Smart Writing On Guns (And Some Not So Smart)

Dan Baum – who we’ve discussed here beforehas a great post up at Huffington Post about guns (h/t Instapundit).

No, really.

He makes the following points (among others):

Arizona law was irrelevant to Jared Loughner’s purchasing the gun. The background check is federal, and he passed it. Yes, his carrying concealed to the Safeway, without a permit, was legal under Arizona’s new law, but if it hadn’t been, would he have been dissuaded? He headed off to commit murder; he was already far over the line where a concealed-carry law would have made any difference to him.

As a liberal Democrat, I worry about the damage we might do by rushing toward a fresh raft of gun-control laws. It’s very hard to demonstrate that most of them — registration, waiting periods, one-gun-a-month laws, closing the gun-show loophole, large-capacity-magazine restrictions, assault-rifle bans — have ever saved a life. It’s a hard thing to accept, but in a country of 350 million privately owned guns, the people who are inclined to do bad things with guns will always be able to get them. One might as well combat air crashes by repealing gravity.

I’m not one for slinging statistics, because everybody can read into them what he wants to see. One, though, seems pretty hard to ignore: The rates of murder and other violent crime have dropped by about half in the past 20 years — one piece of unalloyed good news out of the past two decades. During those same 20 years, gun ownership has gone way up, and gun laws have become far looser.

My own support for gun ownership is a combination of the pragmatic and the moral.

He pretty neatly covers my pragmatic points – too many guns are already here, most laws are meaningless (criminals are going to ignore them anyway), and there is really no meaningful data to support the more guns=more crime hypothesis (and lots of data that points the other way).

He doesn’t go into the morality of gun ownership – the notion that at root taking responsibility both for myself and for the safety of others (i.e. I’m handling something that could kill people if I’m not careful) makes you a better person.

But I’ll take this. The comments are pretty good as well.

And he makes one final policy point that’s worth remembering as well:

Gun control not only does no practical good, it actively causes harm. It may be hard to show that it saves lives, but it’s easy to demonstrate that we’ve sacrificed a generation of progress on things like health care, women’s rights, immigration reform, income fairness, and climate change because we keep messing with people’s guns. I am researching a book on Americans’ relationship to their guns, and keep meeting working-stiff gun guys — people whose wages haven’t risen since 1978 and should be natural Democrats — who won’t even listen to the blue team because they’re convinced Democrats want to take away their guns. Misguided? Maybe. But that’s democracy for you. It’s helpful to think of gun control as akin to marijuana prohibition — useless for almost everything except turning otherwise law-abiding people into criminals and fomenting cynicism and resentment.

What he said. He’s writing a book about gun ownership, and I’m actually kind of interested in reading it.

Read the comments, too. My favorite is from commenter Gun Banner who writes:

“You don’t have to worry about any restrictio­ns that are put on the Second Amendment because those restrictio­ns will never be used on other Amendments or rights like the 4th Amendment or abortion because guns are bad and that makes them different.”

…which is probably the best summary of the gun banners thinking on the subject that I’ve read.

One thought on “Smart Writing On Guns (And Some Not So Smart)”

  1. I think the observations here about the practicalities of gun control are correct. Trying to do away with private handgun ownership in the United States is a fools errand. But let’s not kid ourselves. The presence of 65 million handguns in the U.S. doesn’t help the suicide and murder statistics. If we did away with guns we’d do away with drive by shootings and all manner of irresponsible gun use. We’d have to change the constitution and our collective attitude towards guns.

    About a gun making you a “better person” . . . O.k. to each his own. I think having a guitar and a pair of skis makes you a better person.

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