Guest post

Gun control: an American fantasy

Democrat National Committee headquarters.

(The following is an editorial in today’s Washington Examiner.)

The shooter who perpetrated the recent massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., succeeded in killing 17 people. He also got Americans talking about gun control again.

Once again, too, there were those whose contribution to debate was to sneer at people who offered prayers for the victims and their families, instead of advocating or promising gun control. Even if you set aside the sneers, there is a problem with their attitude, no matter how good their intentions are otherwise. Prayer might actually help. Gun control, on the other hand, doesn’t work and can’t work in the U.S. and is a fantasy now just as it ever was.

By “fantasy,” we mean to express several important facts that are ignored in this debate. It is fantasy as policy because stricter gun control, within the limits of what is considered reasonable today (i.e., anything short of a total ban on sales or even gun confiscation), does not guarantee or even statistically correlate with lower gun homicide rates in any given state. This fact merits your time for some research, but to give just one prominent example from the FBI data, Texas and California have comparable gun homicide rates each year (they were actually tied in 2015).

If gun control were effective, that is not what you’d expect in the nation’s two most populous states with two of the most different gun policies. And that is by no means the only observation of its kind that you’ll take away from the FBI’s annual numbers.

Gun control is a political fantasy because the Second Amendment and various states’ constitutions protect the right to bear arms. This will not be changed, full stop. You don’t need to support or even like the Bill of Rights to see that gun control is an administrative fantasy as well.

In a country where private citizens own more than 300 million firearms, no effective form of gun control can be practical, and no practical form can be effective. Even an obviously unconstitutional ban on all new sales would take a century to make its effects felt. Universal confiscation of hundreds of millions of firearms would be several orders of magnitude more difficult than deporting every illegal immigrant in the U.S.

Gun control advocates seem frustrated that this country is not and cannot ever be Luxembourg. But the sooner they accept that reality, the closer everyone will be to starting a productive conversation about how to prevent the next Parkland.

This conversation ought to begin with the question of why the nation’s existing background check system and law enforcement agencies are so woefully ineffective in preventing known threats, like that from the Parkland shooter, whose irregular and threatening behavior was no secret, from becoming school shooters.

Why is the government so bad at keeping guns out of the hands not only of people who arguably shouldn’t have them, but even of people who by law are already not allowed to have them? The Charleston church shooter was a felon who should not have been permitted to buy his gun, but for an FBI error during the background check process.

The Parkland shooter, like the Pulse Nightclub terrorist and the Boston Marathon bombers before him, had been flagged for FBI attention long before his crimes. In each case, the bureau shrugged.

Is the government incapable of safeguarding citizens’ rights and safety? Could it do so with more resources, or with more authority? Congress should at least consider granting money to the states to pay for the personnel and computer resources required to make the background check database work as intended.

Meanwhile, it should also consider creating a universally accessible, voluntary background check system, as we have recommended in the past, to replace or supplement the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The next step will likely fall to state governments, which may want to consider new ideas such as temporary gun violence restraining orders. They probably ought also to be reconsidering procedures for officially identifying and legally recognizing mental illness in people who are suspected threats to themselves and others.

There is also an entire universe of discussion that hasn’t been had in decades, about whether we as a society are inappropriately neglecting to prescribe and perhaps heavily subsidize assisted living arrangements and even partial physical confinement for certain disturbed individuals. In today’s technological context, many of these might benefit and even become productive members of society, without posing a threat.

These ideas should be at the center of this debate. Once we’re talking about them instead of trying to drink from the dry well of gun control, we’ll actually be making some progress.

* * * *

(Note: A more accurate headline would have been Gun Control: a Leftist Fantasy. Conservatives tend to be more realistic. We are people with our feet on the ground, with some exceptions. The Democrat Party, i.e. leftists, excel at dreaming.)

44 thoughts on “Gun control: an American fantasy

  1. Some great points made here, Señor Felipe. Most of us old Gringos are not going to give up our firearms to satisfy the lefties no matter what they accuse us of. Laws ain’t gonna get it done. Human behavior is changed only by the choices humans make. Those choices are seldom determined by laws. A long list of alternatives to what we presently have in the USA is available. We could start with some meaningful, complete background checks and some firm, well thought-out changes to treating mental-health problems and move forward from there. Ándale pues.


    1. Ricardo: If one had to point to a single reason why gun-control laws are useless in the United States, it would be the millions of guns that already are floating around. The horse has long escaped the barn. You cannot put the genie back into the bottle.


