We’re back to this again: Democrats pushing gun control when we know nothing about the shooter, his motivations, or the events surrounding how he acquired his firearms. Automatically, it’s we need more background checks, which usually falls flat, as most know this won’t stop crime. Regardless, after the horrific Las Vegas shooting, which has become the worst mass shooting in American history, the liberal publication New Republic decided to re-up their December 2015 post in which a staff writer called for the end of gun ownership after the San Bernardino attack.
I say this not to win some sort of ideological purity contest, but because banning guns urgently needs to become a rhetorical and conceptual possibility. The national conversation needs to shift from one extreme—an acceptance, ranging from complacent to enthusiastic, of an individual right to own guns—to another, which requires people who are not politicians to speak their minds. And this will only happen if the Americans who are quietly convinced that guns are terrible speak out.
If you grew up somewhere in America where gun culture wasn’t a thing (as is my situation; I’m an American living in Canada), or even just in a family that would have never considered gun ownership, you’ll probably be accused of looking down your nose at gun culture. As if gun ownership were simply a cultural tradition to be respected, and not, you know, about owning guns. Guns… I mean, must it really be spelled out what’s different? It’s absurd to reduce an anti-gun position to a snooty aesthetic preference.
There’s also a more progressive version of this argument, and a more contrarian one, which involves suggesting that an anti-gun position is racist, because crackdowns on guns are criminal-justice interventions. Progressives who might have been able to brush off accusations of anti-rural-white classism may have a tougher time confronting arguments about the disparate impact gun control policies can have on marginalized communities.
These, however, are criticisms of certain tentative, insufficient gun control measures—the ones that would leave small-town white families with legally-acquired guns well enough alone, allowing them to shoot themselves or one another and to let their guns enter the general population.
Ban Guns, meanwhile, is not discriminatory in this way. It’s not about dividing society into “good” and “bad” gun owners. It’s about placing gun ownership itself in the “bad” category.
On the pro-gun-control side of things, there’s far too much timidity. What’s needed to stop all gun violence is a vocal ban guns contingent. Getting bogged down in discussions of what’s feasible keeps what needs to happen—no more guns—from entering the realm of possibility. Public opinion needs to shift. The no-guns stance needs to be an identifiable place on the spectrum, embraced unapologetically, if it’s to be reckoned with.
First, Canada has a rather substantial proportion of gun owners in relation to its population. Second, this is never going to happen. Third, there is no timidity; Americans are pro-gun. And last, yes, there will be a spike in support of gun control, but like the tides, it will dissipate as Americans begin to see the gun control agenda as ineffectual, overreaching, and possibly unconstitutional. It happened during Newtown, San Bernardino, and Orlando. The spike will come and then support drops—and we all know the Democratic reaction will be overblown with Trump in the White House. Hillary Clinton weighing in on this event will surely embolden Republican opposition to any gun control item, which everyone agrees won’t do a thing to reduce crime—and the data shows that the so-called assault weapons ban did next to nothing to reduce violent crime. That’s the ceiling. That’s the fact that keeps getting dredged up every time these folks try to find ways to infringe on our Second Amendment rights. Handguns, not long guns—commit most gun violence, but a ban on the former polls dismally with voters, who are also pretty sour on assault weapons bans and think that concealed carry makes us safer (they’re right). On all fronts, the gun control side has become the face of more government, more red tape, less security, and the chipping away of constitutional rights. Yet, they’re still not giving up. This is what they wrote today in light of this tragedy and how to politicize these tragedies to influence policy. In short, they’re calling on liberals to draft an alternative definition of "what it means to be American"[emphasis mine]:
Nothing will change without policy, and policy is near-impossible to pass due to politics.
And politics is itself a multifaceted problem. There are the pragmatic implications of taking on the NRA, which is a behemoth that has bought off Congress. But we must also think about other reasons why the NRA is so mighty. The NRA sealed a sickness into the American mythos. The American as individualist frontiersman, the cowboy forever riding the range—that’s the NRA’s take on American exceptionalism. The government that is coming to take not only your guns, but your way of life—that’s the NRA’s contribution to the paranoid style in American politics.
These two fictions are so powerfully popular that they absorb reality, Blob-like. The danger that guns pose, the laws in other countries, the dead kindergarteners: None of it matters to the average gun-owning conservative, or at least not as much as their fanatical commitment to the America the NRA says it protects. Gun control advocates have to present a competing definition of what it means to be American.
Alas, here we have the embodiment of the liberal ethos: their constipation over America’s founding. Cowboys still exist. Cowboys are part of our history, as the fact that we were frontiersmen. Do Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone ring a bell? Rustic individualism is a hallmark characteristic of American life and history. It’s not paranoia. It’s a fact. What’s delusional about this post is that notion that we’re all paranoid that the government is coming to take our stuff. Tell that to the victims of civil asset forfeiture, where one’s property can be seized before being convicted of a crime, a gross violation of due process that’s in need of reform. Government said if you like your doctor/plan, you can keep it; that was a lie. So, pardon us, New Republic if we’re skeptical about the liberal ethos that ever-growing government power is necessary to foster social justice. It’s snake oil.
So, please go ahead with your alternative pitch to American history and what it means to be an American. The American people have seen it with the Left’s obsession with Confederate statues. This crew thought Confederacy=bad, therefore, everyone would support tearing them down. Wrong—in fact, they showed their hand when some said that even monuments to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington have to be removed, wiped away like Hillary Clinton’s email server due to slavery. There it is: use the Confederate statues as a backdoor to rewrite and muddy our founding. Progressives have always found the principles of the Founding Fathers problematic. I’m not so sure that will resonate with Americans—maybe those in the Ivory Towers (i.e. Clinton voters), but let them sell this revisionist, politically correct version of America. It should be a laugh riot.
You wonder why the Left keeps losing on this issue—well, here are two prime examples.