If Only Kamala Harris Knew Something About Guns

by
posted on June 24, 2024
Kamala Harris caricature
Art: Gary Locke

When I first moved to the United States, I was told by some of my fellow advocates of the right to keep and bear arms that there existed a particular species of American gun-control activist who not only knows nothing whatsoever about the topic of firearms and firearms law, but who actively resists learning anything that might alter that state of consciousness. For a while, out of an abundance of charity, I resisted this claim. Eventually, though, I realized that it was obviously true. Perhaps because they are too comfortable in their misconceptions; perhaps because they consider knowledge about firearms to be low-class; perhaps because they are just lazy … whatever the reason, such people evidently exist in our politics, and in far, far greater numbers than I had initially understood.

One of those people is Kamala Harris, the vice president of the United States.

Actually, make that: One of those people is Kamala Harris, the vice president of the United States and the head of the White House Office on Gun Violence. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the best the Biden White House can offer: “Currently, gun stores are required by law to conduct a background check for every gun sale. But, for decades, many dealers who sell weapons someplace other than the traditional gun store—say, for example, a gun show or a flea market or even through social media—have gotten away without conducting background checks. This is the so-called ‘gun-show loophole.’”

That’s Harris, speaking in April of 2024. Reading it, what can one do except sigh and reach for the bourbon? None of what Harris says there is true. It’s a myth, a falsehood, a fabrication. In America, the licensing system attaches to the dealer, not to the building in which the dealer does his work. A dealer who is obliged to perform a background check in a gun store is also obliged to perform a background check at a gun show, in a parking lot, in a suburban kitchen and everywhere else. There is no such thing as the “gun-show loophole,” and there never has been. The laws either apply to a seller or they do not.

Which is to say that, like her talk of “assault weapons” or “high-capacity magazines” or “weapons of war,” her use of the term “gun-show loophole” ultimately serves as a slogan rather than an argument. By sharing these words, Harris is not engaging in a good-faith debate; she’s mischaracterizing the law in an attempt to justify her coveted restrictions.

One might have thought that, upon ascending to the vice presidency and being made a “policy csar” in a bunch of disparate areas, Harris might have elected to shed her cultivated ignorance and bone up on the topics she’d been tasked with addressing. One would have been wrong. Five years ago, during the Democratic primary, Harris cackled wildly at the mention of the U.S. Constitution, before promising that, if she were made president, she would ban the AR-15 by executive order. That was an embarrassment, but at least she had the excuse of being new to the national stage. Now, she does not.

Ronald Reagan once said that the problem with those who would restrict our liberties “is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.” Kamala Harris has seen this maxim and raised its stakes. She’s ignorant and she knows so much that isn’t so—and, despite her prominent position, she has no intention of rectifying either flaw.

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