It’s been roughly a century since the United States embarked upon one of the nation’s most foolish moral escapades: Prohibition. Temperance movements — well-intended, we have to grant — had deduced that alcohol consumption was at the root of any number of household and cultural evils. Therefore, the country was going to be dried up. And since politicians are more interested in getting re-elected, than in having common sense, they went along with these temperance movements’ assertions. And for over a dozen years, the United States was officially a no-booze zone.
Except, that’s not how it really worked. There was booze all over the place. The common citizen was still drinking. The politicians never stopped, either. Even the cops were having a drink, just on the quiet. Everybody knew it, and everybody tacitly agreed that Prohibition had turned into a bad joke. They even invented a new word, for the millions of otherwise straightlaced Americans who were all getting sloshed on the sly: scofflaw.
A combination of the words scoff and law. It meant precisely what it says: a person who flouts the rules.
By the advent of the Depression — surely an event to make even the most stalwart teetotaler consider lifting a glass — the country had come to its senses, and we eventually scuttled the booze ban.
Which should have taught us an important, enduring lesson.
But it didn’t. You’ve heard of the War on Drugs? More Prohibition, that. Just the target of the blockade is different. Equally well-intended, but equally wrong-headed. It guarantees that crime (organized or not) will have a ready cash source, throws countless young men and women into jail, and does not at all stop or deter people who want to do drugs, from doing drugs. In fact, it lends a rebellious kind of cool to the drug scene, that lures millions of teenagers every year — some of whom wind up bottoming out in a state of heroin or meth addiction, which can often be lethal.
If we try to ban guns, I can guarantee you it will be more of the same. Why?
1) You can’t close the barn door, when the horse has already run out to pasture. If firearms were a new(ish) sort of import to these shores, you might have a realistic chance to keep the ports shut to guns. But guns are a thriving domestic industry, as well as cottage hobby. Some estimates place the number of privately-held firearms at or about the number of privately-driven automobiles. You cannot ban or restrict something which already exists here — legally — in such high numbers. There is no known force capable of policing them all up, much less disposing of them. It was the same for the booze.
2) Are you going to throw Granny in jail? How about your uncle? Or your brother? Or your best friend? Yes, many people will voluntarily turn over their weapons, if a ban is made into law. Americans are — despite the protestations of the cognoscenti — a generally decent lot. Law-abiding, by choice. But far more Americans will conclude the law is absurd, and simply refuse to comply. Do you go out and put the cuffs on? Lead the country to the slammer? Where to house the millions of instant criminals? How to try them? Especially when most of the law enforcement will also conclude the law is absurd — and in fact, many of the law-keepers will be law-breakers too, just like during Prohibition.
3) The underground gun scene will thrive like kudzu. Secret gun clubs and gun ranges will become the new speakeasies. It will be chic and daring, to belong to such organizations, and to be seen in such circles. Again, the rule of cool: flouting stupid laws has always been the hallmark of adventurously free-minded people. The dumber or more clumsy the law, the more it’s flouted. Having and shooting guns would become like having and smoking weed used to be; and in some places still is — something the “cutting edge” do for fun, as well as pleasure. And to hell with the risks. Life is short! Go for the gusto.
4) Because the underground gun scene will thrive, the underground gun market will also thrive. Both the cottage machinists, and the black market importers. Price will be no object. In fact, the competition (to cut out or undermine the competitor) will be so fierce, rival black market operations may start dividing the country up into zones of turf. And since laws never stopped true criminals from having and using guns anyway, the amount of gun-related crime will climb as ordinary petty crooks and gun-runners alike, along with average citizens getting caught in the endless dragnets, will stuff the courthouses to overflowing. Not to mention the morgues.
5) Fly-over country don’t give a damn, no how. Small-town America will basically pretend that federal gun bans do not exist. County judges will suspend sentences. The cops will develop “paper bag eyes” for good American citizens who just happen to have and keep firearms in the home. Both the authorities and the common man will collude to keep the dreadful news — that guns are not, in fact, going away — from reaching the eyes and ears of the gentrified do-gooders from the cities. Special dispensations will be invented, to quietly circumnavigate federal prosecution. Own x amount of land, for y amount of farming? Why, you just got to have a critter gun. Or three. Or twelve. Plus ammunition. Don’t want coyotes getting into the chickens. Surely we can open up a loophole for that?
