The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information

 TeasersSam Francis Blogview
Gun Control

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
🔊 Listen RSS

You don’t hear so much about gun control any more, largely because, one has to suspect, even the Democrats have tumbled to the truth that it’s a big loser at the polls.

In 2000 Al Gore lost a good many white male voters because he failed to distance himself from his party’s record on gun control, and this year even Howard Dean is accused by his rivals within the party of being too cuddly with the National Rifle Association.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean the gun gestapo that peddles gun control is defunct. It’s just out of ammunition, not only because its issue is a loser but also because there’s so little merit in its main claim—that private gun ownership causes violence in the form of homicide, suicide and accidents.

That claim has always been dubious, but now even an institution that often appears to side with the gun controllers—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—has released a study that pretty much shoots the legs out from under the case for gun control.

Indeed, when the Associated Press reported the new study recently, that seems to have been one of the main concerns about it. “The findings,” the story whimpered, “could be used to undercut the gun-control movement.”

Well, as a matter of fact, that’s precisely what the findings do. As the AP reported,

“an independent CDC task force reviewed 51 published studies about the effectiveness of eight types of gun-control laws. The laws included bans on specific firearms or ammunition, measures barring felons from buying guns, and mandatory waiting periods and firearm registration. None of the studies was done by the federal government. In every case, a CDC task force found ‘insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness.’”

While the findings do pretty much gut the argument for gun control, of course the gun gestapo refuses to give up. “Gun-control advocates quickly called on the government to fund better research,” the AP reported, and one Gestapo Gruppenfuhrer, Peter Hamill of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, moaned that, “There have not been enough good surveys to know whether these laws work, and that’s a very sad and troubling fact.”

Spokesmen for the CDC itself were quick to try to smooth over any aid and comfort their findings might offer to those who want to preserve the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

“When we say we don’t know the effect of a law,” explained the chairman of the task force sponsoring the study, “we don’t mean it has no effect. We mean we don’t know.”

But if we don’t know the laws “work,” why should we pass them or enforce them?

Not only what the CDC study found but also what the chairman and Mr. Hamill acknowledge in their statements rips the guts out of the whole argument for gun control.

The AP story regurgitated such factoids beloved of gun controllers as that “Firearms injuries were the second leading cause of injury deaths, killing 28,663 people in 2000, the most recent year for which data was available.”

What it didn’t bother to report is that while the number of firearms in private possession has exploded in recent years (gun sales have risen by 25 percent since 9/11), murder rates have fallen.

The Washington Times last week, in a long front-page story on murder in America, reported “the homicide toll of 15,317 for 2000 was a dramatic decline from 1991′s all-time high of 24,495.” ["Murder Hits 40-Year Low," by Frank J. Murray, Washington Times, October 5, 2003].

If guns caused murder, the crime would have increased, not dwindled.

In the current issue of The Rockford Institute’s magazine Chronicles, devoted to the gun issue, historian Roger McGrath notes what ought to be obvious—that crime has actually swollen as guns became more difficult to own.

“I grew up in Los Angeles when gun laws were few and crime was low. Nearly everyone I knew had a 30.06, a couple of .22′s, a shotgun, and a revolver or two sitting around their house. We could buy guns mail-order and pick up our ammunition at the local grocery store…. Did this cause crime? In 1952, there were 81 murders in Los Angeles. In 1992, 40 years and many gun laws later, there were 1092 murders. If the increase in murder had kept pace with the increase in population, there would have been 142 murders, a 75 percent increase. Instead, murder increased 1,350 percent. Other crimes had similar increases: robbery: 1,540 percent; auto theft, 1,100 percent.”

What Dr. McGrath knows is what everybody in the country used to know—even politicians.

There’s no reason whatsoever for the federal government or the CDC or anyone else to conduct more studies.

Gun control is useless at best and, more likely, an outright danger to life and safety.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Gun Control 
🔊 Listen RSS

After building up the image of George W. Bush as a conservative in the 2000 presidential campaign and sedulously supporting him during his presidency, what remains today of the American conservative movement was dumbfounded to find that the president they adored has betrayed them.

The betrayal was not on amnesty for illegal immigrants or war with Iraq but on gun control.

Last week the Bush White House let it be known that the president would support extension of the 1994 federal law banning the sale of so-called “assault weapons.” It’s “just unbelievable,” whimpered one of the president’s staunchest apparatchiks, Beltway conservative activist Grover Norquist.

As it soon turned out, the betrayal didn’t really matter because House Majority Leader Tom DeLay coolly announced that the votes from Republican lawmakers “are not there” to extend the ban. At least somebody in the Stupid Party has some common sense.

But enough votes or not, what was important about the matter was what it tells conservatives about “their” president — that he’s not a reliable conservative at all.

The “assault weapons” ban, a highly controversial measure adopted under President Clinton with the support of most Democrats, was supposed to get rid of the semi-automatic weapons that everybody knows from movies and TV shows are always used by cop killers and terrorists to slaughter innocent victims.

