“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic…” –Justice Joseph Story
In the wake of another school shooting by another sociopathic teenager, Second Amendment opponents are again out in force attempting to convert the blood of innocents into political capital for gun confiscation.
Among the first to demagogue the issue was Brady Campaign gun control advocate Michael Barnes, who condemned the “gun problem” and criticized Congress and President George W. Bush for letting the so-called “assault weapons” ban expire. Million Mom Marcher Kate Havelin howled, “We need to do more to make sure…our young people are safe from gun violence.”
In an observation typical of the gun confiscation crowd's Leftmedia trucklings, Washington Post Deputy Editor Colbert King posed this loaded question: “What about the guns that take away the life?”
“Gun problem,” “gun violence” and “guns that take away the life”? Like Barnes and Havelin, King insists that the problem is guns and that confiscating guns will solve the problem. But Barnes, Havelin and King, like most Leftists, display a chronic disconnect with reality. The “problem” in Red Lake, Minnesota (nine dead), is similar to that which visited Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado (thirteen dead), back in 1999 – and all such shootings.
What was the problem? Leftists brace yourself: It was not a gun problem, but a culture problem. Amazingly, Barnes inadvertently touched on this problem, saying, “Our leaders are preaching about the culture of life. They should spend the same amount of energy taking steps to stop our nation's culture of death.” Of course, Barnes and his ilk think the culture of death begins and ends with guns. Their silence on the real cultural problems is deafening.
Like the Columbine murderers, the 16-year-old Red Lake sociopath was obsessed with “Goth” culture. Similarly, he played violent video games and was fascinated with the ultra-Leftist Hitlerian Nazi anarchist movement. And, likewise, he asked some of his victims “Do you believe in God?” before gunning them down.
Of course, focusing on inanimate objects like guns is far easier than focusing on cultural problems, particularly since many of the problems in question are the result of Leftist doctrines – like parents (particularly fathers) who have abdicated the responsibility for raising responsible and moral children to government schools. The cultural consequences of renouncing that responsibility are exacerbated by the phony “Wall of Separation” arguments, which Leftjudicial activists have used to eliminate religious (read: “moral”) training from those schools, and remove the Ten Commandments in principle and substance.
The best teachers in America are barely holding the high ground in classrooms where half the kids are under-parented (at best). The Left's response is to treat disorderly children and youth for ADD or (as was the case in Red Lake) with more powerful drugs like Prozac.
Not to be overlooked is yet another sacred cow of the Left – the “entertainment” industry's perverse glorification of murder, mayhem and drug use. Typical of Leftist hypocrisy, it is those Hollywonk “actors” making the biggest bucks on the bloodiest big screen splashes who are advocating for gun confiscation. Even allegedly “moderate” actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, in his worst role yet as Governor of California recently signed a gun-ban, reached his position in life making films featuring wholesale slaughter and/or disembowelment of innocent folks.
Back to reality, Founder John Adams wisely noted, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” Indeed, the fact is, the Left's assertions about the “gun problem” simply don't hold up under scrutiny.
If the problem of criminal misuse of firearms was dependent on the availability of guns, research would demonstrate that the prevalence of firearms is directly related to violent gun crimes – that is, the more guns in an area, the more criminal gun use. However, any such relationship has been refuted by multiple and differing analyses. All studies inevitably lead to this conclusion: The crime problem is not about implements but intentions, and intent is inexorably defined by culture.
Guns as implements are irrelevant to the criminal mindset that must perforce precede the decision to commit violence. To wit, despite Leftmedia folklore, the most violent attack on a school occurred on 18 May 1927 when Andrew Kehoe, a Bath, Michigan, school board member, murdered 45 people, including 38 elementary students – with a bomb.
Yale researcher John Lott addressed the relationship between gun possession and crime, and concluded his research with the title of his 1998 book, “More Guns, Less Crime.” Notably, Lott's research also determined this corollary to be fact: The countries that ban guns have the highest homicide rates. And why is this true? Intended victims are much easier to murder when their government has already disarmed them through gun control laws.
