In the wake of the Colorado mass murder a few days ago, there are renewed, strident and vociferous calls from the center and left of US politics for more gun control. Yet again, those making them are refusing to acknowledge a simple, basic fact that fatally undermines their calls:
You can't blame the instrument for the crime. You blame the criminal using it.
This is unarguably and always true. Consider:
- When a drunk driver hits innocent pedestrians, and kills or injures them, who's charged with the crime - the driver, or his vehicle?
- When a gunman kills innocent victims, who's charged with the crime - the shooter, or his firearm?
- When somebody high on drugs attacks innocent passersby, who's charged with the crime - the attacker, or the drugs he used?
One could go on ad nauseam, but you get the point. The perpetrator bears responsibility for the crime - not the instrument(s) used to commit it.
Anti-gunners argue, "But if he didn't have access to a firearm, he couldn't have committed the crime! This boils down to public safety!" It's tempting to agree, because they're partly right: without a gun, the perpetrator could not have committed the massacre in that way. However, there are many other ways that could have been used. Consider:
- The worst school massacre in US history - at Bath, Michigan, killing 44 and injuring 58 - involved explosives, not guns.
- The worst nightclub massacre in US history - the Happy Land disaster in New York City, killing 87 - was perpetrated by arson, not gunfire.
- Almost all the most prolific serial killers in the world, with a "score" probably running well into four figures between them, did not use firearms to commit their crimes.
The crime is not dependent on or conditioned upon the instrument(s) used to commit it. To focus on the instrument, rather than the perpetrator, is to defy reality.
Let's look at an editorial in the New York Post, a conservative, right-wing outlet that's normally more level-headed than this. I'll insert numbers in parentheses after key points, and address those points below.
The New York Post does not see this as a conservative or liberal issue — it’s an issue of life and death. Curbing guns is what led to New York City’s three-decade reduction in murders (1). And, sadly, it’s the dismissal of that progress that has led to a rise in shootings here (2).
. . .
And while not all mass shooters use long guns, let alone semi-automatic ones, that’s been the favorite weapon of these killers for years now (3).
. . .
When they enshrined the Second Amendment, the Founding Fathers could not have conceived of high-capacity magazines (4). Hunting and home protection are one thing — but what civilian needs an AR-15 (5)?
The Supreme Court has ruled the Constitution protects guns “in common use,” not weapons of war (6). Our forefathers did not want every American to be capable of mass slaughter (7).
. . .
Start by writing an assault-weapon ban that focuses on firepower — rate of fire, muzzle velocity, and so on (8). Then move on to tighter, universal background checks, etc., reasonable waiting periods and all the rest.
And, yes oh yes, make it easier for families to get help for their troubled loved ones, first by taking away their guns, then by getting them the mental-health services they need (9).
There's more at the link.
All right, let's address each of those numbered points.
- Curbing guns did NOT lead to a reduction in murders in NYC. Restrictions on firearms in that city long predate the reduction. What did it was beefed-up law enforcement, particularly the emphasis on "broken windows policing". It's noteworthy that as NYC law enforcement has been progressively scaled back under politically correct pressure, the murder rate is shooting up once more (you should pardon the expression).
- The same gun laws are still in effect in NYC - in that sense, "progress" has not been "dismissed". Nevertheless, shootings and murders in the city are rising rapidly. Whatever is causing the latter, it's not a change in gun restrictions.
- Long guns (rifles and shotguns), semi-auto or otherwise, have not been "the favorite weapons of these killers for years now". Crime statistics give the lie to that. Handguns were involved in 78% of mass shootings, with other weapons used in the remaining 22%. However, long gun use in more recent mass murders is increasing. "Of the last 80 mass shootings in the United States, more than a quarter, including Monday's shooting in Boulder, Colorado, involved the use of AR-15 rifles." Nevertheless, over 70% of those mass shootings still did not involve such weapons.
- Agreed - but so what? When they enshrined the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers could not have conceived of high-capacity computer printers, or electronic books, or any number of other modern technologies. Does that mean the First Amendment, with its guarantees of freedom of speech, the press, etc., should be confined to quill pens and cast lead type? Of course it doesn't! Why, then, should modern technology restrict the Second Amendment? If technology restricts one Amendment, it must necessarily restrict them all - a plainly nonsensical proposition.
- "What civilian needs an AR-15?" Why not ask those who were confronted by Antifa and BLM rioters last year? If I were among them, I'd have been ready to stop them attacking me, or my loved ones, or my home - and an AR-15 rifle would have been my principle method of defense, because no other weapon at my disposal would have been as effective in dealing with a criminal mob. It's not just defense, either. I know hunters who go out after hogs and deer carrying AR-15's chambered for various cartridges. They rely on them to put meat on the table. Repeated, rapid shots at fast-moving animals like a running hog require a rifle capable of making them (note that the video at the link shows the hunter using an AR-15-style rifle). Q.E.D.
- "The Supreme Court has ruled the Constitution protects guns 'in common use,' not weapons of war." Precisely! The muskets and rifles in use at the time of the Declaration of Independence were weapons of war, and also "in common use"! The American Revolutionaries used them to see off the British - and thereafter, just as before the war, used precisely the same weapons to defend themselves against raiding Indians and criminals, and to hunt meat for their tables. Today, the AR-15 and weapons of its type are "guns in common use", both in the military (in selective-fire versions) and in civilian hands, without the selective-fire feature. Therefore, by this criterion, they, too, are protected by the constitution.
