Articles, Blog

Why we disagree on guns


Every gun-related massacre brings out the
most predictable and primitive reactions to what is and should be a very nuanced policy
discussion. In one outrageously boisterous corner you have the hysterical elements of
the left demanding the immediate implementation of gun regulation that would, by every metric,
fail to prevent each and every tragedy that has provoked their indignation.
In the other corner, you have a reflexively partisan conglomerate of gun-rights’ aficionados
who clutch their rifles, thinking the more they repeat slogans like “molon labe”
and “from muh cold dead hands” the stronger they make their case. In fact, it does the
opposite. At its core, the gun control debate is a matter
of culture — this is why it represents the flashpoint for so much political debate.
This culture gap can only be narrowed through a sincere investigation of the facts — and
the facts happen to align all on one side. First and foremost, the policy prescriptions
that progressives adamantly insist upon would have done absolutely nothing to prevent the
most recent tragedy in Texas nor any other. As is the case with many of the left’s empathetically
driven policies, they amount to knee jerk reactions to issues that necessitate a bit
more thought than “ban them!” To the disbelief of many casual news consumers,
Senator Rubio explained that no measure yet proposed would have stopped any of these tragedies.
The natural response would be to scoff and perhaps point to a shadowy NRA mega-donor
ventriloquist pulling the strings of their Senator Puppet. How could it be that not one
of the recent massacres could be prevented by government regulation?
The Washington Post then confirmed that reality did in fact align with Rubio’s statements.
Not a single mass shooting would have been prevented by the commonly cited regulations
of “closing gun loopholes” or banning “high-capacity magazines.”
What’s important to understand is that 2/3rds of gun deaths are by suicide, but they’re
lumped in with homicide to sensationalize the matter. Instead of making that important
distinction, they use the catch-all phrase of “gun deaths” to misleadingly make a
case for vaguely-defined “gun control” measures. Even while the same measures they
propose are already the law in California, which is where three of the last five mass
shootings took place. Unless, of course, we banned so-called assault rifles at the federal
level. This brings in to question what, exactly would we do with the 5 million rifles already
in circulation. Although progressives would like to think
a buyback program would look like Australia’s, it simply wouldn’t. The United States is
a country in which there are more guns than there are people, with a history and tradition
steeped in skepticism of government and the rightful enshrinement of arms as a bulwark
against such a pernicious force. Not to mention mass shootings “were too rare in Australia
for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both
Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related
crimes or deaths.” “Nobody should be allowed to have weapons
of war,” is repeated ad nauseum. And yet, the overwhelming majority of gun-deaths aren’t
in the extraordinarily rare vain of a mass-shooting by assault rifle. They are by the humble Glock,
used primarily by and against young, gang-affiliated men.
When considering the facts of the matter, you begin to understand that guns aren’t
the problem, but rather the culture of criminality afflicting certain communities — the
reasons for which are no doubt nested in a larger debate about the War on Drugs, culture,
etc. But if the so-called epidemic is almost entirely centered around suicides and hand-guns,
why is it that the AR-15 is always getting the brunt of the blame?
The reasons are primarily cultural, as the NRA understands. But instead of bridging the
divide and shedding light on progressive ignorance, it inflames. It should be said on the outset
that the NRA has done excellent work in the defense of the 2nd Am., but in fashioning
itself as a cultural extension of Trump or the Republican Party, it does itself and the
2nd Am. a disservice. Yes, the vast majority of those positively predisposed to guns lean
right. This is largely due to the aforementioned cultural reasons — for a person in Texas
it isn’t particularly uncommon to see someone carrying a handgun on their waist, whereas
the exact same sight in somewhere like California would ignite panic. But these cultural phenomenons
are irrelevant to the facs and if metropolitan politicos were presented with such facts,
they might be able to push through their culturally ingrained discomfort and understand the truth
of the matter. But when NRATV fires off something titled
“We’re Coming For You New York Times” it reinforces the precise kind of negative
stereotypes that amp up metropolitan gun hysteria. It’s obviously silly to take these videos
as anything more than cringe-inducing, childish attempts at pandering to the lowest-common
denominator of Republicans, but it didn’t take long for Democrats to do this. It opened
the door for political opportunists to offer a counter-reaction with such absurdly dangerous
propositions like New York Congressman Kathleen Rice’s; that we ought to label the NRA a
terrorist organization. It harkens back to a time where top Democrats
like then-Vice President Joe Biden likened those in the Tea Party to terrorists. In this
instance, they were referring to their hardline stance on spending, but it has been a recurring
theme by many on the left to paint the right as a radical fringe who are just one gay marriage
away from blowing up City Hall. A case study in just how culturally-driven
this debate is would be the progressive argument that we shouldn’t base our immigration policy
on the statistically insignificant occurrences of radical Islamic terror in the US. Meanwhile,
they don’t extend the same logic to gun rights, even while the probability of your
dying in a mass shooting is just as unlikely as if you were to be killed by a terrorist.
Statistics only seem to matter when it suits your narrative
in contemporary politics. When the facts are so evidently aligned with
the NRA’s position, is it wise to play to fears rather than to reverse them? Now more
than ever is a well-reasoned, substantive case for gun rights necessary — and
this can only be done by turning the most silly and fear-driven ignorance of guns on
its head. This is the wiser and more effective path than embodying the caricatures drawn
up by metropolitan progressives. Any policy interventions that have any hope
of solving gun violence in America require a sober, specific approach directed, not towards
gun themselves, but the afflicted behind them. Anything short of that is likely a fear mongering
play at characterizing political opposition as soulless monsters who trade lives for blood
money. In the end, we live in one of the most tranquil
times in history. Though gun ownership has skyrocketed by 50%, violent crime, including
gun-crime, continues to take a nosedive. It’s easy to capitalize on isolated incidents of
tragedy for political gain, but crafting actual solutions takes a lot more thought.

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