After last week’s tragedy in San Bernardino, many liberals are left wondering why gun control can’t get any traction. On Monday, the New York Times published a desperate page one editorial — its first in 100 years — calling on the government to overcome numerous legal and political obstacles to enact new gun laws. Ironically, the paper did so while outlining exactly why the gun debate is effectively over:
Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.
Don’t get me wrong, Americans will quibble about guns for the foreseeable future. But there will never be any serious movement to restrict the sale or possession of guns at the federal level precisely because of the so-called “challenges” the Times lays out.
First, police cannot respond quickly enough in emergencies to “forestall a specific criminal.” Therefore, protection measures are needed. Second is — well — the Second Amendment, which is rightfully engrained our psyche as a people forged in revolution. Third, gun control simply doesn’t work because criminals thrive in gun-free zones and obtain “weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway” through the black market.
These are not “challenges.” These are sensible reasons that guns are legal. In plain English: the case for gun control is weak.
For years, nay, decades, it seemed Americans didn’t understand that. In fact, as many as 60 percent of Americans approved of a law “that would ban the possession of handguns” as of 1959, according to Gallup — an almost inconceivable statistic today.
However, the times, they are a-changin’. While the public approved of stricter gun control almost universally for the past half-century, a recent Pew study shows more Americans now think protecting gun rights is more important than enacting gun control.
And why wouldn’t they? Besides the reasons listed above, so-called “common sense gun control” solutions simply suck. Limiting the number of bullets in a magazine wouldn’t do much good since a shooter can always reload. Expanded background checks don’t make much sense either, since a mentally unstable individual would have to be arrested for a crime to trigger any restrictions on owning guns. Not to mention that both of these solutions only affect purchases of guns in the future, not the more than 300 million guns that already exist in the United States.
Indeed, the only solution that could arguably make a dent in reducing gun violence is confiscating guns, which would require repealing a constitutional amendment and having armed government agents march door-to-door to steal citizens’ property. Does anyone honestly think this is a good idea?
As the Cato Institute’s Trevor Burrus put it in National Review:
Passing effective gun-control policies in a nation brimming with 300 million guns is difficult; don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Have we come to accept that a certain amount of gun violence in our country is inevitable? The hard truth is that we have, just as we accept that deaths by automobile accidents, drowning in swimming pools, and industrial accidents are inevitable. This doesn’t mean that there is nothing we can or should do, but the first thing that we must do is to stop pretending that ending mass shootings is merely a matter of “common sense.”
The hard reality is that Americans must accept a level of gun violence. Fortunately, it’s not so bad. As has been reported heavily this week, gun violence has dramatically decreased since the 1960s and 70s, despite the tragedies we’ve seen this year.
In short, the gun debate is over. The sooner liberals come to terms with it, the better off we’ll all be.