A recent column by pediatrician Dr. Claire McCarthy in Boston.com asks responsible gun owners several questions the good doctor seems to believe are self-explanatory and ought to be believed by anyone with common sense. The questions she asks are the same tired, mundane myths perpetuated by gun grabbers, begging for an explanation, as if they’re irrefutable facts and should not even be debatable.
Well they are, and I volunteer. I will answer those questions.
I’m glad Dr. McCarthy agrees that “…there are responsible gun owners out there, people who use them for hunting and sport, keep their guns safely stored, and would never think of using them (or allowing them to be used) to hurt anyone (or at least anyone who wasn’t in the act of attacking them).”
In fact, the vast majority of gun owners are the people Dr. McCarthy describes above. Law-abiding citizens who choose to freely exercise their rights vastly outnumber the thugs. Studies have shown that people with concealed carry permits are:
- 5.7 times less likely to be arrested for violent offenses than the general public
- 13.5 times less likely to be arrested for non-violent offenses than the general public
So it’s not that these “mythical” responsible gun owners exist “out there.” They are by far the vast majority of gun owners.
But on to Dr. McCarthy’s questions.
First of all, can you help me understand the problem with universal background checks? In his senate testimony, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA said that they will never be universal because criminals will never submit to them. That’s true, of course. But I can’t understand how one gets from there to saying that it’s okay that 40 percent of gun sales happen without background checks. I know that bureaucracy is a hassle and background checks can miss things. But I don’t get why saving some lives isn’t worth a hassle–and why we shouldn’t make at least the basic attempt to stop people with mental health problems or a criminal background from buying guns. Am I missing something?
Yes, you are. Let’s start with the fact that you are using old statistics perpetuated by the likes of Michael Bloomberg who never met a tyrannical law he didn’t love. The “40 percent” figure is faulty for several reasons, the biggest of which is that the survey on which this number was based was done only a short time after the Brady background checks went into effect, and therefore, many of the folks queried likely purchased firearms before the Brady law went into effect. The number would change tremendously now that the background checks have been law for nearly two decades.
Second, bureaucracy is expensive. When you create a bureaucracy, and force sellers to comply with numerous regulations that are cumbersome and costly, basic economics dictates those costs will be passed on to the consumer. Guns are already pretty expensive, and making them more cost prohibitive is punitive to the people who may need them the most – the poor, who may live in neighborhoods that are much less safe than the one Dr. McCarthy likely inhabits, and who likely would need a tool of self defense much more than the low-crime neighborhoods the more wealthy doctors and lawyers can afford.
Furthermore, dealers already have to perform background checks. Any federally licensed dealer does. Ergo, the only sellers who would be affected by these universal background checks are private individuals, who may want to sell their private property. These aren’t dealers. They likely do not have the resources to implement background checks just because they want to sell a gun, but they will be forced to, and they will incur costs, which they will likely pass onto their buyer. Ergo, a guy living with his family in a high-crime area, who wants to purchase a tool of self defense, will be forced to bear the brunt of the costs of this bureaucracy. Not recognizing this fact is ignorance of economics or simple disregard for poor people.
Second: assault weapons. I need help with this one too. I need someone to explain to me why people feel so strongly about having them. The fact that they are flying off shelves is disturbing to me. I get that they are cool, that it could be exciting to own something so powerful. But they are guns designed for maximum carnage. They are meant for military use, not civilian use. I understand that the data suggests that the assault weapon ban didn’t lower crime–but these are the guns that killed all those children in Newtown, that killed the people in Aurora….in the wrong hands, they can cause not just murder but devastation. There needs to be a really good reason to keep them available–can someone please tell me what that reason is?
First of all, you need to revise your language, Dr. McCarthy. What do you mean by “assault weapon?” The people who committed murders in Newtown and Aurora used these firearms – firearms that fire ONE round with ONE pull of the trigger. These are semi-automatic firearms, no more deadly than the .45 caliber M1911 I carry on my hip. I would venture to say that my .45 caliber round will make a bigger hole than the .223 varmint round used by the AR-15. These are not automatic weapons. They are rifles. They get better distance, but they are no more deadly than your average revolver that also fires ONE round with ONE pull of the trigger. These firearms DID NOT KILL ANYONE. I realize how tempting it is to personify these firearms and ascribe to them some sort of evil intent, but fact of the matter is that MEN committed these crimes, and they would have committed these crimes just as easily and likely with the same amount of damage as with a regular handgun.
As for having a good reason to have them available…
Ask the Korean shopkeepers during the Los Angeles riots in 1992 how effective these firearms were at keeping them and their property safe.
Pretty powerful stuff.
Ask the boy who recently used his dad’s AR-15 rifle to defend the life of his sister how effective this firearm was at keeping them safe.
Ask the people who protected their property from criminal thugs in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew how effective this firearm was at protecting what meager possessions they had left.
And the final reason? It’s a Bill of Rights, not a Bill of Needs.
Third: what’s up with the marketing to children? I was so upset to read the article in the New York Times about the various efforts of the gun industry to recruit and engage children–even young children, younger than 12. It was absolutely chilling to read about marketing military-style rifles for “junior shooters” (who can’t buy them legally, but whatever), the semiautomatic hand gun competitions for youth, and the other ways that gun manufacturers and gun organizations are targeting children. I understand that parents might want to pass on a hobby or tradition–that is their choice. But marketing, by definition, isn’t about teaching values and safety–it’s about selling things. Can someone explain to me why it’s okay to market something to children that they can’t buy legally and don’t have the maturity to use responsibly, something that could literally kill them or someone else?
Your being upset is an irrational response, ma’am. Your mindset won’t allow you to make the connection between shooting sports, children and the evil gun you insist on vilifying. That’s why you’re upset. Fact of the matter is children and shooting sports is a very logical, very safe combination if taught correctly. I would urge you to look up a young lady named Katelyn Francis. Katelyn is a competitive shooter, and she’s only 13 years old. Take a look for yourself.
Yes, that is a 13-year-old shooting a fully automatic firearm. She is focused. She’s intent and she uses it safely and effectively.
My son shot his first fully automatic machine gun when he was 8 years old – with adult supervision. He has known the rules of gun safety since before he could tie his own shoes. He recites those rules before he touches a firearm. When he is at the range, he is focused, serious and responsible. Shooting helps concentration, teaches personal responsibility and firearms safety. You may not appreciate this, but millions of Americans do, and your being “upset” about it is quite frankly irrelevant.
You need to change your way of thinking, Dr. McCarthy. Guns did not wound Gabby Giffords. Guns did not kill children at Sandy Hook, and they did not murder innocent movie goers at Aurora.
I would have thought that someone with a medical degree would understand that inanimate objects are not capable of murder, but evil people are.
Perhaps you should stop with the hysterical newspeak and examine the true causes of these tragedies.
Relieving people of their fundamental rights of self defense and their ability to resist tyranny – or even making it prohibitively costly or cumbersome to exercise these rights – will not stop these crimes.