A Conundrum for the Gun Control Crowd

Highland Park, Illinois, the scene of the the nation’s latest high-profile shooting

When it comes to the debate on how to stop gun violence in America, those that see more “gun control” as the answer have a big problem when gun violence happens in heavily gun-controlled jurisdictions. Their usual response is to blame surrounding jurisdictions with less-strict laws for the law-breaking that occurs in their jurisdictions. This of course reveals the logical flaw in their arguments; criminals do not follow laws, so to follow their logic out to the end leads to the conclusion that guns would need to be outlawed everywhere in order for their preferred method to have the impact they desire. The idea of total elimination of guns from existence would surely appeal to the mind of the average gun control advocate, but a little thing called reality prevents that fantasy from happening. They also must contend with that “pesky” fundamental right to self defense and the Second Amendment that secures it from infringement; a reality in America that destroys the soundness of their arguments in the first place, but I digress.

This does not stop the mentality of gun controllers however, and the effects of this thinking even impact supposedly factual, unbiased media coverage of gun violence. The coverage of the latest tragic incident on Independence Day in Highland Park, Illinois provides a good example of how this is done. Take for example this New York Times article about the incident. It contains the following paragraph:

“It was one of several shootings in recent days. The shooting in Highland Park was the fourth in Illinois since Friday in which at least four people were shot, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The state has among the strictest gun-safety laws — universal background checks, red flag warnings and safe storage requirements — but is surrounded by states with fewer restrictions to gun ownership.”

The first thing one ought to notice about this paragraph is how the author combines this type of shooting incident- a seemingly indiscriminate or politically-motivated act of mass violence- with your average personally-motivated gun violence that occurs daily, especially in cities like Chicago. While both these types of tragic violence are done with firearms, their circumstances and motivations are completely different and require different consideration on how to approach potential solutions. When media outlets include the latter type of gun violence in their analysis of the former, more high-profile indiscriminate or politically-motivated incidents, it gives the audience the impression they occur more frequently than they do and impacts their perception of the problem. This may be a willful distortion on the part of the media in itself or an irresponsible oversight, but that is a topic for another article.

The second thing one ought to notice about the above-mentioned NYT paragraph is the implication that this particular violence occurred in gun-controlled Illinois because of the irresponsibility of surrounding States with less-strict gun control laws. As the author points out, Illinois implemented nearly everything the gun-controllers desire (what they officially propose anyway), yet the violence still occurred. As of this writing, little is known about the weapon used or the motivations of the suspect in custody. What will gun controllers say if the investigation into the incident reveals the shooter legally obtained the firearm in accordance with Illinois law? Will they admit their top-down approach does not work? Probably not. Or if the shooter obtained the gun illegally, will they admit this is a fatal law in their logic? Again, the answer is probably no. They will ignore the facts and focus on blaming the manufacturers, the NRA, “gun nuts,” and of course the “outdated” Second Amendment and the “biased” Supreme Court that has affirmed the Second Amendment rights of individual Americans.

This is indicative of the problem with unprincipled, top-down, “ends justifies the means” policies. Guns exist, and the Second Amendment, thankfully, exists to secure the fundamental right to bear arms in self defense. When gun controllers ignore or reject these realities, they reject real solutions in favor of proverbial band-aids for bullet wounds (pun intended). To lower gun violence levels in America, we must stop blaming everything other than the real cause of the problems. We must find practical solutions within our rights-based framework. See each of these incidents for what they are in themselves and reject the emotional appeals and manipulative approach of the gun controllers in the media.

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