Liberals are already using recent tragedies as opportunity to push gun control agenda
It was only a matter of time until the liberals went there. Not enough hours had even passed to allow the soil to settle at the grave sites of so many innocent victims, taken from this life at the hands of criminals and killers, before those on the left once again hopped on the latest crisis and tragedy to advance another aspect of their contraconstitutional agenda.
In this case, the liberal fodder was indeed a staggering and tragic loss of life over the past few weeks. In fact, 57 people are dead because of recent gun violence, including seven police officers.
And sure enough, in “The Guns of Spring,” an op-ed piece published in yesterday’s New York Times, writer Timothy Egan tugged at heartstrings, lamenting our indifference to gun violence in America.
In a month of violence gruesome even by our own standards, 57 people have lost their lives in eight mass shootings. The killing grounds include a nursing home, a center for new immigrants, a child’s bedroom. Before that it was a church, a college, a daycare center.
We hear about these sketches of carnage between market updates and basketball scores — and shrug. We’re the frogs slow-boiling in the pot, taking it all in incrementally until we can’t feel a thing. We shrug because that’s the deal, right? That’s the pact we made, the price of Amendment number two to the Constitution, right after freedom of speech.
Don’t get me wrong — nobody wants to see innocent men and women fall victim to someone bent on taking life but, in this case, Egan has gone way over the top.
The killing grounds? He might as well have said “the killing fields.” After all, why not compare the unfortunate and tragic actions taken by a handful of individual criminals with the execution of hundreds of thousands of Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge if such a comparison will draw enough ire so as to stoke passions on the left? Given how Egan began his article, melodramatically wordsmithing like a hybrid of Emeril Lagasse and an overzealous freshman journalism student, understatement certainly doesn’t seem to be his strong suit.
Take the column apart, piece-by-piece, and you’ll find that every hyper-emotional phrase in Egan’s commentary only underscores just how badly the American political left is in need of an excuse to justify the expansion of federal gun control legislation, specifically the reinstatement of the so-called Assault Weapons Ban, a Clinton-era failure which fortunately was permitted to sunset in 2004.
The Assault Weapons Ban, like so many other ineffective gun control measures, attempts to stem gun violence among criminals–people who break the law–by placing new laws on the books. At the end of the day, however, only law-abiding citizens–people who do not break the law–are affected, and the measure essentially takes mechanisms for self-defense away from those who want the ability to lawfully defend themselves and their families from criminals who, by very definition, don’t pay much attention to the laws in the first place.
So ineffective on stemming gun violence and criminality is the Assault Weapons Ban that, back in February, new Attorney General Eric Holder attempted to rationalize its resurgence by insinuating that abridging the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens in the United States would somehow decrease Mexican drug cartel violence . . . in Mexico.
In reality, says Clark Neily, senior attorney at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice, Holder’s justification is just the latest example of how policymakers apply a “politically popular Band-Aid” to a difficult social problem (in the case of Holder’s rationale, drug violence due to ineffective drug laws) rather than do the work necessary to properly address the root of the problems at hand. Neily, who most recently served as co-counsel for Dick Heller in District of Columbia v. Heller, the seminal 2008 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own and keep firearms in the home for self-defense, dismissed the Assault Weapons Ban as merely a “a feel-good measure for liberal politicians and their gun-fearing constituents” and called the notion that its reinstatement could somehow turn the tide in Mexico’s drug war “absurd.”
“First of all, the so-called ‘Assault Weapons Ban’ is a misnomer,” Neily told America’s Right, “It is, in fact, a ‘scary-looking gun ban,’ as many others have pointed out. Furthermore, the notion that the free availability of semi-automatic weapons in the United States has any significant impact on the extent or intensity of the violence in the Mexican drug trade is not only absurd but frankly infantile. Holder’s suggestion that reimposing the Assault Weapons Ban would have a positive impact in Mexico strikes me as either deeply ignorant, deeply cynical, or both.”
Banning guns in any way, Neily said, only affects the ability of responsible, law-abiding Americans to defend themselves, as criminals will always have access to illegal guns. He went on to use the example of narcotics which, of course, are “strictly banned in the United States” but nonetheless enjoy almost limitless availability.