And so, the great moral crusade to “end” guns in America, will go down in historic flames. Being essentially unenforceable, the law(s) will eventually hang like stones around the necks of those politicians who supported such laws in the first place. The gun-banners will be voted out, and voted down, and the law(s) will be struck from the books.
Or . . . we can save ourselves a lot of grief and heartache, and just not go there in the first place.
No gun bans. No silly laws with good intentions, but achieving opposite results.
We know this dance. We’ve done it before. We ought to have learned by now. But memories can be short, and do-gooders always think that human nature can be bent to suit any kind of moral reform program. Which is essentially what the gun-banner brigades are after: moral reform.
Except, you can’t do it like that. Nor should you want to try. The answer to “gun violence” is to merely remove the noun, and focus on he verb. Why does a disturbed young Muslim man walk into a gay club and begin capping people? Could it possibly be that he’s been raised in a belief system that is amenable to violent “solutions” to the moral decrepitude he sees around him? Hell, in Da’esh territory, they chuck gays off rooftops, and Allah smiles. Or so the mullahs of the Middle East say. Maybe that’s got something to do with it? The Boston Marathon bombers used pressure cookers to inflict carnage. Same intent: to murder in the name of Allah. Just different method. You can seek to ban the method six ways from Thursday, and never even touch the intent.
And it’s the intent that we — as a culture, and a nation — should be most concerned with. Grappling with and confronting intent, whether it’s Islamist fanatics (Orlando) or emo outcasts (Columbine) would be a direct way to confront “what’s wrong with America” rather than concocting effigies of “gun culture” at whose feet we pile blame, every time there is a media frenzy about a crime involving firearms.
Again, simply passing a law, won’t solve anything. In fact, the only law which will be obeyed, will be the law of unintended consequences.
Is all of this supposed to assuage the outrage of people upset that we’ve had (yet another) spectacular spree murder? No. But then, we lose tens of thousands of Americans on the highways and freeways of America. Every year. And you seldom hear the same outrage. Not even when it’s a multi-auto pileup on the interstate. We’ve successfully conditioned ourselves to accept these deaths as merely the cost of doing business, in a world which is (rightly) free to engage in impulse travel on public roads.
I, for one, would love to invent a magic solution — to events like the Orlando gay club murders.
But I have lived enough life to realize that there is usually no such thing as a magic solution.
Want to curb murders? Convince the next would-be spree slaughterer that (s)he’s better off finding a different hobby? Join the club! All of us law-abiding gun owners are right there with you, hoping that there might be a way to reach these people, before they decide to begin taking innocent lives. We’ve got friends and families too. We think about them every day. Some of us have raised our hands in front of the flag, dedicating life and limb to the defense and protection of the very laws that ensure our freedom and prosperity in this country. We literally are the “well-regulated militia” so often debated in that controversial Constitutional phrase. And we do what we do, so that you — American man or woman — can go into a firearms store, and purchase the means to protect yourself from rapists, thieves, and murderers.
Is freedom idiot-proof? Nope, alas. Nor is it safe-spaced against all potentially random harm. And that’s a shame. But you still get in your car, and expose yourself to the bone-headedness of your fellow citizens — for minutes (or even hours) every single day. The joker texting on his phone, when he ought to be watching the road, is far, far more likely to hurt you or the people you love, than “gun culture.” In fact, you’ve probably been that joker a few times yourself — yes, even you “good” drivers. Don’t look embarrassed. You’re just normal.
As nearly every law-abiding firearms owner, is also normal.
Should you be punished, because some jackass in the other car decided to cause a wreck today? No?
In the end, we’re wired to buck the system, if the system is too much of a pain in the ass. That’s why we speed like hell, all over the country, daring the highway patrol to catch us. We know that speed limit is there for our safety. We also know that we can handle it, going well over the limit. So we do. And the “game” of daily cat and mouse (millions of mice, only a comparatively few cats) occurs with ritual-like predictability. Even when speeding is a contributor to any number of serious auto accidents in any given week: accidents which take lives.
Do we ban the car? Nope.
Do we lash out at all law-abiding drivers, indiscriminately? Nope.
Do we label those same drivers domestic terrorists in the making? Nope.
