I have to admit, there’s a part of me that’s highly amused by the reaction from gun control fans to Judge Roger Benitez’s decision striking down California’s ban on so-called assault weapons as an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment. Earlier today I pointed out the absurdities in the Washington Post editorial board’s disgruntled dissent from Benitez’s opinion, but on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’re focusing on a hot take from California itself.
Virginia Heffernan is an opinion writer for the Los Angeles Times and Wired magazine, as well as a “PhD, for what it’s worth.” Apparently a doctorate from Harvard isn’t worth much at all if it results in thoughts like these.
…and introduce a meaningful tax on guns and gun violence.
No one should say “this is a great place to raise kids” about neighborhoods where even one person has an assault rifle.
— Virginia Heffernan (@page88) June 8, 2021
Let’s start with the obvious flaws in Heffernan’s idea here: neither the vast majority of states nor the federal government do not require gun owners to register their firearms, and there’s not enough votes in Congress to change that. In other words, there’s no way for real estate firms to figure out how many gun owners live within a 50-mle radius of a particular listing.
It also seems screwy to me to try to define a “bad neighborhood” by looking at the number of gun owners who might live there, much less trying to use the number of gun owners who live 30, 40, or 50 miles away. In a nation of 100-million gun owners, you’re going to have to look long and hard to find a 50-mile dead zone where no one’s interested in exercising their Second Amendment rights.
To that end, we also have more than 20-million modern sporting rifles (or “assault rifles” as Heffernan incorrectly calls them). I don’t want to cause Heffernan to freak out any more than she already is, but I’d be willing to bet that even in her own neighborhood, there are plenty of folks who own AR-15s.
I live in rural Virginia, which I consider a pretty great place to raise my kids, and I don’t know of any neighbors who don’t own an AR-15 or another semi-automatic rifle. Actually, I’m unsure of the Amish family who moved in across the road a few months ago, but I know they own firearms because I’ve heard them plinking on their property (and it didn’t sound like a muzzleloader going off). Our community is quiet and peaceful, and our kids grow up learning that guns aren’t toys, as well as how to use them safely and responsibly.
While I love it here, I’m pretty sure Heffernan would hate it. Oddly, she seems to be more interested in living in some place like the Bronx.
If that reads as safer or more frer to some people, Staten Island is for them. If not, maybe time for the Bronx. Take race, class, politics out of the real-estate equation.
— Virginia Heffernan (@page88) June 8, 2021
Well, I decided to do exactly what Heffernan suggested. I took a look at the violent crime rates in the Bronx and on Staten Island. I didn’t look at race, class, or politics; just violent crime. As it turns out, Staten Island not only has four times the number of gun owners per capita than the Bronx, it has a violent crime rate that’s less than half what it is in the Bronx.
According to the data, the per capita violent crime rate in Staten Island is 3.7 per 1,000 people. In the Bronx, it’s 8.5 per 1,000. More guns, less crime. (For the record, my little community in rural Virginia has a violent crime rate of 0.0 per 1,000 residents, and my guess is that we’ve got far more guns per capita than either Staten Island or the Bronx).
If Hefferman would really feel safer living in the Bronx because it has fewer legal gun owners but more violent crime, I can’t help but wonder what exactly they teach people at Harvard. Clearly it’s not critical thinking, or maybe Judge Benitez’s decision in Miller v. Bonta has just made Heffernan so upset she’s gone a little squirrelly. Either way, Heffernan’s hot take on “assault weapons” turned out to be more of a self-own thanks to her inability or unwillingness to actually look at the stats for the communities she cites as examples of good and bad neighborhoods. In trying to score a goal for Team Gun Control, the L.A. Times columnist ended up providing an assist to Second Amendment supporters instead.