For the first time in 95 years, the New York Times has run a front page editorial. The subject? Guns and how we need to get rid of them. And it is a distillation of the moral panic we are having over guns right now.
The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.
So many problems squeezed into one paragraph. First, it is not the job of elected leaders to “keep us safe”. Or at least, it’s not their only job. Their jobs is also to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”. It’s also to exercise restraint when the public is hysterical and hence clamorous to be lead to safety by hobgoblins who dance in the blood of the slain. We responded hysterically to World War I with the Espionage and Sedition Acts (without a front page editorial from the NYT). We responded to Pearl Harbor with a hysterical internment (without a front page editorial from the NYT). We responded to 9/11 with a hysterical Patriot Act (without a front page editorial from the NYT). Must we respond hysterically now?
And the idea that politicians oppose gun control because of money and power from the firearms industry is disgusting. According to the NYT and their allies, gun control opponents are perfectly willing to countenance the slaughter of thousands if it means a few thousand dollars in their campaign war chest. And what about the tens of millions of Americans who oppose gun control? What about the conservative and libertarian writers who oppose gun control? And frankly, what about the NRA, which has millions of members and a higher approval rating than Hillary Clinton? Where’s our bribes?
As I said the other day:
People haven't decided "mass shootings are acceptable". They've decided gun control won't stop them. There's a difference.
— HAL 10000 (@Hal_RTFLC) December 2, 2015
Saying that your opponents are fine with killing is the reaction of an insane person, not “the paper of record”.
I’m tired of hearing this crap that the only reason we don’t get gun control is because of NRA bribes. It’s possible to oppose gun control on principal or because it is not popular with the American public or your particular constituency. Bernie Sanders, to his credit, tried to make this point in the Democratic debate. It basically ended his candidacy.
Today’s liberalism shares a heritage with yesterday’s communism. One of the principle things it has inherited is the belief that their ideas are intrinsically scientifically right and that if anyone opposes them, it is because they have been deluded by a shadowy conspiracy of counter-revolutionaries. For the commies, it was bourgeois. For the liberals, it’s the NRA.
We’re only two paragraphs in and the NYT already needs to get a damned grip.
It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection.
Now we get the distraction on assault weapons. Assault weapons are a tiny tiny portion of violence in the country. And “assault weapon” itself is mostly a marketing term used by gun manufacturers. There really is not much of a difference between a handgun and an “assault weapon”. In fact, most assault weapons are of lower caliber and lower power than a revolver or handgun. Even our government admits that the 90’s assault weapons ban — which mainly banned guns that looked scary — had no impact on gun violence.
The assault weapons ban is a touchstone for what the real issue is: a culture war. The gun grabbers don’t like assault weapons. Wanting to ban them is about signaling, not reducing violence.
And what’s the point? Is the point that these terrorists might have killed a few less people if they’d had rifles and handguns? Or restorted to bombs instead? Is that really what we’re talking about here?
After conceding that gun laws may not stop criminals, that the Constitutional challenges are formidable and that terrorists in France obtained weapons without a problem, they say this:
But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not.
You will never find a moral perfect statement of: “We must do something! This is something! Let’s do it!”
Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.
The “clear and effective way” last time was to go through a catalog and pick out weapons that looked scary. And note that last part: gun confiscation. Hanging out there all pink and naked.
I’ll close with a few bullet points that the NYT did not mention:
- Gun violence is down. Way down. 50% off its 1993 peak. And if you’re not in an inner city war zone, violence is at level similar to countries that have way stricter gun control. Violence has fallen even faster than it did in Australia after they passed their restrictive gun laws in the wake of Port Arthur. During this dramatic drop in crime, millions of carry permits have been issued and about a hundred million guns purchased.
- The problem of gun violence is primarily in inner cities, not among rural and suburban gun collectors. This is why assault weapons are such a tiny part of overall gun violence.
- The contention that more guns equals more violence is only true if you cherry-pick. The contention that Connecticut’s gun laws massively reduced gun violence is only true if you cherry pick. The contention that mass shootings are way up is only true if you cherry pick. The contention that there have been 350 mass shootings this year is only true if you muddy the definition of mass shooting beyond all recognition. Both the CDC and the NRC conceded, in their studies, that the case that gun control will reduce violence is weak, at beast.
- Given that, the contention that our politicians could unquestionably stop this violence by passing a law is ridiculous. I’m sorry. This is a matter of debate. This is a matter of disagreement. This is not a matter of just pressing the gun control button and having a less violent society emerge.
- By phrasing it the way they do — as if it were not even debatable than gun control would massively reduce violence — the gun grabbers unwittingly reveal what this: a religion. They believe that gun control will work because they believe government can do anything if it just decides to. And the millions of Americans who oppose gun control are thus heretics.
- The tale of gun violence is not told in mass shootings. It’s told in the every day violence in our inner cities and the suicides of many fellow Americans. But addressing that is much more complicated. It probably means ending the War on Drugs. It means addressing the cultural decay and the devaluation of human life. It means fixing our broken education, law enforcement and economic systems. Much easier to grab someone’s AK-47 and call it a day, I guess.
- Did we mention that these were terrorists? Of all the incidents to pick to lose their minds over, the NYT picked this one.
Oh well. Sorry about the rant, but the NYT has basically distilled the hysteria of the last few days and I needed to vent and put all the responses in one place. I hate having to do this every time some maniac decides to kill. You can read a cooler reactions from Jonah Goldberg or Reason or check out the Twitter feed of the indispensable Charles Cooke for more. I’m sure Hot Air and others will have a reply up soon.
One closing thought. The NYT’s front page editorial (and the NY Daily News increasingly deranged covers) are a sign of a movement that is angry because they are not convincing anyone. Every time a tragedy happens, they leap to the microphones, computers and desks to say that now is the time to enact “sensible” gun control and the American public … ignores them.
So is the final straw? Is this the moment when American will “turn their back on gun violence” and repudiate the NRA and finally enact the gun control the liberals wants?
Well, the last time the NYT ran a front page editorial was to lament that nomination of Warren Harding for President.
He won the election by one of the biggest popular vote margins in American history.