Gun Control

Reason Writers Around Town: Brian Doherty in American Conservative on the Death of Guns as a Political Issue


In the December issue of American Conservative, I review the new book Living With Guns: A Liberal's Case for the Second Amendment by Craig Whitney, and note that the sense of mission that propelled the book might be misplaced in a year when not even a series of shocking gun massacres could really juice any life into the corpse of increasing gun control regulation.


The book…pushes a set of policy prescriptions that Whitney paints as the rational, intelligent middle between untenable pro-gun attitudes (no new laws restricting our ability to buy, carry, and store weapons) and untenable anti-gun attitudes (no private ownership of firearms). Whitney argues there's an intractable political divide about guns that only his measured wisdom can bridge.

But the reaction to this year's string of prominent gun crimes undercuts Whitney's project. That reaction was—beyond personal and some civic grief—nothing, except a bump in private gun buying. No effective new call for stronger gun regulations arose. As gun-control activists complained, guns and gun policy didn't come up at all in the domestic-policy presidential debate in October between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

It may be true that there is still, as Whitney writes, "hysteria that passes for discussion of the Second Amendment by gun rights supporters and advocates of gun control." But that hysteria is localized within a narrow community of obsessives. It's not dominating American politics or tearing us asunder as a people…

Whitney stresses the importance of keeping guns out of what all reasonable people agree are the "wrong hands," even as he presents the embarrassing history of colonial and early America, in which seemingly reasonable people believed blacks, Indians, Roman Catholics, and non-property-owners should be kept from weapons. Whitney harps on the notion that the Second Amendment right is supposed to come with civic responsibilities. Though he knows that used to mean being prepared to fight government tyranny, he avoids saying that might ever be necessary today, and Whitney fails to convince a skeptical reader that the civic responsibility in question should mean much more than making sure no one is unjustly harmed by the weapons you own.

Read the whole thing. I wrote most extensively about gun control in my 2008 book Gun Control on Trial.

Reason on the Second Amendment.

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  1. The Obamanauts is awfully interested in getting a treaty on such a dead issue. They have opened the door for the UN Arms Control Treaty.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would support the talks as long as the negotiating forum, the so-called Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, “operates under the rules of consensus decision-making.”

    “Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly,” Clinton said in a written statement.…..Q920091015

    Right after the election, natch.

    1. Well, he does have more flexibility now.

    2. “Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly,”

      So, BATFE isn’t going to be able to send guns to Mexico anymore?

      1. +various dead Mexicans

    3. Supporters say it would give worldwide coverage to close gaps in existing regional and national arms export control systems that allow weapons to pass onto the illicit market.

      Of course, if they just pass a law (international treaty) against it, there won’t be anymore black market gun sales. Problem solved!

    4. What a load of garbage.

      The 2nd Amendment is cited in that as inviolate.

      1. To what do you refer? The UN gun control effort? US participation in it? I’m not clear exactly what you think is a load of garbage, Plugs.

        And we all know, of course, what proggy libs think of the 2A. Either that it protects no individual rights at all, or that it allows “reasonable” regulation up to and including de facto bans. So when a proggy says the 2A is inviolate, I take that to mean, essentially, nothing.

  2. Gun control : liberals :: abortion : conservatives. The retards just can’t help themselves. They touch that third-rail and come back for more every time.

    1. Most Democratic politicians outside of big cities seem to have come to the realization that gun control is political suicide.

      Republican politicians do not seem to have had the same epiphany on social issues.

      1. That’s because they’re nowhere near the same level of political suicide.

        Gay marriage is, as of right now, pretty much an even split. Abortion is a lot more muddled then some people would like to believe. Speaking of course of the levels of support for each position. You could get a very healthy chunk of people to support abortion restrictions right now, the only thing stopping them is Roe v. Wade.

        Gun control, on the other hand, is a huge political loser. Support for new, stricter gun control measures is in the 25% range. That’s astoundingly low for a major political issue. Stronger gun control is fast getting to the “thinking there should be laws against interracial marriages” level of stupidity.

        Now if they could only get suppressors deregulated.

      2. That isn’t really fair. The media doesn’t find some random Democratic candidate who is vocally, terrifyingly bad on defense rights (they certainly exist), publicize their remarks as widely as possible, and attempt to imply that their beliefs are shared by the bulk of their fellow Democrats in order to force the party into a defensive position.

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