Look closely at such answers to such questions, and you can tease out an important conclusion. About who we are, as human beings. And why some things shouldn’t be tried, no matter how well-meant they may be.
My biggest frustration the last week is the apparent inability to have any sort of rational, reasonable discussion with the gun control crowd. I’m sure there are some out there, but it seems like most of them just want to call me a delusional sociopath instead of actually answering any of the dozens of questions I raise to them ( many Brad has expertly used here as well ).
In the past, Americans have gone along with the banning of alcohol, marijuana, machine guns and gold to one degree or another. But today a cultural change has occurred; today “you don’t have to obey the law.” I.e. you have no moral obligation to do so, an increasingly widely shared belief made popular by the Left. The new banning of any type of gun will test it.
Yep, Sanctuary cities comes to mind there.
Eric: I think a lot of it boils down to the fact that people get angry and worried in the same instant, when events like the Orlando gay club murders happen. The actual perpetrator is dead, so people start trying to find scapegoats for the crime. For those who are made uneasy by firearms in the first place, law-abiding gun owners become an almost unconsciously comfortable target — for the ire of the non-gun-owner crowd, who want to lay blame.
A well maintained firearm will easily last well over a century. Given historical attempts, any new ban in the US will likely garner somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of legally owned firearms. With 300+ million already legally in existence that would leave roughly 200 million firearms in hands of ‘the people’. Then you’ll get people who like a challenge who start smithing their own in the garage. With the rise of 3D printers, especially those that can work with high quality metals, people will simply print their own (patents are open source). We finally sold off the copper tubing from my grandfather’s still about 15 years ago when my grandmother moved into town. Do these people not realize just how long metal lasts when cared for?
So, even if they should happen to get such legislation passed, there will be just as many firearms out there as now.
If they try to ban guns, the gloves will come off and people will start shooting pro gun ban politicians. And probably a lot of the pro gun ban people as well.
Everyone knows what is to blame for the shooting: Islam. And everyone is tired of being punished and yelled at and having their rights restricted and then revoked by a clueless bunch of rich people, all of whom have armed security (that in many cases we pay for), while being told Islam is the religion of peace and it’s those evil white christians who are to blame.
No, the camel is pretty well loaded right now, and the straw that is going to break its back is about to get put on it any day now. Any serious gun ban attempt will devolve us right into civil war. It only takes a couple of weeks for a modern country to devolve into complete savagery. We’ve all seen it happen in our own life times, and saying it can’t happen here is the height of conceit.
It’s worth pointing out (again) that this was not jsut a random citizen taking advantage of their right to buy firearms.
This was someone who was licensed as an Armed Security Guard
So even if you were to wave a wand and eliminate every privately owned gun, he would still have been allowed to have one.
This is someone who had been through all the normal security checks, had been through the further checks to be allowed to carry a firearm during his normal work day in areas like shopping malls.
He then went through two additional investigations by the FBI who were not able to see the future and determine that he would do bad things (by some accounts, he changed significantly in the two years since the last investigation, so it’s very possible that there was nothing to spot at the time)
Under any sort of gun control scheme, he would have been allowed to have access to firearms.
I can’t Give you a Piece of My Mind, I have little enough of it as it is!!
I agree with the sentiments of the author and think we need to educate the gun-grabbers as to what will happen when the try to grab guns for real!
Especially when it comes to terminology. Ask the grabbers what specific criteria constitutes a “dangerous” gun and how they would ban just the “dangerous” ones without also applying to the “safe” ones. But when we want to argue specifics and proper terminology, they say we’re derailing the discussion and distracting from the issue by debating semantics. Or as one user on that surprisingly honest Slate article wrote, “It’s not important for us to know that info, the legislatures will get the experts to make sure it’s correct.”
Yeah, except the legislatures aren’t using accurate terms and info right now, so what makes you think they’ll do so when it comes time to draft laws?
Mr. Colion had it right. The anti-gun crowd has no problem rambling off any lie they want while the pro-gun people research things for hours to make sure we’re accurate. How can you have a meaningful discussion with that as a basis?
The anti-gun crowd considers due process to be a “buzz word”. That’s all you need to know about them and their motivations.
