300 Million

This is a must-read post by the writer Larry Correia on the state of gun control in the United States.

It offers something I’ve been looking for: The reasoned, intelligent, conservative opinion on firearms and gun-control legislation. It makes a strong case that teachers should be allowed to be armed:

I personally taught [concealed weapons instruction to] several hundred teachers. I quickly discovered that pretty much every single school in my state had at least one competent, capable, smart, willing individual.

 That gun-free school zones don’t act as a deterrent:

The only people who obey No Guns signs are people who obey the law. People who obey the law aren’t going on rampages.

That the media plays a dangerous role:

If you can kill enough people at one time, you’ll be on the news, 24/7, round the clock coverage. You will become the most famous person in the world. Everyone will know your name. You become a celebrity. Experts will try to understand what you were thinking. Hell, the President of the United States, the most important man in the world, will drop whatever he is doing and hold a press conference to talk about your actions, and he’ll even shed a single manly tear.

You are a star.

That weapons bans don’t work:

The US banned assault rifles once before for a decade and the law did absolutely nothing. I mean, it was totally, literally pointless. The special commission to study it said that it accomplished absolutely nothing. (except tick a bunch of Americans off, and as a result we bought a TON more guns) And the reason was that since assault weapon is a nonsense term, they just came up with a list of arbitrary features which made a gun into an assault weapon.

That comparisons to other countries aren’t valid:

Australia had a mass shooting and instituted a massive gun ban and confiscation (a program which would not work here, which I’ll get to, but let’s run with it anyway.). As was pointed out to me on Facebook, they haven’t had any mass shootings since. However, they fail to realize that they didn’t really have any mass shootings before either.

That “gun culture” is not a niche, or outside the mainstream:

The gun culture is who protects our country. Sure, there are plenty of soldiers and cops who are issued a gun and who use it as part of their job who could care less. However, the people who build the guns, really understand the guns, actually enjoy using the guns, and usually end up being picked to teach everybody else how to use the guns are the gun culture.

It really is a thorough, considered post and you should read the whole thing. There has probably already been a point-by-point dissection of his arguments somewhere, but I found it extremely educational and it made me feel less ignorant about guns and gun culture.

What’s alarming to me is that Larry Correia is probably right about most things. And I say that as a liberal. It confronts the reality of 300 million guns circulating the country. Any attempt to regulate or remove them will only result in more demand. It’s a nihilistic view but one based in fact.

What’s missing is any analysis of, or concern for, how we got here—how we got to 300 million guns. How did we, as a culture, fail—and I do consider it a failure—on this point? How did the 2nd Amendment morph into “all citizens who are not criminally insane are entitled to legally carry weapons of mass destruction at all times”? Weren’t the framers of the constitution wrong about other things that have since been overturned? Maybe it’s time to scrap the constitution, or, as Thomas Jefferson wanted, write a new one every generation.

Corriea’s viewpoint also represents an inversion of the traditional Liberal vs. Conservative dichotomy. On guns, it’s the liberals, not conservatives “standing athwart history yelling Stop.” On guns, liberals wish we could go back in time to when the most deadly weapon was a musket, or a sword, or a rock. But that’s not reality. The reality is: 300 million guns in this country alone. Correia doesn’t seem to have any problem with this. I do, and so does at least half the country.

I’ve had a gun pointed at me twice. The first was while walking with friends at night outside the bustling nightclubs on Miami Beach in the early 90s. By the time I noticed that the man standing on the sidewalk in front of me was brandishing a HUGE Dirty Harry-style revolver, I’d practically bumped into him. I hurried past and he shouted “You’d better stop right there!” Something inside me said to keep walking—not to run, but to walk briskly away. I glanced back and the guy was taking aim at us. We walked another block, found a payphone, and called the cops. (The 911 operator was unhelpful; she wanted me to give my name and file charges; I just wanted someone to come and stop the gun-wielding maniac.)

The second time, the gun was not so much pointed at me as revealed to me—almost lazily. I was working the morning shift at a Howard Johnson’s motel in Coral Gables. At around 10 a.m. a guy walked into the lobby, opened his fanny pack (!), showed me a small gun, and asked for money. I gave him the money from the till, plus five dollars from my wallet, and he left.

I don’t think carrying a firearm would have helped me in either case. Perhaps if I’d been armed I would also have been in a heightened state of alertness and identified the risk before it was too late to react. But it’s impossible to know that. In the first instance, I would not want to fire a weapon on a crowded street. In the second, the money from the motel’s till was not worth a firefight.

There was another incident at the motel, in which a wannabe date-rapist tried literally to drag a struggling young woman from his car to a room. I called 911 and tried to defuse the situation until the cops arrived—which, fortunately for everyone, was quickly. Had they not, I must admit having a weapon might have helped the situation. It could also have made it much, much worse. Again, impossible to know.

Correia makes a pretty good case that attempts to confiscate or regulate guns—to reduce supply—will not be very effective; the genie is out of the bottle. 300 million guns are already in the wild. But there are commonsense regulations most people on both sides could agree to. Closing the so-called gun-show loophole is one, despite what the commenters on Correia’s post would have you believe.

So if we can’t reduce supply, what about demand? What can we do to make guns seem quaint, antiquated, uncool—relegated to the fringes of society (as we liberals would like to believe they already are)? This is a problem that will take generations to solve. There may be hope as more people move from rural to urban areas. In the long term, guns in the US could be treated like another leading killer—cigarettes—whose consumption is decreasing among young adults (PDF).

However this problem is approached, both sides need to concede that (a) there are 300 million firearms that are impossible to get rid of and (b) “more guns” is not the solution to reducing gun violence.