There’s been a lively discussion going on at The Huffington Post on the subject of gun control. It is encouraging to note that even at a left-leaning site such as the HuffnPuff, a large number of the commenters are in favor of gun rights.
But the magazine presses on, posting one article after another to stir up its readers to support violating our rights. As readers of this weblog know, I am strongly on the side of the right of all good citizens to own and carry firearms. With that in mind, I want to explain why gun control can never work in America.
1. The number of guns
A variety of sources say that there are some 300,000,000 guns in private hands in this country, perhaps more. That’s about one gun for every person here. The favorite example of gun control freaks is Great Britain, but the British history with gun control is vastly different from ours. The Land of Hope and Glory became the land of gun control at the time when semiautomatic firearms were being introduced to the public in large numbers. Whether you like gun control or not (I don’t), you have to admit that restricting things from the start is much more effective than trying to close up the gun warehouse after we’ve got ours out the door. Given the number of guns and their durability, gun control is impractical here.
2. Our long borders
The United States has long borders. Some 1,900 miles with Mexico, and many more miles of sea coast. The flood of contraband that crosses those borders is unstoppable. As was pointed out in the film, Countdown to Zero, if a terrorist wanted to bring nuclear material into this country, all he’d have to do is hide it in bags of cocaine. But drugs can be sniffed by dogs, and radioactive material detected by Geiger counters. Guns, especially when taken apart, are metal machines with no distinct signature, unless each part gets inspected. Even if all our guns could be removed in a day or in a hundred years, more will quickly fill the void. The first to get new guns would then be the worst people to have them.
3. Technological maturity
Firearms designs are widely available and easy to follow by anyone with mechanical skill and a machine shop. These days, even plastic guns can be made by using 3-D printers.
4. The Second Amendment
Given the text of that amendment and the rulings of the Supreme Court in Heller and McDonald, the only way to achieve the full measure of gun control that advocates desire is a repeal through an additional amendment. That requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states or a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of state legislatures. Given that the gun laws of forty out of the fifty states are basically the same and basically favorable to gun rights, repealing the Second Amendment is unlikely. Yes, future courts could overrule the two gun-rights rulings, but the precedent has been established, so judicial changes are also improbable.
America is a gun culture. And we don’t take well to outsiders telling us what to do–especially when those outsiders are politicians. Consider the effect of Obamacare in the 2010 election. The Affordable Care Act was a poorly conceived attempt at bringing healthcare to everyone. There were better solutions. But it was an example of politicians having their wishes in the right place. Imagine the furor that would arise over an attempt to violate our gun rights. Actually, we don’t have to imagine. The fact that background checks failed and two Colorado state senators were recalled while a third resigned after supporting gun control shows the mood of Americans.
None of this means that we can relax our vigilance. But it should give courage to those who support the rights of Americans. This is a battle that we can win, that we are winning, and that we must win.