The problem is that what everybody knows from the movies is flapdoodle. The truth about “assault weapons,” as the gun Gestapo wants semi-automatic weapons to be called inaccurately, is quite different.

Gun expert John Lott writes in his recently published book, The Bias against Guns, that his own researches on the effect of state laws against assault weapons before the federal ban was enacted “find an increase in the average murder rate after a state enacts a ban on assault weapons.” FBI statistics at the time the federal ban was passed showed that such weapons are in fact used in only about 1 percent of homicides nationally.

But when did facts ever get in the way of the gun control lobby?

The “assault weapons” ban passed for two reasons: First, the gun gestapo and its tame press were able to frighten and misinform enough people about semi-automatic weapons that opposing the ban was perceived as politically suicidal, and second, conservatives outside of the National Rifle Association and similar groups did virtually nothing to resist or counter-act the anti-gun propaganda.

Neither House nor Senate GOP leaders showed much interest in resisting the ban when it was on the legislative horizon in 1994, and few conservatives in the media paid much attention until the bill had almost become law. Since no one on the right was interested or paid attention, the anti-gun propaganda seeds the gun controllers planted were able to sprout and dominate what passed for the debate later on.

But it was the Democrats who supported the ban who suffered.

As President Clinton acknowledged in an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer in January 1995, after the Republicans won the House,“the fight for the assault weapons ban cost 20 members their seats in Congress.”

Gun control also cost Al Gore a good many votes in 2000, and the Democratic candidate spent a lot of time trying to appease angry pro-gun voters. “The problem for Democrats,” the Washington Postreported in October, 2000, is “is that gun control is unpopular among many of the swing voters both campaigns are targeting in the final weeks of the campaign.”

It’s support for the assault weapons ban, not opposition to it, that’s a political liability, so it makes no sense, either on the ban’s merits or on its political utility, for the Bush White House to have supported its extension, even without counting the votes for it in Congress.

“The president makes decisions based on what he believes is the right policy for Americans,” a White House spokesman spouted.

That’s the eighth-grade civics textbook explanation, but as to the real reason the president was backing the extension introduced by Democratic Senators Diane Feinstein and Charles Schumer last week, who can say?

That’s why they call it the Stupid Party — it supports measures its leaders imagine will win them praise from the left-leaning political culture, not those supported by its white, conservative middle-class base.

Mr. Norquist and his fellow Mouseketeers in the conservative movement inside the Beltway may find it “just unbelievable” that the president ignored both the merits (or lack thereof) of the “assault weapons” ban as well as the political benefits of opposing it, but no one else should.

Middle American conservatives are entirely used to being betrayed by the Republicans they voted for.

If the Democrats were any smarter than the Stupid Party, they’d think about how they might take advantage of that.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Conservative Movement, Gun Control 
🔊 Listen RSS

One by one, the superstitions of liberalism are crumbling into the sea like the towers of lost Atlantis.

Last month anthropologist Franz Boas, a patron saint of the liberal view of race, bit the deep waters when one of his major studies turned out to be a fraud. So did Margaret Mead, one of Boas’s major disciples and also a pillar of liberal views of sexual liberation. Then there are all the apologists for characters like Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and others, all of whom are now known to have been secret communists and spies to boot, despite decades of yelling and screaming by their defenders that they were just saintly progressives hounded by McCarthyite fascists.

Now, just last week, yet another liberal myth, one barely a couple of years old, as well as the mythologist who fabricated it gurgled down into the oceanic depths.

The latest liberal fraud was the claim of Emory University “historian” Michael A. Bellesiles in his 2000 book, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture, that most people in early American history really didn’t own many guns. The reason the left swallowed this claim—dismissed as preposterous on its face by real experts on firearms history—was that it appeared to bolster the enemies of the right to keep and bear arms. If gun ownership is a fairly recent habit in our culture, then it could not have been considered necessary to a free republic by the Founding Fathers and the authors of the Second Amendment.

Mr. Bellesiles’ book at once became a holy relic in the temples of the left. Columbia University awarded it the Bancroft Prize, probably the country’s most prestigious award for historical scholarship, and such bigwig academics and writers as Edmund S. Morgan and Garry Wills hailed the book as a marvel of learning.

But to anyone with a balanced mind, there was something fishy. When critics clobbered Mr. Bellesiles’ book, it turned out that the Emory professor was unable to substantiate several of the major claims his “research” was supposed to have proved. Unable to identify the sources for some of his conclusions, he claimed his data had been destroyed in a flood in his office. Scholars couldn’t locate records on which he was supposed to have relied. It turned out they had been destroyed decades before he claimed to have examined them.

Aside from hostile reviews by skeptical scholars, [See James Lindgren's Yale Law Review piece here.] the William and Mary Quarterly in January published a symposium that cast even further doubt, not just on the truth of Mr. Bellesiles’ conclusions but on his very honesty as a historian.

Finally last week the last remaining pillar crumbled. A committee of scholars composed of three major academics from Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Chicago reported that the Bellesiles book showed “evidence of falsification,” “egregious misrepresentation,” and “exaggeration of data.” The Emory professor’s “scholarly integrity is seriously in question,” they concluded. Mr. Bellesiles submitted his resignation from the university faculty the next day. [Full report in PDF format]

Yet die-hard defenders of the frauds of the left were still swinging in Mr. Bellesiles’ defense. The Nation magazine, which defended the innocence of convicted perjurer Alger Hiss for decades after two trials and a mass of new scholarship showed him to be guilty, carried an article by editor Jon Wiener that tried to make out that Mr. Bellesiles was merely the innocent victim of the omnipotent and mysterious “gun lobby”—mainly because NRA president Charlton Heston was outraged by the book’s foolish claims when he first read about them.

Presumably, Mr. Wiener will soon try to prove the NRA bribed the three scholars at Harvard, Princeton and Chicago to issue their damning report.

As for Mr. Bellesiles, he has shown himself more than willing to play the role of martyr as what Mr. Wiener calls “the target of a campaign to destroy your work.” In his defiant statement last week,[PDF] he compared himself to those attacked by “Holocaust deniers.”

When you’ve got the entire establishment on your side, why shouldn’t you be defiant?

Mr. Wiener points put that Mr. Bellesiles is preparing a second edition of his worthless book for Vintage, the prestigious paperback arm of Random House.

And so far there’s no breath of retraction or apology from the reviewers whose shameless trumpeting raised the book to glory in the first place.

Nor is there any suggestion from Columbia that it plans to reconsider the Bancroft Prize.

That’s what happens when the dominant ideology of the nation is nothing more than a gigantic tissue of deceit and fraud.

But sooner or later, despite all the cover-ups and denials by the elite that relies on the big lies liberalism pushes, the truth will out, and the powers and policies that liberal lies support will crash with them.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Gun Control 
🔊 Listen RSS

One major reason the Soviet Union finally collapsed around its own socks is that the ideological dogmas by which it was governed were eventually exposed as pure and simple lies. If the liberalism that dominates American politics and culture ever collapses, it will be for much the same reason. Just this year, one of the most recent contributions to liberal scholarship that tried to use historical data to bolster the case for gun control has all but been exposed as an outright fraud.

The book in question is Arming America: The Origins of a Gun Culture, by Emory University historian Michael A. Bellesiles, published in 2000 to ovations from just about every liberal loudmouth in the country. The book’s argument, quite simply, is that private gun ownership in early American history was fairly rare.

If true, that would mean that guns were not an integral part of our national experience, that private arms were not necessary to a free republic and that the habit of owning guns was really, as Mr. Bellesiles argues, due to the propaganda efforts of gun manufacturers and their lackeys later in our history.

Now the book has been all but demolished. Not only has its thesis been shown to have little foundation but Mr. Bellesiles may very well have simply fabricated his evidence. One major controversy about the book has to do with the probate records he says he studied that reveal very few guns in private ownership.

Mr. Bellesiles says he examined some 10,000 probate inventories—including those in San Francisco records between 1849 and 1859—and found that guns were uncommon in American homes. There’s just one little problem: The San Francisco records don’t even exist; they were destroyed during the city’s 1906 earthquake.

That’s not the only problem. One scholar, Clayton Cramer, says he’s found “hundreds and hundreds” of errors in the book and the only explanation is “massive misrepresentation.” Another, James Lindgren, says the book “counted guns in about 100 wills where people died without wills.” And so it goes, with scholars of all persuasions uncovering flaws, errors and what many are convinced are simply whoppers. Mr. Bellesiles, for his part, responds rather lamely, claiming a flood destroyed many of his notes, so he can’t produce the evidence for his claims.

A forthcoming issue of the William and Mary Quarterly is devoted to scrutinizing the book, but already there are so many questions about Mr. Bellesiles’ methods—and his integrity—that the book can no longer be cited as serious scholarship. But that’s not the way it was when the book first appeared.

Then, Garry Wills—a self-appointed expert on the Second Amendment and gun control advocate—hailed it on the front page of the New York Times Book Review. Edmund Morgan, a major academic historian from Yale, praised it without qualification in the New York Review of Books. The book walked off with the distinguished Bancroft Prize awarded by Columbia University, probably the highest honor a work in American history can receive. Michael Kammen, past president of the Organization of American Historians, wrote that “It is certain to endure as a classic work of significant scholarship with inescapable policy implications.” And we know what those “implications” are, don’t we? That gun control is legitimate because few Americans ever owned or cared about guns anyway.

