The debate on the merits of gun control has reared its head again post-Sandy Hook. On the left we have the shrill argument that we can’t not doing anything. In fact, if you believe everything that that mainstream media says, any type of movement toward gun control would be preferable to not doing anything, regardless of the absence of credible research supporting the proposed controls and, in some cases, incontrovertible evidence that similar measures have failed elsewhere.
In order to dig into this subject further I stumbled upon a Factcheck.org piece on “Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts”. Now, Factcheck.org isn’t usually my first stop since I think there’s evidence of a left leaning bent in their assessment of “truth” and “fact.” But, so that I would know what the “enemy” is up to I reviewed the piece and found their assessment a bit compelling. The gist of the article is that the evidence the gun control lobby uses to discredit the gun rights lobby is fatally flawed. But, before you get on your high horse and declare, “I told you so,” they also point out that academia hasn’t substantiated the claim that more guns (concealed carry laws) result in less crime. The studies the far lack what the call causality. It’s not that researchers haven’t tried to prove one position or another, but that the process of data collection is currently flawed. So, recognizing that I’m as vulnerable to confirmation bias, that is, a bias towards finding more evidence to support my position than that which opposes it, I’m going to take a leap of faith and accept Factcheck.org’s premise in the referenced article. Now, before you crucify me for compromising my conservative principals and even considering that our side may lack the evidence to firmly and irrefutably defend our position of opposition to gun control, hear me out on my hypothesis. And that is that the societal cost of implementing Obama’s and New Yorks’ gun control agendas may far exceed the perceived gains. As I think you’ll agree, lacking evidence that gun control works, the pro gun lobby remains firmly in the right on the basis that our 2nd amendment rights “shall not be infringed.”
So, let me draw what I think are a couple of relevant analogies. First, not unlike the gun control debate, global warming theory also has its advocates and skeptics. Advocates of being proactive to address man made causes of global warming would maintain that no cost is too high to end this alleged scourge to our environment. For example, the Kyoto protocol, if approved by the US Senate would cost taxpayers (at least as of 2005) about $150 billion annually for the eventual goal of reducing the global temperature by a whopping .07 degrees F. But, the supporters of the treaty claim, the costs of not doing anything would be far higher!!! What if we didn’t do anything and global temperatures went up. The environmentalists would cry, “told ‘ya so,” while ignoring the very real possibility that global temps went up because of the cyclical nature of climate, not because of man made greenhouse gases. But, what if the radical environmentalists were wrong. All that money spent, negatively impacting the US economy and, even under the best case scenario, no meaningful benefit to the US nor the globe. The reality is that science can’t yet confirm or discredit mankind’s action or inaction in their efforts to affect the weather. If that’s the case, how does one justify spending billions and billions of dollars with no way to prove the benefits of that spending?
Another similar parallel are the TARP and stimulus programs implemented in 2009 to save us from economic Armageddon. The Bush and Obama administrations claimed that it would be disastrous to not do anything and that, by bailing out the banks and stimulating the economy, the negative impacts would be mitigated and prevent us from going into a depression. But they knew there was no way to prove or disprove their claims with only their flawed Keynesian models to back into. Obama made claims of impact to unemployment with and without the stimulus. The actual current numbers are far worse than their predictions post-stimulus, but that doesn’t prevent them from claiming it would have been worse without the stimulus. But, again, there is no empirical data to prove that either way. What we can prove without debate is that our national debt has increased by 60% since the bailouts and stimulus were passed and we’re in far worse economic shape now than then because of the debt and increased spending.
Now, stay with me, I’m getting to the parallel argument for gun control by those who feel that no cost could be too high for gun control even if it “saves just one life.” Unlike the global warming debacle, TARP and the stimulus programs which would have a direct economic cost in dollars, the gun control agenda cost could be far more than the worst case cost of those other bad ideas enumerated above. And that cost would be the erosion of our constitutional rights under the 2nd amendment and, perhaps the erosion of other rights as a result of a tyrannical government that would rule by executive order rather than congressionally passed legislation, for example. History has not been kind to citizens of other countries who have been denied the right to bear arms. Countries like China, North Korea, Turkey, Uganda, Russia and the former Soviet Union states, and under fascist Germany. In each of these countries dissenters are/were routinely incarcerated, tortured and/or executed. Freedom of speech is also a foreign concept in those same countries. “But that will never happen here,” they say. “We don’t want to take all guns, just those that aren’t necessary for hunting or self-defense,” they opine. “We just want to protect the children and innocent citizens that could be killed by a rampaging lunatic with an assault weapon,” they’ll add. “Why does anybody need a “clip” with 10 shots, or 30 shots, or 100 shots,” whatever number of shots they find dangerous?
In spite of what history has shown, and the fact that the direction our country is heading closely parallels the incremental confiscation of, or restricted access to, weapons deemed unnecessary to the citizenry, the gun control advocates will insist it’s necessary to prevent another Sandy Hook, or another theater massacre or another Columbine. And all this with no way whatsoever to prove that their actions to limit 2nd amendment rights will have been successful because, you see, criminals don’t obey laws. That’s why we have crimes. Someone with a mental illness will be missed and will conspire to acquire a semi-automatic “assault” weapon not lethal enough to hunt deer and use it on innocent children. Or if they can’t get an “assault” weapon, they’ll just get two handguns with 15 shots each and bring a couple of extra clips. Or, in NY they’ll bring two handguns with ten, seven shot magazines that, with a little practice can be switched out in 1 1/2 seconds each, launching 70 shots inside of their first minute at the crime scene. Or, they’ll bring a shotgun with the barrel shortened to spread it’s lethality in a shorter distance, even though sawed off shotguns are illegal. The reality is that, no matter how widespread the gun control agenda is implemented, up to an including confiscation of all legally owned weapons, there will continue to be gun crimes committed, and some will be far worse than others.
Tell me, how do you prove that any gun control measures saved specific lives? Barring the ability to predict future crimes like in the movie “Minority Report”, you simply can’t. How do you advocate, in good conscience, that gun control works when cities like Chicago, who has the most stringent of gun control laws, sees over 500 of their citizens killed annually? How do you justify law enforcement in NY airports confiscating weapons from checked luggage of passengers who are merely passing through the airport to destinations outside of NY as a means of preventing crime? Truth be told, you can’t.
Perhaps the gun control advocates will sleep better having done something that can’t ever be proven to limit gun crimes. But the people that will lose sleep will be those of us who fear that someday, that knock on the door in the middle of the night will be local law enforcement or Federal agents there to accuse you of being mentally unfit to own a weapon or, or that a neighbor feels threatened because you own a gun or, having checked their records, finding that you own the most recently banned weapon, and asking you to turn it in for the protection of “the children.” Or, God forbid, you’ve been outed for selling raw milk and the Feds will show up on your farm with their SWAT team, treat you like a drug dealer because you’re now perceived as a threat to society (that one actually happened in PA). That is what a tyrannical government does and that’s why our Founding Fathers acknowledge our God given right to bear arms and limited the government’s ability to infringe upon that right.
Remember, you can’t put a price on liberty any more than you can put a price on a single life.