The Least That Can Be Done on Gun Rights

AR-15 - Gun RightsI went to the hospital to give some blood. So I heard some NPR. Despite what conservatives will tell you, NPR is not liberal. It is the most scrupulous news source you will find in terms of telling you what the two “sides” think on any issue. So I wasn’t surprised to hear the two sides of the debate on gun rights debate well represented. There aren’t just two sides of any issue, of course. And the two sides they presented were center-right and far-right — at least by any any international standard.

The two sides of the gun rights debate are familiar to you all. On the one side, you have the people who don’t want to do anything. They claim that it won’t do any good. The fact is, of course, if making guns slightly harder to buy would completely solve our gun violence problem, they would still be against them. So they are disingenuous. On the other side, you have people who think that “the least that can be done” is whatever. They want to close the gun show loophole or ban assault rifles or stop people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns.

The Least That Can Be Don’t Won’t Do Much

As vile as the pro-gun types are, they have a point: doing “the least that can be done” really won’t do much of anything. Currently, there are more than 3 million AR-15s in the United States. It is sad that we can’t do the least that can be done. But doing the least that can be done is not doing enough. And it is entirely typical of how the left does politics in this country.

Over the last several decades, the left has given into the right on gun rights. And has there been a meeting of the minds in the middle? Have we gotten what President Obama likes to call “common sense gun laws”? No, of course we haven’t! We’ve simply gotten a more radical right-wing. We used to have a right wing that thought that proposals to ban hand guns was tyranny. Now we have a right wing that thinks that any limit to gun rights is tyranny. If a mentally unstable man can’t buy an assault rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition at a gun show, the Nazis are coming tomorrow.

Doing Little on Gun Rights

There’s a bigger problem with doing the least that can be done. When we do the least and it does no good, the right wing can say, “See! Told you it wouldn’t work!” We need to think bigger. We need to think a lot bigger. Zack Beauchamp wrote a great article, Australia Confiscated 650,000 Guns. Murders and Suicides Plummeted. That’s not surprising; that’s what happens when you actually try to solve a problem.

Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapons ban might make people feel better. But it will be the typical American thing: not effective except as a pacifier. Did I mention that that there are more than 3 million AR-15s in the United States? And that was back in 2012. And that’s just one kind of assault rifle. I have no idea how many other assault rifles there are. But if you include guns in general, you find there there is just about as many guns in the United States as there are people.

Guns Won’t Protect Us from Tyranny

I don’t understand the issue either. I remember when I was a libertarian. Everyone was certain that if guns were taken away, then there would be tyranny. But the truth is that military technology has outgrown the idea of people defending themselves with their guns. Give the people all the guns, rocket launchers, and flame throwers they want! If the government wants to take over, it will.

We protect our liberty by protecting our democratic institutions. That means that people like the Bundys actually make us far less safe from tyranny. Are you afraid of government overreach? Fight for a strong media! Fight against funding for the CIA and the NSA! Fight for government transparency! Don’t fight for allowing ever more guns in this country.

But again: I’m not too concerned about the gun nuts. The leftists in the United States have empowered the gun nuts by trying to pacify them. We don’t need to slow the increase of gun ownership in the country; we need to lower the total number of guns Americans own. Because our fanatical commitment to guns is going to lead us toward tyranny. It won’t do a damned thing to protect us from it.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

26 thoughts on “The Least That Can Be Done on Gun Rights

  1. *sigh* The point isn’t to get a proper ban done. The point is to get anything at all passed. AND have no one lose their seat because of it so frighten politicians learn that they can defy the gun lobby.

    Which is how legislation is passed in this very messed up country of ours. But then what is the alternative? I sigh though because it is so hard to get anything done.

    • I think you missed the point of the article, which is that the decades of pandering have brought us to this point. And I think you are operating from a false premise. Politicians get thrown out of office all the time for doing “the least that can be done.” It doesn’t matter to the NRA if you want to change maximum clip sizes from 30 rounds to 29 or if you want to ban guns outright. It’s all the same to that crowd. My Representative is fanatically pro-gun. He has a C- rating from the the NRA. How did he get that low rating? By occasionally voting for the least that can be done.

      • Colorado had multiple members of the legislature get kicked out in recalls because of the fact they did vote for those changes we want.

