July 25, 2014
Today's Chicago Tribune carried a letter to the editor that summarized the core of the anti-gun position so succinctly that I reproduce it here in full:
"Perhaps we could better discuss the issue of guns in our society if we stopped using the mythical term 'responsible gun owners.' There is no such thing as a 'responsible' gun owner; there are only human guns (sic) owners. And any human can at times be responsible or irresponsible, careful or careless, calm or angry, sober or drunk. To assume that there is such a thing as a human who is responsible 100 percent of the time is just a foolish myth."
-- Kenneth Leone, Deerfield
The error in that statement takes about two seconds to identify. There are 300 million guns in the United States, and fewer than 1% of them are ever used in crime or accidents. So there are a whole lot of gun owners who are responsible 100% of the time, for their whole lives. In fact, the vast majority of them are responsible 100% of the time for their whole lives.
That the idea is false doesn't change its importance. What the writer is saying is that there is no one trustworthy enough to own a gun. Anyone who owns a gun might get drunk or go loony and shoot up a school or workplace. That, statistically, this happens very rarely is of no import. No one, except perhaps uniformed agents of the state, can be trusted with a gun.
Where this logic leads can be well illustrated with the case of Britain. The United Kingdom has 64.9 million people, and government policy is that not a single one of them can be trusted with so much as a .22 target pistol. For example, there's a British pistol team that competes in the Olympics or World Shooting Championships, but they have to practice in Belgium. They can carry the honor of the nation on the international stage, but they are not trusted to have a gun inside that nation.
Think about that for a minute. Britain has Nobel laureates, skilled surgeons and physicists and economists and artists. The British are a great people who have given the world Isaac Newton, Shakespeare and Churchill. We are to believe there's not one of 64.9 million who can be trusted with so much as a single-shot .22 pistol? Apparently, because that's the law.
People like Kenneth Leone don't trust the people, and are willing to give a 100% monopoly of force to the state. We are not willing. That, in a nutshell, is what the whole gun argument is about. Do you trust the state or the people? Vladimir Putin is the state. Hamas is the state. Ayatollah Khameni is the state. Kim Jong-Eun is the state. I'll trust the people, thank you.