As always, the fools seek to punish the law-abiding, because they dare not punish the ones who break the law – hoping to push for their ‘ideal’ scenario – where the law-abiding, knowing the laws can no longer protect them, rise up in self defense. The idiots who made this happen then gleefully hope that oppressive government fire upon their own citizens, and then they imagine that they’ll have power unopposed.
Because clearly, what happened elsewhere wasn’t ‘done right’ and ‘this time it’ll be different.’
Every mass-shooting it seems the politicians rush to punish everybody who was NOT involved in the crime.
Who’s suggesting banning all guns? Anyone who matters? I must has missed it.
To be entirely fair, there are different categories of gun control advocates. Many of them are well-meaning people who don’t understand the issues involved and just want to Do Something when there’s a mass shooting. They are manipulated by the hardcore activists, the vultures who rush to exploit every shooting before the bodies are even cold.
I recall watching The Scarface Mob, that old Untouchables movie, and having a pretty hard time being sympathetic to the Prohibition-enforcing protagonists. They had to make Capone’s character over the top evil to manage it. Even in the movie most of the actual beer brewers they busted came across as normal folks just trying to make a living and now stuck under the mob.
But to play devils advocate here, most of the arguments I’ve seen haven’t been about banning all guns, just the ones that make it possible to kill large numbers of people quickly. Any answer to that? Asking seriously.
This “scofflaw” thing has already happened. Colorado passed a gun ban a couple of years ago and t55 of 62 county sheriffs in the state put out a press release which essentially said “This is un-enforceable so we aren’t even going to try.”
Tonto, yes, people of political influence are calling for a complete ban and have been for a while. Dukakis in the 80s, Feinstein right now, and Hilary and Obama praising the UK and Australian bans.
Bob, your advocate’s question needs to define “large number of people.” The current crime definition of mass shooting is four people. Any firearm that uses a modern cartridge is capable of doing that. The VT shooting was accomplished with pistols. It doesn’t take a rifle or 10+ round magazine to accomplish one. The grabbers don’t understand, or won’t admit, that anything short of a blanket ban will not stop the “dangerous” guns. Perhaps that’s their game, to get everyone else in a gotcha by saying, “Well, we only wanted these ones, but the only way to get those guns is to get them all.”
Bob, where do you draw the line on large numbers? 12? A pair of old west six-shooters will handle twelve. 6? One revolver. Revolvers have speed-loaders that you can buy to quickly reload as well, so even one revolver can get just as many dead. Maybe not *quite* as fast as an AR15, but with a practiced hand it won’t slow you down that much.
For that matter, 6 flintlock pistols could suffice, and there are pictures of Blackbeard with more than 6 pistols carried about his body. And most of the mass shooters that have made headlines in recent years didn’t carry just one gun anyway. The Aurora shooter (if I recall incidents correctly) had the large-capacity drum shotgun jam so he just dropped it and switched to another weapon. If flintlocks were the only guns available, anyone could still carry out a mass shooting by loading up a couple of sacks full and just fire, drop, grab the next, fire, drop, repeat.
What about pressure cookers? Or fertilizer? McVeigh killed more people with a fertilizer bomb than any mass shooting has (168 dead, 680 injured). How about machetes? The Rwandan genocide was carried out with machetes. Estimates of those deaths range in the 800K to 1million range, where the Tutsis were unable to fight back due to lack of any weapon (knife or gun) by institutional disarmament of the populace. Are the Rwandan deaths, or the Oklahoma federal building deaths or the Boston marathon deaths any less tragic because it wasn’t a gun that was used?
How about the growing problem in the UK Of ‘yobs’ knifing pensioners with no means of defending themselves because they’re old and frail and can’t stand up to a big young man with a knife? The UK has been considering banning knives (outside of the kitchen), instead of addressing the problem, like Brad mentions, of what causes these people to resort to violence. It’s not the weapon that’s the problem. It’s the person who’s set on committing violence and death regardless of the reason.
If, somehow, someone could wave a magic wand and make every gun on Earth disappear, people would still commit violence and mass violence, and it would devolve to ‘might makes right’ as the old and weak would lose out to the strong. I’m a woman, and I get very resentful when people want to remove my ability to defend myself from a potential attacker. I’m a fairly tall woman (5’9″) and I served in the Army in the ’90s so I’m not entirely unable to defend myself, but without a firearm, I wouldn’t stand a chance against a 6’4″ guy who powerlifts at the gym if he decided to do me harm. And, as I point out above, any sort of firearm is going to be able to be used in an event of mass violence if someone really wants to carry one out.
