Rationality Rare in Gun-Control Debate

By Reed, Fred | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 13, 1998 | Go to article overview

Rationality Rare in Gun-Control Debate


Reed, Fred, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Listening to the hoopla over the current schoolboy fad of shooting classmates en masse has proved painful, I presume, to anyone with the slightest regard for thought. This category may include, as far as I can tell, maybe a dozen people.

The sheer dishonesty of both the pro- and anti-gun crowd is emetic enough. Add the incapacity for analysis, the almost libidinous fondness for bumper-sticker philosophy and . . . yech.

On the anti-gun side, we have the blame-the-gun-not-the-criminal approach. If Bobby shoots 11 people, something is wrong with the gun, not with Bobby. Therefore, let's illegalize guns. I see. And some number of children a year die in accidental shootings, so let's outlaw guns. Not, however, even more children drown in swimming pools, so let's outlaw pools.

Then there's the drumbeat of guns-cause-crime. The most heavily armed nations (meaning guns in the home) are probably Israel and Switzerland, yet in neither are guns much used in crime.

We are the problem, not guns. We no longer have the social controls that makes casual murder rare.

We focus on guns (which for all I care can be banned outright; not everyone gets excited over the issue) because looking at the decay of morality and civilized values upsets the people who oppose guns, while these same people detest gun owners.

The result of a ban, even if it worked, would be (probably) somewhat fewer murders, and no change at all in the underlying moral chaos. How very useful.

On the other side of the coin, the National Rifle Association pounds away on the idea that the Second Amendment ensures citizens the right to keep and bear arms. Controlling guns is therefore an assault on the Constitution. This sounds good, unless you read the first part of the amendment - the part about militias, remember? - at which point things get lots foggier.

The fact is that the courts have never recognized an absolute right either to keep or bear arms. Try carrying a rifle into the Senate press gallery. If you want to carry a concealed weapon, in most places you need a permit from the state, which may not issue it.

If you have a carry permit, you still often cannot go into certain places, such as bars. Try walking into a high school with a loaded 12-gauge, or down the street in most cities. …

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