Writer Christopher de Vinck’s latest novel Ashes is a fictionalized account of his relatives’ living under Nazi rule in Belgium during World War II, but his latest op-ed peddles a different kind of fiction; that “childish gun culture” is to blame for violent crime in the United States, and that we need more restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms to “protect us from ourselves.”
Writing at USA Today, de Vinck claims that not only do we need gun control, but speech control as well, contending that “the exposure to violence that we see on television, in the newspapers, in video games, in art, and in the words of pop music all contribute to the mass shootings in the nation these past months and years,” though oddly, his own exposure to television shows like “Combat!” as a child in the 1960s didn’t lead him to pick up a gun as an adult and target innocent victims, even if it did allow him to imagine a broken table leg was a machine gun as he played army with his friends.
Rather than devote his entire column to idea of combatting violence in real life by cutting down on the violence in our entertainment, de Vinck quickly pivots to the issue of gun control. After all, the writer’s real aim isn’t to censor American artists, but to disarm American citizens.
People want to carry their guns out into the neighborhood, so the Supreme Court will decide this year if states can prevent people from carrying concealed weapons outside the home for self defense.
I don’t think the framers of the Constitution would suggest that there ought to be a .44 Magnum tucked under our belts when we go out for ice-cream or a bazooka, which are heavily regulated but still legal, in the SUV.
The framers of the Constitution didn’t have a problem with citizens owning cannons, so I doubt they’d be too bothered by citizens being able to own a “heavily regulated” bazooka, much less carry a handgun for self-defense.
But we are a nation with freedoms. We shun regulation. We want what we want. I loved my machine gun. If someone wants a gun (the thinking goes) that person ought to have the right to own that gun. But we are placing weapons of mass destruction in our hands. Routinely we hear of another mass shooting. Violence is advertised and consumed in our homes daily from police dramas to the nightly news. What do we do?
Why don’t we as a nation sit next to James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington, and establish gun laws that not only protect us from our enemies, but also protect us from ourselves as well?
What kind of laws is de Vinck talking about? Well, on that the novelist falls silent, though I’m sure he could find some inspiration from the villains in his latest book. The Nazis were big on civilian disarmament, as Second Amendment attorney and scholar Stephen Halbrook documented in his book Gun Control in the Third Reich.
The countless books on the Third Reich and the Holocaust fail even to mention the laws restricting firearms ownership, which rendered political opponents and Jews defenseless. A skeptic could surmise that a better-armed populace might have made no difference, but the National Socialist regime certainly did not think so—it ruthlessly suppressed firearm ownership by disfavored groups.
In de Vinck’s defense, I’m sure he’d like to see all of us disarmed, not just disfavored groups. Still, I’d love to hear the author explain how we as a nation could establish gun control laws to protect us from ourselves without turning the country into an authoritarian nightmare, given the fact that there are 100-million American gun owners, 400-million privately owned firearms, and a constitutionally-protected right of the average citizen to keep and bear them. While de Vinck may name-check Madison, Adams, Hamilton, and Washington, his desires are closer to the ideologies of the worst dictators of the 20th and 21st centuries than they are to the Founding Fathers.