        So politicians, who do want to keep their jobs, get spooked and don’t do anything.

        • Yes! Exactly what I was thinking about. And if they had voted to mandate that trigger tension increase by 10%, they would have been thrown out. If they had taken a symbolic vote that maybe insane people shouldn’t buy guns, they would have been thrown out. My point is not that people don’t get thrown out; my point is that they will get thrown out over anything because the right has been so radicalized. Further: the right has been so radicalized because the left — especially on this issue — hasn’t stood for anything for decades. And note: in Colorado, that law was hugely popular; far more expansive laws would have been hugely popular too; in both cases, the politicians would have been thrown out. There is a point at which practical politics becomes nihilistic. It’s the paradox of power: you only have power as long as you don’t use it.

  2. We have to protect and expand the grey zone on this issue. I think we have gotten to the point where controlling the devices, guns, is less productive than controlling the people who want them. Criminal activity drops off once men turn 26. So raise the age for private gun ownership to 26. Better laws for disarming people who behave badly. Laws for disarming people who have gun ‘accidents’. Of course the NRA will oppose this or anything 100%, But they can be made to discredit themselves in so doing. The Alex Jones Shining Path true believers are not reachable. Plenty of other people are. And what good is it having the NSA sniffing every computer and telephone in the country if we can’t use that to hang a felony conviction (disarmament) on all the Oath Keeper, militia, MRA, ‘3%’, Moron Labia assholes in the country? They never break the law? They never threaten anybody? Never cheat on their taxes? I’d like to find out. The respectable, middle class enablers who will tell you ‘I own a gun and I’m not a threat to anybody. So don’t try to take mine.’ can be shamed into splitting with the NRA on specific policies. I think. Hell, I have family who are probably going to vote for Trump. It’s worth a solid try at this approach.

    • I like it! Using “wedge issues” on our side for once! Why not? There’s pretty much no way the NRA will ever back a Democrat over a Republican anyway, all their pretense at being non-partisan aside.

    • There is much sense in what you say. My nephew used to be a big NRA supporter and member and now he’s turned completely against them.

      But I think we could get gun control really quickly. Start a private group to buy AK-47s and an a thousand rounds of ammo for every black person in this country. Suddenly, white America will start worrying about guns. Sister program: two rifles for all Muslims.

  3. “We protect our liberty by protecting our democratic institutions. That means that people like the Bundys actually make us far less safe from tyranny. Are you afraid of government overreach? Fight for a strong media! Fight against funding for the CIA and the NSA! Fight for government transparency!”

    This is it, man. They ought to be teaching this in schools.

    • Thanks. This is one reason Trump is so worrisome. It isn’t that he thinks that the president is king. It is that roughly a quarter of the population think that the president is king. Of course, if he were president, he could do an amazing amount of damage.

  4. To your point; if there ever were a large scale rebellion, I imagine that all of these gun owning, middle aged, white guys would side with the government and use their guns to support the status quo, as they always have. The conservatives in my part of the Country invariably side with the police and they always want more and more “defense” spending so it is sort of laughable when they fancy themselves as freedom fighters in waiting. Despite all of their histrionics about being oppressed, conservative suburbanites are part of the establishment, the most junior and low paid foot soldiers but members of the establishment nonetheless.

    • That’s absolutely right. What it’s really all about is them whining over the most minor things. I’ve written many times about how the things that libertarians believe the government shoudl do is police and military. And these are the instruments of tyranny. Minor taxation to build public libraries is not what leads to tyranny. But they don’t see it. I see them as man-boys. They have the maturity of 10-year-olds. That’s why they love Trump. They love the bluster. They love it when he talks about his sexual prowess. They love it when he talks about his money. And they love it when he implies he’s going to kick butt. He’s a clown. But his followers are just pathetic.

      • When conservatives talk about citizen gun owners repealing and resisting tyranny, I do not always scoff, I am sometimes intrigued. I am intrigued by the idea of breaking the state’s monopoly on violence. A duopoly on violence could have some benefits because libertarians are right about one thing, the state can be pretty evil sometimes.

        However, in order for this state of affairs to prevail, several things would have to change. The police would have to be demilitarized and reduced to a small force of peace keepers. The US military would have to be reduced in size by about 80% or 90%. Finally, conservatives in rural and suburban parts of the country would have to organize and form coherent and cohesive local militias.