There were some who saw through Mr. Bellesiles almost at once, however, and most were supporters of the Second Amendment. Thus, pro-gun rights activist and writer David Kopel cast doubt on the book’s thesis while most of the academic fancy-pants crowd were cooing over its “significant scholarship.” “A close inspection of Bellesiles’ sources reveals that they not only fail to support his argument, but prove precisely the reverse,” Mr. Kopel wrote only a month after the book was published.

If Mr. Kopel could know that, why didn’t Mr. Wills, Professor Morgan, Professor Kammen and all the others who glowed and grinned over what is now pretty generally believed to be merely a major contribution to charlatanism? One possible answer is that they may very well have known it—they just didn’t want to say so because that would have punctured the political posturing these doubledomes prefer to the truth.

The decline and fall of Mr. Bellesiles and his book reminds us once more that the empire of liberalism is built on lies. One by one they’re being exposed, and when they’ve all crashed to the earth, the power structure liberalism supports will crash with them. As for Mr. Bellesiles himself, he says he’s now pondering “what it means to be a Christian and own guns.” How sweet. He’s hardly the first fake to thump the Bible in his own defense, but no doubt whatever conclusions he reaches will be at least as astonishing as the discredited book he concocted.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Gun Control 
🔊 Listen RSS

It was entirely predictable that the gun Gestapo would try to exploit the national catastrophes of Sept. 11 for its own political ends, and as expected, it is. The latest sophistry is that gun shows—where people come to look at, admire, fantasize about and buy and sell guns and the paraphernalia that go with them—are helpful to terrorism and ought to be subject to government control, if not banned.

The Gestapo has been after gun shows for a long time, especially since the shows are places where anti-gun control literature is handed out and grassroots activism organized. But now, with a convenient gun control measure being sponsored in the Senate by Sens. John McCain and Mike DeWine that would require background checks on gun buyers at gun shows, and the terrorism of Sept. 11 to use for cheap propaganda, the shows are once again in the gun control lobby’s crosshairs.

The Washington Post recently regurgitated the expected fodder from the Violence Policy Center about the supposed relationship between terrorism and gun shows to push for “closing the loophole” that allows unregulated gun sales. It seems that somebody who was a member of the Middle Eastern terrorist group Hezbollah “was convicted in September of conspiring to smuggle guns and ammunition to Lebanon. Federal agents say they saw him buying three guns at gun shows.” Then in Florida somebody else “accused of being linked to the IRA” has testified that he and his pals also bought guns and hand grenades at a gun show. In Texas, yet another somebody with a Muslim name, but whose precise connection to terrorism the Post does not quite make clear, has admitted he bought guns at gun shows for years. [VDARE note: He was an illegal immigrant, but somehow the Post overlooked this immigration dimension.]

Well, OK, all of this is true, no doubt, because it did appear in the Washington Post after all, but there’s just one question: Where’s the “loophole”? In every single instance the Post recounted (or with which the Violence Policy Center provided it) the “terrorist” or lawbreaker or whatever he was got caught and was charged. Indeed, that’s how anyone knows about these examples at all. They all come from testimony provided at the trials of the gun purchasers involved. So far from proving there’s a “loophole” through which whole armies of terrorists are marching, the examples prove that terrorists who buy weapons at gun shows get caught.

But then, the relevance of these examples is open to question as well. What’s remarkable about the terrorism of Sept. 11 is that, contrary to gun Gestapo mythology and propaganda, the largest act of mass murder in history took place, and not a single shot was fired. As far as gun shows are concerned, you might as well demand that Wal-Marts be outlawed if it turns out that’s where the hijackers bought their box cutters.

If in fact the pilots and crews of the planes hijacked had actually had firearms, or if anyone on the planes had had them, none of the hijackings would have occurred. It’s quite true that firing a gun on an airplane can cause the plane to crash, but so can attacking the crew with box cutters. I’d feel a good deal safer if I knew that the crew, the pilots and other passengers were packing iron than if I knew some gentlemen of Middle Eastern extraction carrying perfectly legal box cutters were flying the friendly skies.

So probably would most other Americans, unless they happen to work for the Washington Post or the Violence Policy Center. The New York Times reports that in the aftermath of Sept. 11, gun sales skyrocketed. “The rise [in gun sales] was anywhere from 9 percent to nearly 22 percent during September, October and November, according to F.B.I. statistics on background checks for purchases. The total peaked in October, at 1,029,691.”

Americans have every right to buy guns, and protection against terrorists is a perfectly legitimate reason to buy them, especially since it’s clear the government did nothing to protect against Sept. 11. But Osama bin Laden and his boys probably aren’t going to break into your house anytime soon or mug you in the parking lot. What the fever of gun-buying may really mean is not that more Americans are now safer from terrorism but that a lot of folks who know nothing about guns now have some.

