It’s a tough time to be an anti-gun “thought leader.” You can’t even really declare publicly that you are anti-gun. Nor can you say you’re in favor of gun control. No, now you have to say that, of course you believe in the Second Amendment, and you agree with the right to keep and bear arms, but you think we need a few common-sense gun safety laws in place around the country.
Gone are the halcyon days of the 1990s when a majority of Congress would vote for a sweeping gun ban. Gone are the days when a majority of Americans supported a ban on handguns. And what’s worse (at least if you’re anti-gun) is that crime has gone down while millions of Americans have begun legally carrying firearms! Crime has gone down as citizens have acquired some 300 million privately owned firearms! This wasn’t supposed to happen. More guns were supposed to equal more crime. That’s more than a fact to anti-gun activists—it’s an article of faith.
As it turns out, it’s the anti-gun advocates who are bitterly clinging to their religion—a belief that if we cleanse the world of these sinful, evil objects, then a new era of peace and tranquility will be ushered in. In their minds, gun owners (even legal ones) are standing in the way of the Promised Land. The same fervent desire to heal the world by ridding it of its sin that led Carrie Nation to “hatchetize” saloons across the Midwest more than 100 years ago can be seen in the protests of gun stores outside of Chicago, or the paltry gathering that protested the NRA Annual Meetings in Nashville earlier this year. There you might find a few true believers who’ll cheerfully say that no one needs a gun, that NRA members are murderers and that people who own AR-15s should be treated as suspected terrorists. Those who are historically literate might even toss out an admiring comment about Nation, and joke about taking an axe to the gun store across the street. As it turns out, it’s the anti-gun advocates who are bitterly clinging to their religion—a belief that if we cleanse the world of these sinful, evil objects, then a new era of peace and tranquility will be ushered in.
Carrie Nation helped to change this country. She, along with other prohibition thought leaders like Wayne Wheeler of the Anti-Saloon League (imagine a lobbying group as powerful as the NRA, but opposed to personal liberty, and you have the ASL) and their legion of well-meaning followers managed to turn the United States dry.
You may have noticed it did not lead to this country transforming into their Promised Land. That’s because banning objects may change society, but it won’t change human nature. And in the zealous push for righteous change, the ones who think themselves most noble can do the most damage. Wayne Wheeler thought he was saving lives, but he had no problem with the federal government poisoning industrial alcohol, even though thousands of Americans died from drinking it. Those deaths, he said, were just “deliberate suicide” because they should have known better.
Today, anti-gun advocates are pushing for policies that would make it harder for people to act in self-defense, even in their homes. Under the guise of “safe storage,” they want to criminalize a minor being able to access a firearm. They won’t acknowledge the stories of minors who have been able to defend themselves against home intruders any more than they’ll acknowledge when a woman defends herself against a violent attacker. They push for these laws in the name of safety, while pretending their policies wouldn’t have real consequences for law-abiding gun owners. Much like the early days of the prohibition movement, they say their proposals are aimed squarely at law-breakers, while making it more difficult and legally dangerous to try to operate inside the law at all.
I recently saw a news story about the murder rate in Brazil. Despite (or maybe because of) the draconian gun-control laws, criminals still obtain guns illegally, and the homicide rate is far higher than that of the United States. In the U.S., more guns hasn’t led to more crime, and in Brazil, fewer guns hasn’t led to less crime. It’s almost as if banning the object doesn’t work when we need to be tackling the much more challenging (but ultimately fruitful) task of identifying and taking off the streets the most violent offenders in our communities. You don’t do that by pushing for another misdemeanor gun-control law.
As I said, it’s a tough time to be anti-gun. History isn’t on your side. Current events aren’t on your side. The Constitution isn’t on your side.
But hey, at least you’ve got a billionaire and some celebrities.