By Chris Knox and Jeff Knox
(October 4, 2017) Once again, the nation mourns the actions of a pathetic madman apparently acting alone, and we on the pro-rights side of the gun control debate are forced to process our horror and grief under a barrage of assaults from media pundits and politicians.
We’re as horrified by the carnage as anyone, and additionally frustrated that such tragedies always trigger an outpouring of ill-informed, biased attacks on our rights by the political control freaks demanding that “We” must “Do Something” regardless of how ineffective and counterproductive that “Something” may be.
This sort of thing always puts us in a difficult position, because attacks on guns and gun owners, and calls for action to prevent future tragedies, are widely perceived to be compassionate and rational, while logical retorts and discussion of historical, technical, and moral problems with the proposed “solutions” comes off as cold and uncaring.
That’s the dilemma we find ourselves in right now. If we remain silent, the knee-jerk reactionaries get free rein to rant unchallenged and set the narrative about the evils of firearms, and the need for additional restrictions. By speaking up and pointing out the flaws in the gun control proposals, we are painted as unfeeling ideologues, more concerned about our “hobby” than the loss of innocent lives. Be that as it may, we cannot stand idly by and allow our rights to be additional victims of a madman’s rampage.
As in most all of the other high-profile firearm attacks in recent history, the killer in this case had no history of mental issues or criminal activity, and acquired his weapons through legal channels after passing multiple background checks. Yet, one of the first “solutions” we heard offered was a proposal to expand background checks to include personal transfers. And though the murderer didn’t use a silencer, that was the target of Hillary Clinton’s tweet on the matter, suggesting that the tragedy would have been worse if a silencer had been employed, and urging rejection of current legislation which includes loosening of restrictions on those devices. Obviously she doesn’t understand that the victims, who were 300 yards away from the attacker, were hearing the bullets breaking the sound barrier, not the muzzle blasts of the guns, and silencers have no effect on the crack of a bullet moving at supersonic speeds.
Then, as more information became available, we began to hear calls for restrictions on “bump-stocks” and “trigger cranks,” devices that allow shooters to waste ammunition at higher rates of fire than normal from semi-auto firearms. Senator Dianne Feinstein has already filed a bill, copied from California statutes, that would criminalize manufacture, importation, sales, and possession of these devices, requiring that present owners surrender or destroy them, or face felony charges. We’re not sure how this might apply to replicas of 150-year old Gatling Guns. And of course, it completely ignores the fact that these devices are easily fabricated from such exotic materials as rubber bands, scraps of wood, or plastic soda bottles.
The day after the attack, we received a request from the USAToday newspaper’s editorial board asking if we would provide an op-ed counterpoise to their comments on the slaughter. Their description of the board’s approach to the subject was telling. In the email, the representative of the editorial board said; “We’re going to cite this event as yet another reason, and an opportunity to push, for stricter gun controls.”
We found that word “opportunity” chilling. The gun control industry keeps focus group-tested, “reasonable” and “commonsense” (they like “commonsense” as one word – it must have tested well in focus groups) measures waiting in the wings for opportunities such as this. Their allies in the dominant media, which certainly includes USAToday, then beat the drums in unison for those “reasonable” steps whenever the opportunity arises.
The “gun control” agenda is a vote-getter among some constituencies, and politicians who serve those constituencies see tragedies as an opportunity to advance that agenda. We think that’s pretty sick. What’s worse, the agenda they advance as they dance in the blood is never anything that could possibly prevent or even mitigate the tragedy, nor intercept the next one. Their “solutions” sound good, and poll well, but in real life they solve nothing. They won’t impact everyday crime, and they certainly won’t have any favorable impact on the big-stage horror show of a mass casualty shooting any more than stricter truck licensing would affect the use of trucks as weapons of terror.
In the coming weeks Congress will hold hearings, celebrities will emote on cue, and very public tears will be shed with pleas that we “Do Something!” But what if that “Something” does no good? What if it even does more harm? What if a so-called, “Universal” Background Check law simply diverts police resources into shuffling paper? What if an “Assault Weapons” ban addresses nothing but cosmetics? Congress, our police, and our courts have more important matters to attend to than inspecting guns for “prominently protruding pistol grips” (words from an earlier “assault weapons” ban). Let’s focus resources where they can be used rather than going down the “gun control” road that has already proven to be an ineffectual and divisive dead-end.