Well, Nancy Pelosi has. So has Obama. Bloomberg (mayor of NY), Cuomo, Chuckie Schummer, to be honest, I think just about every democrat in office has been pushing it.
All guns are able to kill ‘large amounts of people easily.’ The rules that they propose are targeted at a much broader number of guns than you realize. And those laws never work. Gun laws are not about safety, they’re about control.
Ugh, the reply feature and the ‘quote’ features don’t work well on word press, do they? Both previous comments were replies to other comments, Tonto first, then Bob.
John, it appears correct when you’re viewing it in your Reading and Feed panel from WordPress itself. When looking at it from Brad’s site itself, yeah, it’s a little messed up.
I should note that during the times there have been jihad related shootings here in Australia, there’s the usual hue and cry to tighten the gun laws here even more, but it hasn’t happened. You’ll hear some noises that are essentially said to appease the scolds, but from what I am told it is felt that there is no need to further tighten the laws that already exist. They’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that nothing is going to stop the lone wolf individually radicalized extremists, and, as a recent jihad attempt in Brisbane shows, jihadists will not restrict themselves to guns anyway. The fact that there will be sniper training for police now is a positive sign – in fairness, they’ve not needed it here before.
There was some outrage when a Jihadi-leaning preacher was invited – by accident – to a federal function of some kind, just recently, I’m told (I don’t look at the news much these days; lately it’s easy to trigger my grief-related depression and I’d like to not be emotionally crippled for a little while) and the resulting condemnation has had that preacher supposedly fleeing Australia, because he ‘fears for his life.’ There are bleeding hearts here but the general impression I get from talking to people is that they’re slowly reaching the end of their patience and that the preacher getting that invite was in very bad taste, especially since the preacher who likely influenced the Orlando jihadist was allowed in (and he fled the country very shortly afterward when Turnbull said that his visa’s approval would be put under review.) There’s some crap that has been pulled here with regards to land I’ve been hearing about that has resulted in further souring of opinions against Muslims because of what the Muslims are doing. (What little I know is vague and hearsay, but – apparently getting approval to establish a housing community, but leaving out the community is intended to only be for Muslim habitation, and that the land and housing would be sold to Muslims at a ridiculously low rate, far below market price.)
I would like to believe the pro-gunners will win, but I know how cops think.
If there is a general gun ban, it will be enacted in secret. Then the police will go to every gun store and collect its customer records, for as far back as they have them (if the agency doesn’t already have them; by current law the government is only supposed to retain them for a few years, but they’re probably not complying).
But the first any member of the public will know about it is when a squad of six or eight cops show up at your door, demanding to see all your guns. This is enough surprise that you’ll have no choice but to comply. They’ll have a list of at least your recently purchased guns, and if you don’t hand over all the ones they know about, they’ll tear the house apart looking for them. Then they’ll walk off with them, with no explanation.
When they leave, they’ll probably also hand you a gag order, because as long as they have that degree of surprise at each home they visit, nobody is going to successfully resist. But pretty soon someone will sound the alarm online. It will then be possible for at least some owners who haven’t been visited yet to either take their guns elsewhere and hide them, or gather some allies and face down the police.
I don’t know how well either of these tactics will work. And of course, some owners will be missed because they acquired their weapons longer ago than the records run. But it will be hard to hide the existence of a weapon if it gets fired. Still, I think the lesson to be learnt here is to put together an early warning system, so that the government’s advantage of surprise can be cut as short as possible when the s— hits the fan.
David Burkhead has a fairly long list over at his blog, The Writer In Black, that he tries to keep updated.
Which gun do you want to ban? Be specific
jdgalt, those tactics won’t work well for very long. Most law enforcement officers are against gun bans to start with. Any such door to door action like you describe will require officers who actually buy into such a ban. And once those actions start, it’s pretty much impossible to hide. Doesn’t matter if there is a gag order in place or not, the neighbors are going to notice. Once it gets out, people with guns will become much, much more vigilant of law enforcement activity. It doesn’t take a large percentage of gun owners willing to fight back to make the cost of such door to door operations unacceptably high in terms of officer lives. Most ‘bullet proof’ vests that officers use are not designed to withstand standard hunting rifle rounds. If just 1%-2% of gun owners are willing to defend their rights with their lives you’re talking about a million such incidents. You’re not likely to get many volunteers to enforce a law they don’t support when knowing there is a good chance they are going to be taking fire from someone with a weapon that will penetrate their safety gear and kill them.
