“Many of the same people who call for more-punitive criminal-justice policies,” George Soros, a billionaire who has spent a lot to take away your freedom, wrote in The Wall Street Journal in July, “also support looser gun laws.”
There is, of course, nothing remotely inconsistent about such a position. The keeping and bearing of arms is an individual liberty. The abuse of firearms—to threaten, maim or kill in violation of the law—is not. To favor loose gun laws for law-abiding citizens, but desire harsh penalties for those who abuse them, is a logical approach that draws the appropriate distinction between the responsible and irresponsible members of our society. You want to own or carry a gun? Great! You want to use that gun to terrorize or harm others? You must be stopped and prosecuted. In most parts of the United States, this approach is wholly uncontroversial.
As a matter of fact, Second Amendment advocates tend to be pretty clear about their views on crime. We want very few laws that regulate the peaceful possession and carry of firearms. We want a handful of laws that attempt to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. We want strict laws against those who use firearms for non-peaceful ends. And we want all of these laws to be enforced sensibly, consistently and without prejudice, fear or favor.
Why does this bother Soros? There are two reasons. The first reason is that Soros’ approach is the exact opposite of the one I have just described. By his own admission, Soros wishes to further criminalize peaceful gun ownership while pushing a “more effective and just” attitude toward serious crimes, which, in reality, means refusing to prosecute people who do terrible things while harassing the people who do not. The second reason is that Soros hopes to use the rising crime rate—a rising crime rate for which, thanks to his “philanthropic work” bankrolling prosecutors who don’t prosecute, he bears some responsibility—as an excuse to push for more gun control.
The old joke holds that gun control is the only area in which the government hears bad news and immediately goes after “the people who didn’t do it.” But this, in effect, is Soros’ admitted approach. Wherever it has been adopted, Soros’ method has led swiftly to the establishment of a vicious cycle. First, prosecutors stop enforcing the law against repeat criminals—or, just as problematically, they let them back out onto the streets while the case against them is pending. Next, as a result of these changes, crime increases dramatically. And, finally, in an attempt to defend themselves against public criticism, the prosecutors who have stopped enforcing the law insist that the crime rate has nothing to do with them, and that it’s actually the fault of America’s gun owners.
Which, naturally, is nonsense. Between 1990 and 2020, the number of privately owned firearms more than doubled; almost every state in the union adopted either “shall-issue” or permitless concealed-carry systems; the number of concealed carriers exploded to at least 20 million; and the shooting sports became increasingly popular in all regions and across all demographic groups—and, at the same time as all this was happening, crime went down each and every year. It was only when we saw a dramatic increase in Soros-backed “reform” prosecutors and the emergence of a hostile tone toward the police in the media and in our politics that the gains of the last three decades began to evaporate. The causes of crime are, indeed, complex. But they’re not that complex.
So, yes, Mr. Soros: “Many of the same people who call for more-punitive criminal-justice policies also support looser gun laws.” Why? Because, in a free country such as ours, that’s the only approach that makes any sense. A