Briefly, recall what I said about the data from Virginia in which we learned that gun sales had soared, while crime had dropped.
Second amendment advocates aren’t making the case, generally speaking, that increased gun sales equals decreased crime. As an anecdotal note, my own home might be safer with weapons, but that’s a different conversation. The case that must be made belongs to the gun control advocates, not us. They must make the case that the increased availability of weapons causes an increase of crime. Otherwise, what’s all this silly argumentation about the “scourge of guns” across our inner cities, and the “rivers of blood” caused by the “easy availability of illegal firearms,” and so on ad nauseam? Their national conversation with us makes no sense whatsoever if they cannot trot out the data to make it meaningful.
In fact, they cannot. It is the lack of this data that is remarkable. The gun control advocates and their ideas fail at every point, and this is the reason behind Chicago being the crime capital of the U.S. in spite of the stringent gun control. Crime is a moral decision, value judgment and social and cultural phenomenon. It isn’t related to the existence of guns, and if guns weren’t available, they will use hammers. Gun control laws cannot raise children to believe in values.
I don’t have to demonstrate that the exercise of my constitutional rights doesn’t affect anyone else in order to legitimize such exercise (think here the first amendment as a case study). Nor do I have to demonstrate that the public good – whatever that is (it sounds too utilitarian for my tastes) – is served by said right in order to justify its existence. But what does indeed have to happen is in order for the national conversation the gun control advocates want to have to make any sense whatsoever, they must demonstrate that there is data to justify their claims.
This is important to recall as we examine a recent article by Jeffrey Goldberg entitled The Case For More Guns (And More Gun Control). Jeffrey makes a few errors of fact, such as the claim that the Colorado shooter was wearing body armor. He wasn’t. He was wearing a tactical vest, and that vest had neither soft armor nor hard plates. Not, of course, that it is a problem to have body armor if someone wants to have it and can afford it, but it is an error of fact anyway. There are other slight or moderate problems like this throughout the piece. The Brady Campaign wants to come off as oh-so-sensible in their admission that we do actually have constitutional rights to own and bear arms, but in fact as anyone who has followed their activities can attest, this is disingenuous. One remarkable element in Goldberg’s interviews is the tacet (if unintentional) admission by progressives and behaviorists as to the existence of evil, and the possibility that a gun wielding concealed carrier will just blow his top and begin shooting when he gets into a heated argument. Not good form, unforgivable, and the society of humanists might just have to evict them for this outrage.
But on the whole the article is very interesting if for no other reason than Goldberg finds gems here and there and discusses this issue with enough people (including gun control advocates) that one gets a good sense of their arguments. For me, the money quote is this:
In 2004, the Ohio legislature passed a law allowing private citizens to apply for permits to carry firearms outside the home. The decision to allow concealed carry was, of course, a controversial one. Law-enforcement organizations, among others, argued that an armed population would create chaos in the streets. In 2003, John Gilchrist, the legislative counsel for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, testified, “If 200,000 to 300,000 citizens begin carrying a concealed weapon, common sense tells us that accidents will become a daily event.”
When I called Gilchrist recently, he told me that events since the state’s concealed-carry law took effect have proved his point. “Talking to the chiefs, I know that there is more gun violence and accidents involving guns,” he said. “I think there’s more gun violence now because there are more guns. People are using guns in the heat of arguments, and there wouldn’t be as much gun violence if we didn’t have people carrying weapons. If you’ve got people walking around in a bad mood—or in a divorce, they’ve lost their job—and they get into a confrontation, this could result in the use of a gun. If you talk to emergency-room physicians in the state, [they] see more and more people with gunshot wounds.”
Gilchrist said he did not know the exact statistics on gun-related incidents (or on incidents concerning concealed-carry permit holders specifically, because the state keeps the names of permit holders confidential). He says, however, that he tracks gun usage anecdotally. “You can look in the newspaper. I consciously look for stories that deal with guns. There are more and more articles in The Columbus Dispatch about people using guns inappropriately.”
Ooooh. Sounds ominous, no? Sounds as if Goldberg has landed on someone who has authority and backbone to go after the evil gun lobby and the data to back it all up. But wait. This little issue of tracking “gun usage anecdotally” seems like it might be a bit problematic. Goldberg has the scoop.
Gilchrist’s argument would be convincing but for one thing: the firearm crime rate in Ohio remained steady after the concealed-carry law passed in 2004.
Well there you have it. The gun control lobby’s case remains stillborn, and thus their national conversation with us remains self referential and nonsensical. It is a myth, a phantom, and they believe their case in spite of – not because of – the facts. Since there is no real case, they turn to this wonderfully emotional appeal at the end of the article.
“In a fundamental way, isn’t this a question about the kind of society we want to live in?” Do we want to live in one “in which the answer to violence is more violence, where the answer to guns is more guns?”
Note the construction of the phrases to achieve maximum effect. I have a different way of expressing the same question. In a fundamental way, isn’t this question about what kind of society we want to live in? Do we want to live in a society in which we are able to defend ourselves against the designs of criminals and those who would wish us harm, or do we want to be defenseless against their acts?
I know what kind of society I want. I don’t think it’s the same one as the gun control lobby.