Right Opinion

2020 Primary and the 2nd Amendment

Bill Wagner · Apr. 3, 2019

Maybe with the Robert Mueller report in limbo for a couple weeks, we can afford to have a lull. You know it’s a slow news day when the lead stories are about the politics-ain’t-bean-bag cage match that is otherwise known as the Democrat 2020 primary.

According to the polls, the guy with the best chance of beating Donald Trump — you know, the one who hasn’t even announced his candidacy yet — is being pressured to fade into the sunset. The rationale seems to be that after decades of being “just ole Uncle Joe,” we are suddenly shocked to find that he is a demonstrably affectionate kind of guy who makes all the women in the room with him uncomfortable. From the #MeToo cheap seats, that’s game, set, match.

We all have seen our teenage nieces cringe when Uncle Charlie tries to give them a big hug, but to think that Joe Biden is some kind of sexual predator is preposterous, though he may have brought this on himself by going on an apology tour for being an old white guy. Being willing to listen respectfully to accusations that he doesn’t agree with simply doesn’t cut it, and his opponents wasted no time in lining up behind the accuser and suggesting that Joe take a hard look at his future career choices.

As if that weren’t enough, we also have seen accusations that Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has made history as the first openly gay presidential candidate and is getting rave reviews, isn’t “gay enough.” I’m not even sure what that means, but it must be really bad. I heard it phrased in one of the leading left-wing publications that he didn’t move the “gaydar.” I had to look that up in the urban dictionary, and it seems to be the gay version of “woke.” I guess the idea that he is happily married to his husband is just so, well, unacceptably traditional.

We are 20 months out from the presidential election, and the best parlor game in town looks like it’s going to be which Democrat candidate will be branded with the most ridiculous disqualifying characteristic. About the only explanation possible for why Democrats are eating their own is that they truly believe it doesn’t matter who they toast up; Trump can’t win. Amazing.

With that out of the way, I can turn to a topic I haven’t visited for a while — guns. So I can’t be dismissed out of hand as just another 2nd Amendment zealot, allow me to offer my fair and balanced bone fides first.

Via a regulatory ruling, the Trump administration has banned what are known as “bump stocks,” which essentially are devices that make semiautomatic rifles act like fully automatic machine guns, which are subject to vastly more restrictions. Count me in the “way to go guys” category. It’s one of the few “gun control” measures that actually makes sense. Anything that causes a regular rifle to be able to act like a machine gun has no place in general public use.

The irony of the ruling is that the NRA agrees with me, but gun-control folks can’t stand prosperity. They are arguing that the ban is a head fake because it takes attention away from semiautomatic rifles, which should also be banned because — ready for this? — every military man knows that semi-autos are more accurate than full-autos because full-auto recoil is greater. This is Exhibit A for why “common sense” gun control is an oxymoron. Every given inch becomes a taken mile, and no one trusts anyone to meet in the middle. To paraphrase Trump: Sad.

The same holds true for what are known as “red flag” laws, which allow law enforcement to confiscate privately owned firearms under certain circumstances, primarily when the owner is deemed mentally ill or otherwise a clear danger to himself or society. At first glance, this makes perfect sense. The common denominator in many mass shootings is mental illness that had been clearly evident over time. Furthermore, something like 2/3 of all gun-related deaths are suicides, and the victims often show signs of risk well in advance of taking their lives. Wouldn’t intervention in these cases be in everyone’s best interests?

But the devil is in the details. It should be difficult to take away a constitutional right, therefore the circumstances that authorize law enforcement to take that step need to be carefully defined, and due process needs to be respected. That is very tough to codify, but people of good will should try because the potential impact could be hugely positive.

The basis should be provable documentation by those close to the subjects, medical-professional input, and due process by permitting the subject to respond in court. True, that might take time, but the mere fact that issues are being raised and people at risk are made aware that people care enough about them to want to help could prevent numerous tragedies.

What is being found all too often though in states where these laws exist is that the statute is being used for settling personal scores or giving anti-gun authorities an excuse to overreach — in many cases making the situation worse. In a perfect world where folks act in good faith and trust each other, even strong 2nd Amendment advocates like me could get comfortable with this. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in.

On the flip side of the coin, I couldn’t let this segment go by without pointing out yet another absurd attempt by the gun-control crowd to restrict the 2nd Amendment by using bogus studies and distorted statistics. This one comes courtesy of The New York Times, which recently described a study of shootings in Boston over a five-year period by a Duke professor published in JAMA. The study evaluates whether the shootings were fatal or not and which caliber bullet was used in each shooting.

The study purports to prove that if the shooters had all used large-caliber bullets like a .45 or .357 instead of medium or small calibers like 9mm or .22, then the number of fatal incidents would have increased by 43%. The method they used (stay with me on this) was to take the percentage of fatal versus nonfatal shootings using large calibers, which were roughly 70% fatal, and apply that to all the shootings using smaller calibers, which had a roughly 30% chance of being fatal.

The takeaway is apparently that criminals who use large-caliber weapons kill more often, therefore we should think about banning those large-caliber weapons. When informed of the fact that the significant increase in ownership of high-caliber weapons over the last 25 years has coincided with a significant decrease in violent gun crime and homicides, the authors acknowledge that, yet they go on to speculate about how much more the rate of crime and homicides could have decreased if the large-caliber ban had been in place. Classic convoluted-can’t-prove-a-negative logic by the gun-control folks.

They also tried to make an argument for banning high-caliber weapons with the glorified statement of the obvious that high-caliber bullets are more lethal than small-caliber bullets. I could make an argument that in the hands of a skilled shooter, it may not make a big difference whether the bullet is a 9mm (which is by far the most common weapon found in the study) or a .45. But there is no question that a random .357 round is more likely to be fatal than a .22 in similar circumstances.

But isn’t that the whole point? It’s one of the main reasons why my personal defense weapon is a Sig P227 in .357. Not only do these types of studies do a disservice to a reasoned debate about commonsense gun measures, but they totally ignore the flip side of the equation in which law-abiding gun owners use high-caliber weapons to prevent crimes in the first place.

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