After the Newtown massacre in December 2012 it quickly became obvious that gun control was again going to take over the national dialogue. The president, who had barely used the word gun over his first four years in office, was about to rearrange his second-term agenda. Gun control would now be right near the top of the priority list.
Sensing a once-in-a-generation opportunity, controllist politicians and groups began to pounce. News programs devoted full hours to the issue. Opinion hosts like Piers Morgan, sensing an issue to make their mark with, began virtual crusades, discussing the topic nightly. Hollywood celebrities, brought together by the progressive group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, “demanded a plan” to end gun violence via YouTube videos and television commercials. This, of course, despite that fact that many of those who appeared in the videos had made their careers—and their millions—depicting intense gun violence in movies.
It was during this time that I realized the need for this part of the book, something that would answer all the lies about guns that are repeated again and again and often go uncontested. But instead of making up arguments—which would inevitably result in critics saying that no one really makes those claims, or that I misrepresented them—I wanted to use actual quotes. So we started a little project. Each night my staff and I watched countless hours of cable news and read hundreds of newspaper columns and articles. We listened for the quotes about guns and the Second Amendment that seemed to come up most often, the stuff that is so pervasive that it’s barely even questioned anymore.
It wasn’t difficult. Before long we had enough for not only one book, but several of them. We whittled the quotes down to those that seemed to be repeated the most often—and then we sat down with a team of economists, criminologists, and other gun experts and answered each of them with the truth.
IT’S TIME FOR AMERICA TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT GUNS.
“Leaders in Washington from both parties and groups like the NRA all say that now is not the time to talk about how gun safety laws can save lives in America. I agree, now is not the time to talk about gun laws. The time for that conversation was long before all those kids in Connecticut died today.”
—REPRESENTATIVE CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D-NY), December 14, 2012
“If there’s one thing about the gun debate that everyone seems to agree on, it’s that we’re going to have a national conversation on the subject. Great news!”
—CINDY HANDLER (Huffington Post columnist), January 11, 2013
Actually, we’ve had a national conversation about guns for the last two centuries; you just don’t like the way it turned out. You may not have noticed, but the so-called gun debate was settled quite a while ago.
WE SHOULD START DRAFTING A BILL TO ENSURE NEWTOWN NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN.
“[My bill] will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation, and the possession, not retroactively but prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums, or strips of more than ten bullets. So there will be a bill. We’ve been working on it now for a year . . . . It’ll be ready on the first day.”
—SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), December 16, 2012
Hang on, you’ve been “working” on this bill for a year? Was it just sitting in a desk drawer waiting for a terrible massacre that you could leverage for political expedience?
Wait—don’t answer that.
GUNS ARE LETHAL.
“[T]he point about guns is that they are so much more lethal than anything else you have around. I mean, that is why the American military arms its troops not with knives, but with automatic weapons.”
—NICHOLAS KRISTOF (New York Times columnist), January 8, 2013
“When [a .223-caliber round] hits a human body, the effects are devastating.”
—GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, January 8, 2013
I know this might be breaking news to Nicholas Kristof, but guns being “more lethal than anything else you have around” is sort of the whole point. The issue should not really be the lethality of the gun, but the psychology of the person holding it. If we are teaching people how to respect their weapons and use them safely, then the times when they’re “lethal” are the times when we want them to be.
Outside of hunting and sport shooting, guns serve as “equalizers.” With a gun, even an elderly grandmother might well be able to fend off an attacker. Violent criminals are, after all, overwhelmingly young, strong males. To them, anything—from a knife to their bare hand—could easily serve as lethal weapons.
And it is not just Grandma. The equalizer argument applies to most women, to older men, and especially to the disabled—a group that is a particular target for robberies. Guns provide the only effective way for them to defend themselves.
The evidence—and there is plenty of it—points to the exact opposite of what Kristof claims: cutting access to guns mainly disarms law-abiding citizens, making criminals’ lives that much easier. Guns allow potential victims to defend themselves when the police aren’t there.
Besides, guns may be the most lethal weapon around that’s easily accessible, but if we’re just talking about overall ability to kill a lot of people, it’s hard not to include explosives, which are used by the military and mass killers alike. The first attack on the World Trade Center, in 1993, was a bombing. The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 killed 168 people and was caused by bombs created from such easily available items as fertilizer (ammonium nitrate), a common cleaning solvent (liquid nitromethane), and diesel fuel. And the worst school massacre in U.S. history, in which thirty-eight people were killed, occurred in 1927 and was carried out with a bomb.
NO ONE WANTS TO TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY.
“No one is saying that people’s guns should be taken away, or that taking the Second Amendment rights away. No one is saying that [is the answer] . . . ”
—DON LEMON (CNN anchor), July 22, 2012
“Nobody questions the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.”
—MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (New York City), December 16, 2012
“Guys, gals, now hear this: No one wants to take away your hunting rifles. No one wants to take away your shotguns. No one wants to take away your revolvers, and no one wants to take away your automatic pistols, as long as said pistols hold no more than ten rounds.”
—STEPHEN KING, Guns
“I don’t want to change the Second Amendment. I don’t want to change an American’s right to bear an arm in their home to defend people. I want to get rid of these killing machine assault weapons off the street.”
—PIERS MORGAN, January 7, 2013
“ ‘Gun grabber’ is a mythical boogeyman. No serious person, including Obama, is even proposing taking away owned guns. #StopFearmongering.”
—TOURÉ, February 16, 2013 (via Twitter)
Anyone who’s closely watching the bullying from the controllist crowd, and knows their history, has good reason to be concerned. The environment that’s been created is eerily similar to what nations like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada experienced just before introducing severe private gun ownership restrictions or banning them altogether.
Here in the United States, the Second Amendment has seemingly gone from being a God-given natural right to a privilege that must be defended. Yet the moment anyone dares voice those concerns they are usually met with mockery and dismissed as a bloodthirsty, paranoid freak who is bitterly clinging to their guns even as the mainstream of society passes them by.
Gun rights advocates are thought by the elite controllists to be creatures with the intelligence of a Neanderthal, stubbornly unwilling to accept “commonsense” gun control measures that would allegedly save the lives of countless American children. The mere mention of a “slippery slope,” with the Second Amendment itself being the real target, is brushed off as laughably preposterous conspiracy theory.
The truth—which, as you’ll soon see, is not a conspiracy or a theory—is that there are many controllists who want nothing more than to ban guns. They admire Australia and the United Kingdom and Japan and believe that the “civilized” nations of the world have evolved and left America behind. Those countries are the grown-ups while we Americans are the toddlers throwing temper tantrums in a corner.
But controllists have a major problem: the Bill of Rights. Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms—and lots of people want to keep it that way.
According to a December 2012 Gallup poll, 74 percent of Americans oppose a ban on the possession of handguns. So that leaves controllists in a bind: They believe that guns have no place among civilians, but they can’t really say that. So they carefully parse their language. Instead of talking about handgun bans they focus on “military-style” assault weapons or “high-capacity&r...