The Freedom To Own Firearms Benefits Everyone
By Robert E. Wright
Joe Biden has again threatened to “defeat” the NRA and pass blatantly unconstitutional gun regulations. Even if you don’t hunt and are willing, despite the events of the summer of 2020, to entrust the lives of your loved ones to law enforcement, you should still oppose gun control.
Why? The same (il)logic used to justify gun laws was used to justify the lockdowns that locked up your family and wrecked your business or job, or at the very least destroyed your favorite small business haunts. Americans need to oppose specific bad policies but also the patterns of thought that make them possible. Specifically, Americans need to make clear to policymakers that the misdeeds of a few do not justify the punishment of all.
The illogical train of thought runs like this: only X does bad thing Y, so all X needs is to be punished to prevent Y. So we hear arguments like: only gun owners commit gun crimes, so punish all gun owners and there will be no more shootings. Only commoners spread Covid, so punish all commoners (while elites play all night and day) and Covid will go away. Only sinners sin, so punish all sinners and sin will disappear. The same twisted logic could be employed on anyone, for anything, at any time.
That sort of “logic” used to earn first year college students a solid F but because universities have used dirty pool tactics to denude themselves of their best professors, such “reasoning” is now passed, and even applauded. Every day, Community looks less like a comedy about fictional Greendale Community College and more like a documentary about U.S. higher education.
Thankfully, the mob that attacked the Capitol was almost completely unarmed. Only a handful of firearms were recovered and I haven’t found any reports of the rioters brandishing guns much less firing any. Apparently, there were more Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs about than firearms, likely because DC’s strict and unconstitutional gun laws made explosives more attractive alternatives. Thankfully, nobody yet wants to more fully regulate distilled liquors, rags, match heads or plumbers, or to ban Class C Motorhomes, the “assault rifle” of bombers. (Nashville on Christmas. Remember?)
“Other” states, like Massachusetts and New Jersey, also greatly restrict gun ownership and carry. What is gained from locking down law-abiding gun owners? About as much as is gained from “quarantining” people who aren’t sick! Evidence comes from the same quarter, too.
For decades, South Dakota was a permissive “shall issue” state when it came to pistol permits. A few years ago, after people like me kept asking why any permit at all was necessary, the state adopted “Constitutional carry,” which allows anyone to carry pistols and/or long guns concealed and/or openly in public spaces without a permit.
Constitutional carry has not turned South Dakota into the Hollywood version of the Wild West. In fact, firearm murders in the state are relatively rare. The state ranks 5th best in the country according to this study, with much lower gun homicide rates per capita than either Massachusetts or New Jersey. That’s remarkable considering that South Dakota is home to six of the 50 poorest counties (the big Indian Reservations) in the country, and according to RAND ranked ninth in the country in per capita gun ownership between 1980 and 2016.
Note the parallel to Covid lockdowns. In both cases, the eastern states push authoritarian, unconstitutional policies that do not even do what they purport to do. And why should they as they are based on the base illogical moralism laid bare above? Some citizens fulminate, and a few sue, but mostly they just obey or, seeing the writing on the wall, turn on their neighbors and become unpaid tools of their oppressive states.
South Dakota, by contrast, while far from perfect, sticks much more closely to the Constitutional baseline that ensured America’s prosperity and its once well-deserved reputation as a beacon of freedom. Adherence to the hoary lodestone of the Republic has rendered the state’s economy and society resilient in the face of shocks; its well-armed citizenry deploy reluctantly but steadfastly when threatened with violence, as they did over the Memorial Day weekend when Antifa-types tried to foment a riot in Sioux Falls.
A friend successfully protected his fast food restaurant after a local LEO encouraged him to use his Tokarev, a Soviet-made military pistol that shoots rifle-like rounds that can pierce body armor, if necessary. Thankfully, the wannabe looters did not test my friend’s resolve or marksmanship.
While South Dakotans work with LEOs to protect themselves during crises, the mostly disarmed citizens of Massachusetts and New Jersey (they rank dead last and second last, respectively, in the RAND gun ownership study cited above) must die, capitulate, or hope local LEOs are on their side when the stinky stuff hits the fan.
So even if you don’t own a gun, you should support your neighbor’s right to own them, even military-type ones. (When the Second Amendment was ratified, people, businesses, and nonprofit corporations owned military weapons, including cannon.) People tend to behave much more civilly toward each other when they are de facto equals, and nothing equalizes an uneven playing field like grapeshot, a sniper, or a derringer. That is why the nation’s first serious gun laws were put in place after the Civil War by Democratic white supremacists to keep Republican freed slaves from being able to defend themselves from hooded cross burners. You know the ones.
Today, Americans generally deprecate violence (most have a lot to lose) but sometimes, in the course of human events, self-defense becomes necessary, even admirable. As I recently pointed out, however, what one party contends is self-defense another may consider an unwarranted breach of the peace. Look, for example, at the way that Trump supporters responded to the George Floyd protests compared to the overrunning of the Capitol.
Intense or widespread violent protest proves one thing: current leadership is incompetent and should resign. I don’t mean just Trump, I mean any and all politicians implicated in failed lockdowns, police brutality, extended rioting and CHOP zones, or election irregularities (which definitely did occur though the extent is still disputed). After all, only politicians cause bad policies, so all politicians should be punished. (See what I did there?) Seriously, if failed politicians don’t exile themselves, others may do it for them, via recall in Gavin Newsom’s case, but perhaps more gruesomely in others, even if all guns magically disappeared tomorrow. Nay, especially if all guns magically disappeared tomorrow.