  2. With the Florida shooter there were all kinds of red flags including 39 visits to his home by the authorities. In retrospect just about everybody was saying there was something wrong with this kid so where were the teachers, students and local authorities ? He should have never been allowed to buy a gun especially an AR15. I agree that getting rid of or confiscating all guns isn’t possible or even desirable. One thing in common with mass shooters is that they have some degree of mental illness and many are taking some sort of pharmaceuticals. This needs to be addressed because as we’ve seen in Europe, you don’t need a gun to kill a bunch of people. You just need to rent a truck.


    1. Brent: Outlaw trucks! That’s what I say.

      The reason this sort of event — the most recent school thing — happens in the United States and not Mexico is that the culture is different. Other reasons too, but that’s the biggie.


      1. I just heard that the number of murders involving guns isn’t much different between Florida and California yet they have much different gun laws at the state level. Yeah. Let’s ban PU trucks and dental floss as well. You just don’t know when it will be used for some nefarious purpose.


        1. Brent: The column makes the same point using free-wheeling Texas and snowflake California as examples. Same murder rates. But let’s not let facts and figures interfere with a pipe dream.


  3. The culture is different. A simple line drawn on a map differentiates the USA from Canada, yet the thinking about guns is widely separated. I have friends and acquaintances who have several hunting rifles, and a couple that have pistols. You have to belong to a gun club and undergo background checks and training, and pistols are registered. Rifles and shotguns are not registered, but to own one, you have to pass a course and have a Firearms Acquisition Certificate. Sales of rifles are only regulated to the point that the seller has to see the FAC of the buyer, but not report it.

    There are of course, some who follow the lead of needing guns for self-defense. Thankfully, they are a minority. I could not live in a country if I thought I needed to be carrying a concealed weapon wherever I went, or needed to have a gun within reach when I was at home. Living in fear is not living.

    Most Canadians don’t want a firearm in their home, most Americans wouldn’t be without one.

    Just an observation.


    1. Kris: You don’t need to carry a weapon wherever you go in the United States. It’s not a bad idea, however, to be armed when walking into many areas of cities run by Democrat administrations. You know, like Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Baltimore, Atlanta. And there are the Mohammedan areas too which, I’m guessing, are more populous in Democrat cities.

      As for concealed weapons, I think it’s better to have your sidearm plainly visible. That makes for a more polite society.

      If a teacher or coach had been armed at the school in Parkland, Florida, you can take it to the bank that the death toll would have been significantly lower. That is an absolute certainty.


      1. If the gun culture in the USA was similar to Canada, the death toll would have been zero. Sure there are incidents of shootings, but nothing compared to the USA. Don’t misunderstand me, I was in Army Cadets, our version of ROTC, and Army Reserve. I was familiar with, as in carried, semi and fully automatic assault rifles for two months every summer. I qualified on 22, 7.62 mm(.223), 303, 38, 9mm, 50 caliber weapons, hand grenades and 105 Howitzer. I personally owned a couple of 22s and hunted with shotguns. The only guns I’m afraid of are ones owned by idiots.

        I have seen news clips of the armed individuals when gunfire breaks out, and in most cases, they don’t respond, they run. If you expect everyone in a school besides students to be armed and trained to the level it takes to respond to an armed attack, (and only training one or two isn’t enough) then all of the schools will have to be on Army bases.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I also think the cat is out of the bag on gun sales. There are too many to control, and even though there are places where purchase is difficult, like Illinois, all you have to do is go to Indiana. Most gun shows don’t require anything more than the amount of purchase, no background check. Internet sales make everything available to anyone. There is an answer, but it shouldn’t require issuing body armor to 10-year-old kids.


    2. Kris: Your Canada, due to not having the U.S. history of slavery which ended up with a significant black American population, lacks the numerous, malfunctioning, violent, crime-ridden black ghettos that currently exist in the United States. It also lacks famous race-baiters like Al Sharpton and his ilk who constantly incite racial ill will.

      Though I do not recall that any of the school shooters have been black (wonder why this is? Guess they’re too busy shooting each other back in the ‘hood.), there are numerous good reasons to carry a pistol in the United States these days, sadly. Canada is a different matter altogether. But if Canada continues to bow to the Gods of Multiculturalism, rolling out welcome mats for Latinos and, worse, Mohammedans, you’ll all wish you were armed in a few years more. Count on this. Take it to the bank.


      1. I see these points. Canada does not have some of those precursors, but we have had a declining white population, augmented by immigration. I think our biggest concern is going to be opiod addiction, which has spread to the farthest reaches, even the Arctic circle. Most violent crime here is caused by addicts trying to feed their habit and dealers defending their turf.

        Wish it wasn’t so, but in any event, I’m gunless and not scared.

        I’m watching the town hall in Florida watching Rubio defend ownership of assault rifles, but he disagrees with arming teachers.


        1. P.S. By the way, those so-called assault rifles in question are simply lookalikes manufactured to look “cool.” Actual automatic weapons, real assault rifles like the military uses, are not legally available to civilians without special and difficult-to-obtain permits. That’s been the case for many years.


          1. I’m extremely happy that I was born north of that line on the map.

            I try not to get involved with your political comments, and according to what I saw in the speech from Wayne LaPierre this morning, the Democrats are entirely responsible for all crime in the US, it is political. I won’t comment again on your politics.

            I’m well aware of the difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and that they are easily modified altered. The rifle used in the latest instance was stock, and he still managed to fire it 150 times in several minutes. What purpose does that serve in the hands of a civilian other than mass murder.

            Over and out.


            1. Kris: Those of you fortunate enough to have been born next to the United States should be thanking your lucky stars on a daily basis that the U.S. has kept you safe from harm for a long, long time. You guys have been able to focus on your maple syrup, and how great is that?

              As for the Democrats being responsible for all the crime in the U.S., well, no. That’s an exaggeration, but far more violent crime happens in cities run by Democrats than in those run by Republicans, and that’s a demonstrable fact.

              As for the difference between semi-auto and automatic weapons, it’s mind-boggling how many people don’t know the difference. I’d venture than the overwhelming majority are folks who sip martinis and vote for Democrat candidates.

              As for the whack job kid who shot up the Parkland school, if you have enough magazines and can pull the trigger enough times, sure, you can get off 150 rounds and even more.

              The problem in the U.S. is not the availability of guns because they’ve been available since the dawn of the Republic. The problem is a rotting society. That’s what should be outlawed.

              As for your not wanting to get into politics here, why not? I’m invariably polite, and I recognize that not everyone agrees with me. That’s what makes the world go round. Differences of opinion … and other things too.


  4. Yesterday the Florida State House voted down a ban on assault rifles. Instead, they passed a resolution declaring pornography a public health risk.

    What we can conclude from this is that the porn industry needs better lobbyists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Creigh: I don’t think porn is a public health risk any more than walking around all day staring at your cell phone is a health risk. However, one can certainly spend one’s time more productively in most instances.

      That no one at the high school in Parkland was armed, aside from the lunatic, proved to be a serious health risk for the victims. If only a teacher had been armed.


        1. Creigh: I have not seen that, but if it’s so, then obviously he did not do his job. Maybe he was taking a smoke break. I guess the deputy was not a Latino. We had a couple of armed robbers walk into the TelMex office here right off the main plaza yesterday afternoon. It’s a very small place. The armed guard shot one of them dead, and the other hightailed it on a motorbike.


      1. I will add one thing I think all sides can agree on. The media needs to stop publicizing the killers identities. A news anchor I watched said “Officials are still searching for a motive.” At that point I was literally yelling at the TV: “He wanted to be on national TV, you @#$%^ moron!”


  5. “Gun control advocates seem frustrated that this country is not and cannot ever be Luxembourg.” Truer words have not been spoken. Most of my friends who advocate gun control really support gun confiscation. And, when pressed, they admit it, scoffing at any problem with the Second Amendment.

    What no one can tell me is why, when guns were owned by a wider cross-section of Americans, mass shootings were a rarity. That was barely three decades ago. Gun availability is not the major contributing cause. There is some other disturbing cultural problem that has led to this end. I am not certain what it is. But I do know that governmental action is not going to solve it. As the editorial correctly points out, most of the recent mass shooters should not have been able to possess a gun legally.

    My gun-control friends suffer from the legislative fallacy. If we pass a law, the problem will go away. Well, it won’t. And, if we do not start talking about this issue logically (the editorial does just that), Americans will suffer more tragedies.


    1. Señor Cotton: The issue is cultural … or something. It’s not the availability of firearms. The American Mind has changed drastically in recent decades. As you note, guns have been all over the place since the dawn of the Republic. This mass-shooting business is very recent, relatively speaking. Something has gone sorely amiss, but it’s not caused by the availability of guns.


