Rutgers University political science professor Ross Baker thinks we have too many guns in this country and not enough gun control laws. He also thinks the gun control movement that he’s a part of is a lost cause, declaring in a new column at USA Today that it stands alongside “legitimating polygamy and scrapping the national anthem for something more singable” in the pantheon of failed movements.
Obviously Baker isn’t happy about this, but he does seem to be seriously giving up on the idea that Americans are ever going to wholeheartedly embrace a gun ban agenda.
The brief flicker of hope that somehow the financial problems of the National Rifle Association, and the profligate spending of members’ dues by one its top executives, might stifle the effectiveness of the opposition to even the most modest efforts to control firearms or reduce their lethality became an iridescent dream — and seemed to prove that the organization itself was never much of a factor in blocking gun-control legislation.
As my colleague Tom Knighton pointed out recently, despite its legal challenges, the NRA hasn’t disappeared. In fact, it’s launching a $2-million campaign to defeat Joe Biden’s ATF nominee. Still Baker is on to something; the power of the NRA comes from its members, not its executives. And who are those members? Millions of American gun owners, and even if the Second Amendment organization were to be dissolved by the New York Attorney General, those gun owners aren’t suddenly going to decide that their right to keep and bear arms is unimportant to them. In fact, I’d imagine that an assault like that would end up energizing millions more gun owners to become politically active.
Baker may be clear-eyed about the failure of the gun control movement, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t consumed the Kool-Aid when it comes to the ideology of the gun ban crowd.
So strong is the constituency for firearms ownership in Congress that a law is on the books immunizing gun manufacturers and sellers from lawsuits arising out of the use of their products for mass shootings and mayhem on smaller scale. It is the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that became effective in 2005.
The response of the gun industry has been, from a business standpoint, quite rational: Sellers give the consumers what they demand. The only limit is that they cannot manufacture or sell fully automatic machine guns.
It’s absurd to claim that the only limit on the gun industry is that they can’t make or sell fully automatic machine guns. First, they absolutely can make these products. They just can’t sell them to civilians. But there’s also a host of other restrictions on firearms manufacturers, and the Biden administration is moving to put even more burdensome and onerous regulations in place.
As for the need for the PLCAA, what other industry is held responsible for the actions of consumers who misuse their product? Do we hold Ford responsible when someone drives drunk? Can we sue a distillery when someone abuses alcohol? Is the maker of the knife wielded by Ma’Khia Bryant in danger of a lawsuit and bankruptcy? No, no, and no. So why should companies that make guns or ammunition be held responsible when a criminal misuses their product? The passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act doesn’t just demonstrate the constituency for firearms ownership in Congress. It’s a perfect example of the mindset of the gun control movement; to curtail the Second Amendment rights of responsible gun owners instead of focusing on stopping violent criminals.
That mindset is on full display in Baker’s conclusion as well.
And this is where things stand: Daily, weekly, monthly massacres of sizable numbers of victims enabled by a patchwork of ineffective, indifferently enforced state laws, and the awesomely destructive firepower of many of the weapons used in these assaults.
Unbalanced, vengeful or politically motivated assailants armed, in many cases, with charismatic weapons patterned on those used by the military will continue to inflict death and grievous injury on innocent people. There is, effectively, no way to stop it.
Wrong. There are actually a number of strategies we could adopt to address the various types of violent crime. Targeted deterrence programs focusing on the most violent offenders, threat assessments to identify those most at risk of committing targeted attacks, education and training to reduce accidents, and suicide prevention efforts that focus on the individual and not guns, to name a few.
Violence prevention isn’t synonymous with gun control, despite what Baker believes. If he wants to shed his despair and get back some hope, all he has to do is acknowledge that there’s no way to ban our way to safety and focus his efforts and attention on those types of programs that actually address violence instead of trying to curtail gun ownership.