People who buy and own guns need to learn how to use them and how not to use them. Otherwise they cause accidents and injuries to themselves and others and merely provide the gun Gestapo with more propaganda to exploit. In the meantime, terrorists of any extraction might be better advised to pick on people in airplanes whom they know for sure aren’t armed than on the million or so new gunowners in this country whom they know for sure are.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Gun Control 
🔊 Listen RSS

A tip of the hat to Attorney General John Ashcroft, who in a letter to the National Rifle Association makes clear that the Second Amendment is back in the Constitution this week. What’s in the Constitution and what isn’t varies, you know, depending on which gaggle of politicos happens to get hold of the document. But back during the dark age of Bill Clinton, the right to keep and bear arms definitely wasn’t there.

In his May 17 letter to the executive director of the NRA, Mr. Ashcroft stated plainly that “the text and the original intent of the Second Amendment clearly protect the right of individuals to keep and bear firearms. While some have argued that the Second Amendment guarantees only a ‘collective’ right of the states to maintain militias, I believe the amendment’s plain meaning and original intent prove otherwise.” The NRA itself could not have put it any more clearly.

The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The issue is whether the language means that individuals can keep and bear arms or only the states. Among the “some” in Mr. Ashcroft’s letter who have claimed that only the states have the “collective” right to keep and bear arms was the Clinton administration.

If that were true, then gun control laws, state or federal, that forbid individual ownership of firearms wouldn’t violate the amendment. And, if individual ownership is what the Second Amendment guarantees, then such gun control laws are unconstitutional. That’s what worries the gun gestapo, which greeted the Ashcroft letter with its usual whoops and whines.

“This is a monumental and dangerous change,” panted a spokesman for Handgun Control, Inc. (The Washington Post, May 24). “This goes against established precedent.” It might mean “a massive shift in how federal gun laws might be interpreted,” said another spokesman for the Violence Policy Center, which is generally unconcerned about violence when committed against the law-abiding.

What they’re worried about is that the NRA and similar groups will now bring litigation against gun control laws and gut them as unconstitutional. That’s not a bad idea, but the NRA says it has no plans to do so. Moreover, as one of the nation’s staunchest defenders of gun rights, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America, pointed out, Mr. Ashcroft left himself a loophole.

Mr. Ashcroft, of course, often leaves himself loopholes, which is why he gets only a tip of the hat for his letter and not a 21 individually-owned guns salute. The loophole in this case is that he also said in his letter that Congress has the right to enact gun control laws “for compelling state interests.” That language renders what he says he believes about the Second Amendment all but meaningless.

You can cite “compelling state interest” to justify just about any gun control law on the books, most that aren’t on the books, and even laws that would confiscate privately owned guns outright. After all, if the Congress or Mr. Ashcroft or the president or the Supreme Court or somebody declared that there is a “compelling state interest” in forbidding individuals from owning firearms, who or what is there to say otherwise?

The case for the individual right to keep and bear arms is all but overwhelming. Those who took that position include not only most of the republican political theorists who influenced the drafters of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights but also the mainstream of contemporary legal and historical scholarship. The essence of the theory is that the right to keep and bear arms is “necessary to the security of a free state” precisely because the militia could resist the government itself, and it couldn’t resist the government if only the government had the guns. Only if individual citizens could keep their own weapons could they expect to keep their state free.

The main text of Mr. Ashcroft’s letter is therefore unexceptionable. It’s the loophole that may cause a problem, and it’s the loophole that has no basis whatsoever in American constitutional law, history or political theory. As Mr. Pratt says, “that was not the intent of the founding fathers. The Second Amendment means no gun control and all gun control laws are unconstitutional.” If Mr. Ashcroft believes otherwise, he ought to explain why.

The mere existence of the Ashcroft loophole is worrisome and should be to the millions of American gun owners who supported the Bush ticket because of its commitment to the right to keep and bear arms. If that commitment was less than what it seemed to be, maybe the Constitution under Mr. Bush’s gaggle of politicos is not really so different from what it was under Mr. Clinton’s.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Gun Control 
🔊 Listen RSS

The most recent crusades for gun control seem to have fizzled, and that’s just as well, not only for the sake of the freedom and safety of most Americans, but also for the public reputations of those who push the banning of firearms. There is an ever-increasing amount of evidence that gun control is a failure, not only in the United States but in other countries, too.

The ancient and honorable nation of Japan has the distinction of enjoying perhaps the most rigorous gun-control laws in the world outside of communist states. With no tradition whatsoever of individual liberty and a powerful tradition of placing the integrity of the group — family and nation — over the individual, Japanese lawmakers have never felt the slightest hesitation in outlawing most gun ownership and punishing severely those who break the laws.

In Japan, even possessing a handgun and a bullet puts you in prison for 15 years. Other laws have been tightened and toughened since 1991, and even armored car guards don’t carry firearms. Only police officers and soldiers can carry guns at all, and the cops have to leave their guns in a safe when they leave work.

According to gun-control dogmas, that should pretty much keep gun violence down. But it doesn’t, in Japan anymore than in this country. The Washington Post recently carried a report on the increasing incidence of gun violence in the Land of the Rising Gun.

