Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Uncle points to a letter in the LA Times that comments on the issue of gun ownership in a surprisingly balanced, adult way. But one thing in particular deserves comment:

Second, gun owners and non-gun owners alike are in universal agreement in this country that violent, predatory criminals should not possess, have access to nor easily obtain firearms.

This is true, but the problem is that, for many gun owners (like me) it’s kind of an academic point. I agree that violent, predatory criminals _should_ not have easy access to guns, but am very, very skeptical that preventing that access is possible, or that efforts at reducing access do more good than harm.

This is based on precedent: almost all gun control measures have historically had little to no affect on violent crime rates, while reducing law-abiding citizens’ access to guns in reality. The fact that their failure typically leads to even more restrictions on lawful people (which similarly fail to reduce violent crime) increases the problem.

So what it comes down to is, yes, we agree that this would be a great thing. But we can’t exactly “compromise” on it while our side lives under the burden of a century of your side’s failed attempts, and the opposition's just suggesting we add more restrictions to the pile.

You wanna talk compromise, great. But compromise doesn't mean "anti-gunners get half of the new restrictions they want". It means that we can talk about new policies for dealing with violent crime, but we have to simultaneously start dismantling some of the restrictions that have flatly failed to address the problem, like explicit and de facto bans on concealed carry, restrictions on interstate firearms sales, Jersey-style purchase permits, and restrictions on mundane firearms features (like minimum barrel lengths on rifles and shotguns). Compromise means giving a little to get a little, not getting half of what you want and giving nothing.


  1. I have a slightly different view on it, formed when I briefly had a law enforcement job.

    The Federal law against felons possessing firearms doesn't keep them out of the criminal's hands, but it is a useful tool to put them away for a longer period when they are caught after performing yet another despicable act.

    You can even say that it saves the taxpayer money, since having another charge on the docket means that the perp will be more likely to listen to a plea bargain, and save the court some time.

  2. It makes sense to say "this group of people may not posess guns" and punish them accordingly when they break the law, but modern gun controllers want to go well beyond that: they want to prevent the felon from getting a gun in the first place, not punish him afterward. _Those_ efforts are the ones I think do more harm than good.

    Hell, like most gun owners, I have very little problem with tough laws against misusing guns. It's just all those prior restraints that seek to prevent bad people from doing what bad people have always done by limiting all of our options that rub me the wrong way.