David Frum belongs to that portion of the political ecosystem that’s regularly referred to as “conservative” based on nothing more than past associations. Yes, Frum was a speechwriter for George W. Bush back in 2001 and 2002. He voted for John McCain in 2008. Since then, however, Frum has been more of a reliable voice for leftists than for conservatives of any stripe, and he continues that trend in a new piece at The Atlantic in which he claims that there’s no such thing as a responsible gun owner.
The gun buyers of 2020–21 are different from those of years past: They are more likely to be people of color and more likely to be women. They are not buying guns to join a race war, or to overthrow the government, or to wait for Armageddon in a bunker stocked with canned beans. They just want to deter a burglar or an assailant, should one come.
Those dangers are real, and it’s understandable that people would fear them and seek to avert them. But like the people who refuse lifesaving vaccines for fear of minutely rare side effects, American gun buyers are falling victim to bad risk analysis.
They need to meet the grandparents who stuffed a gun beneath a pillow while cooking—and returned to their granddaughter’s dead body. They need to see the man in prison because he lost his temper over a parking space. They need to listen to the parents whose teenager found a suicide weapon that had not been locked away. They need to know more about the woman killed in the electronics aisle at an Idaho Walmart when her 2-year-old accidentally discharged the gun she carried in her purse.
They need to hear a new call to conscience, aimed not at the paranoid and the extreme, not at the militiamen and the race warriors, but at the decent, everyday gun owner.
And what is that call to conscience that Frum wants them to hear? Get rid of your guns.
You want to be a protective spouse, a concerned parent, a good citizen, a patriotic American? Save your family and your community from danger by getting rid of your weapons, and especially your handguns. Don’t wait for the law. Do it yourself; do it now. Do it because you just bought your first home, do it because you just got married, do it because you just had the baby you cherish more than anything in this world. The gun you trust against your fears is itself the thing you should fear. The gun is a lie.
Now, if David Frum is too afraid of a gun to own one, that’s his decision. Still, there’s no reason for other Americans to buy into his emotionally-stunted phobia about firearms, particularly when the examples he cites are indeed the exception for gun owners, and not the rule.
There are an estimated 100-million gun owners in the United States, and if none of them were responsible our violent crimes, homicides, suicides, and negligent discharges would be far higher than they are today.
I wasn’t raised around firearms, but I became a gun owner shortly after I got married in my early 20s. Not only did I become a husband, but I became a dad as well, and living in a not great neighborhood in Oklahoma City, I wanted to have a firearm for self-protection and to protect my new family. Thankfully, in all my years of gun ownership I’ve never had to use my firearm in self-defense, and I hope that remains the case for the remainder of my days.
While I haven’t had to draw my gun to defend myself or my family, I have taught all of my kids how to be safe and responsible around firearms. I started them off with a single-shot .22 rifle, and as they got older they learned how to safely handle and shoot pistols, shotguns, and rifles. Like millions of other gun owners, my children have never been involved in any accidents or criminal behavior with a gun, because they’ve been instilled from an early age on real gun safety.
We live in a nation with a lot of gun owners, even more guns, and the constitutional right to keep and bear them. Frum cajoling Americans to simply get rid of their guns is like lecturing those attending an orgy to practice abstinence. It might feel good to say it, but they’re not going to take your advice.
Instead of declaring that there’s no such thing as a responsible gun owner, which is patently false, we should be working to inculcate a culture of responsible gun ownership; particularly in those places where politicians, public officials, and talking heads like Frum have spent decades trying to make gun ownership taboo. We should encourage gun owners to ensure that their firearms can’t be accessed by toddlers or small children, not through new laws that can impose criminal penalties after the fact but through education and outreach that can prevent accidents and negligent discharges in the first place. We should have ranges open to the public in cities like Chicago, Baltimore, New York, and Los Angeles. We should have JROTC and 4H shooting sports programs in more middle and high schools. We should get rid of restrictive licensing and permitting laws that foster a culture of criminality and prevent average citizens from exercising their right to keep and bear arms… at least legally.
There’s quite a bit we can do to help gun owners new and old be responsible, but David Frum, like his fellow gun control activists, isn’t interested in doing those things. He’s working for a gun-free America, though like the rest of his anti-gun allies he’s strangely silent on how, exactly, he’d get rid of the 400-million firearms in the hands of 100-million “irresponsible” gun owners.