Monday, May 4, 2009

Opinion: Gun rights attack full of holes

Dishonesty is a common thread through the arguments for controlling crime by limiting the general public’s access to firearms. So it is not surprising that this administration is lying to us about the supposed link between gun sales here and American-manufactured machine guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The theory is that people in this country buy guns that are legal here, ship them to Mexico and sell them to drug cartels, and have a major impact on Mexico’s crime rate. With the money those organizations have they could ship in whole car loads of AK 47s much more simply.

Apparently rifles and pistols made here do get into the hands of Mexican criminals. But they are not machine guns and they only amount to about 17 percent of the total guns seized. The higher percentage the administration is using refers only to the guns sent here from Mexico for identification. Mexican authorities do not send the much larger number of guns they seize that are obviously manufactured somewhere else.

Machine guns and explosive devices manufactured here do show up in Mexican police displays. But they don’t come from civilian sources here. No civilian-owned machine gun has ever been used in a crime in this country and I have never heard of one being picked up by police in Mexico.

It is far more likely that any American-manufactured machine guns in the hands of Mexican criminals came from military or police sources in Mexico itself or one of the Central American countries.

The dishonesty of the argument is not surprising. It joins a long list of similarly dishonest arguments from those who would take away the public’s right to be armed.

The most recent was the book “Arming America,” which argued that guns were uncommon in colonial America so the Second Amendment could not have been about an individual right to be armed. The book was so dishonest the author, a tenured professor, was fired and Columbia University, which had given him the prestigious Bancroft prize, asked for it back. Since the book was published, the Supreme Court has explicitly stated the Second Amendment protects an individual right to be armed.

Before that there was the doctor in Seattle who attracted a lot of attention by publishing an article claiming that if you had a gun in your home you were 47 times more likely to shoot a family member, or an acquaintance, than you were an intruder. When I debated the head of Washington Cease Fire on local radio, he left out the “or acquaintance” part. He had nothing more to say on the subject when I pointed out that when the good doctor finally identified the specific shootings on which he was basing his claim, they were almost all drug deals gone bad, pimps shooting reluctant hookers, abusive boy friends who had it coming and the like. They were people with long histories of criminal activity and or mental problems. The idea that ordinary people with guns were a danger to the community just didn’t wash.

The problem this administration is having with justifying its anti-gun agenda is that five years ago Great Britain enacted an outright prohibition of civilian ownership of firearms. It has had no effect on the homicide rate and gun crime, mostly stick ups, has increased dramatically. How can anyone now argue that a less drastic restriction will do any good?

This administration has joined those who have no respect for our rights or our intelligence. We need to view anything they propose with great skepticism.

By William G. Dennis

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