Eric Holder in 1995: We "really need to brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way."


Breitbart.tv has dug up 1995 C-SPAN footage of Attorney General Eric Holder, then a U.S. attorney, talking about strategies to reduce gun-related violence. The headline of the piece, "Holder 1995: We must 'brainwash' people on guns," underscores the gotcha dimension of Breitbart's scoop. Here's the Holder quote, which comes after he urges a media campaign, akin to the one focused on smoking, that would make guns and gun violence uncool (really):

"We just have to be repetitive about this. It's not enough to have a catchy ad on a Monday and then only do it every Monday. We have to do this every day of the week and just really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way."

Breitbart.tv's Joel Pollak further notes that

Despite strict gun control efforts, Washington, DC was and remains one of the nation's most dangerous cities for gun violence, though crime has abated somewhat since the 1990s.

Whole thing, including video, here. Click below to watch the vid alone:

This release is part of the Breitbart empire's "vetting" process of the Obama administration—what they consider a belated attempt to reveal to the American people the causes and beliefs of a crew they feel got a free pass in 2008.

What I find most interesting about this clip is the simplicity of Holder's conception that media or fantasy violence creates the real thing. This was a stock issue not just of the Clinton administration but of GOP congressional leaders as well, as readers of Reason will well remember. Holder would eventually be appointed as a deputy to Attorney General Janet Reno, whose ardent belief in threatening censorship to Hollywood types and videogame makers shouldn't be quickly forgotten. Despite the utter lack of relevant data, we wasted way too much time in the 1990s debating whether certain forms of expression should be restricted to comply with the aesthetic tastes of Washington's power elite.

To me, it's less important that Holder said what he said in 1995. However misguided he was, he was swimming with the tide. That sort of uncritical groupthink isn't what you look for in an attorney general, but let's let that slide for now.

The real question is what does he think NOW about the relationship between violence in movies and videogames and the real world? Movies, TV, music, games—all of these things have gotten more explicit over the past 40 years (at least) and yet violent crime rates have declined at rates that "baffle experts" (as the NY Times puts it). Have Holder's views changed at all on the topic? 

And what does Eric Holder think about gun control policy too? Since 1995, gun laws of all sorts have been liberalized throughout the country, always against the wishes of gun-control boosters. How does Holder square his beliefs in the mid-1990s with reality since then? Sadly, I think we know the answer at least with regard to private ownership of guns.

Holder may not be in the habit of answering questions, especially in front on Congress, but that shouldn't stop us from asking them.

Hat tip: Instapundit, who knows a thing or two about guns.