First and Foremost
Before asking anyone to reorient their stance on guns, I’d like to say, from the outset, that every single life is precious and worth saving. I cannot fully imagine the horror and grief that goes with losing a family member, a loved one, a friend, or even an acquaintance to (gun) violence of any sort. No words of sympathy can help. If it is possible, surely we civilized folk will work to prevent any undue deaths of our fellow human beings, and avoid it ourselves, too.
So, in considering policy on this issue, we must account for the lives lost in events like school shootings as well as the lives saved by people being able to defend themselves. The life of the child whose parent is able to repel a home intruder is as valuable as the life of the child sitting at his school desk. To best serve society our guiding imperative must be to understand fully what we are dealing with, and to make effective choices in solving our societal problems so we can best ensure security for all.
Those who have been killed, and their surviving families deserve the dignity of a contemplative, reasoned response rather than the disservice of a knee-jerk reaction. Any meaningful action demands that we consider and understand the facts at hand, first and foremost, and base any future decisions only on addressing reality instead of political expedience and prior agenda. The only thing that could be worse for the families and friends of those killed is for their suffering to be leveraged for political gain, especially if proposed legislation turns out to be self-serving, disingenuous and ultimately ineffective.
What’s more, this cynical labeling of guns as the catalyst in violence discounts and distracts from those murders not being committed with firearms. No less dead. No less aggrieved. But a parent can take solace in knowing his child was killed with only a kitchen knife, only a baseball bat, or only a soft, down pillow, right? No, that’s not right.
Let’s Look Closely
Some claim there is a gun violence epidemic in the United States of America, and that so-called assault weapons are at the source of this outbreak. And, the idea of imposing further restrictions on lawful gun buyers and gun owners is being heralded as some sort of single-dose inoculation. Facts, however, suggest we’re being sold snake oil.
Actually, the deceptive “assault weapon” moniker is a media construct intended to mislead the public into believing that civilians’ modern sporting rifles are military weapons of war.
Despite local newscasts stoking public fear by regularly leading off their show by zeroing in on “another” shooting death, gun violence is really rather rare. Even as some politicians are trying to cajole the public into drawing a bead on those evil guns, their point of aim misses their ostensible target– public safety. While some people do engage in risky behavior, or live in risky areas– you know, drug dealers, gang bangers, and those living in poverty-stricken worlds where gun violence may indeed be endemic— for most of us the odds of being shot and killed with a firearm are slim indeed.
Statistics show that less than 4 people in 100,000 will be shot and killed by a gun. That’s below four thousandths of one percent (.004%)– a barely discernible measurement even for microscopes and micrometers. Clearly, any notion of “epidemic” gun violence can be dismissed straightaway.
In reality, the viral quality of gun violence is in how it’s being spread by media outlets and political opportunists. What’s underreported, even roundly ignored, is that as gun ownership has climbed to an all time high, violent crime in America has been sliding downhill! Access doesn’t equate to aggression. Not only, the idea that military style weapons pose any clear and present hazard, even considering anomalous mass shootings where an AR-15 may have been among the guns used– as tragic as they have been– is at best misguided. At worst, manipulative.
The 2011 evidence shows– and this is important– that those killed by a long gun of any kind accounts for about 8% of reported firearm murders. And rifles— a category which excludes shotguns and includes but isn’t limited to ARs and such– amounts to less than half of that, at under 4% of gun related deaths. Ironically, the single instance of a sniper attack was committed with a handgun. Of all US murders in 2011, rifles were used in 323 of the 12,664 incidences. That’s about 2.6%, and far less than the 13% of murders using knives, the 4% using blunt objects, and the nearly 6% using bare hands and feet. Together, the up close and personal slash, bash, and beat methods of killing constitutes a full 23% of murders in this country and heavily outweighs any assault weapon threat. This, even as wild-eyed yahoos have been buying up Bushmasters alongside baby formula at Wal-Mart.
I might also point out, whether guns are banned, or not, given the United States population of some 315,000,000 it’s naive to think that violent crime wouldn’t exist, or that now and again some whacko isn’t going to find a way of killing a large number of people. Not only, gun violence remains as part of English and Australian societies despite their severe gun restrictions.
