All political designs have supporters who will back them for different reasons. This can be best imagined as a conflict between idealism and Machiavellianism used in a loose context. Former of the two, the idealist relies on what he really believes is right. Politics for him is not about attaining power and influence. It is only about affecting the change that he sees as necessary to promote morality, maximize utility or suit an end similar to these. Is he always correct in his assertions? Certainly not. Who can in good faith say that he has not a hint of hypocrisy or fallacy in his views? The idealist is the true believer, the one who seeks change because it is right, not because it is profitable. The Machiavellian (here defined loosely as unscrupulous and scheming in nature) is the antithesis to the idealist. He feeds parasitically off of the energy and goodwill of the idealist. The idealist is the tool of the Machiavellian to pose like a puppet. He will control the masses by means of oversimplified arguments and half-truths mixed with fiery rhetoric. Machiavellians are demagogues if they are to be called by any other name. They spout cooked statistics, misleading testimony and lie by the omission of important facts. When the Machiavellian does this, the conclusions reached become absurd.
Gun control is no different than any other issue. On this question there are Machiavellians and idealists. Some seeking greater restrictions of firearm ownership are genuine and some are not. Most of the garden variety supporters are authentic and perhaps even some of the leaders of the movement are too. Perhaps is the key word though. The rhetoric of the gun control crowd has become so twisted and the statistics so manipulated that it is hard to believe that they buy what they are selling. A few of examples of their blatant untruths are below to show the absurdity of the leftist claims and support the notion that the main gun grabbers can’t buy what they’re selling.
Myth #1: Guns aren’t often used for self defense
A series of studies have arrived at very different conclusions. Criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz studied this and estimated that every year there were 2,200,000-2,500,000 defensive gun uses by civilians. This number may seem shocking to some but other studies have reached similar conclusions. A few years later, the National Institute of Justice published a wide-ranging study on guns in America including their defensive uses. While lower than the Kleck and Gertz study, it is still massive coming in at 1,500,000. The authors commented on the other study here cited saying that the National Institute of Justice’s findings were “directly comparable” and that “it is statistically plausible that the difference is due to sampling error.” The Kleck and Gertz study is often maligned by the left for a number of reasons. One of them is that it was compiled in the mid-1990s when crime was significantly higher. The other study cited is a few years newer, but still Clinton era. Crime was significantly higher back then and since crime has fallen it makes sense for defensive gun uses to fall too. That criticism is fair but Kleck still militantly defends his findings. Even outlier studies like a 1993-2011 study cited by the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) show that annually there are around 67,000 defensive gun uses in America. Any serious gun grabber must answer the question of what he expects all these tens or hundreds of thousands or even millions to do without guns to defend themselves.
Myth #2: Guns are one of the biggest dangers to kids
Statistically speaking, that statement is simply untrue. Other much more mundane things are responsible for more child deaths than guns. Economist Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner wrote on this subject in their book Freakonomics,
“In a given year there is 1 drowning of a child per 11,000 residential pools in the United States. (In a country with 6,000,000 residential pools this means that roughly 550 children under the age of 10 drown each year). Meanwhile, there is 1 child killed for every million plus guns. (In a country with an estimated 200 million guns this means that roughly 170 children die each year from guns).The likelihood of death by pool (1/11,000) versus death by gun (1/1 million plus) isn’t even close.” [Freakonomics page 150]
Perhaps it is not common sense gun control that is needed but rather common sense pool control.
Myth #3: Waiting periods for buying guns prevent rash crimes
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) traced the time between acquisition of a firearm and its use in a crime when they are recovered in the United States and its territories. The ATF’s term for the duration between the acquisition of the weapon and its unlawful use which is oddly not some piece of legal newspeak is, time-to-crime. Every year, this figure is made available. As of 2016, the national average time-to-crime was 9.79 years. The lowest state or territory average was 7.39 years in Missouri and though it was a bit of an outlier, the highest was Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands at 20.97 years. Excluding Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, the next highest was Hawaii coming in at 14.94 years. Nothing more needs to be said. The argument for waiting periods is exploded by just looking at the numbers.
These 3 leftist lies about guns are fairly representative of the entire body of rhetoric utilized by the gun grabber crowd. Other lies and half-truths about guns and mass shootings were cut down in an article published yesterday and more will be debunked in coming articles. It is easy with a handful of statistics or examples to refute most of the claims and demands of the left on the matter of gun control. It all begs the question, if gun control is so absurd then why are so many swindled by it and how can the conservative and libertarian movement undo its support?
Gun control’s popular support can be summed up as resulting from misinformation, leftism as an ideology and misguided idealism. Misinformation can and must be answered with abundant statistics and well developed logic. This can be achieved by further educating the conservative and libertarian movement as a whole so the arguments against greater gun control can proliferate organically. Leftism as an ideology is rooted in control – control by the state over as much of the lives of the people as possible. The Second Amendment is perhaps the greatest expression of freedom outlined in America’s founding documents. It is a final check on government making literal the Lockean principle of the ability of the people to displace and replace a government destructive to the ends of the preservation of freedom and property. Leftism conflicts fundamentally with this principle and to this end, those subscribing to said ideology will forever be hostile to the idea of an armed citizenry. For the converse reason, all those subscribing to the ideals of Locke and the American Revolution must forever be aligned with the idea of an armed citizenry. Finally, the misguided idealism is the desire to “do something” in response to a problem. For the gun control advocates, for both foot soldiers and leaders alike, the supposed need to “do something” is absolute. Idealism becomes absolute (and thus dangerous) when the zeal to “do something” eclipses objective morality, the immutable laws of economics or the founding principles of classical liberalism. Such is what separates the leftist from the conservative and libertarian. When conservatives and libertarians “do something,” they do not allow their zeal to subvert morality, economics or classical liberalism. So often, this is not the case with the left, which makes their idealism misguided at best and downright dangerous at worst. Beyond that, gun control is a textbook case of doing something that “feels good,” but governing on that principle will never produce the sought results. Rather, good governance in the arena of “doing something” must rely on the utilitarian principle of “doing good.” What “feels good” and what “does good” are two entirely different things. It may “feel good” for the leftists to take away the guns and enact sweeping bans, but it won’t “do good.” If there is no utility in enacting the designs of the left on gun control, and freedom is to be curtailed in its enactment, what sane society would accede to that?
Photo credit: “Gun confiscation next move in Washington state” via Law Officer: Training, tactics, technology
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