by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A recent Daily Journal asked N.C. policymakers to “Attack school violence, not a straw man.” Now, David French of National Review Online applies the same principle to the larger debate over gun control.
[T]the New York Times’ Nick Kristof posted a column that purported to tell his largely progressive readership “how to win an argument about guns.” I’m interested to read good arguments from the other side, so I clicked eager to find how Kristof would best an informed gun-rights advocate in debate.
The short answer, it turns out, is that he wouldn’t.
The column’s pattern is simple: Kristof posits a primitive caricature of a gun-rights argument, delivers a thoroughly inadequate response designed to settle the issue, and then repeats the cycle. In other words, he erects one straw man after another and fails to best any of them. …
… Here’s the core of Kristof’s response:
“We don’t ban cars, but we do work hard to take a dangerous product and regulate it to limit the damage.
“We do that through seatbelts and airbags, through speed limits and highway barriers, through driver’s licenses and insurance requirements, through crackdowns on drunken driving and texting while driving. I once calculated that since 1921, we had reduced the auto fatality rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent.”
Notice the glaring omissions here?
First, Kristof fails to note that we do, in fact, already work to keep guns out of dangerous hands. We have a background-check system that regulates the vast majority of gun sales and a labyrinth of criminal and civil laws designed to prohibit violent and unstable Americans from ownin guns.
Second, he fails to mention that American gun violence is down 49 percent since its peak. The victimization rate for other firearm crimes dropped by a whopping 75 percent between 1993 and 2011. In other words, our national effort to reduce gun violence has been an extraordinary success.