But, some will argue that a recent attempted mass murder in a Chinese school left no one dead (this time) because the assailant had chosen a knife versus a gun, and that stands to reason. I would counter, though, that the same oppressive government in China that makes guns harder to come by is also responsible for mass murders (and other human rights violations) orders of magnitude beyond anything we’ve experienced here in this country. How many American citizens would trade places with their Chinese counterparts?
Like it or not, evidence shows that while gun ownership is prevalent in the United States, guns are far from being some pervasive scourge. In reality, guns serve the public good.
You can’t get around the image of people shooting at people to protect their stores and it working. This is damaging to the [gun control] movement.
—Josh Sugarman, Washington Post, regarding Korean shopkeepers during the L.A. riots.
Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center
It’s Gettin’ Real
The legitimate defensive use of guns in America has been documented. The results corroborate what responsible gun owners have always maintained, that every day guns are used by intended victims to thwart a perpetrator’s actions against them, up to 2.5 million times per year. By any measure the proportion of lives saved by guns eclipses the total number of murders in the United States. In short, evidence supports that guns in the hands of ordinary Americans serve a vital protective role in society. Guns save lives.
I am as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country. If I were Mustapha Mond of Brave New World, I would eliminate all guns from the civilian population and maybe even from the police. I hate guns–ugly, nasty instruments designed to kill people.
What troubles me is the article by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. The reason I am troubled is that they have provided an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator.
Can it be true that about two million instances occur each year in which a gun was used as a defensive measure against crime? It is hard to believe. Yet, it is hard to challenge the data collected. We do not have contrary evidence.
The Kleck and Gertz study impresses me for the caution the authors exercise and the elaborate nuances they examine methodologically. I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I cannot fault their methodology.
— Marvin E. Wolfgang, “A Tribute to a View I Have Opposed,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Fall, 1995, Guns and Violence Symposium, Page 188.
The Gun Violence Myth
Yes, guns are involved in about 2/3 of all murders, but despite media and political flame fanning murder is still rare. What’s more, it’s handguns– including five-shot revolvers, and excluding menacing looking rifles with cosmetic and ergonomic features– that are used in nearly 3/4 of these incidents. So, since the evidence debunks the myth of a gun violence epidemic, why are modern firearms– if you can call a fifty-year-old design “modern”– becoming the scapegoat for the media and a handful of political zealots?
Who’s Behind The Curtain?
What can a reasonable person make of this video from 1995 featuring U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder– who was then the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia– saying that he supported using Hollywood, the media and government officials in order to “really brainwash people” into opposing firearm ownership? Facts being what they are, one must ask, “oppose firearms for what purpose?”
And, who really stands to benefit from the United Nations plan to take guns out of the hands of average citizens, the citizens or the government? Is a civilian population more or less free than when armed? Who enjoys greater freedom, and who suffers governmental and criminal abuse, the armed or unarmed civilian? I might point out that over the last 100 years more than 160,000,000 people have been killed, directly killed– that is murdered!– by criminal governments. Civilian disarmament preceded these atrocities. Would armed resistance to genocide have made a difference?
Now, It’s Gettin’ Surreal
After a successful sting operation on March 27, 2014 media headlines revealed that the FBI Arrested California Anti-Gun State Senator, Democrat Leland Yee on Firearm Trafficking Charges! Here, check this out, from the Forbes Magazine article, Senator Yee Knew Conspiracy Would Send Money To Islamic Militants And Arms To North Africa, by reporter Greg McNeal:
While Senator Yee has focused much of his attention as an elected official on anti-gun legislation, he seemed to have substantial comfort with guns. In planning the conspiracy, Senator Yee sought to reassure the undercover FBI agent that another co-conspirator was a “gun lover” and had no moral arguments against selling weapons. Senator Yee also noted how on a trip to Mindanao in the Philippines, he had an opportunity to shoot some of the weapons he was helping to broker. Moreover, Senator Yee, who campaigned against the influence of violent video games, seemed unconcerned with leading a conspiracy which would send funds to individuals who had no problem, in his words, “kidnapping individuals, killing individuals and extorting them for ransom.” In exchange for those funds, weapons would be imported into the U.S. and eventually distributed to unknown individuals in North Africa and Italy.
