Explaining Guns to Obama & Friends Is A Shot In The Dark
"Send lawyers, guns and money, dad, get me out of this"-- Warren Zevon
There are two constants in the debate over gun control. First, the people making the loudest noises about guns typically know the least about how they work, what constitutes an automatic weapon and how lethal they are.
The second constant is the same people decrying guns typically get their legal advice on gun purchasing from experts such as Kirstie Alley or Sean Penn talking to Jimmy Fallon. In short, it’s the bland leading the blind.
To the first point, there was a time when most people had a passing acquaintance with weapons. Whether it was living on a farm or serving in the military, the average citizen respected the value of a gun, its dangers and how a weapon was poorly served by a hot temper. It was a tool like many others that needed to be handled with care.
Today, the vast bulk of Canadians and Americans live in urban environments. They have no clue about guns. They never see a gun firsthand except behind a locked enclosure in a sporting-goods store. Their sophistication on firearms comes from Hollywood, which seems to feel a movie without gunplay is unconstitutional.
Thus we see luminaries such as Ms. Alley opining on automatic versus semi-automatic weapons on Twitter when she doesn’t know a fire arm from a fire pit. Overheated columnists regularly riff on the scourge of “assault” weapons when the only assault is on their credibility.
To point two, the chasm between the actual gun laws and your average pundit on MSNBC is vast. You only had to see the exasperated gun owner, who sold the weapons used in the Orlando shooting to Mateen, schooling the press on its faulty grasp of the law to see how widespread misapprehensions are on gun laws in the press. (http://goo.gl/3FqyNE). While the purchase of automatic weapons was made illegal in America in 1934, the easy-access canard still has legs working frantically in the media.
As the store owner explained, you cannot buy a gun easier than an ice cream cone (as many have reported). In Florida there is a background check and a cooling-off period of three working days. While this Philadelphia columnist thundered that she bought an AG-15 in seven minutes (http://goo.gl/47A0sO) using her state driver’s license, it was because she had passed a background security check in Pennsylvania. IOW, her clean record made the purchase possible. But her liberal sensibilities dictated that she feel guilty about the whole background check process.
That would be one of the checks liberals embrace as the be-all in legislation to prevent illegal gun purchases. The plain truth is that the remedies proposed to prevent illegal use of guns in tragedies like Orlando have proven useless unless applied diligently by the cops and weapons authorities. As Kevin Williamson explains in the National Review, (http://goo.gl/fvvhwE) only one in nine weapons sold in error due to delays in background checks is ever recovered by authorities.
In Chicago, he reports, what passes for the law in that murder-ravaged city has decided not to go after so-called “straw purchases” by third parties on behalf of criminals. Too much aggravation to chase brothers, girlfriends and mothers of thugs. But sure, let’s add another law that no one will enforce.
While we’ve had horrific shootings here in Canada, there’s less of a storm, because gun sales here have been almost completely stifled for decades. So, as they like to say in the U.S., only criminals have guns in Canada. Which they use with impunity in those “other” neighbourhoods far from hipster urban Canada havens. Which allows Canadian sophisticates to think guns are exclusively an American problem.
If you think Canadians are content to allow the cops to do the heavy lifting, check the sales on home security systems in Canada. No one truly believes the cops would get to them in the nick of time should a home invasion happen. They just pray that the menace that comes through the door is not packing.
Facing even greater existential threats than Canadians, Americans take another approach. Random events like Orlando or San Bernadino (and others that get less press) where law enforcement has missed clear suspects, have convinced them that they are their own last reliable line of defence. Instead of taking the fingers-crossed strategy of Canadians, they’ve armed themselves to discourage anyone with malice.
Critics (and Canadians) ask why does anyone need such a powerful weapon ansan AG-15 for self defence? The simple answer, one at the heart of the American culture, is why shouldn't a citizen be able to protect my family in the same fashion as the president’s family is protected? Obama’s toxic words about guns and religion are tossed out from behind the battery of weapons that protect him. Tres brave. Average people live in a scarier world. There’s no Secret Service agent to hop to it when the office or home of an average voter is targeted.
In a nation where all men and women are “created equal”, using your own deterrent isn’t just cautionary, it’s logical. This will offend those who believe that a chorus of Imagine or James Taylor singing You’ve Got A Friend will magically hold back evil. In reality the biggest threat about guns and terrorism is to progressive pieties about love conquering all.
That can’t be allowed to happen however. So when the state security apparatus fails them once more their rote answer is always to follow Obama, the heavyweight champ of the faculty lounge, and blame the guns. It's easier that way.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy
Bruce's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience with successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013).