The Tyranny of Gun Control

By Leef, George C. | Freeman, June 1998 | Go to article overview

The Tyranny of Gun Control


Leef, George C., Freeman


The Tyranny of Gun Control

edited by Jacob G. Hornberger and Richard M. Ebeling

The Future of Freedom Foundation * 1998 * 93 pages * $15.95 cloth; $9.95 paperback

People are eternally prone to wishful thinking. It's usually harmless because pipe dreams aren't often turned into action in our private lives. When an individual knows he will bear the costs and suffer the consequences of some action, reality quickly intrudes and he asks, "Will this really produce the results I want? What will the costs really be?"

Politics, however, cuts the connection between individual action and consequences. Because "the government" takes the action and appears to bear the cost, most people don't ask those questions. Politicians, therefore, can get away with selling snake-oil remedies; they know that most voters are suckers for grandiose plans wrapped in good intentions. People wish for solutions to problems and rarely ponder whether the proposed plans will really work and what they will cost.

That is why they keep trying to alleviate poverty with welfare and minimum-wage laws. That is why they keep trying to improve health care through socialized medicine. And that is why they keep trying to make the country safer through gun control, the subject of this new volume from the Future of Freedom Foundation. Edited by FFF president Jacob Hornberger and Hillsdale College economics professor Richard Ebeling, the book brings together 14 essays calculated to get people to think about gun control the way they would think about a home do-it-yourself project: will it work and what will it cost?

When the subject of gun control comes up, the words "Second Amendment" are rarely far behind. Opponents of gun control argue that among its many costs is the trashing of yet another section of the Constitution. Gun-- control advocates wave away that argument, claiming that it wasn't meant to guarantee an individual right to possess firearms. In one of the essays, "What the Second Amendment Means," Freeman editor Sheldon Richman annihilates their claim. Richman demonstrates that the pro-gun-control interpretation is utterly indefensible and closes the debate with this crusher: even if you believe that the Second Amendment protects only the government's "right" to have a militia, where else in the Constitution is there any enumerated power authorizing Congress to regulate or prohibit individual ownership of guns? There is no such grant of authority.

Another key gun-control issue is the question of its impact. Many people want so badly to reduce violence that they merely assume that gun control actually does so. …

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