The number of crimes committed with handguns last year was higher than in any year since records have been kept, and the rate this year threatens to be even higher. An administrator in Japan’s National Police Agency told the Post, “Since 1994 or 1995 there’s been a clear change; the guns are now becoming dispersed in the population. We are worried about it. Crimes are becoming more violent, more serious. And handguns are very efficient weapons for that.” So much for the effectiveness of gun control.

The people in Japan who do have guns are the members of the “yakuza,” as the Japanese organized crime cartel is known. As the Post reports: “The yakuza are the exception. Experts believe most of the estimated 80,000 underworld members have weapons, and police have been unable or unwilling to dent that figure.” Does that remind you of anything? When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

Japan, however, is not the only gun-controlling society to sport rising gun violence. The same is true in Australia, where a new law last year confiscated virtually all handguns in the country and destroyed them. It doesn’t matter. Now violent crimes committed by guns are on the rise Down Under.

One year after the mass confiscation of handguns, homicides in Australia have increased 3.2 percent. Assaults have risen by 8.6 percent, and armed robberies have increased by a whopping 44 percent. In one state (Victoria), homicides with firearms have risen 300 percent, despite the government ban. The figures on armed robberies are especially instructive, since these crimes in particular had been falling for some 25 years. Now all of a sudden, with privately owned guns outlawed, they start increasing dramatically.

Similar statistics come from Great Britain, long the gun controllers’ showcase country. There, where privately owned handguns were effectively banned a few years ago after a mass shooting by a crazed homosexual, crime figures show an increase in England and Wales for the first time in six years. The number of robberies, mostly mugging, increased by 19 percent. Violent offenses increased by 5 percent, and sexual offenses rose by 2 percent. Statistics from the Home Office show that the City of London suffered the greatest increase in crime — 22 percent.

In the United States, however, violent crime continues to fall, for reasons no one seems to be able to figure out. The high rate of incarceration and the ageing of the criminal population are often cited, but the increase in conceal carry laws, which let law-abiding citizens carry concealed firearms, is not often mentioned as reasons for the drop in violent crimes in this country. University of Chicago economist John Lott is one expert who’s shown there is a very real link between the decline of violent crime and the availability of firearms; his book, “More Guns, Less Crime,” has been virtually ignored by the establishment media..

But the connection ought to be obvious enough. When law-abiding people have guns and criminals know they have them, it’s the criminals who have reason to be afraid, and they pick on softer targets that can’t shoot back. When guns are criminilized, as in most crime-ridden American cities and in countries like Japan, Australia and Great Britain, only the yakuza and its cousins around the world will have guns, and it’s the law-abiding who have to live in fear.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Gun Control 
🔊 Listen RSS

Can it be only a coincidence that the mob attacks on women during the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City took place only a week or so after the controversy about the National Rifle Association’s plan to open a cafe in Times Square? It’s definitely not a coincidence that virtually no one has commented on the obvious connection between them. Indeed, it’s further evidence that most people today miss what ought to be the obvious link between private firearms and public safety. The NRA, in one of its perennial campaigns to spruce up its image, wants to open a cafe in Times Square, where you could buy NRA-brand sportswear, sip coffee and tea and play video games that simulate real gunfire. There would be no real guns, of course, because real guns are illegal in the Big Apple, which no doubt explains why the city is so pleasantly law-abiding.

Times Square, for decades, was the site of the most degrading and offensive pornography and live sex shows the human imagination could concoct. Anyone who objected to it was denounced as a bigot, a bluenose or a fascist who hated free speech and having fun.

Most of that filth is now cleaned up, I’m told, but there are still folks who object to what’s going on there — namely, citizens like gun gestapo guru Sen. Charles Schumer, who moans about the NRA plan as threatening to push the city back toward “Dodge City.” Mayor Rudolph Giuliani just says, “I don’t think it’s going to happen.” The City Council also thumped its chest and passed a resolution saying the cafe and its theme of guns should not be permitted to “take root.” The same authorities that for decades tolerated the sewer that Times Square had become now vow to ban a perfectly legal, harmless and indeed wholesome business.

Of course, what all the eminent citizens object to is the legitimacy of firearms that the NRA’s cafe would suggest. No one in the city’s political establishment wants to believe or wants others to believe that guns can be legitimate and even useful for protecting New Yorkers against the animals that the same authorities refuse to scrape out of its streets and parks. If the citizens started getting the idea that guns are legitimate, they might also start demanding to legalize guns inside the city.

Indeed, if guns were legal inside the city, it’s likely the mob attacks during the parade would never have happened. The Puerto Rican “youths” who thought it the height of good fun to spit on women, hit them, yell lewd insults at them, throw water on them and rip their clothes off would have found healthier and safer amusements. But then, of course, you have the police department to prevent that sort of thing, don’t you.

