I saw a column the other day written by a young woman from Minnesota who was making the claim that rural folks like her needed to support all kinds of gun control—“universal” background checks, gun registration, even bans on all semi-automatic long guns.
“People who support gun control,” she wrote, “do not want to strip the rights of the individual—they want to protect the collective, children and communities, from violence from people who misuse guns. Seen this way, gun control actually aligns with rural values.”
I’m not sure I get the argument, to be honest. People who support gun control absolutely do want to restrict the rights of individuals in the name of collective safety. And it’s true that in rural areas, you look out for your neighbor. But every rural gun owner (and suburban and urban gun owners for that matter) I know also cares about protecting the community from violence, and they don’t support gun control. They don’t see how laws aimed at them—the law-abiding gun owner—are going to protect the community from those who criminally misuse firearms. They don’t see how laws that are largely unenforceable and of dubious constitutionality actually protect our communities. They don’t believe that banning millions of commonly owned rifles will do anything other than criminalize current legal gun owners.
Passing a law aimed at legal gun owners instead of directing legislation and law enforcement efforts at violent criminals is like planting corn in January instead of shoveling snow. It’s a waste of time and energy that would be much better directed at the immediate problem at hand. Whether you’re a rural American on a small farm or an urban American in a high-rise, the answer to increasing public safety isn’t a decrease in individual freedom.