The Constitution’s amendments to explicitly guarantee rights draw the boundaries of political debate—that is, limit government’s power and scope. Yet the Left debates our constitutional rights the same way they talk about taxes and almost everything: as privileges of a beneficent government.
This is why they are always asking why someone “needs” a weapon, or why someone should be “allowed” to have a weapon: it is, at best, a simple category mistake of treating a right as though it were not a right, or, at worst, an exercise in question-begging.
There are more guns than the 320 million people in the United States: more than 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, and 86 million shotguns. The Left once at least acknowledged this. As the number of guns in the United States has soared to record highs, and as the violent crime rate has dropped to record lows (half of its 1991 peak), left-wing politicians have grown increasingly bold in sowing fear in the public.
At least in the good old days they actually realized that Americans like guns, and aren’t giving them up. Barack Obama, despite an accidentally candid moment about Pennsylvanians “clinging to their guns or religion,” still got an F from the Brady Campaign in 2009. Joe Biden once touted his ownership of a shotgun, and advised shooting it through the front door in case of startling noises.
It was not until Obama and Biden were safely re-elected and lame ducks that they made gun control a central part of their agenda, and declared that we have an “epidemic” of gun violence. Now, rather than candidate Obama promising not to “take everyone’s guns away,” he openly muses aloud about an Australian-style gun control regime that would, incidentally, require taking everyone’s guns away.
While many have been outraged at this particular Obama flip-flop, the president has been more hype than action. Despite all of the campaign-style rallies, gun ownership has only increased under Obama, and in large part due to his fear-mongering. The president exaggerates the prevalence of shootings (as “gun violence” was known in less pretentious times).
Obama says gun violence is an “epidemic.” So it follows that any number of fatalities equal or greater to this amount would also constitute an “epidemic.” Right? Abortion, for example, killed about 700,000 children last year, nearly 78 times as many fatalities as from gun homicides, and more than the number of Americans killed in any war. Is that an epidemic, Mr. President?
About 30,000 of the 2.6 million American deaths each year are by firearms. It is heartbreaking to say, but of this 30,000, about 20,000 are suicides: two-thirds of the victims of gun violence die by their own hand. About 1.5 percent of deaths are by guns, and 0.34 percent are by gun homicides.
How many of the more common causes of death get presidential press conferences? Why isn’t heart disease (about 611,000 deaths) a leading political issue instead of constitutionally protected guns? Why can’t we have more Rose Garden speeches on cancer (about 585,000 deaths)?
According to the FBI, more Americans are killed with blunt objects like hammers (496), knives (1,694), and hands, fists, or feet (728) than by either shotguns or rifles. So at least Biden has chosen a less offensive firearm with which to defend himself.
For every gun in America, there are 0.00002 homicides. Put another way, for every homicide in America, there are 36,117 firearms. What is striking is not how many gun homicides there are, but, relative to the downright staggering number of firearms available in the third most-populous country on earth, how few.