by John Robson
When an armed madman breaks into a school the right response is to drop to one knee and open fire. Anyone who calls that wrongheaded, or disgusting, invites serious questions about their priorities.
Like the Globe and Mail’s Lawrence Martin, who seized on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to abuse the NRA and Republicans for “primitive minds” and “antiquated positions.” He admitted Barack Obama might have hidden his sympathy for gun control because he’s “mindful of the drubbing Bill Clinton took from the gun lobby,” but said “Mr. Clinton didn’t have a massacre of six- and seven-year-olds as a backdrop.”
A backdrop? Is that how you see those little coffins and unopened Christmas presents? A convenient excuse for a policy flip-flop? (Apparently Obama did.)
Martin’s colleague Margaret Wente insisted “This love affair with guns is not susceptible to logic”¦the Second Amendment was written in the age of flintlocks. It didn’t anticipate Bushmasters and Glocks.” Do not hastily call Ben Franklin and James Madison illogical men. Especially before suggesting that, after rebelling against a mighty empire’s advanced weapons, they entrenched a constitutional right to guns suitable for bagging ducks. Yet in the Ottawa Citizen, L. Ian MacDonald said “At a minimum, a ban on semi-automatics is clearly in order…semi-automatics are the weapons of choice of mass murderers, not deer hunters.” As if Washington had fought Bambi not George III.
Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Chris Lewis sneered to my colleague Christina Blizzard: “There are women walking in the Walmart with baby carriages wearing .45s on their hips in the U.S. And they wonder why their crime is so crazy.” That’s snobbery, not analysis. A 2006 New York Times study of murders in New York City (with relatively strict gun laws) found over 9 in 10 actual murderers and over half of victims had criminal records…not baby carriages.
Still, there is a rational argument that, without lethal weapons, berserk rampages would take fewer lives. But it fails, on utilitarian and fundamental grounds.
By focusing on high-profile failures of self-defence it overlooks all the incidents that never happen or end quickly, like the Clackamas, Oregon, mall shooting cut short by an armed citizen. Without guns, in schools or elsewhere, middle-aged principals, retired shopkeepers and teenage girls must risk hand-to-hand or walking-stick-to-switchblade combat with vicious young men, submit to hideous indignities or fear leaving their homes.
Thus the spread of American concealed-carry laws in the 1990s pushed down their overall violent crime rate, which was rising in most industrialized nations. And Lawrence Martin may urge “a massive advertising and education campaign that demonstrates how, in every other civilized society, stricter gun laws result in greatly reduced crime, murders, deaths,” but such laws were followed by rising crime in Britain while the U.S. homicide rate dropped by half without them.
Moreover, the Independence Institute’s David Kopel notes that crazy mass shootings in the U.S. rose from 18 in the 1980s to 54 in the 1990s to 87 in the 2000s. Yet federal background checks for mental illness, domestic-violence incidents and alcoholism, plus state “assault” weapon bans, have made guns far harder to get than before 1968 when you could buy anything short of a machine gun as you buy a chainsaw today.
It is the gun controllers’ arguments that lack evidence or logic. The Globe and Mail editorial board called arming teachers “an act of criminal recklessness and stupidity…it tells [children] that arming themselves with a lethal weapon is the answer chosen by the people they look up to.” But Toronto has armed police in over four dozen schools. Should pupils not admire them?
We may wish they were not needed. But in a dangerous world they are.
So in the end the point is not statistics. It’s the inherent, natural right of your wife or daughter to shoot Russell Williams as he climbs in her window at 2 a.m., of every Ukrainian peasant to kill the NKVD officer starving his children, and of principals, teachers and staff who love their students enough to die for them to have the tools to save them instead.
Two handguns in the principal’s office would probably have saved two dozen innocent lives in Sandy Hook. Surely that’s what really matters.
Categories: Contributor Columns