DAVID SOLWAY: THE ARGUMENT FOR GUNS
Following the latest shooting atrocity in the U.S., the Second Amendment has once again come under fire. Advocates of gun control claim that the easy availability of guns leads to a demonstrable increase in violence and to the kinds of murderous outbreaks we have seen in public schools, as in Columbine and Newtown. Defenders of the right to own and carry firearms argue on the contrary that an individual who is armed is not only better able to resist mortal attack but is also in a position to defend others from wanton massacre.
The debate has now become particularly heated. Witness the exchange between Piers Morgan of CNN and Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America. Morgan contended that America is an inherently violent country with the worst rate of gun crime in the civilized world while Pratt countered that the right to bear arms actually makes people safer. Breaching professional etiquette, Morgan vilified Pratt as “an incredibly stupid man,” to which Pratt calmly responded “It seems to me you are morally obtuse.” Morgan’s statistics are provably wrong, and his comportment was ballistic, hurling verbal loogies at his guest; Pratt pointed out, correctly, that lethal turmoil in Europe and Australia eclipses that in the U.S., and unlike his intemperate host, he spoke with poise and composure. Another case in point: University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis denounced the NRA for having “murdered some more children,” considers it “a terrorist organization,” and wants its Vice President Wayne Lapierre’s “head on a stick.”
Loomis, like Morgan, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and others of their ilk, refuses to face the fact that crime rates are much lower in areas where citizens enjoy the right to bear arms. According to the Daily Mail, the “gun-free” U.K., Morgan’s home country, has one of the worst rates for violence of any Western nation, 2,034 crimes for every 100,000 residents compared to 466 in the U.S. No matter. The NRA’s chief executive Wayne LaPierre has met with almost universal mockery and horror in the media—“Wacko Wayne,” “gun-crazed maniac”—for recommending that armed guards be stationed in the schools. But the guards are already there, at least in some of the schools. The Washington Post reports that there are currently “in excess of 10,000 gun-carrying police assigned to schools,” citing figures from the National Association of School Resource Officers. Private schools routinely retain the services of armed personnel; indeed, Sidwell Friends School attended by Obama’s daughters currently employs 11 security guards and is looking to hire more. As AWR Hawkins at Breitbart deplores, “His children sit under the protection guns afford, while the children of regular Americans are sacrificed.” Virginia state legislator Bob Marshall comments, “The political elite in this city has their children in schools with armed guards…We just need to have the same protection that they have for themselves applying to the rest of America.”
It is not just conservatives who recognize the utility of armed protection for students. We recall that in 2000 president Clinton pledged $120 million in federal grants to place more police officers in schools. And on December 23, 2012, Democratic senator Barbara Boxer introduced an act that would enable the deployment of the National Guard at schools across the country. Where is the liberal/progressive condemnation of these sensible proposals? What we are seeing on the part of those liberals who are driving the gun-control paddy wagon is an unsavory mix of walleyed ignorance, selective moral outrage and calculated hysteria.
True, much of the animus against guns is directed at the proliferation of assault rifles and high capacity ammunition clips. This seems to make good sense until we realize that the situation is not quite that simple. Charles Krauthammer, for example, takes a far more reasonable and mature approach to the issue than most national commentators do. In an article titled “The Roots of Mass Murder,” Krauthammer writes that he has “no problem in principle with gun control. Congress enacted (and I supported) an assault-weapons ban in 1994. The problem was: It didn’t work…Even the guns that are banned can be made legal with simple, minor modifications.” On the problem of efficacy, Bruce Thornton notes that “murders increased after the 1968 Gun Control act, and later declined after the 1994 assault weapons ban expired.”
With respect to assault rifles, there is yet another issue to consider. Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides for states to form militias, and for citizens to organize and train themselves in those instances when the state is found remiss. This ordinance is highly controversial, and its purpose today would surely be different from its original raison d’être. Nonetheless, a citizen militia might conceivably be mobilized to quell anarchic unrest or even as a last-resort resistance against a Federal behemoth drastically exceeding its mandate. A citizen militia armed only with 22-caliber rifles and 9-millimeter handguns would not last long in a guerrilla campaign against overwhelming force. This scenario is admittedly rather farfetched. But as long as Article 1, Section 8 remains on the books, assault rifles must also remain available.
The furor over gun control must be studied in still another light, that is, from the perspective of an ostensibly pacifist Administration that has been anti-gun and anti-American from the beginning of its tenure. It seems credible to assume that the disgraceful Fast and Furious operation was intended by the Obama administration not so much to track the activities of the Mexican cartels as to create the conditions for an attack on the Second Amendment. What better way to influence the public to gut the provisions of the Second Amendment than to craft a situation in which spillover gun violence acquires ever more media prominence? This reading of the ongoing scandal, which the DOJ and the president are doing everything in their power to suppress, begins to make sense when placed in the context of Obama’s disastrous foreign policy, his downplaying of American exceptionalism, and his reduction of American military might through budgetary sequestration.
It is not only that the president wishes to take guns out of the hands of American citizens, aka “bitter clingers”; he is also intent on taking warships out of the water, warplanes out of the skies, bombs out of the arsenals, and advanced weapons technology out of the experimental labs. Guns are only a subset of canons. Obama’s agenda, then, seems to be double-edged. On the one hand, he is rendering American citizens vulnerable within their own borders—criminals, after all, will not surrender their guns, and weapons can always be obtained illegally by those who wish to abuse them. On the other hand, Obama seems determined to render the U.S. permeable to its enemies: he has lost the Middle East, empowered the Muslim Brotherhood both at home and abroad, allowed American personnel to be slaughtered in Benghazi, installed strict rules of engagement in Afghanistan that result in greater American casualties, given China crippling influence over the American financial system, reset relations with Russia on Russian terms, ceded undue authority to a UN run amok, and seen to it that the U.S. as a corporate citizen of the world community is increasingly at the mercy of an international mafia of corrupt aggressors.
To focus exclusively on the liberal and media offensive against the gun lobby is to miss the more comprehensive issue. One needs to perform an act of extrapolation. The target is America itself, in both its civil and global dimensions. It is neither love of country nor moral solicitude that governs the “progressive” mindset. On the contrary, it is the distrust of the ordinary citizen to manage his own affairs coupled with a rancorous contempt for a presumably imperial America that animates our academic, intellectual, media and much of our political elite. The local campaign against guns and assault rifles is merely part of a much larger operation, put in practice by an ultra-liberal constituency and a Left administration, to weaken the U.S. both domestically and internationally. It starts with removing the common pistol; it ends with cutting back on the F-22 Raptor.
This is why law-abiding citizens must preserve the right to defend themselves not only in their homes and schools, but also in the diplomatic corridors of power and the arenas of international conflict. For they are now at risk in both domains.
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