The Left, Guns, and BJ Campbell

What are gun control advocates really talking about?

BJ Campbell’s article, “The Left Is Making the Wrong Case on Gun Deaths. Here’s a Better Case.” left me feeling . . . frustrated and maybe a little angry.

First let me say that his piece is well-written, logical in its way, and supported exhaustively with facts, figures, and graphs. But there are fundamental problems.

Campbell calls out the “left of center” media, as though the left of center media were one unitary voice, presumably representing the “Left”. Generalizations always weaken arguments, and his refusal to acknowledge that there is a spectrum of opinion and a variety of arguments related to guns and gun violence is a fault.

But the fundamental problem with Mr. Campbell’s argument is that his premise is wrong, i.e. that the reduction of “gun deaths” is the primary goal of those of us who advocate for tighter firearm restrictions. He implies that the Left dishonestly fails to mention that the majority of gun deaths in this country are suicides which might not be much affected by gun restrictions. He writes, “Rifle bans are stupid because ‘assault rifles’ are only responsible for one percent of gun deaths.” Only?

Most of us, left or right, who advocate for what we see as reasonable firearm restrictions are perfectly well aware that far and away most gun deaths are caused by hand guns and that gun death reduction in terms of percentages would be little impacted by restrictions on assault rifles, automatic and semi-automatic weapons, magazine size, or ammunition purchases.

The AR 15, a popular assault rifle, can fire two rounds per second. When it’s fitted with a bump stock its rate goes up to about nine rounds per second. The sole intended purpose of these weapons is to kill humans, not just one or two but many, in a very short time.

They should not be in the hands of the public, any more than stockpiles of anthrax, dirty bombs, or handheld mortars should be.

Outlawing assault weapons, restricting magazine sizes and ammo purchases, and requiring all guns to be registered might not result in a great percentage reduction in firearm deaths. But those measures would greatly reduce the absolute number of deaths and injuries caused by deranged people who engage in mass shootings, including school shootings.

BJ Campbell might want to tell the parents, sisters, brothers, and grandparents of the Sandy Hook children who were killed, the Parkland children, the relatives of the country music fans in Las Vegas that those deaths were so few, so insignificant, that no regulation of firearms is appropriate. I would not.

Because that’s what we’re really talking about here, the unnecessary deaths, the gratuitous and extreme suffering, caused by these particular tools in the hands of disordered humans.