Tuesday, July 10, 2007

- The Front Lines of Gun Control

Don Gwinn and I have been having a discussion about Rudy Giuliani over at thearmedschoolteacher (my comments can be found a little further down). It seems that Don’s feeling a little like Ricky Ricardo who’s come home from the club to find a full grown African elephant in his living room. And it also seems that Rudy has a little “splaining” to do where his view of the second amendment is concerned.

You see when Rudy was Mayor of New York City, he was one of the most fervently antigun politicians in the country. It would be no exaggeration to say that he made Chuck Schumer and Mike Bloomberg look like Ted Nugent fans. Not only did he do his level best to reduce the number of legally owned guns in New York city during his tenure, but he also was a key participant in lawsuits designed to hold gun manufacturers negligently liable when their products were used in crimes.

The theory behind the lawsuit was that since gun manufacturers make more of their perfectly legal product every year than can be used for hunting and law enforcement, they must know that they are selling to an illegal market of criminals, and are therefore negligent. I hate to use an overworked analogy but it would be the same thing as saying that since 1% of all the people behind the wheel drive drunk, and since the car manufacturers know that, they are negligent for not making fewer cars and selling them only to ‘sober’ drivers. This is silly on it’s face…totally utterly ridiculous.

Here is a poor quality video clip of him announcing the lawsuit.

Of course the threadbare reasoning of the lawsuit didn’t really matter because it was nothing more than a diversion. It was a thin veneer of legal logic over the real goals of the lawsuit. The point was never really to enforce the law, or dispense justice, but to get rid of private firearms ownership. It was a quasi-legal back door tactic designed to eliminate guns without having to go about the messy business of dealing with the whole “constitutional amendment” thing. If you can get rid of the gun companies, you get rid of the guns…problem solved.

And Rudy jumped on the bandwagon of the lawsuit, not because he’s a closet Marxist, but because he’s a New Yorker. (And no … those two aren’t necessarily the same thing) Guns have been highly restricted in New York for nearly a century, so for most New Yorkers, the only people they’ve ever seen with guns are policemen, and criminals.

Other uses for firearms are simply so far outside their experience that they can’t imagine them. To his credit, Rudy had heard of the theoretical concept of hunting before, so he included that as an “approved and legal” use of firearms as well, but he simply couldn’t fathom any other valid legal purpose for them. And in New York City, his is not a unique perspective…. on the contrary, it’s the typical view. In fact it’s been that way there for generations.

Back in 1911, the Sullivan act was made a law in New York, placing rigid restrictions on handgun ownership. It was done for the same reason that most gun control laws are put in place, to find a way to legally keep guns out of the hands of a “bad element”. In this particular case it was the inner city Irish and Italian immigrants, who had the poor taste to think that they too should have a hand in controlling the politics of New York and didn’t enjoy having Tammany hall goons bash in their skulls. And although they may not all have the same long history, there have been gun control laws in lots of other places as well, and they all have had the same sort of beginnings.

To paraphrase another troublemaker Ben Franklin, “Gun control has never really been important in the first person as in “our guns”, it’s only been necessary in the third person as in “their guns.” It’s the foreigner, the stranger, the swarthy newcomer who’s been the target of most gun control in this country. The ugly truth of the gun control debate is, gun control advocates don’t want to get rid of everyone’s guns, just the people they don’t think should have them, and that is almost always “other people”.

I’m a married, upper middle class, 40 something white guy from the suburbs, who lives in a low crime area and likes to shoot skeet on the weekends. The simple fact of the matter is that gun control advocates don’t really mind if I want to have a gun. (I know this is true… I’ve asked them myself). Oh the rules are a big nuisance to me that’s for sure, but an anti gun politician isn’t going to get too worked up if I find a way to jump their hurdles because they don’t see me as the problem.

So let me quit beating around the bush and come right out and say what I mean. The fact is that whether it’s by design or accident, the vast majority of gun control in this country is targeted to keep guns out of the hands of black people. In my view it’s black people that the anti-gun politicians want to keep unarmed. And the strength of the gun control movement in any area is highly correlated to the percentage of the local population, which is black.

Anti-gun politicians will make a million excuses designed to obscure this fact. The inner city is a “different social dynamic”, or “people will be hit with stray bullets”, or whatever. But the fact is, when it comes time to ban firearms ownership, the people who are having their rights denied most directly for sake of public safety all pretty much look the same. And the rest of us are really just being infringed by proximity.

“The Community Service Society” says that roughly 13% of the black male population is ineligible to vote because of their criminal records, and that would also probably prohibit them from owning a firearm. However, That means that 87% of black men are eligible, and a much higher percentage of black women. The overwhelming majority America’s black community, inner city or otherwise, are responsible law abiding citizens who have exactly the same right as you and me, and that includes the same rights of self defense.

Yet they are continually discriminated against with regard to gun ownership ostensibly by virtue of where they live. And not only do the people who are discriminated against all coincidentally look the same, but the most vocal advocates for more gun control all look the same too, and they all look … well like Rudy. They are all rich, white, urban liberals who think that they are the ones who need to be making everyone’s decisions. They think we are all too stupid or irresponsible to make our own choices in our lives, and I guess that goes double if you want a handgun and you’re black.

At the national level gun control is a political loser. The press despised Rudy Giuliani when he was mayor of New York because (to their mind) he was too conservative, but the gun lawsuit was the one thing he did which they approved of. Now that he’s running for national office he’s softened his stance and tried to be more “middle of the road”. I think that’s typical, and even if a real liberal is elected in 2008, I don’t think we’ll be seeing any new gun control legislation from congress anytime soon.

But we still have the local battles to win. In Illinois where Don is, he has to deal with the political distortion of Chicago, and in New Jersey, we have to deal with New York City. Those cities as well as DC, Boston, and LA are the front lines of gun control and I think if we could engage the black community more effectively in the debate, we could settle the issue in two election cycles.

The cities are now the key to re-establishing second amendment rights, and it makes sense to me to start with the people who’s rights have been most actively denied. We need to graphically expose the racist origins of gun control, and find a way to educate the black community. It’s their rights that are being intentionally trampled not ours, and my guess is that they could use a reminder of that.


Don said...

Whoa . . . that's good stuff. Way beyond my little hissy fit about Giuliani, though.

It occurs to me that you and I and others like the Pro-Gun Progressive in Baltimore (http://www.progunprogressive.com/) share a lot of similar problems when it comes to talking to people in our own states about gun control.

You're right; the battle is largely over in most of the country, but NOT with most of the population. The cities are the next battlefront.

Here in Illinois we're just waiting for Patrick Fitzgerald to get back from nailing Scooter Libby so he can pick up where he left off (nailing Richard Daley and Rod Blagojevich.)

Anonymous said...

Yep. And I think part of that education needs to focus on the role guns and specifically black men with guns (Deacons For Defense) protecting the non-violent marchers during the civil rights movement.

Check out GunOwnersAgainstViolence