  6. People that want to kill others will do so no matter what the laws says. The manner of death does not matter, be it a firearm or a Mercedes Benz or a massive dose of poisonous gas. The end result is the same. The real question is why they would want to commit such an act? Some see it as an act of religious piety, others are just messed up by psychotropic drugs. Banning firearms will not keep them from owning them. If they cannot buy them legally, they will buy them off the street.

    Only law-abiding people will surrender their firearms. Criminals, crazies and jihadists will always be able to purchase weapons.


    1. Señor Gill: Precisely so. Only normal, honest people will pay attention to gun laws. The bad guys won’t. This simple core fact seems too complicated for leftists (Democrat Party voters) to comprehend. One must wonder where their minds are.


  7. And then again, whenever a government becomes too oppressive and onerous, it is nice for people to have the ability to overthrow it. I suspect that is the core of the Democrats’ hatred of firearms.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I realize that many other countries (including, but not limited to, Canada) do not understand the average American’s (at least those of us in fly-over country) ferocity in defending our Constitution’s Second Amendment.

    Our fundamental ((Constitutional) right to gun ownership is not rooted in hunting or self-defense (although these are useful). The Second was intended to allow citizens to protect themselves from the possibility of a tyrannical government. So far, it has worked quite well.

    History is on the side of citizen gun ownership. Almost 100 million people died in the last century with no such right — see Germany, the Soviet Union, and China.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Where is the discussion about how broken down the chain of custody info is that existed on this very killer in Florida? Kids in elementary school would tattle to someone about another student breaking rules in a heartbeat. Why don’t high school kids? Because no one would listen to the warning? Kids know stuff about each other. In this one instance, it would have been helpful for kids to speak up and tell a teacher, like the coach who was killed, for instance, who would probably would have acted on the “gossip” which turned out to be true. As for the particular weapon used, again, breakdown of preexisting information on said killer.


  10. WOW! Universally acceptable, voluntary background check system … Gun violence temporary restraining orders. These are two of the most mind-numbing ridiculous ideas I’ve ever heard. They are ideas designed to confuse and deter the fools who think gun control is even possible.
    The Chinese invented one of the first firearms. The sole idea behind these devices is death. They are designed to kill. No other purpose. I’ve read dozens of posts of proud AR-15 owners who say they use their AR-15 for HUNTING, TARGET PRACTICE, and of course the old, reliable, self-defense justification. A skilled hunter only needs one bullet to kill his prey. The existing gun laws requiring guns to be stored unloaded and locked up defeats the fantasy of self defense. There is only one viable solution, outlaw all existing guns. Rifles, handguns, whatever. Collect every single gun, destroy them and reimburse the owners. Make gun possession punishable by death with the following exceptions:
    Law enforcement and government militias.
    Hunters that complete training courses and full background checks.
    Hunting rifles that allow only single shots and are biometrically matched with the owner.

    Yes, I already hear the laughter and snide remarks, but the person who said “you will only get my gun when you can pry it from my cold dead fingers” was someone who wouldn’t think twice about killing anyone.

    This may sound like a radical plan, but it’s a plan. Far less expensive than trying to arm and defend the hundreds of thousands of schools, far more realistic than thinking we can get anyone to agree on any gun control or depending on people to voluntarily report others we think aren’t mentally balanced.
    Many more children will die because their right to life is somehow considered less important than someone’s right to own a firearm. It’s just that simple.


    1. Some people, including females, may have AR-15s because they live on ranches in Texas where there is a massive wild hog problem. We may even shoot the beasts legally out of a helicopter with our AR-15s … just sayin’.


      1. Bev: AR-15s are just semi-automatic rifles that have been around for ages but have been gussied up to look bad-ass. They’re just rifles. I can see they would be great for blasting hogs. Be fun from a helicopter. I’ve got a pilot’s license, but I’ve never been in a helicopter.


  11. Can you imagine the residents of some of our larger cities giving up their firearms? That just isn’t going to happen. The thugs will never obey the law; that is why they are thugs. The people they prey upon will never give up their personal protection either.

    So, now it is open season on Asian shopkeepers. Pookie and Ray Ray will have a field day.


    1. Señor Gill: Yes, I had read about that boneheaded requirement for those convenience store owners to remove bulletproof glass. It’s one of the more precious examples of political correctness and nincompoop thinking of those who vote for Democrats.


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