11 months, 1 week ago
I wouldn’t otherwise link claptrap like this, but since it’s with the Washington Post it gets a nontrivial amount of traffic. It’s important to deal with it.
Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee all appear set to mount a filibuster to prevent any Obama gun control proposal of any kind from being debated on the Senate floor — on Second Amendment grounds. Senator Paul went on Fox News last night to explain his thinking.
In the process, however, Paul inadvertently made an important concession. Here’s what he said:
“I haven’t heard one proposal from him or Harry Reid that would have saved one life. And I’m all for saving lives….We plan on making them have at least 60 votes to pass any legislation that may abridge the Second Amendment. So we will fight tooth and nail, and use every parliamentary procedure to stop that from happening. We have a lot of things on the books that the president says he wants to enhance, many of these could be enhanced without any legislation. Background checks already do work. We already have rules that say mental health statistics need to come from the states to the data bank.”
I’d advise Senator Paul against claiming improving background checks would not save lives or prevent mass shootings. A better background check system very well may have prevented the Virginia Tech massacre. Data collected by the pro-gun-control Mayors Against Illegal Guns suggests that states with better background check laws show a lower murder rate of women, fewer suicides, and less gun trafficking. Now, maybe you don’t trust MAIG’s data. Shouldn’t the possibility that expanding gun background checks could save lives — which Paul himself says he wants — be enough for him to actually give the idea serious thought?
It’s also important that Paul claimed that current background checks “already do work.” Here’s why: He’s effectively allowing that the current background check law is not a threat to people’s Second Amendment rights. The current compromise on expanded background checks being negotiated would simply expand the current system to cover most private sales. It would maintain the prohibition against any national gun registry. It would maintain the current system of record keeping — in which dealers keep records of sales, and the feds destroy any record of a valid gun transfer within 24 hours. By Paul’s own lights those things, in the context of the current law, are not a threat to Americans’ constitutional rights. There is no logical way, then, that the new proposal threatens them, either. This is an important concession.
Keep that in mind as you read Senator Lee’s deeply strange and hallucinatory argument against the proposal. Lee claims it would require a national registry to work (it wouldn’t) …
Let’s deal with this is four categories. First, Senator Lee’s argument is only deeply strange to the author because he hasn’t taken the time to study people who are smarter than he is if he lives a thousand lifetimes. Dave Hardy has an article Mr. Sargent needs to read.
Second, Mr. Sargent does in fact point to a larger problem with the opposition that Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are mounting to gun legislation. It troubles me that they are discussing “improved” background checks as a cure for anything, much less crime. We have made it clear from the outset. No new gun laws. Not a single one, and it’s high time for the Senators to hear the message.
Third, I agree with Mr. Sargent in his demurral over “improved background checks.” He doesn’t believe it will save lives or prevent shootings for the same reason that I don’t believe it. It won’t, and the mental health professionals have told us so in the clearest possible terms.
But fourth and most important, while planning his logical coup against Rand Paul, Mr. Sargent has opened a logical hole in his own arguments and divulged the secrets of the gun control lobby.
While pointing out that “improved background checks” won’t have the desired effect on crime, he has informed you of his presuppositions. Criminals don’t uniquely and solely suffer from mental health problems.
Crime is a moral choice, and there is no justified reason to claim that while “improved background checks” won’t help the situation, universal background checks will. To assert that would require Sargent to believe the following: (a) no crimes are committed by people who suffer from mental maladies (since mental health checks won’t accomplish their desired end), or otherwise (a1) those who suffer from mental maladies obtained their firearms illegally, and (b) all criminals obtain their firearms legally.
Proposition (a) is demonstrably false, and acquiescing to (a1) would undermine his acceptance of proposition (b). Proposition (b) also entails the acceptance of the notion that only previously convicted felons will commit felonies in the future, also a demonstrably false proposition.
Mr. Sargent has a world of logical problems, but it’s because he knows that this isn’t about crime. Other statists have told us what a national gun registry is all about and how important it is for their world view.
The only way we can truly be safe and prevent further gun violence is to ban civilian ownership of all guns. That means everything. No pistols, no revolvers, no semiautomatic or automatic rifles. No bolt action. No breaking actions or falling blocks. Nothing. This is the only thing that we can possibly do to keep our children safe from both mass murder and common street violence.
Unfortunately, right now we can’t. The political will is there, but the institutions are not. Honestly, this is a good thing. If we passed a law tomorrow banning all firearms, we would have massive noncompliance. What we need to do is establish the regulatory and informational institutions first. This is how we do it. The very first thing we need is national registry. We need to know where the guns are, and who has them.
I have told you not to trust the Leviathan, and I have explained why. Fortunately, while Mr. Sargent finds the weakness in Rand Paul’s argument, he divulges the secret weaknesses of his own. Again, this isn’t about crime – it’s about a national gun registry. There are only two reasons for a national gun registry: taxation and confiscation. Both would be unconstitutional and immoral.