Wednesday, June 01, 2005


I've long counseled Democrats to avoid the issue of gun control. It's a loser. In many parts of the country, guns are an innate part of the culture -- and the people who use them exist within the socio-economic bracket that should ally them to progressive causes.

I'll also confess that once, while living in a very rough neighborhood, I considered purchasing a gun. Bottom line: I'm no staunch proponent of gun control.

Recent events, however, have caused that bottom line to waver.

A man I do work for -- call him Ryan -- wasn't able to meet with me yesterday. Today I learned the reason why: Three friends of his were shot by a madman late Monday night. Two were killed; the third is in critical condition. The perpetrator hid in the woods overnight, shot more people the next day, then terrorized a Simi Valley Wal-Mart before ending his own life.

What do you say to a man who lost three close friends because a psychotic managed to grab a firearm?

Yes, yes...I know all the counter-arguments raised against gun control proponents. The strongest of these arguments is provided by the Canadian example: Our northern neighbors are all armed to the teeth, yet their homicide rate is quite low.

So I remain opposed to most gun control proposals. Forgive me if I express my opposition without enthusiasm.


Anonymous said...

I live in one of those areas where guns are "an innate part of the culture," and I own a few myself. (Mine, unlike those of so many others around here, are legally registered.) So let me say this: if Gore in 2000 had gone on television and said clearly that he had no intention of ever "taking guns away", and that he fully supported the Fourth Amendment, then we would have a different President now. The gun-hating Dem's wouldn't have deserted him, but the gun-loving Dems (and moderate Repub's) would have nodded and went, okay, good. Gore would have won, and we would not be in this mess now. But he didn't do that, and I have to ask you this: has there been even one less gun-killing in this country because Gore pandered to the elite urban sophisticates who think guns are the tools of a devil they don't even believe to exist???

Now, from this you might guess I am an NRA gun nut. I am not. I do recognize, however, that a gun is a "great equalizer." People don't push you around easily, or step on you, when you have a gun. That's true on an individual basis and of society in general. Do you think Iraq would still be resisting our conquest if guns weren't more common there than telephones? And there are tens of millions of Americans who feel that they are soon to be un-equalized in this country, either economically or politically or socially. And they are not so far wrong, probably, in what they feel. So, yeah, guns get misused, because we live in a dysfunctional society. Occasionally someone goes over the edge, on a rampage--asserting their equality, in some twisted--but ultimately not incomprehensible--fashion. Like I said, guns are the great equalizer, and if people abuse them you better look at why, instead of jumping to the facile conclusion that guns should be take away.

Dem's need to recognize that they are misdirecting their energies when they push for gun control. They are making the same mistake that Repub's do when they push for abortion control. Which is to say that to succeed in their efforts would be disastrous.

Anonymous said...

I must quibble with one point. In Canada we are not, as you say, "armed to the teeth." We have gun control legislation that reflects a general abhorrence of guns. There is considerable opposition to our laws controlling weapons, but I suspect it originates with a small, albeit noisy crowd. The main difference, I think, is that our country was founded on a desire for "peace, order, and good government," rather than unfettered civil liberty, and we have had a long history of law and order as a result. It doesn't always appear that way; and indeed, it could well explain the disproportionate number of comedians we inflict on the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

I'm an ultra-liberal 70 year old white woman, who toed the party line about guns until two things happened:
1. An Afghan citizen said "The Taliban took all our guns away and then ..."
2. The Neo-cons took over, the vote seemed hugely fraudulent and their henchmen scare me re many basic "American" civil rights.
Put these issues together and I realize (I'm slow) that we must not do something so stupid and permanent that we're left with a total takeover by our government and all we helpless left-wingers have to say is "Ooops!"
Judy Down Maine

Barry Schwartz said...

I would have figured the plethora of Canadian jokesters had to do with pessimism -- that you are laughing at your unease. Same as for guns, you guys wouldn't want to go nuts with them, for fear the nation would go to pieces -- which it would, just look this way (at the U.S.). :)

Anonymous said...

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms has nothing to do with sports, and everything to do with protecting your rights. An armed populace IS homeland security.

I'm a leftist on most every issue, except gun control. Gun control doesn't work, throwing out another catchphrase, if guns are outlawed, only criminals will have guns.

Liberal (haha) gun laws and concealed carry laws lower crime. Its a proven fact. Compare Florida's landmark CCW laws and their crimerate versus Washington DC's total ban on handgun ownership.

Gangs don't use AR15s, or even AK47s. Terrorists don't shop at the local gun show. You're not going to drop $9000 on a .50BMG rifle and shoot down aircraft. Gun control is there to make you feel warm and fuzzy.

No other reason.

Chairman Mao believed guns were the ultimate political control. In this country, our forefathers gave that ability to we, the people.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to thank my fellow Canadian who clarified the false statement that we are "armed to the teeth." We most certainly are not and the majority of us like it that way. We are a peace loving nation and proud of it.

Joseph Cannon said...

I should clarify. I spent some time in Canada -- land of gorgeous sunsets, friendly people, and thick clouds of tobacco smoke. Everyone I met owned a rifle. And everyone I met seemed extremely unlikely to use a weapon in a fit of madness or passion.

The situation is quite different here in America. I swear...there are some days when it seems as though one out of ten people I run into here in Los Angeles is positively SHAKING with weird, unspoken rages.

Canadians don't need gun control laws. Their society -- their psychology -- is different.

Anonymous said...

Were you by any chance partaking in after dinner cocktails at a hunting lodge during your stay here in Canada? I'm trying to imagine where you must have been to be surrounded by rifle owning, chain smoking Canadians. Generalizations like the one you have put forth here paint an entire nation's population with one brush and further promote an ignorance some Americans tend to have about anything beyond American borders. Just a little well-intended observation from a friendly Canadian. I truly enjoy your blog!

Anonymous said...

The gun debate and intensity thereof has always bored me. Gun control is not the same thing as taking guns away. Yawn.
However, this may be my own gender bias, but the most interesting part of this issue for me and perhaps other women is the intuitive correlation between large guns and small penises. Sometimes a cigar is NOT just a cigar.
Kim in PA

Anonymous said...

Anonymous claims that gun control does not equate with taking guns away. It's funny to hear gun control advocates insist on that point, and then turn around and insist that limiting a woman's right to have an abortion does in fact jeopardize THAT right. I am not clear on why it is okay to put limits on gun ownership, but not on abortion. Especially since gun ownership is explicitly protected by the Constitution, while abortion is not. Gun owners and educated women both perceive that once you start limiting a right, you're treading on a slippery slope that ends in a loss of that right.

The closing smear is of the type that the Republican tacticians use, and has no place in a blog like this.