tyrannical, gun-seizing president is the reason many gun owners oppose firearms registration.)
In the video above, Goldberg tells his audience that he supports (supported?) Israel because it’s a place where “Jews could defend themselves when they needed to defend themselves.” With what? Stones?
For the writer who understands the need for a Jewish homeland to claim that America is somehow immune to the possibility of totalitarianism or, for that matter, lethal anti-semitism, is naive beyond imagination. And yet there it is.
And here’s Goldberg’s unsolicited advice to gun rights advocates.
A balanced approach to gun control in the United States would require the warring sides to agree on several contentious issues. Conservative gun-rights advocates should acknowledge that if more states had stringent universal background checks—or if a federal law put these in place—more guns would be kept out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally unstable. They should also acknowledge that requiring background checks on buyers at gun shows would not represent a threat to the Constitution. “The NRA position on this is a fiction,” says Dan Gross, the head of the Brady Campaign. “Universal background checks are not an infringement on our Second Amendment rights. This is black-helicopter stuff.” Gross believes that closing the gun-show loophole would be both extremely effective and a politically moderate and achievable goal. The gun lobby must also agree that concealed-carry permits should be granted only to people who pass rigorous criminal checks, as well as thorough training-and-safety courses.
Background checks are to crime prevention what dildos are to birth control. Firearms training and safety courses are feel-good theater for gun shy and anti-gun Americans and an unnecessary—yes I said unnecessary—impediment to a fundamental, Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
Would Goldberg agree to similar limitations to his First Amendment protected right to free speech? Like fellow Atlantic author Adam Winkler’s take on gun control, Goldberg’s “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” message is dangerous disinformation.
But still . . . Goldberg’s piece in The Atlantic represents a new pragmatism towards guns amongst left-leaning intellectuals. Despite Goldberg’s lack of understanding of and respect for the United States Constitution, we’re going to give him props for helping move the needle for the fence-straddling liberals who read his screed.
Can’t wait for Dan Baum’s new book . . .