Ironically, Leland Yee had been one of California’s most aggressive gun control proponents, and was running for CA secretary of state. Oops. As American patriot and rock musician Ted Nugent likes to say, “Are you kidding me?” But this is no joke. You see, politicians like Yee seek to profit by arming criminals and terrorists even as they are trying to disarm their constituents. You and me!
Shocking. Outrageous. Scandalous.
But no one in America is really trying ban all guns, or do away with Second and Fourth Amendment protections, right? Rather, the outcry is for “sensible” gun laws— as though some 20,000 laws currently on the books aren’t enough. Wrong!
Waiting periods are only a step. Registration is only a step. The prohibition of private firearms is the goal.
—Janet Reno, U.S. Attorney General, 12-10-1993
If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them . . . Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in, I would have done it.
—Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 2-5-1995
In fact, the assault weapons ban will have no significant effect either on the crime rate or on personal security. … Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic — purely symbolic — move [toward civilian disarmament]. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.
—Charles Krauthammer, “Disarm the Citizenry, But Not Yet,” Washington Post, p. A19
Forget what our forefathers said.
—Dominick Potifrone, ATF Special Agent (Retired) “On the Inside: The BATF,” Discovery Channel 2000
To hell with the constitution…
—Mike Roos on the constitutionality of the Roberti-Roos assault weapon ban. Assemblyman (CA) 1989
What’s The Endgame?
Ya don’t have to look very far back in history to recognize that despotic governments are the worst of mass murderers, even justifying systematic killing of their own citizens. Hitler. Stalin. Mao. Hussein. But, it can’t happen here, right?
Not so fast. Remember that power is intoxicating. Corrupting. And, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Because people are people, all of us are susceptible to the allure of power. Once in power people are naturally prone hold it, and to abuse it…unless checked. With a disarmed and vulnerable population, what’s to stop government leaders from taking advantage of their position? Their good conscience? Many law abiding, responsible, gun owning Americans would rather imagine the worst than actually try living it first hand.
George Mason remarked to his Virginia delegates regarding the colonies’ recent experience with Britain, in which the Monarch’s goal had been “to disarm the people; that [that] . . . was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”
And, as quoted from Chapter 12 of Bernard Crick’s George Orwell: A Life biography:
“Even as it stands, the Home Guard could only exist in a country where men feel themselves free. The totalitarian states can do great things, but there is one thing they cannot do: they cannot give the factory-worker a rifle and tell him to take it home and keep it in his bedroom. THAT RIFLE HANGING ON THE WALL OF THE WORKING-CLASS FLAT OR LABOURER’S COTTAGE IS THE SYMBOL OF DEMOCRACY. IT IS OUR JOB TO SEE THAT IT STAYS THERE.” (CAPS in original.)
–The Evening Standard, 1941
Gun control is not an issue of left vs. right, or urban vs. rural. Liberal icons such as Hubert Humphrey and Eleanor Roosevelt recognized the right to arms as fundamental to preventing large-scale tyranny by criminal governments, and small-scale tyranny by ordinary criminals.
—David B. Kopel, The Truth About Gun Control
And, as it happened…
The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed the subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty.
—Adolf Hitler, Edict of March 18, 1938, H.R. Trevor-Roper, Hitler’s Table Talks 1941-1944 (London: Widenfeld and Nicolson, 1953, p. 425-426)
Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We wouldn’t let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?
If the [political] opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.
Every good Communist should know that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, and that gun must remain firmly in the hands of the state.
—Mao Tse Tung
Even as we are being reminded:
All too many of the other great tragedies of history – Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few – were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, …If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.
—Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
It’s unfolding again, here & now, from what’s widely held as the political playbook of Bill & Hillary Clinton, along with Barack Obama…
The tenth rule of the ethics of rules [which] means… that you do what you can with what you have and clothe it in moral arguments. …the essence of Lenin’s speeches during this period was “They have the guns and therefore we are for peace and for reformation through the ballot. When we have the guns then it will be through the bullet.” And it was.
—Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals — P.36-37
And it follows…
“I just want you to know that we are working on it,” [Sarah] Brady recalled the president telling them. “We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”
—U.S. President, Barrack Obama during 03-30-2011 meeting between Jay Carney, Jim Brady, Sarah Brady, and President Obama, quoted in the Washington Post, 04-12-2011.
