As has become customary when the political left and right grapple with issues confronting our nation, the current debate about firearms is entirely uneven. By that I mean that the left and right are arguing two completely different cases in this debate. On the left the argument about the necessity to implement more gun control laws demonstrates a stunning lack of understanding of the nature of criminal gun violence in America. On the right the argument about preserving the constitutional right to bear arms is necessary and prudent, although as a reasoned position it is not breaking through and convincing liberals to rethink their positions.
We can summarize the left’s thoughts on this matter by referring to Piers Morgan’s one-note-samba question, “Why does anyone need an assault weapon?” and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s rhetorical line, “You don’t need ten bullets to kill a deer.” In the wake of the Newtown horror, the left’s analysis of this tragedy is that what allowed the evil killer to do his dirty was his heavy duty weaponry and his possession of far too many bullets. Over and again, liberals up to and including President Obama have been lecturing America that we must have gun control now that limits military style weapons and large capacity magazines in order to mitigate another mass shooting. As the left blames guns and bullets for violent crime, they liken anyone possessing a firearm–no matter how law-abiding, patriotic, or trained in the safe usage thereof–to wicked and depraved thugs who with corrupt hearts and minds commit evil against innocents. The left recognizes as President Obama told us in his 2013 State of the Union speech that government “actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in this country” (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57569084/full-text-obamas-2013-state-of-the-union-address/?pageNum=7), yet as collectivists they believe that national retribution must be paid for Newtown, and therefore all gun rights should be infringed in spite of the Constitution and limited irrespective of the efficacy of such limitations.
The left is shockingly limited in its view of the problem, refusing to address the underlying conditions which led to Newtown: The killer’s mental health problems, his psychological diet of violent video games, a broken home, and a parent who lacked the wisdom to keep her firearms out of her son’s access. The left also ignores the basic fact that there was no security to speak of at Sandy Hook Elementary. To ask the left to describe how a ban on assault weapons and a limitation on the number of bullets that a person may possess would actually work to prevent another Newtown is to elicit little more than a regurgitation of their tired talking points. They have no empirical answer to that question because in fact there is none.
On the right, scholars and laymen alike recognize that the reaction to Newtown in the form of loud calls for gun control are in fact a threat to Second Amendment rights and by extension a threat to personal liberty in America. We too are disgusted and dismayed with the sickening nature of this crime, yet we are willing to acknowledge that the Newtown killer would no sooner respond righteously to any new gun laws than he did the existing ones at the time of his rampage. Of course, those of us on the right want to stop mass shooting and other gun related violence. Yet we know that the more gun control laws are enacted, those adversely impacted by the restrictions embedded in such legislation will not be the criminal element rather they will be the tens of millions of law-abiding, responsible gun owners who have no history of or desire to commit murderous acts. Impose a million gun control laws and the bad guys by their bad nature will still ignore the gun laws and will continue to do the bad things with guns that they intend to do.
Furthermore, if we pursue increasing restrictions gun rights, the left will ensure that our population becomes increasingly susceptible to the possibility of tyranny as an unintended consequence. A hard tyranny might not imminently descend across our great nation if the gun control advocates have their way, however we on the right know that tyranny creeps up on society incrementally. Thus, an assault weapons ban now would be a gateway to a potential handgun ban next year, a hunting rifle ban in five years, to a total outlawing and forced confiscation of all firearms in a decade. At such a point, we would say goodbye to our liberty and might just as well hang signs at our ports of entry “Welcome to the United Socialist States of America.”
John Steinreich is the author of “The Words of God,” an analytical comparison of the Bible and the Quran, which can be found online at www.lulu.com/spotlight/jdsbookstore.