Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez is suspected of murdering four unarmed Marines in Chattanooga and wounding others. As I write this, we still don’t know how Abdulazeez obtained his gun or what his motivations were—though, we can take an educated guess on the latter. What we do know is that Abdulazeez shot his victims in a “gun-free zone,” which is a useful illustration of the absurdity of gun-control laws: we constrain conscientious Americans but offer free rein to killers. In this case, even our best trained warriors were helpless.
Surely, we are in for a new round of emotional pleas for more gun-control laws. And, helpfully, in this week’s Newsweek cover story by Kurt Eichenwald we already have a compendium of muddled and misleading anti-Second Amendment talking points that dominate the Left these days.
The confusion begins with headline, which is based on an absurd premise, and bleeds into the lead:
Let’s start with an undeniable truth: In the United States, the people have the right to keep and bear arms. And let’s then acknowledge that the childish interpretation of that constitutional amendment—that Americans have the right to whatever accessory they can put on, in or over a gun for the sole purpose of making it more deadly—is a dangerous falsehood.
First off, can you imagine a pro-Second Amendment writer being offered space in a major publication to begin a piece (I’m not sure if this is a column, article, or a feature at Newsweek) like so:
Let’s start with an undeniable truth: In the United States, the people have the right to keep and bear arms. And let’s then acknowledge that this judicious interpretation of a constitutional amendment—that Americans have the right to individual freedom, to protect themselves and their family from bodily harm, and the right to stand up against abuse of tyrants, if necessary—is a beautiful truth.
But beyond the palpable bias, what’s he talking about? Eichenwald builds his entire bloodcurdling narrative around the notion that no limitations to the Second Amendment exist; which is, of course, absurd. What American anywhere has the freedom to put “whatever accessory” they want, in or over a gun, for the sole purpose of making it more deadly? Not one.
We limit other constitutional rights, he says. Newspapers, for instance, can stay in business “thanks to the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech,” but yet they cannot print child pornography. Which is true. Because in the United States has laws that protect children from coercion and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, not ones that target the First Amendment. In the same way, we have federal and state law prohibiting people under 18 from possessing handguns or handgun ammunition or being sold handguns. As there will always be criminals who abuse children, there will always be irresponsible gun owners.
Interspersed throughout the piece, which has almost nothing to do with accessories, Eichenwald offers numerous well-worn laments about America’s overindulgence in these useless freedoms. He intermittently drops examples of scary activity (a twit at Wal-Mart walking around with a loaded shotgun, etc.), events that might aggravate his sensibilities and play on the urban fears, but have nothing to do with perpetuating violence.
For good measure, Eichenwald throws in rampages that no gun-control law would have prevented, short of confiscation.
We need more background checks because of Dylann Roof even if we already have background checks that should have stopped Dylann Roof, he argues. Until July 20, 2012, he writes, James Holmes was what “the NRA would describe as a responsible gun owner.” Well, then I guess Eichenwald every “responsible gun owner” should treated as a budding homicidal maniac. And every American who seeks psychiatric help in his life must now beg a judge to give him back his constitutional rights.
If you worry about this sort of thing, Eichenwald informs us you’re paranoid about the intentions of people like him. When I say people like him, I mean people who write pieces titled, “Let’s Repeal the Second Amendment.”
But, then again, Eichenwald argues—and he does it all the time on this issue—in bad faith. “Unfortunately,” he writes, “the NRA has been working for years to make sure lunatics and felons can obtain guns as easily as possible.”
You can believe the NRA is misguided. You can believe the NRA’s positions manifest in terrible realities. But does anyone other than the most zealous gun-grabbing activist believe that the National Rifle Association intentionally wants lunatics to have guns so that they can kill people? Seems pretty obvious that, at the very least, such outcomes hurt the organization and its cause.
Oh, the accessories. Well, Eichenwald is concerned about high-capacity magazines and silencers. “There is no reason anyone outside of law enforcement or the military needs one except to kill people without attracting attention,” he says about silencers. Who decides what gun owners “need” and don’t? Eichenwald? Ten states already ban silencers and, for those that don’t, buying one requires a photo and fingerprints, and a $200 “tax.”
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, civilian sales of silencers spiked 37 percent in 2013— to 500,000 from 360,000 in 2012 and 285,000 in 2011. Yet, in this world of unfettered world of gun ownership, there is a 30-year mandatory sentence for the use of a silencer in the act of a violent crime. Do you know how many silencers were used in the commission of a violent crime in 2013? I don’t. No one is keeping track, as far as I can tell. Probably because there are too few to care.
On the issue of high-capacity magazines, here my colleague Sean Davis not long ago:
Just like gun bans serve only to prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves, high capacity magazine bans put lawful gun carriers at a distinct disadvantage against well-armed assailants. As a result, it’s really not all surprising that Colorado, which twice voted for Barack Obama, voted to oust the Democratic state Senate president who pushed through that state’s mag ban.
If Americans adhere to magazine limits, they’ll have to pray that criminals do, as well.
What gun-control advocates fail to explain are two things: How their proposed laws would stop rampages? Why there are more guns but less gun crime? Despite the proliferation of guns, firearm crime has fallen precipitously over the past few decades—49 percent, according to Pew. And though permits for concealed-carry handguns have risen by 178 percent in the last eight years, murder rates have dropped, according to Crime Prevention Research Center.
Yet, every time there is a shooting, we act like gun violence is soaring, rather than focusing on the problem of mental illness, or domestic terrorism, or whatever it is that drives these people to murder. Instead, we have pundits who have an aversion to the Second Amendment plunge us into a pointless political squabble over ideas that would do nothing more than restrict access to guns for law-abiding citizens.