But of course, again, the whole point is that you don’t have the police department. The real scandal of the most recent “wildings” in New York is not that gangs of savages can roam the streets assaulting women at their leisure but that the cops — even when informed about it — will do absolutely nothing to stop or control it. One jogger in Central Park witnessed some of the attacks on women and alerted a contingent of some 40 police officers to them, but the cops “never budged.”

This, of course, yet again, is why the Framers of the Second Amendment knew private ownership of firearms was important enough to be included among the most fundamental rights of citizens. The police, in cities like New York, cannot and will not protect you. The Framers knew that neither the police nor the armies of their day could protect Americans in the pursuit of their fundamental rights and therefore that only Americans themselves could protect themselves.

To be fair, the Framers probably did not anticipate that cities like New York would hire, train and deploy police forces larger than most European armies of the time and that such forces would still be useless in protecting women from mob attacks in broad daylight. You have to be pretty far gone to imagine that kind of thing happening, but that’s where we’ve arrived today.

If the NRA ever builds its cafe in Times Square, it won’t stop any future attacks on women by mobs or criminals or even the local political leaders, but it might start reminding New Yorkers of what many other Americans outside the city have always known — that you can’t rely on government at any level to take care of you and defend you, that you ultimately have to be responsible for that yourself, and that you can do that only when the right to keep and bear arms is a lot more secure than it is in New York today.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Gun Control 
🔊 Listen RSS

What is there to say about several hundred thousand women who supposedly are mothers, who choose to spend Mother’s Day far from home and family yelling about an issue about which most of them seemed to be perfectly ignorant? Perhaps the first thing to say is to express sorrow at the sad fate of the husbands unfortunate enough to be married to such harridans and the children wretched enough to have to live with them as parents.

The Million Mom March that obsessed the media for days before it took place last Sunday is now largely forgotten, and it’s doubtful it accomplished very much of anything other than to advertise to the entire planet the profound ignorance, sentimentalism and raw political ambition that exuded from the march’s participants and leaders. It is now clear that the whole phenomenon was largely an extension of the Clinton administration, if not of the Gore presidential campaign.

So far from being the kind of spontaneous mass expression of outrage at gun violence that it was billed as being, the whole march was carefully designed and orchestrated, all for the manipulation of those vapid enough to swallow its claims at face value. As The Washington Times reported last week, the march’s founder was Donna Dees-Thomases, sister-in-law of Susan Thomases, a buddy and political adviser of Hillary Clinton.

The march had its own web site (a bit unusual for the sort of populism it purported to be), which presented its “Mom’s Apple Pie Award” to that greatest pal of all moms large and small, the wise and magnificent Bill Clinton. Perhaps Clinton could have interviewed some of the more fetching moms in the privacy of the Monica Lewinsky Memorial Oval Office.

A few days prior to the march, Dees-Thomases actually did meet privately with the president for the purpose of coordinating strategy with the White House, which pretended that the march really “came out of some mothers and groups that wanted to find a way to make a statement on Mother’s Day,” as White House spokesman Joe Lockhart explained.

No doubt that was why so many celebrities from Hollywood just happened to show up at the March, to unveil their ignorance of guns and the Constitution to the world. The First Lady, the Second Lady, Attorney General Janet Reno, TV talk show hostess Rosie O’Donnell and a loud regiment of other actresses, singers and professional glamour pusses all trekked down the Mall to moan and chant whatever slogans they were instructed to produce.

As for the case against guns, the march didn’t even come close. What its speakers mainly rehearsed were phony figures on gun accidents involving children. In fact, the figures are grotesquely inflated by counting legal adults in their late teens as “children”; the march’s website claimed that guns kill an average of 12 children per day in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number is really half that figure.

Most of what we heard from the moms about guns was deliberately designed to twist the heart strings — tales of kids shot to death by themselves, their parents or other family members, or by the criminals that the government refuses to control. There’s no reason to question the truth of those stories; such horrors happen.

But it simply does not follow from the occurrence of gun deaths — even those of children — that guns should be outlawed or even restricted significantly. In almost all the stories, laws and regulations governing firearms were violated anyway.

There are in the United States today about 250 million guns in private possession — nearly one per person, on average, though only about half the population actually owns guns. Yet, in 1996, there were some 34,000 firearm deaths. Multiply that number by ten and assume that one firearm was involved in each death, and the resulting decade of deaths from firearms — 340,000, more than there actually were — represents less than one percent of all firearms.

The conclusion is that firearms are safe — at least for those who know what they are and how to use and not use them. There is no compelling reason for government to ban or restrict firearm ownership, and the usefulness of guns in private protection from crime is a compelling reason against such restrictions.

