The Most Anti-American Thing He Could Think Of?

To me a gun is very American

Andy Dunn wrote an impassioned post stating that in light of Sandy Hook, the most anti-American thing he could think of was a gun. At the end of the article he asked how he could look at his child and say nothing. As a father of five, and a life-long shooter, I felt compelled to write a response.

We have the Senate to make sure that the big states can’t trample the interests of smaller states. In the same way, we have guns so that our citizens can defend themselves even in the face of a larger aggressor — or multiple aggressors. This happens thousands of times every day. According to the FBI’s Bureau of Justice Statistics firearms are successfully used — defensively — 6,500 times per day. That is once every thirteen seconds. In about 83 percent of these cases the attacker either threatened force, or actually used force first. In only 8 percent of these cases did the defender have to pull the trigger to end the attack. Guns are used eighty times more frequently for defense than they are for aggression, and I would not deny these people the right to defend themselves in this way. This statistic tends to be news to most people, but that’s not surprising. If crimes are halted 92 percent of the time without a shot being fired why would the news media bother to report that (effectively) nothing happened?

Mr. Dunn referred to gun owners as a vocal minority. According to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, more than 50 percent of American households have guns. This kind of majority voice is sort of like our House of Representatives.

It would seem that contributing to charities is another highly American trait. Acording to an article I read Americans give more per capita to charity than any other people — roughly $300 billion per year. Providing food for the needy is a common charitable act. Organizations like Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry work with hunters who use their guns to provide food. In a typical season these hunters collect 2.8 million pounds of meat, which in turn becomes 11 million meals. These hunters, and the organizations that volunteer to do the processing, are providing meat for families at about 25¢ per pound. At the same time they are controlling deer overpopulation.

Our founders were not in favor of a woman’s right to vote or a black man’s equal protection of the law, so when it comes to equality, why do we care what they thought about guns?

Mr. Dunn, we care for the same reason that we care about what the Founders thought about no taxation without representation, and checks and balances, and no cruel or unusual punishment, and about private property, and the right to trial by jury, and term limits, and many many other things. These, like guns, are very American things that were enumerated in our founding documents.

When you walk into kindergarten or a movie theater, it shouldn’t be the possibility set that you’re going to be shot by an automatic weapon.

Automatic weapons have been illegal in the United States since 1934. Approximately two per year are used in crimes, and those have been the exclusive domain of drug traffickers. Not one of the mass shootings you’re thinking of involved an automatic weapon.

Recent surveys suggest assault weapon bans and background checks are no-brainers.

Surveys conducted by whom? The reality is that there isn’t even a uniform definition of an assault rifle. As far as anyone can tell it just means “black and scary looking.” Compare these two rifles:

One is a common hunting rifle and the other is an “assault rifle,” right? I’m sure you know this trick. They’re the same rifle. But one is decked out in black plastic and the other isn’t. The collapsing stock makes the black rifle easier for smaller-statured people to fire safely. The pistol grip gives you more control — exactly what you’d want in a defensive situation. The flash suppressor helps control recoil — again, a safety feature. Replacing a wood stock with black plastic doesn’t make it any more or less deadly, it just makes it look different.

We had an “assault weapon” ban back in 1994. It had absolutely no effect on crime. It had no effect on the number of gunshot wound victims. This utter lack of effectiveness was the direct finding of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Congress chose not to renew the ban when it expired. Additional background checks are similarly useless, because 93 percent of guns used in crimes are acquired through illegal means. Everyone loves to cite the so-called “gun show loophole,” but the reality is that requiring background checks for all private transfers at gun shows would have little effect on crime. The FBI’s “Follow the Gun” report found that nearly every gun purchased at a gun show that was later used in a crime was obtained by a straw purchaser who would have passed a background check.

All the regulation in the world won’t stop one criminal selling a gun to another criminal in a back alley. All the legislation in the world won’t stop someone determined to kill someone else. There are just over 22,000 gun control laws on the books at the federal, state, county, and city level throughout the United States. The Centers for Disease Control did an extensive study on the effectiveness of these laws. They could not find any laws, or even any combinations of laws, that had a measurable effect on violent crime rates.

Why does anyone need that gun outside of our nation’s military?

Quite simply because it is no one else’s duty to protect you and your family. It would seem ideal that only law enforcement and the military would have firearms. But it is not the duty of these organizations to protect you. In Warren v. District of Columbia the DC Court of Appeals ruled that the police do not have a duty to protect you, or even show up — even if the dispatcher says that help is on the way. The American right to defend yourself, and those around you, goes all the way back to English Common Law, but was set in stone in the US in Runyard v. State in 1877. The court stated:

When a person, being without fault, is in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel by force, and if, in the reasonable exercise of his right of self defense, his assailant is killed, he is justiciable.

When the odds are uneven the best way to exercise this right to self-defense is often with a gun.

When looking at problems, and the suggestions for how to solve them, it is instructive to look at how the Supreme Court applies scrutiny. There are many tests they use, but the three most relevant (to me) are these:

  1. Will the proposal meet the goal or interest?
  2. Is the proposal narrowly tailored to achieve the goal or interest?
  3. Is the proposal the least restrictive means of achieving that interest?

Will making all guns illegal meet the goal or interest? No. There is no evidence that it would. There is a lot of evidence that it would actually do harm. I do a lot of research on gun policy and in all the years I’ve been researching, I have not found one single time in history where limiting public access to arms made the general populace safer. Look at Chicago and Washington, DC. When they enacted their gun control laws (then the toughest in the nation’s history) their violent crime rates skyrocketed. Why? Because, again, criminals didn’t care. This is all clearly documented by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Statistics. The Supreme Court has since shot down the Chicago and DC laws.

Australia and the UK implemented complete bans on guns, and then rounded up and destroyed every gun they could find. Daytime home-invasion robberies skyrocketed, stabbings skyrocketed, etc., etc. It turns out that only the law-abiding citizens turned in their guns. The criminals kept theirs. When only criminals have access to guns, crime goes up.

Secondly, is the proposal narrowly tailored? Clearly not. A complete ban on guns would end hunting, competitive shooting, and many other non-defensive uses. A complete ban would destroy 200,000+ firearm- and ammunition-related US jobs. Shutting down a $32 billion industry would have broad consequences outside of the stated goal.

Third, is this the least restrictive means? Obviously a complete ban is the most restrictive means.

Denying the rights of hundreds of millions of Americans based on fact-free, emotion-fueled reactions to tragedy is not what America is all about. While I disagree with Mr. Dunn’s proposed solution to violence in America, I respect his desire to do something. Apathy is not an American principle.

Something that is very American is becoming a logical, informed skeptic. If you’d like to learn more about the facts surrounding guns in America I recommend:

Both of these sites provide extensive citations for every single fact they present.

By the way, the most anti-American thing I can think of is treason.