Sunday, May 04, 2008

WHEN ALL YOU HAVE IS A GUN, EVERY PROBLEM LOOKS LIKE GUN CONTROL. Bob Owens (nee Confederate Yankee) writes on the plan to give Chicago cops assault rifles. If you know Owens' work, you will have guessed that he talks a lot here about gun specs ("The M4 features a shorter barrel [14.5 inches versus 20 inches for the M16] and a multi-position collapsible stock") and finishes with a plea for the end of gun control:
Perhaps instead of up-gunning the police, it is time for Chicago to admit its strict anti-gun laws have failed, and perhaps rescind mandates that only disarm Chicago’s law-abiding citizens in the face of increasing violent criminal activity. Mayor Daley is unlikely to see that logic, however. For him and those like him, guns in the hands of citizens are the problem, not the cure.
As I never tire of pointing out, the most famous urban crime turnaround took place in New York City at the end of the last century and gun control, indeed gun confiscation, was (by the admission of the NYPD, Mayor Giuliani, and even the right-wing City Journal) a huge part of the story.

Other factors included the 1991 "Safe Streets, Safe City" plan which staffed up the beat cops, the 1994 Federal Crime Bill, and a "Broken Windows" Theory emphasis on petty crime. The importance of each of these factors is arguable (especially the last one, as may be shown by the example of San Francisco).

But one thing's clear: the general drop in big-city crime in the 90s and beyond had nothing to do with increasing citizen gun ownership in those jurisdictions.

So why would the likes of Owens and their enablers suggest, against all criminological evidence, ending gun control as a solution to crime? You may have noticed that there's an election revving up, and that Republicans, having of late taken a beating on the issues, are leaning heavily on symbology: scary black people, shot-and-a beer populism, and, of course, the dag-gum gummint and its plot to take our guns from our cold dead hands.

Were these folks serious about the Second Amendment, they'd be arguing for it as a right separate from its utility -- that we should accommodate that right, rather than ameliorating the right to accommodate our current social reality. But that would drastically reduce its effectiveness as a symbol. So they circulate stories about guys who'd be dead if they didn't have a gun, and imply that a President Obama would leave them defenseless.

Every once in a while they'll overreach and deny stark reality, as Owens has done. And why shouldn't they? What has reality ever done for them?

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