        I think that rural folks would do a pretty good job at that last part. Suburbanites on the other hand, I doubt it. These are the same people who think that local libraries, parks and swimming polls are socialist plots. These are the people who believe that they should not have to pay taxes to pay for public parks because their kids play in their own big backyards. I doubt that they would be willing to, en masse, to regularly meet and drill and generally subject themselves to the collectivist ethos needed to form a competent military unit.

        • I do think the government is evil. It is only a question of how evil. And history has shows extremely strong governments are very evil, but extremely weak governments are destroyed by people who effectively create their own incredibly evil governments. But I don’t know if cutting the military is going to do much. This is a real American military machine.

          The only thing that seems to have worked to keep us relatively safe and happy has been open democracy. I’ve seen it crumbling all my life here in America. But I believe it will win in the end, because the powerful are stupid in the same way that the caribou were: life was great until almost all of them staved to death.

        • Did you read that Russian spies hacked the DNC’s database on Trump dirt? What a wild story. I’m guessing there’s stuff in there so wild the Democrats won’t ever use it (it would seem too ridiculous), but that won’t stop Putin (and most of it’s probably true!)

  5. I generally hate Internet memes, but this is a good one (I liked the “just because” line best):

    “How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion — mandatory 48-hr waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, and an ultrasound wand up the ass (just because). Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.

    It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right? I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?”

    • I like that. But I also understand how right-wingers think. To them, abortion is the murder of millions of babies every day. Mass shootings mean nothing. They imagine nice pink (that is: white) babies getting killed. Drop atomic bombs, no problem. Kill a zygote, outrage!

  6. One of the things that amazes me, which I do not think you have mentioned above (and if you have, my apologies), is the slippery-slope argument most pro-gun-rights proponents advocate. It goes like this: if we are to allow certain greater regulations of gun rights, this is merely the first step towards having all guns seized. So according to this argument, to allow any further regulation is tantamount to opening the floodgates of limitations on gun rights that will only end in seizing all guns.

    I find this argument radically specious, but particularly frustrating in light of the fact that no conversation can ever overcome it. To the person who pushes this argument, discussion itself it almost useless.

    • That’s true. People use this specious line of argument when they have nothing else. When I was a libertarian, people make this argument all the time. And nothing stops it. I heard the same justifications all through Clinton’s presidency. And then I heard it all again during Obama’s. No amount of information changes things. In Obama’s first 4 years, he only passed one law having to do with guns, and it actually increased gun owning rights. But we were all told to just wait until his second term. And then after the mid-term. And now it after the general election to protect Clinton. And then assuming Clinton becomes president, we start the whole thing over again with her.

      You are right: it is incredibly frustrating. Although I’m old enough now that it’s probably a little easier for me to accept out of pure exhaustion.

      On the other hand, I had a nice conversation with my nephew yesterday. He’s a duck hunter. (I clearly didn’t make him watch enough Daffy Duck when he was a kid.) But it does seem that a lot of gun owners of his age are turning against the NRA. The NRA really has nothing to do with gun owners; it’s just a lobbying group for gun manufacturers.

  7. Loosely related observation:

    I was at our largest local supermarket the other morning (Safeway)…just to get a couple freshly baked cheese bagels…and happened down the isle that has cards and magazines.

    OK, never have been a ‘zine fiend but decided to see if they had any good computer/tech magazines. Um, not really. They had PC Gamer, a special Insiders Guide to Windows 10 and some mag on phones and other gadgets. In looking a little harder to see if I was in the right section of the display, I could not help but notice they had 12 gun periodicals in stock. Well, i guess we have our values set straight. Now, I’m not unfamiliar with guns..but these are not about collecting or educating…..these are about weaponry. Noteworthy are cheerful catch phrases on covers stating, “kill or be killed” and “stand your ground.”
    Some people in other countries think Americans are fixated on guns……

    • Yeah, those magazines are bazonkers. The ones with classified ads in the back are even wilder. Some of those ads are really something else …

    • I think it is that gun fanatics have convinced themselves that they are a threatened minority group. Of course, it’s also the case gun fanatics skew older than computer fanatics. And Computer fanatics know that they can find great content online. But I think it is mostly the mindset of being an oppressed minority.

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