- "Our forefathers did not want every American to be capable of mass slaughter." I absolutely agree - but that capability does not depend on the instruments that may be to hand. It depends on the sanity, morality and judgment of the individual. Go re-read the list posted above, of the worst crimes of their kind in America and the world. They were not committed with firearms - but they were, nevertheless, committed. The availability (or otherwise) of firearms had no bearing on that. Yes, firearms can be a tool in the hands of the wicked; but they can also be a tool in the hands of the good, to stop the wicked in their tracks. (Never forget that in several incidents, most notably the Sutherland Springs church shooting, the perpetrator, using an AR-15, was shot and stopped by a courageous civilian, also using an AR-15.)
- A "assault-weapon ban that focuses on firepower" is a non-starter. For a start, define "firepower". Rate of fire? Yes, an AR-15 - and an AK-47, and a M1 Garand, and many other weapons - is capable of rapid fire; but nobody has suggested (yet) that the M1 Garand should be classified as an "assault weapon". The same applies to semi-auto civilian rifles such as the Remington 7400 or Browning BAR. They can fire as fast as you can pull the trigger, but neither is classified as a military weapon or "assault rifle". What about muzzle velocity? There are plenty of rifles with significantly higher muzzle velocity than an AR-15. For example, the civilian .220 Swift, developed before World War II, achieves muzzle velocities of over 4,500 feet per second, about 50% higher than the AR-15's 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge - but the former has never been used in a military weapon. The same sort of analysis can be applied to almost any criterion. A "brute-force" solution, arbitrarily classifying one or more criteria, alone or in combination, as defining an "assault weapon", is neither logical nor rational.
- First take their guns, then get them the medical help they need? We're talking about a constitutional right here. If someone is declared medically or mentally incompetent to exercise that right, I have no problem taking their guns away from them, for the safety of their family and society - but to do so before such incompetence is formally evaluated and pronounced upon by qualified persons? The possibilities for abuse are almost endless. We've all heard of divorce cases where one or both parties allege monstrous abuses by the other, none of which can be substantiated in court. What's to stop an estranged spouse making such allegations against his or her partner, resulting in the other losing their firearms at once, without any evaluation as to whether the allegations are correct? What if the one making the allegations is just waiting for the other to be disarmed, so they can attack them? The same problem exists with so-called "red flag" laws. They act as if someone is "guilty" before their "guilt" has been established - a direct violation of the "innocent until proven guilty" principle on which US jurisprudence is based. Some argue that this is necessary for reasons of public safety. I'm not so sure - and it violates long-standing judicial and legal precedent.
So, there we have it. For every point the New York Post editorial makes, there's a logical, rational, reasonable response. The problem is, the gun-banners aren't interested in such responses. They're reacting out of emotion, out of "feelings" - and, let's be honest, out of fear. They're usually the kind of people who rely on "the cops" or "the authorities" to protect them against crime, rather than accept personal responsibility for initial protection. They've probably never been confronted by the naked reality of violence and crime.
I have been confronted by that reality, far too often for comfort. As a result, I'm more than willing to defend myself and my loved ones and my property. I will not, repeat, will not allow others to take away my constitutional rights, and I will defend those rights against any attempt to do so. I know many Americans feel the same. That's the crux of the matter. I have committed no crime, and my AR-15 has not been used to commit any crime - so why should I be penalized, and my rifle taken from me, because of the criminal actions of somebody else? I've done nothing to deserve that, and I won't stand for it.
It's time the gun-grabbers realized that what they like to think of as their "irresistible force" has run headlong into the "immovable object" of the US constitution and the rights it recognizes - not confers, but recognizes as pre-existing. The right to keep and bear arms is among them. Any attempt to say that this, or that, or the other firearm isn't covered by that right leads to a very slippery legal slope indeed, where the same criterion might be applied to diminish or disable any other civil right. They should think about that . . . very, very carefully.
I'll let Phil at Bustedknuckles sum up the matter. As he points out, the latest gun-grabber moves are not unexpected . . . but they may lead to consequences their supporters neither expect nor like.
I’d say it’s a safe bet that out of a couple hundred MILLION “Evil Black Rifles” in this country, almost none of them will just magically turn into dust and disappear anytime soon no matter how badly the stupid ******* wish they would.
. . .
I have been watching our economy blow up like a drowned pig in a hot swamp for years now.
The fact that they are intentionally destroying it is yet another thing they aren’t bothering to hide anymore.
I’m thinking that “Evil Black Rifle” they want to get from you so badly might wind up being worth more than just about anything you own right at the moment here in the not too distant future.
It might be the only thing that keeps you alive in the long run.
It’s a sure bet at this point that these dumbasses are feeling Froggy enough to jump and foolish enough to **** Around And Find Out.
. . .
This is going to wind up being a fight to the death and it’s going to be Winner Take All.
Because you can’t ban what is already out there. You might as well try banning the wind.
And what is already out there is more personal firepower than all the major armies on the planet combined.
All owned and operated by the single most obstinate and devious people the world has ever known.
People that used to be Americans.
Since they killed that too, we are basically a people without a country right at the moment.
It’s The United States Of America in name only at this point.
Just another little score that needs to be settled.
I literally predicted a hot Civil War in this country was coming ten years ago.
Place yer bets gentlemen, the game is fixing to start pretty soon.
It's hard to disagree with him.