Sometimes with bald-faced cynicism…
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste…and what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
—Rahm Emanuel, as then-incoming White House Chief of Staff, Wall Street Journal interview, November 19, 2008.
Could the intent be any clearer? Or the likely result?
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Yes. Because as an American citizen, I’m concerned. When elected officials begin wielding tragedy to begin forcing their fears, emotional sensitivities, and personal prejudices into private lives by attempting to dismantle Constitutional protections we should notice the red flags waving. When our Nation’s peacekeepers are coached to view even non-violent protestors as low grade terrorists, alarm bells should start ringing. Government by fiat and extremism is a hallmark of despotism, and not the American way.
Citizens, Subjects or Slaves?
Fortunately we have within our Constitution mechanisms to ensure our individual liberties. Our civil rights. Our natural human rights! We owe it to those who came before us, and to those who will come after to work within the system to preserve our Republic. While each and every American matters, this struggle is about more than one single life. Even so, to honor that one single life our policy decisions must also honor our national heritage.
Former US Marine, Corporal Joshua Boston, in his recent letter to Senator Feinstein, reminds her of her place in society…
I am not your subject. I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant. I am the flesh and blood of America.
Perhaps she, and the rest of us should take this to heart.
Gun Control Is Way Off Target
The facts reveal that the idea of a gun violence epidemic is a myth, a contrivance. Worse, firearms restrictions fail to protect the public at all. (In fact, the only gun law that does prevent crime is one that provides for concealed carry, as researcher John Lott Jr. shows in “The Bias Against Guns“!) So, when you answer the question “Where is this rush to disarm America headed?” you may find yourself writing, emailing, or calling your elected representatives in the House and Senate right away. Why? Because you want to tell them their political future hinges on doing right by our Country and its Constitution that they’ve sworn an oath— not to dismantle, nor to edit, but— to uphold. That means, in no uncertain terms, that they…
immediately stop squandering limited resources on ineffectual gun restriction measures and begin working to commit Washington’s political will to those less sensational day to day issues that are known to actually improve ordinary American lives, and thus reduce violence in general.
Links & References
American Gun Facts— Because facts are facts.
FBI stats show violent crime down; gun sales spike over I-594. More Guns = Less Crime. Again, exactly what I’m saying above!
Armed Resistance to Genocide: I was present at this talk delivered in Los Angeles by David Kopel, hosted by the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. Highly enlightening. Sobering.
LA Times’ Contrasting Take on Yee’s Arrest
The Huffington Post’s Curious Take Yee’s Arrest
Think the NRA is Racist? Check This Out: Black American History and the Second Amendment”
FBI Statistics: “Crime in the United States, 2011”
Violent Crime is Down, as per Bureau of Justice Charts
Again, Violent Crime Is Down to a Forty Year Low, But It’s Under Reported In Mainstream Media.
The Truth About Gun Control — A brief video history from David B. Kopel.
FactCheck.org: “Gun Rhetoric vs Gun Facts.”
Reality Check (FOX): Piers Morgan’s Anti-Gun Claims.
GunCite.com: Gary, Kleck and Marc Gertz, “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 1995, Vol. 86 No. 1. See also, Table 1.
SAF.org: Marvin E. Wolfgang, “A Tribute to a View I Have Opposed,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Fall, 1995, Guns and Violence Symposium, Page 188.
Oleg Volk: “The Proud History of Gun Control.”
Oleg Volk: “Why Does Anybody Take These Fiends Seriously?”
Wikipedia: “Gun Politics in Australia.”
Katie Pavlich: “Gun Crime Soars in England.”
The Atlantic: “The Secret History of Guns.”
Senator Ted Cruz, Gun Related Facts.
Chicago Tribune: Owning Guns Saves Lives by prosecutor Michael Boomgarden, Naperville, Ill.
Reason.com: Yes, Guns Are Dangerous, But They Also Save Lives and Secure Civil Rights by Damon W. Root.
Do Gun Control Laws Control Guns? by Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You’ve Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong, by John R. Lott, Jr., 2003.
Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals, by Saul Alinsky, 1971.
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