Why any further restrictions on guns must be opposed

(Dec. 29, 12:10 p.m.: Comments have just been added to this entry.)

Jonathan Tobin of Commentary, whom I’ve previously strongly criticized on the Muslim democracy issue, has an important blog entry today on gun control. While he himself supports some limited restrictions on guns with “military”-style features, he says the behavior of the gun controllers in stigmatizing all gun owners suggests that their ultimate aim is to ban all privately owned guns. And therefore the resistance of the NRA to any further restrictions is understandable.

The logic is unassailable, and I would go further. Based on the fact that the liberals really seek a national ban on all individually owned guns, resistance to any further gun control measures is not just understandable, but justified; and it’s not only justified, it’s necessary.

Here is Tobin’s article:

The decision of a newspaper in New York’s Westchester County to publish an interactive map that allowed readers to discover the names and addresses of owners of legal guns is generally being debated as one about whether the Gannett-owned Journal News showed good judgment. It didn’t, but the problem goes a lot deeper than whether or not a newspaper ought to publicize information that is legally available to the public in this manner. The controversy goes to the heart of the entire discussion about guns in this country.

No matter what those behind this stunt say, this wasn’t about the safety of the community or the right of the public to information. Rather, this was about the desire on the part of some in the liberal mainstream media to stigmatize legal gun ownership and to whip up sentiment for not just tighter controls but an eventual ban. This makes it easier to understand why the National Rifle Association fiercely resists even the most reasonable gun control measures. If even those who have jumped through the not inconsiderable hoops erected by the authorities to gain a legal gun permit in New York are now to be treated as if they were the moral equivalent of sex offenders, it’s clear the goal of the anti-gun media is not just to focus discussion on assault weapons and large ammunition clips but to ban individual gun ownership altogether.

The article accompanying the interactive map about “the gun owner next door” made it clear the boogeyman to those who wish to push more gun control legislation isn’t just an NRA leadership that is tone deaf to the country’s mood. It is the ordinary American exercising his right to possess a legal firearm while observing all the legal niceties. That’s made clear by a piece that begins by discussing a violent crime committed by a person with two unregistered guns but then quickly shifts to the discussion of who owns legal and registered guns. The conceit of the article is to heighten suspicion of all gun owners and to render them pariahs. That effect is not softened by the fact that the author notes that he has a legally registered pistol.

For all of the incessant calls for civil debate from the liberal media, this is exactly the sort of thing that makes such a discussion impossible. Advocates of gun control in Congress claim that talk of banning all guns is crazy, but stunts like this demonstrate that such foolish ideas are bubbling very close to the surface in the liberal media. Broad support for some changes in existing gun laws probably exists right now in the wake of the Newtown massacre. But the chances for putting reasonable limits on military-style weapons or ammunition clips will be sunk if the anti-gun zealots in the media continue to show their real agenda is creating an atmosphere in which all firearms will be banned.

Legal gun owners don’t deserve to have their privacy invaded or to be made the targets of criminals who will use the information published by the newspaper as a database to aid their efforts to steal weapons from their owners. Nor do they deserve to be hounded and abused in this manner. More to the point, this is exactly what should be avoided if the country is to have a discussion about guns that doesn’t boil down to a shouting match between those who want guns banned and those who want no restrictions or accountability.

- end of initial entry -

December 29

Terry Morris writes:

In the big gun discussion at VFR recently I recall that you and others asked why some gun owners oppose even something as apparently innocuous as gun registration laws (not exactly in those terms). The answer to the question is contained in Tobin’s article. This information invariably becomes public domain, and eventually those prone to act in bad faith will utilize it to their own purposes. in this case to whip up anti-gun sentiment, and paint all gun owners with the same broad brush—as wild-eyed, hair-triggered lunatics.

That said, I’m not particularly fond of the NRA myself. Sometimes I feel they do more damage to the cause of gun ownership than they do good. But I acknowledge their usefulness in extreme cases like what we’re faced with now.

Kathlene M. writes:

The one problem with Tobin’s commentary is that the NRA told the nation that they wouldn’t agree to any new restrictions before that map came out. What’s worse is that the NRA thought it would be a great idea for the very government it distrusts to have a national registry for the mentally ill (“lunatics” as LaPierre called them) but is against gun registration. Gun owners are worried that the first step toward totalitarianism is gun registration. But isn’t the labeling and registering of the “mentally ill” also a tool of totalitarianism? Yet the NRA is all for that.

That map was an incredibly dumb and dangerous idea, but not representative of the mindset of many people in this debate. Nate Silver, who now has godlike status in liberal circles, has a helpful chart that shows the diverse groups of gun owners. His chart dispels the myths of gun ownership. He writes:

In other respects, the profile of gun owners defies some of the stereotypes that urban liberals might assign to them. For example, despite President Obama’s comments in 2008 about voters who “cling to guns and religion,” the two qualities are not strongly correlated.

Although Republicans still outnumber Democrats in gun ownership, Hispanics, blacks, and Asians also own guns, and for that reason liberals are not going to touch the second amendment or take away people’s guns.

My father-in-law, who is a World War II vet and who fought the Japanese in the Battle of Attu, keeps a rifle at home. He thinks people have lost respect for guns and consider them mere toys and status symbols now, and have a limited concept of a gun’s tremendous power to maim or kill. For that reason he thinks that gun owners need to be licensed like car owners, proving they know how to operate and handle weapons, and that guns should be registered like cars. He also thinks that the military-style weapons ought to be restricted. (“There is no reason for civilians to have those weapons,” he asserts.) At a minimum, the gun show loophole needs to be closed.

Hannon writes:

This quote is from a message from the NRA about Diane Feinstein’s proposed gun control legislation:

“However, under Feinstein’s new bill, “assault weapons” would remain with their current owners until their deaths, at which point they would be forfeited to the government.” (emphasis mine)

That is one of the most ominous positions I have ever heard on this issue. Do you know of anything similar in any law venue?

Paul Henri writes:

I am relieved you took the following position: “Based on the fact that the liberals really seek a national ban on all individually owned guns, resistance to any further gun control measures is not just understandable, but justified; and it’s not only justified, it’s necessary.” I sent you e-mails urging such a position, but I was worried because you seemed to have an initial bias on the other side, which I told you about and therefore urged you to take your time before making a decision. This was not a time for a milquetoast position.

M. Jose writes:

Kathlene M. wrote:

“The one problem with Tobin’s commentary is that the NRA told the nation that they wouldn’t agree to any new restrictions before that map came out.”

That misses the point. This specific incident is not the reason that the NRA opposes new legislation. This incident demonstrates the attitude of the anti-gunners; and that attitude is why the NRA opposes new legislation. This attitude was well known to us long before this map was published; the only thing the map does for our (pro-gun) side is to provide a stark example of who we are fighting against, and of what their agenda is.

LA replies:

Thank you for making this point. I was going to say the same, but forgot.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 28, 2012 09:57 AM | Send

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