New York, Sutherland and the Illogic of Gun Control

Between the vehicular attack in New York on Halloween and the terrible mass shooting in Sutherland, Texas yesterday, it’s been a tough week with violence in the United States of America.

Compounding the tragedy is the by now familiar compulsion of bad actors across social media to use these events to push some kind of political agenda. This isn’t a phenomenon unique to liberals or conservatives—but as the left is typically on the offensive in the culture wars, and as the news media and the popular culture are themselves creatures of the left, it’s usually their hot takes that get the most attention.

In the case of mass shootings, it’s always a call for more “common sense” gun control—as if firearms weren’t already heavily regulated, and buying one is as easy as ordering a pizza. They seem to think that if it’s next to impossible to obtain a gun legally, this will somehow deter people who are determined to commit murder—itself an illegal act. It never seems to dawn on them that people with criminal intent won’t let gun laws stand in their way, and that burdensome restrictions will only keep the law abiding from exercising their rights under the Constitution.

So it’s very telling when liberals don’t apply the same logic they use for gun control to the problem of Islamic terrorism. In their view, when a radical Islamist rents a truck and kills eight people by mowing them down on a bike path, that is not representative of all Islam—and they are correct, no question. In the next breath, however, the same liberals will turn around and shout that when a crazy man with a rifle guns down dozens of people in a church, it is absolutely the NRA’s fault.

How are you supposed to square that?

I’m baffled, but apparently leftists have no trouble holding these two oposing views at exactly the same time.

For instance, there are around one billion Muslims worldwide, many of whom live in countries that are hostile to the American way of life. Only a relatively tiny number of Muslims, though, actively seek our destruction through terrorism and other forms of violence. This is why liberals have resisted President Trump’s restrictions on travel from these countries, and maintained that the United States should, as a matter of compassion, admit large numbers of Syrian refugees. The likelihood that terrorists would be hiding among them, they say, is small enough that it justifies the risk of allowing them in.

Now consider that in America, we have a population of around 330 million, and altogether there are around 300 million firearms in circulation. Even so, among all those people and all those guns, only an infinitesimal number will use them to commit murder. Even fewer will use them in a mass shooting. And yet somehow, in the liberal mind, this justifies taking guns away from those who have never committed a crime—because even though the overall risk is so small, we simply can’t take the chance that even one bad apple might use a gun in an act of mass violence.

Again, anybody else see the contradiction here?

If the left applied the same logic they use on guns to Islamist terrorism, they’d not only be talking about an immigration ban, they’d be advocating the ban of Islam altogether. Sure, they would be punishing all Muslims for acts of terrorism they didn’t do—but if the impulse after a mass shooting is to take guns away from the people who didn’t do it, then what’s the difference?

Liberals, however, would never propose such a thing—nor should they. For one, it would be immoral. It would also violate one of the basic precepts of the First Amendment, the right to worship as one chooses. We can’t violate such a fundamental right, even if it would make solving the terrorism problem easier—even if it would save lives.

But guess what? There’s also a Second Amendment, which guarantees another fundamental right—for the individual to bear arms. The founders believed that right to be critical for a free people, every bit as important as freedom of speech and religion, because all serve as a bulwark against encroaching tyranny. Ignoring that fact because it makes it easier for the left to advance their agenda doesn’t change a thing.