(November 19, 2017)
This article from The Federalist, listing 6 reasons why “Your Right Wing Friend Isn’t Coming to Your Side on Gun Control” has been getting shared by many of my gun owner and trainer friends. The clickbait title was cleverly written to appeal to gun control advocates as the target audience.
The points the article makes are valid but fall short of hitting the X-ring of a clear explanation. Here are the key points from the article, with my additional thoughts on each:
We Rarely Get to Come to the Conversation in Good Faith
The article correctly points out that when gun control advocates tell gun owners their opposition to new gun restrictions means that they “don’t care” about the tragedy and loss of life, it’s offensive. After each tragedy, gun rights supporters point out the linkage between gun-free zones and mass killings, and provide examples of incidents where immediate armed response from an individual saved lives. Both sides have their preferred policy solutions (eliminating gun free zones and national concealed carry reciprocity, on the pro-gun side), and both come to the issue with a desire to save more lives.
A true compromise on gun policy would be if gun control advocates were willing to trade support for national reciprocity, for example, if the pro-gun side would agree to universal background checks. When gun control advocates use the word “compromise”, they want you to agree to give up some rights, but not as many as they would like to take away, offering nothing in trade. It’s like a mugger taking all the cash in your wallet and your phone but leaving you your credit cards and ID.
The definition of good faith is “honesty or sincerity of intention”.
Gun control advocates have a long-term “truthiness” problem – a lack of credibility. Whether it was Bill Clinton knowingly lying when he claimed the AR-15 was the ‘weapon of choice of drug dealers’ (when FBI data showed that handguns, not so-called assault weapons, were the weapons of choice of criminals), Barack Obama saying “we don’t want to take away your guns” one day, and wishing for “Australian-style gun laws” the next, or random Bloomberg-funded spokespeople claiming that the “gun show loophole” is the primary way criminals get guns (when BATFE agents and interviews with jailed violent criminals show otherwise), gun control advocates have a terrible track record of using lies and deliberate deception to make their case in the press and with voters.
This recurring pattern of deliberate dishonesty goes back well into the 1990’s, when gun control strategy was specifically to exploit the ignorance of the masses to build support for gun bans.
Awareness of this ongoing pattern of disinformation is widely known within the gun culture, as examples of technically incorrect information, prejudicially selected data, and gun control movement “talking points” are repeated without verification by media outlets whose editorial boards all support any and all new gun restrictions. (Media bias against gun rights is explained in depth in John Lott’s book The Bias Against Guns.)
This excellent article explains to gun control advocates what they need to do to gain credibility to engage in an actual ‘national conversation’. (The phrase “national conversation” is of course a focus-group tested propaganda phrase that actually means “People who disagree with me on a specific issue should listen to what I have to say, realize that I’m right, and address it in the way I want.“)
The ‘Blood on Their Hands’ Attacks Are Offensive
The article’s point #2 is the same as point #1. The majority of mass shooting incidents have occurred in “gun free” zones. Gun control advocates resist the idea of allowing more people to be armed in more places, claiming “more guns leads to more violence”. Yet gun shops, gun shows, and shooting ranges, where almost everyone present is armed, are not locations where mass killings occur, and in those rare occasions where violence starts, armed defenders quickly end it.
From a pro-gun perspective, it is those that insist on disarming victims through implementation of gun -free zones, and laws making it difficult/impossible to get carry permits in states such as California and New York, who have the victims’ blood on their hands.
The Loudest Voices Are Often the Most Ignorant
In the mainstream media, and even in the “conservative” media, the number of actual gun owners, who carry on a regular basis, or associate with anyone who carries, is near zero. Sean Hannity (FOX news, Sirius XM) and Andrew Wilkow (Sirius XM) are gun owners and shooters, but those that typically speak for the gun owner side of the debate in panel shows are coastal elites living in areas with the nation’s most restrictive gun laws, working in a business in which gun ownership and daily carry does not exist. Former FOX news megastar Bill O’Reilly’s views on gun control leaned closer to his pal Michael Bloomberg’s than to Wayne LaPierre’s, and he frequently used his top rated show to spout misinformation and technically wrong facts about guns and crime. Gun control advocates that claim that the pro-gun side of the discussion is being heard because there are conservative media outlets or because some right wing pundit was on a panel show are wrong. Most of the conservative websites and old school publications, like National Review and the Weekly Standard, are also run and written by coastal elites as isolated from the gun culture as their friends at CNN, NBC, Time, Newsweek, Slate, Salon and other media sources are. The NRA’s new team of spokespeople, Colion Noir for example, would do well if given the opportunity to speak for the gun culture, but are largely ignored by mainstream and “conservative” media alike, as they just keep featuring the same insular group on show after show.
The list of errors the media publishes on firearms is long, with the most recent being the USA Today info graphic showing a chainsaw bayonet as a popular accessory to the AR-15. A recent Houston Chronicle editorial discussing a “gun surrender” policy for domestic abusers included a stock photo showing a revolver, with a single stack 1911 magazine sitting next to it. Stock photos automatically linked to news articles on Facebook seem to always find the derpiest pictures showing the worst examples of handgun carry and handgun shooting technique available.
Some in the media are starting to wake up to this problem, but none in positions of power to actually get the details right.
David Kopel’s recent article on The Hill hit the ball out of the park, listing all the major components of existing gun law. The overwhelming majority of gun control advocates do not understand existing gun laws, or how guns operate. That widespread ignorance makes it nearly impossible to have any kind of conversation on the topic, as most of the pro-gun person’s time is spent attempting to bring the anti-gun person up to a basic level of competence on fundamental issues, with the anti-gun person refusing to believe what is being explained out of an emotional confirmation bias driving them to reject anything a pro-gun person says as “NRA propaganda” that cannot be true.
This is why many that are the most informed on the pro-gun side simply walk away from discussions of the issue, and why so many will no longer bother to be interviewed or talk to reporters at all.
The Most Prominent Policy Ideas Have Nothing to Do With the Tragedy
In incident after incident, analysis reveals that existing gun laws were broken, or the guns were purchased legally by someone that would not have been prevented if measures favored by gun control advocates were in place. Despite this, the same ideas continue to be promoted as “common sense” solutions by gun control groups, even though many that study the data discover that those ideas haven’t worked and are unlikely to work.
We are past the tipping point for gun laws in the US. The majority of gun laws passed after Sandy Hook have been met with widespread disobedience from gun owners: magazine capacity bans, assault weapon registration, and universal background checks are essentially being ignored. Law enforcement in states that have passed those laws are not enforcing the laws, and in many cases have taken legal action to oppose them in court.
Technical and tactical ignorance of gun control advocates is a factor yet again, as their belief that banning particular types of guns or magazines would change the outcome of a mass shooting situation is pure fantasy. Shooters using 19th century mechanically operated firearms are capable of firing with significant speed and accuracy.
The other common fantasy that is promoted by those seeking to ban magazines based on capacity is that unarmed people can rush an attacker during the time he or she is changing magazines. The gun control advocates believe that untrained people can succeed in that highly dangerous, unlikely-to-succeed tactic but are unable of doing something even easier, drawing a pistol and shooting back, during that same time window. A typical handgun reload time for a moderately trained shooter is under 2 seconds. Similarly, the typical handgun draw time for a moderately trained shooter is 2 seconds. Skilled shooters can draw and reload even faster.
There can be no rational discussion of what policies can prevent mass killings when one side of the debate lacks any expertise on the realities of armed and unarmed self defense, particularly the abilities (or lack thereof) of the typical armed citizen. When gun control advocates insist that the typical armed citizen is incapable of successful armed response, or warn that ‘It just makes sense that if people are walking around armed, you’re going to have a high rate of people shooting each other.‘ (which did not occur when dozens of armed citizens fought back against the UT tower sniper)– opinions the speakers have no experience, expertise or data to support – gun owners turn off, turn away and drop out, (to paraphrase Timothy Leary).
A new trend in the Left is to pout that the public no longer takes advice from “experts” on policy issues (in books like The Death Of Expertise). They accuse the Right (and Trump supporters specifically) of ignoring data and science and verified experts on topics where the experts favor left-wing policies–while engaging the same exact bad behavior themselves when it comes to gun violence. Actual subject matter experts in firearms, tactics, criminal behavior and any other relevant topic whose opinion did not align with the narrative have been systematically excluded from the policy making process for decades.
We Seriously Don’t Care About Gun Laws in Other Countries
Gun control advocates frequently cite the gun violence rates of European countries, with the implication that if the US had EU-style gun laws, we would have EU-style violent crime rates. There are two basic flaws with that approach:
- The pro-gun person does not believe that EU style gun laws will reduce their risk of being attacked with a firearm. States with strict gun laws, particularly Illinois, California and Maryland, have terrible violent crime problems that their neighboring states with more gun freedoms do not have. It would take house to house searches and mass confiscations to reduce the number of guns in circulation in the US to EU levels. If that occurred without starting a civil war (unlikely), the same network that brings in billions of dollars of illegal drugs into the country each year could easily supply (and already does supply) criminals with illegal guns.
- The pro-gun person believes that EU style gun laws would increase their vulnerability to injury death by criminal attack. When a pro-gun person imagines themselves being a victim of violent crime, the scenario ends when they present a firearm, use it, and the attack ends – regardless of what the mode of criminal attack is: gun, knife, or physical attack. In many cases simply presenting the gun is sufficient to stop the attack, as noted in this Obama-era CDC study. The CDC estimated that more than 500,000 defensive gun uses happen each year, exceeding the 30,000 gun deaths (only 15K of these were murders, the rest were suicides and accidents) by a factor of more than 10. A simple cost-benefit analysis of those two data points shows that the net benefit of allowing citizens to have defensive firearms far outweighs the potential negative outcomes.
If you believe that EU-style gun laws won’t make you safer, statistics don’t really matter.
We Really Do Consider Owning Firearms a Right
Self defense is the most fundamental human right. The concept of that right goes beyond the 2nd amendment of the Constitution, all the way down to the 2nd of Maslow’s human needs: safety and security. Both gun rights advocates and gun control supporters are motivated by concerns about their individual safety and security. As these Pew Research poll results show, the divide between them is very broad, because their core beliefs are so disparate. The history of the US is one of ever expanding freedoms and rights: from the abolition of slavery, to granting women the vote, to protections against discrimination, overturning the national ban on alcohol, and more recent Supreme Court rulings expanding both concealed carry rights and gay marriage to all 50 states, as well as state level legalization of marijuana. Culturally, from left to right, those standing on the side of “more freedom” tend to win on their issues over the long term.