My research brief this week, in keeping with its origin as the “Rights & Regulation” newsletter, looks at the hasty gun-control press in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. It’s entitled “Emotion Is a Poor Guide When a Civil Right Is at Stake.”

Key points include:

  • The topic we’re told to discuss is curtailing or revoking a long-recognized civil right, but isn’t that the wrong thing to be talking about?
  • What has become nauseatingly clear is that Parkland happened because of a critical mass of failures by government
  • Research bears out that school shootings are rare — and they’re rarer than they used to be (which is not to diminish the tragedy of each one)
  • Any national conversation on how Parkland could’ve been prevented would have to focus on how so many responsible adults failed to take positive actions that could’ve stopped the shooter before he became a killer

With respect to gun control, the Parkland shooting’s details do more damage to that cause than help. As Ben Shapiro pointed out, “we are told that the solution to mass shootings is for law-abiding citizens to give more authority to the authorities that failed, and to turn over our only way of protecting ourselves?” Why would anyone believe that?

Gun control depicting guns as ‘Artifacts of Doom’

Going further, I write about the idea that seems to underly the gun control argument against firearms. It’s invoked in the simplistic idea that “Guns Kill People.” It is:

their political notion of guns as Artifacts of Doom. In fantasy, that’s an object of pure evil that, since it’s an inanimate object, can only work evil in the world by manipulating an owner to commit evil using it. An Artifact of Doom is defeated merely by no one ever owning it.

But that’s fantasy, not reality. If guns were evil in nature, it would follow that more of them would manifest their presence with more evil. That’s not what’s happening.

What has been happening is gun ownership rising dramatically while fatal firearm crime rates and nonfatal firearm crime victimization are falling just as dramatically.

Artifacts of Doom don’t work that way. Objects used for recreation, hunting, boosting collections, and many other things— but especially self-defense — do. More self-defense weapons, even just the expectation of more self-defense weapons, would become evident in falling crime victimization statistics.

Unlike fantasy, unfortunately, human nature doesn’t need an Artifact of Doom to commit evil. People do need self-defense weapons to ward off a person bent on evil, especially when agents of government tasked with defense yawn away warnings of imminent threat or quit in the moment of need.

When the campaign argues that America has a higher gun murder rate than select other countries, they are counting on people to overlook human nature and adopt the Artifact of Doom theory. People might then reason, improperly, that removing the gun would remove violence and evil.

But someone bent on evil and violence may use a gun or any other objects at hand.

I followed that last point with this chart from Public Radio International: