There are a lot of hot takes going around about last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, but Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen’s claim that the riots are proof that gun control works is a take hot enough to melt steel girders.
For Cullen, the issue is simple. Washington, D.C. has restrictive gun control laws and there weren’t a lot of guns found on those who were rioting; therefore, the District’s gun laws must be effective.
It is forever a stain on the president and his seditious supporters that five people died in theputsch, but it would have been infinitely worse if the gun-loving insurrectionists had carried weapons as openly as so many of them do in their home states.
The police did find a dozen or so weapons on people they arrested before and after the attack, but if Washington’s firearms laws weren’t as strict as they are, thousands of hyped-up gun nuts who took part in the insurrection would have been armed.
So we’re supposed to believe that thousands of “gun-loving insurrectionists” came to D.C. with the intent of kicking off a revolution, but they left their guns at home because they didn’t want to violate D.C.’s gun laws? Is Cullen serious, or just delusional here?
There’s another obvious possibility that Cullen completely ignores; the vast majority of those attending the Stop the Steal rally in D.C. weren’t violent insurrectionists, and even the majority of those who ended up flooding into the Capitol had no intent of injuring others or committing acts of violence. To me, that makes much more sense than the idea of thousands of wannabe revolutionaries heading to D.C. to kick off a revolt while also trying to remain on the right side of D.C.’s gun laws.
The District of Columbia has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, which would be even more restrictive except for a 2008 Supreme Court decision that found the district’s ban on handguns unconstitutional. While the Metropolitan Police issue concealed-carry permits, it is a stringent process and there is no reciprocal agreement with other states. Open carry is strictly prohibited, and large swaths of the city are gun-free zones, including the US Capitol buildings and grounds.
It seems to me that if D.C.’s restrictions on both keeping and bearing arms were really effective, its homicide rate would be a lot lower than surrounding communities in both Virginia and Maryland. That’s not the case at all. In 2019, for instance, D.C.’s homicide rate was 49 per 100,000. That same year, Virginia’s homicide rate was 5.0 per 100,000 and Maryland had roughly nine homicides per 100,000 people.
It’s hard to argue that gun control works when D.C.’s murder rate is 10x that of the neighboring state that has far fewer gun control laws on the books, but Cullen tries his best. Given that he doesn’t actually have any evidence to back up his assertions, though, the Globe columnist quickly falls back on the tried-and-true method of lobbing insults at those across the ideological divide.
This week, when some Republican lawmakers from states that let just about anyone walk around with an assault rifle strapped to their chest or a pistol in their purse showed up on Capitol Hill and found metal detectors had been installed, they behaved as children would at a birthday party when told there would be no cake.
One of them, a walking, squawking parody of Annie Oakley named Lauren Boebert, caused a scene just a week into her first term as a congresswoman from Colorado.
The queen of gun nuts, Boebert runs a bar called Shooters in a town called Rifle. Seriously.
The rest of Cullen’s column avoids any effort to try to bolster his argument that the riot in D.C. is proof that gun control works, so there’s no point in quoting any more of his drivel.
One other counterargument to Cullen’s suggestion that it was D.C.’s gun laws that kept the violence from getting any worse. It was almost a year ago that more than 20,000 gun owners legally exercising their right to carry showed up in downtown Richmond, Virginia for the annual Lobby Day rally hosted by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, and there was no violence at all that day.
Under Cullen’s theory, that event should have been an absolute horror show of violence based on the number of “gun toting gun nuts” who were present and pissed off about the dozens of anti-gun bills that had been introduced in the state legislature. Instead, I saw gun owners of all ages, sexes, races, and political ideologies come together in a peaceful and powerful protest against the gun control agenda of Ralph Northam and Virginia Democrats. It was Washington, D.C. (home to some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation )where we saw violence erupt; not Richmond, where the gun laws (at that time, anyway) recognized the right of the People to bear arms.
Violence doesn’t come from the gun, or the fire extinguisher, or the American flag used as a spear. It comes from within, and more gun control laws aren’t the answer to those on the Left and the Right who think it’s time for an honest-to-God revolution. You have to address the argument, and frankly, trying to impose sweeping new gun control laws only plays in to their accelerationist beliefs.
I’m not surprised to see anti-gun nuts like Kevin Cullen try to use the storming of the Capitol to push for more gun control laws. I suspect, in fact, that we’re only getting started.