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Free Minds & Free Markets

After the Gun Ban: New at Reason

What if the U.S. government managed to pass some kind of a gun ban?

Looking back a few years after hypothetical new restrictions on semiautomatic weapons in private hands, we see a country grown more divided, but no less armed.

J.D. Tuccille writes:

Can Americans overcome hurdles to changing this country's gun culture and the laws regulating firearms? There may be a path to accomplishing just that—but it's unlikely that anybody would like the results. Let's looks back from a possible future…

The strategy that gun controllers finally settled on was to shift the culture to make firearms ownership socially unacceptable. Then, legal changes would be possible.

"I think we have to cleanse our culture of this false idea that guns are cool," gun opponents wrote. "Guns are not cool. Cool kids don't use guns." Others agreed, and they all pointed to an earlier example of demonizing a previously popular product. "Guns should be the new cigarettes," they insisted.

Perhaps sounding a bit of a cautionary note, cigarette smoking was actually on the rise among college students who rolled their eyes at the gross old TV ads. One risk of cultural programming is that people may change the channel. But the plan to shift the culture was adopted, and it worked—sort of.

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