by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The traditional gun rights argument is that even minor restrictions on Second Amendment rights represent the camel’s nose under the tent and must be resisted at all costs. The argument is based on principle: This freedom to own and carry a personal weapon, passed down from the English common law, should not be taken away, even if there exist data suggesting that its curtailment might have a large-scale beneficial effect, such as saving some number of lives nationwide each year.
gun debate mag story
In an unscientific survey we conducted last month of more than 1,000 of our readers, we found that two-thirds of them subscribe to this point of view — as do I. The only problem is that if you don’t accept the premise about freedom superseding other goods when it comes to government policy, you will never be persuaded. And in an era when the Left has also been challenging basic civic assumptions about the value of other freedoms such as the First Amendment, the potential for common understanding on that score might be disappearing for good. …
… On the gun control side, there are some decent and sensible arguments. But as it is made publicly, the case for gun control consists mostly of emotion and intuition occasionally disguised as data.
Strip away the emotional appeals, and you begin with a reasonable-sounding premise: Without any guns, there would never be any shootings. And that’s fine, but the conclusion that most adherents draw from this is that incremental limits on gun ownership should therefore incrementally limit shootings. And that simply doesn’t follow.
Nor does it appear to be true.