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HomeAmerica FirstKeene: Gun Control Is Not the Panacea Democrats Expect

Keene: Gun Control Is Not the Panacea Democrats Expect



This article was originally published by American Liberty News.

The old saying ‘if the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, you will begin to see every problem as a nail’ is particularly true in the political world. Pollsters continually advise candidates that they need more polls; media gurus argue more radio and television ads; direct mail consultants claim the key to victory is their message in every voter’s mailbox. Social media experts dismiss all of the above as antiquated and inefficient.

However, few political or real-world problems are susceptible to one-size-fits-all solutions. The tendency to reach for the hammer is nowhere more apparent than in the progressive political approach to crime. Progressives are determined to define crime as a nail and their hammer is “gun control.” They have managed to persuade themselves and each other that if there were no firearms in private hands there would be no crime.

If only it were so simple. Current firearms restrictions recognize that part of the problem may be susceptible to this hammer. Federal policy thus already restricts convicted felons, the potentially dangerously mentally ill and others deemed to be a threat to others, from buying or possessing firearms. While one can argue about whether these restrictions are too broad or narrow, they make logical sense. Armed robbers, gangbangers and the potentially violently mentally ill are not the sorts of people who should be running around with guns. That nail has been hammered.

Still, they want to keep hammering. Preventing those who have worked their way onto what is known as the “Prohibited List” from acquiring firearms is one thing, but taking the hammer to the rights of law-abiding citizens guaranteed by the constitution is quite another. But that is what they want to do. Any excuse to find ways to restrict firearms ownership seems sensible. A few years ago, I attended a conference at which former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s acolytes suggested that anyone arrested for driving while intoxicated should lose their firearms rights for ten years. This, they insisted loudly, would reduce mass shootings. When I asked if there was any empirical evidence that mass shooters are likely to have had a drunk driving arrest on their record or that those likely to shoot up a school or shopping mall tend to come from the ranks of such drivers, they dismissed the questions as beside the point. They sincerely believed they had found another nail that needed hammering.

Gun control advocates ignore the possibility that the growing violence with which we are living may stem from deeper causes than the availability of firearms. In an earlier day, high school students in rural communities often brought their rifles and shotguns to school, stored the gun in their lockers and went hunting after school. In the sixties, airlines allowed passengers to store their long guns in the overhead luggage bin while traveling. None of those students shot up their school and those passengers never hijacked planes or killed passengers. It was a different world.

Of course, in those days one could ride the New York subway without risking being pushed onto the tracks by a stranger or watch a parade with no fear that someone would deliberately drive a car or truck into the crowd. And there were no “flash mobs” terrorizing retail outlets and customers, and policemen did not just look on as people they are supposed to protect were beaten.

So why is today’s world so different and so violent? Progressives will tell you “guns,” because gun control is the hammer they have, and they want to use it to “solve” a societal problem far more complicated than they are willing to admit.. They have convinced themselves that all problems from crime to climate change can be solved with their hammers, no further investigation needed.

This myopia was on full display as Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director Steven Dettelbach testified before the House Judiciary Committee on April 26th. Texas Republican Chip Roy asked Dettelbach how many of the 155 “mass” shooters Dettelbach was discussing were on “medication” at the time of the shootings, how many were from single parent families, and how many were heavily into social media. Dettelbach had no idea. More than a few experts have suggested that some illicit and a wide range of new prescribed medications have severe psychotic side effects that could make those using them more prone to aggression and violence. The question of whether those who take up guns against their neighbors, co-workers or fellow students are on such drugs is both relevant and important. But not to Dettelbach.

In a sense, Dettelbach was correct when he responded that while Mr. Roy’s questions might be worth looking into, they are not questions that ATF has a responsibility to address or to investigate. Sadly, Mr. Dettelbach has only one tool in his toolbox and it’s the gun control hammer that he believes or at least hopes is the right one.

Many experts believe the problem is not a nail. Taking criminals off the street and enforcing existing firearms laws work, but simply devoting time, energy and taxpayer money to pound on things that aren’t nails clouds the search for real world solutions to real problems.

Mr. Dettelbach and his bosses in the White House need to come to the realization that they need more than a hammer in their toolboxes.

David A. Keene
David A. Keene
David Keene has been at the center of conservative politics for decades. He is a former Chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom and the American Conservative Union and has served as the elected President of the National Rifle Association. He worked as a campaign consultant, lobbyist and commentator. His writing has appeared in Human Events, National Review and many other conservative publications and remains Editor at Large for The Washington Times after more than four years as the paper’s Opinion Editor.


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