Why Don't Liberals See Gun Ownership as "Choice"?

Carol Platt Liebau
Posted: Apr 17, 2013 7:23 PM

The fury of the left is unbridled in the wake of the gun control bill's failure.  But here's the problem for those who want to push big changes on gun laws: Only 4% of Americans deem guns and gun control a top priority, according to Gallup.  What's more, unlike the abortion issue -- where the passion on both pro-life and pro-choice/abortion sides is relatively evenly matched -- in the gun context, those who believe in Second Amendment freedoms have far more intensity than those on the gun control side.

A puzzling contradiction again manifested itself in the President's angry statement. What's always surprising to me is that abortion/choice proponents aren't more understanding of the conviction pro-gun people feel about their "right to choose" (to own a gun).  Abortion/choice advocates always insist that if -- at the extreme -- abortion were outlawed, there would be more "back alley" abortions, i.e., more dangerous abortions because they are less regulated (although Kermit Gosnell has certainly put the lie to that claim); on the other hand, fewer abortions overall would be performed.  Similarly, pro-gun people point out that if extreme gun control passes, only criminals will have guns.  In other words, both sides acknowledge that the law can exert enormous influence on the behavior of law-abiding people when it comes to making choices (whether to own guns or have abortions).

So here's the paradox: Liberals may not support a woman's right to carry a gun, but they certainly believe she should be able to get an abortion if she is impregnated by rape.  Pro-life conservatives (many of whom do support exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother) would prefer that a woman avoid getting raped in the first place by being able to blow her attacker away with a gun.

Abortion/choice proponents may argue that the freedom to own guns means that a lot of innocent people will get killed.  But pro-lifers would respond that, with abortion, an innocent person is always killed.  And unlike abortion (except in rare cases like those performed to save the life of the mother), guns can actually serve to protect the innocent through self-defense.

Aside from the rare and heartbreaking cases involving rape/incest/life of the mother, when it comes to "choice" as defined by law-abiding abortion proponents vs. "choice" as defined by law-abiding gun rights advocates, it seems readily apparent which is more easily defensible.