The Return Fire series is meant to arm fellow gun-rights advocates for the public debate on gun policy. We are not likely to sway the most extreme gun-control proponents, but we can paralyze their most common talking points with well-crafted arguments of our own. We might even be able to influence moderates and skeptics — the people not solidly in either camp. They have heard the gun-control talking points and are sympathetic to them, but they understand why we disagree so vehemently. Those discussions are not attacks; they are opportunities to advance gun rights and win allies.
Following are a few examples of frequently asked questions so we can engage in ways that strengthen our position and stop the momentum of the gun-control movement.
What Do You Propose to Reduce Mass Shootings?
I start with the premise that “mass shootings” are a lesser-included category of “mass murder.” Any effort exclusively focused on shootings tends to be pointlessly narrow and doomed to be ineffective at reducing the carnage. Despite every restriction, bad guys still get guns (like they did in France, Belgium, California and Norway). When attackers can’t get guns or just don’t want to risk exposure, they use explosives (Madrid, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Oklahoma City and London). When they don’t use bombs, they use chemical and biological agents (Tokyo and countless Anthrax letters). If they aren’t sophisticated enough for chem/bio, they use knives or trucks (London, Japan and China). If you want to be serious about the problem, you cannot just cherry-pick the parts that fit your policy agenda.
So we need a more comprehensive approach focused on countering the extremist narrative by providing armed and trained security, prosecuting effectively and making first-aid training mandatory in public school. We should encourage citizen vigilance, reporting and resilience. I would hope we can all agree that taxpayer-funded mental health programs, particularly inpatient and incarcerated psych care, are a worthwhile enterprise, even if you disagree with me on the gun policy.
Only after we have made that comprehensive push and given it time to show results could I entertain a discussion about weapons-control initiatives. Without the holistic approach, the weapons are irrelevant by comparison.
Why Is Someone Allowed to Buy a Gun While Under Investigation by the FBI?
That is a valid question, but that’s less a gun issue and more an issue of how we treat people who are under federal investigation. If you have read the Constitution or even watched much TV, you know that all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Basically, in America, we have to treat you like you are innocent (even if we think you are guilty as hell) until you have your day in court and get convicted. That comes with danger; guilty people sometimes go free to commit more crimes. But in macro, it’s a good thing. We can’t lock you up based on an accusation or suspicion.
If we think a guy is a dirtbag terrorist, I agree that we should be able to stop him from buying a gun. But if we think he is a dirtbag terrorist, we should also prevent him from walking among us by arresting him, charging him and convicting him. If he is serious enough to disarm, then he is serious enough to detain. It can be really dangerous to mess with due process, and this gets to one of the core issues in gun control.
Why Do You Value Guns More Than the Safety of Children?
This particular challenge is an irritating but understandable question with two main problems: First, no one has shown me a compelling argument, with evidence, that proposed gun restrictions are sure to make my kids safer. Second, I don’t love guns more than children. I love my kids; that’s why I am willing to fight to protect them. I see gun rights as a means to achieve that in a dangerous world.
We, as a society, have collectively decided to accept some level of risk in exchange for freedom. We don’t let the cops kick in your door just because you might be making bombs. We don’t let cops lock you up just because you might be a bad guy. The country would be pretty safe if we could lock up all the shady looking people, but you wouldn’t want to live in that country. So, if you want to ban “watchlist people” from buying guns, I get it. But fight for those people to get some due process. They should be able to challenge and appeal that restriction. After all, the next person on that watchlist might be you.
Jim is a concerned citizen and gunrights advocate. His opinions are his alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of this or any other agency. References and links to other gun-advocacy sites do not imply endorsement of those organizations. You can reach him at Jim@Tactical-Tangents.com.