So, what about internal U.S. murder rates tracked against gun access over time? In 1900, the U.S. homicide rate was estimated at 1 per 100,000. In 2003, FBI statistics put the rate at 5.7 per 100,000. But during the 20th Century, gun availability was inversely related to these numbers; nearly anyone could buy and carry a gun in 1900, whereas there were 23,000 federal, state and local restrictions on firearms purchases by the end of the century.
Consider the comparable murder rates in the adjacent states of Massachusetts (very restrictive gun laws), versus Maine and New Hampshire (unrestrictive gun laws). Rates for crimes committed with guns are lower in Maine and New Hampshire than in Massachusetts. Furthermore, cities with the most restrictive gun laws, like Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Georgia, have the highest murder rates in the nation.
Similarly, U.S. murder rates have trended downward in the last decade as more states have implemented “right to carry” laws, which make the criminal task of choosing unarmed victims more difficult. To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, “Most criminals aren't that stupid; they tend to go where the guns aren't.”
The same correlations are in evidence around the world. Nations with the highest per-capita possession of firearms, such as Switzerland (where most households contain at least one “assault weapon” as part of their “well regulated militia”) are among those with the lowest murder rates. Conversely, nations like the UK, with the most restrictive gun laws, are now experiencing escalating crime rates.
The UK's gun restrictions, for example, did not stop a sociopath from slaughtering 16 kindergarteners and their teacher in Dunblane, Scotland, three years before Columbine. As a result of that shooting, all handguns were confiscated (similar to Sen. Diane Feinstein's proposal after Columbine). The result? By 2002, England and Wales had the highest incidence of “very serious” offences (18 crimes per 100 people) among the 17 developed Western nations. Second in line is Australia (16 per 100) where many classes of guns have also been confiscated. The incidence of “violent crime” is 3.6 per 100 in the UK, compared with 1.9 per 100 in the U.S.
Gun confiscation has never protected anyone. Gun restrictions have not protected citizens in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York or Boston, much less anyone in Columbine or Red Lake. Nor did such laws protect Jews from Hitler or Stalin or Chinese peasants from Mao, etc., ad infinitum.
The relationship between victimization and the ability to defend oneself is timeless. In Commonplace Book, Thomas Jefferson quotes Cesare Beccaria from his seminal work, On Crimes and Punishment: “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. … Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
The next time some Chardonnay-sipping Leftists pontificates about the “gun problem,” reminded them that far more Americans, particularly children, die as a result of alcohol abuse, than at the hands of criminals using guns. Would a five-day waiting period on the purchase of good bottle of wine prevent those injuries and deaths?
Using the “gun problem” logic, one may conclude that black leather gloves cause stabbings, matches cause arson, vehicles cause wrecks, cameras cause pornography, swimsuits cause drowning, cigarette lighters cause cancer, wine glasses cause alcoholism, spoons cause obesity, credit cards cause bankruptcy, elections cause corruption, ad nauseam… Really, it's not a gun problem, it's a “bullet problem.”
In the words of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, circa 45 AD, “Quemadmoeum gladuis neminem occidit, occidentis telum est.” (A sword is never a killer, it is a tool in the killers hands.)
As for the Marching Moms, it's worth noting that women are the fastest-growing demographic group of gun owners. And for good reason. It's now estimated that guns are used defensively more that 2.5 million times annually – four times more often than the estimated use of a gun in commission of a crime.
In short, culture trumps firearm access in determining murder rates, and if our murder rates are going to be further reduced, Americans of all political feathers would be well advised to take a sobering look at the cultural components which breed such violence, not the instruments used to commit violence. (See the Congressional Testimony of Darrell Scott, father of Rachel Scott, one of the children murdered at Columbine High School.)
Any efforts by the government to further regulate firearms should be met head-on by the clear language of our Constitution's Second Amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In fact, broad reduction of current gun regulations is consistent both with the letter of our Constitution, and the historical reality of self-defense and criminal restraint. Political folly such as the Feinstein/Schumer gun control act – which was, fortunately, defeated by Congress last year – serves only to weaken this “palladium of the liberties of our republic,” as Justice Joseph Story called the Second Amendment. For your neighbors who don't see it that way, tell them to put one of these on their front door.
Quote of the week
“The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers. … In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA – because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. … I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy – it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! … Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs – politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. … We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God!” –Congressional testimony of Darrell Scott, whose daughter Rachel Scott was murdered at Columbine