“Of course, a substantial proportion of the illegal drugs in the United States come in through Mexico,” Neily said. “The notion that banning various types of firearms would somehow magically make them harder for criminals to obtain, however, flies in the face of our experience with the drug war and once again displays an almost infantile perspective on the efficacy of banning items that significant numbers of people wish to possess and that, unless used irresponsibly, are not necessarily harmful to society.”
In his commentary, Timothy Egan would like us to believe, similarly, that the tide of violence and criminality in America will miraculously ebb with the passage of new laws. What he and his ilk fail to understand is that criminality in itself is the ignorance of such laws, and violence is more often than not the end result.
At the end of his piece, Egan reinforces this point beautifully, writing about how until better gun control measures are in place, “[t]he rest of us can only mourn and shrug, marking grim anniversaries: Virginia Tech, Columbine, and on, and on, and on.” Oddly enough, gun control measures had ample opportunity to stop the shootings at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School, not to mention the incidents at Northern Illinois University, the Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City, and the Westroads Mall in Omaha. All of those places were so-called “Gun-Free Zones,” schools and shopping malls where firearms are strictly prohibited by law. In those cases, however, even the strict prohibition on all firearms did not stop those shooters from killing 62 people. Why? Because the shooters were criminals, and criminals simply do not abide by the law.
In his commentary, Timothy Egan would also like us to believe that, save for that pesky Second Amendment, we could treat gun violence like contaminated food, arguing “[i]f it was peanut butter or pistachio nuts taking down people by the dozens every week, we’d be all over it.”
And again, he argues against his own point beautifully. The recent peanut butter scare, just like the spinach scare and the scallions scare before it, stemmed from a packaging facility contaminated with bacteria. It was that bacteria which sickened and killed people, and if that bacteria were killing dozens of people every week, we would indeed “be all over it.” Stopping the tide of contaminated food, however, involves the meticulous cleanup of the packaging facilities in question so as to ensure that the environment itself is no longer dangerous to end users. By the same logic advanced by Mr. Egan, simply passing further gun control measures in order to stem the tide of gun violence would be akin to prohibiting peanut butter sandwiches in order to prevent people from getting sick — just like the root of the recent salmonella outbreak was the contaminated facility in which the peanut butter was prepared and packaged, the root of the gun violence in America is not the guns, but rather the mentality of the criminals pulling the trigger.
I live in Philadelphia, where the loss of life due to gang violence and drug violence is an everyday occurrence, where on most nights each late local newscast inevitably begins with a shot from a news chopper hovering over the scene of the latest bloodletting. Guns, however, are not the problem here. Instead, the problem in Philadelphia and Oakland and Pittsburgh and Binghamton and beyond starts with the inherent lack of respect for human life and lack of deference to authority. That being said, it’s not surprising that Egan failed to mention the rally held in support of the murdered who gunned down the four Oakland police department, during which people marched in the street, hailing the killer as the hero and the fallen as the oppressors. That’s the foundational mentality. That’s the root cause. That’s the bacteria in your peanut butter sandwich.
Like most liberals when it comes to gun control, Timothy Egan misses the target. To people like Egan, unfortunate gun-related tragedies like we’ve seen over the past few weeks serve as an opportunity to tap into true, justified emotion in a concerted effort to shift blame, much like Egan’s liberal counterparts on Capitol Hill have successfully used the real, justified fear and apprehension which accompanies economic crisis to shift blame onto the free market and rationalize the exponential expansion of the federal government.
In his commentary, Egan also wrote that “nothing is more chilling than a gun advocate racing before a camera to embrace a lunatic’s right to carry and kill.” First, the problem is the lunatic. Second, murder has nothing to do with the right to keep and bear arms. Finally, I don’t know about “chilling,” but I find it awfully heartless of Mr. Egan and his liberal friends to politicize these tragedies, in an attempt to somehow get their argument out first, while the bodies of the fallen are still warm and the wounds of the loved ones left behind are still fresh.