Instead of marching up and down and yelling about matters they know nothing about, the million or so moms would have spent their time more productively by looking over the World Almanac to learn a few basic facts about the guns they insist on banning. Even more productively, they might have spent Mother’s Day with their own husbands and children who love and respect them for what they really do know about and understand — not what their political manipulators have lied to them about.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Gun Control 
🔊 Listen RSS

The republic has been edified in the last couple of weeks by the continuing debate between the National Rifle Association on the one hand, and on the other, bear with me a moment, President Clinton, Vice President Gore, former President Ford, Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, much of the national news media, and all of the gun control lobby over the NRA’s unfairness toward the president. That NRA is dreadful, isn’t it? Who will it gang up on next?

One lesson the debate teaches, though few seem to have learned it, is that the left side of the debate never hesitates to reject the moral legitimacy of its opponents, while at the same time screaming and screeching if the right side ever insinuates any doubt about the left’s moral postures. Those who have followed the controversies between left and right over the years may have noticed that the left does this routinely.

In the eyes of the left, the right is almost always motivated by greed (Franklin Roosevelt’s “malefactors of great wealth”), hate (“racism,” “xenophobia,” “homophobia,” “anti-Semitism,” “bigotry”) or just general irrationality, if not outright insanity (“the paranoid fringe“). It seems to be impossible for the left to acknowledge that those who disagree with it from the right do so because they are rationally convinced of the truth of what they believe and the moral necessity of acting on it. To the mentality of the left, there’s always an ulterior, and discreditable, reason why anyone disagrees with it.

The most recent display of this mentality popped out last week in a column by Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen on NRA President Charlton Heston. [Heaven Help the Gun Nuts, By Richard Cohen, March 23, 2000]Though I rarely agree with him, Cohen is one of my favorite columnists, not only because of his considerable writing talent but also because of his, well, innocence. It is his curse, if not his gift, to display to the world the way the unguarded liberal mind really works. Most other liberals have the prudence at least to try to hide those workings, but Cohen almost always lays them open like a child babbling family secrets.

It is Cohen’s thesis in his column about Heston (which the Postpublished with a little box around it to draw the reader’s attention to it) that Heston, in a word, “is nuts.” He’s nuts, that is, crazy, insane, irrational or mentally unbalanced, because of a speech he made in 1997 to a conservative organization in which he uttered the following sentiment:

“Heaven help the God-fearing, law-abiding, Caucasian, middle-class, Protestant, or even worse, admitted heterosexual, gun-owning, or, even worse, NRA-card-carrying, average working stiff.” Later, in the same speech, Heston remarked, “Why is ‘Hispanic pride’ or ‘black pride’ a good thing, while ‘white pride’ conjures shaved heads and white hoods?”[America's Cultural War, Harvard Law School Forum, February 16, 1999] Well, now, what further proof do you need that Heston needs to be carted off to the nearest happy farm?

Cohen, in his psychiatric treatise on Heston, never bothers to tell us the clinical reasoning by which he reached the conclusion that Heston is of unsound mind. To those of Cohen’s mentality, you see, no further evidence is needed than the thoughts the above passages express. Anyone who so disagrees with the left as to think that white, Christian,middle-class, heterosexual, gun-owning people are victims of systematic demonization, ridicule and contempt in the mass media today is obviously insane. Anyone who actually expresses pride in being white is not only insane but worse, as Cohen explains.

“The speech is a doozy,” writes Cohen, obviously trying to gasp for breath after a few moments exposure to ideas with which he disagrees, “tinged with racism, homophobia and, if you will, paranoia.” Well, there you are.

Cohen cannot imagine—literally, it is entirely beyond the limits of his imagination to consider—that anyone would hold the beliefs Heston expressed and still be a rational human being. Anyone who believes them must either have been paid to say them and was thus driven by greed (but Heston is a wealthy Hollywood actor) or else be possessed by hate and irrationality. In Cohen’s pathetic and comically narrow little universe, where all normal people agree with him, and those who don’t are therefore not normal, not only does no one think what Heston thinks, no one has ever heard of people who think what Heston thinks.

What is even more laughable than Cohen’s smug narrow-mindedness is that it is he, and the many of his own persuasion who think as he does, who love to strut as “broad-minded,” “tolerant,” “cosmopolitan” and (above all) “rational.” And if you think they’re not, you must be nuts.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Gun Control 
Sam Francis
About Sam Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was a leading paleoconservative columnist and intellectual theorist, serving as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan and as an editorial writer, columnist, and editor at The Washington Times. He received the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in both 1989 and 1990, while being a finalist for the National Journalism Award (Walker Stone Prize) for Editorial Writing of the Scripps Howard Foundation those same years. His undergraduate education was at Johns Hopkins and he later earned his Ph.D. in modern history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include The Soviet Strategy of Terror(1981, rev.1985), Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham (1984); Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism (1993); Revolution from the Middle: Essays and Articles from Chronicles, 1989–1996 (1997); and Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham (1999). His published articles or reviews appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, National Review, The Spectator (London), The New American, The Occidental Quarterly, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, of which he was political editor and for which he wrote a monthly column, “Principalities and Powers.”