Whether the law is enforceable or not, whether it’s even sane or not, is not the question. It’s simply a good excuse to drive another nail into the coffin of the U.S. Constitution. If a sufficiently liberal court upholds the law on paper, whether or not it is enforceable in reality, there goes the Second Amendment; just as bizarro court readings of the interstate commerce clause made a dead letter of the Tenth.
The other thing is that if this is beign done in secret, without an announced law, then the gun owners have every right to resist what would be as far as they know an illegal seizer of their property. How do they know these are real officers? Real officers wouldn’t try to do something so obviously illegal without due process. It must be gangsters or terrorists trying to get hold of more weapons.
8-chambered matchlock revolver from wikipedia. I’ve seen a 14-chamber revolver pistol from the same period.
Nobody needs to own a high-capacity assault matchlock that can fire literally handfuls of bullets per minute!
I found an interesting quote today that I think applies really well to some of the bills being kicked around the Senate right now, regarding preventing people on watchlists from buying firearms:
“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
Thomas Paine, Dissertation on First Principles of Government, December 23, 1791
Seems something that often is forgotten by the more strident leftist/SJW crowd.
That is a very good point that people should really be thinking about.
Instead of thinking of how you intend that the rule/law should be used, think about what your worst enemy could do with the rule/law.
I think there would be FAR fewer laws proposed if people started thinking about this.
I keep telling hoplophobes that any national gun ban would be roundly ignored, like New York’s SAFE act and Connecticut’s AWB is being ignored right now, but they don’t listen. They are all too far gone to normalcy bias, and magical thinking. They have no idea the whirlwind they would draw down upon themselves if the Feds decide to try and enforce such legislation after it is passed.
Secret raids will work for maybe a couple of hours, but once word gets out, gun owners will know that eventually they will have cops at their door, so they will not wait for them to show up, but will go out looking to collect heads. The smart ones will already have local politicians and media people scouted out, and soon there will be no public official brave enough to stick his head outside his door, for fear of catching a rifle round with his head, and the media will no longer be carrying the water of the administration.
Donald Sensing says it best:
The gun-control debate in the country is over.
My liberal colleagues don’t know anything about guns. They do not know what the gun-crime rate is in America, what it’s trendline is and they do not know that the most heavily gun-controlled cities in the country also have the highest murder rate. They do not know that one of those cities, Chicago, suffers an Orlando-equivalent every month. Every. Month. (And it’s getting worse.)
They do try to assess whether their same old ideas about banning “assault rifles” would be workable. They do not know what the effect of the 1994-2004 ban was. They cannot define what an “assault rifle” is except to parrot Obama’s latest bumper-sticker-slogan, “military-style weapons.” They do not know that Obama himself has said that the Second Amendment protects the right of individual Americans to own firearms. They do not know that the US Supreme Court has ruled the same in multiple cases (and the few who do know simply dismiss the rulings as wrong).
They do not know because they do not care. They just want firearms to be outlawed for everyone, everywhere. That being so, actual knowledge about the difference between automatic and semi-automatic, between clip and magazine, between the No Fly List and the Terrorist Watchlist and the Democrats’ desire to dispense with due process to forbid people from buying guns — all such information is irrelevant and unimportant. They just want everyone to be disarmed. [my emphasis]
Did FDR (damn his Socialist soul!) go to Congress on December 8, 1941 and ask the Congress to declare war on airplanes? No, you say? Well, why might that be? Perhaps because airplanes were only the INSTRUMENT used to carry out the Pearl Harbor attack. They were (and remain) as inanimate as they were then (and as guns have always been), doing exactly what the person controlling them has them do (again, just like guns).
At least that Socialist SOB Roosevelt had a little bit of common sense. The current crop of pols going back at least a generation seem, on this score, to not be able to differentiate between shit and Shinola…and we keep electing them!!!!
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