Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke has it all figured out, and according to him the solution to our rising violent crime is simple. Want to reduce violent crime involving guns? Reduce the number of guns out there.
As Americans watched yet another deadly school shooting unfold in Michigan, we were again (guns) left to wonder (guns) what could be to blame (guns) for a seemingly unstoppable problem (guns, guns, guns).
At the same time, President Joe Biden braced the country for a possible winter surge of COVID-19 cases, leaving us all pondering (vaccinations) what we could possibly do (masks) to put an end (masks and vaccinations) to this horrible pandemic (masks and vaccinations and vaccinations and masks).
It would seem that we, as a nation, are uniquely bad at dealing with things that end in “-emic,” be it a pandemic or an epidemic of gun violence. It’s understandable. Reining in those two problems, given all we know, is complicated — like looking at two dots on a page and trying to figure out how we could possibly connect them.
It would also seem that Rex Huppke is really bad at drawing conclusions. The truth is that while the COVID pandemic will end, the virus itself isn’t going away. COVID-19, just like guns themselves, are endemic in our society. Neither are going to disappear, no matter what kind of restrictions you want to place on American citizens.
It seems one could posit that the removal of guns would lead to fewer shootings. Bullets, after all, are far less deadly when thrown by hand.
But that reckless theorem — fewer guns = fewer people shot by guns — is probably nonsense, akin to the absurd suggestion that two points can be connected by a straight line.
I mean, if someone kept hitting me in the face with a pan, taking that pan away would not solve the problem. The correct American answer would be for me to get a pan and make sure everyone around me is pan-equipped so we can stop malicious pan-wielders with our good-guy pans.
If someone is hitting you in the face with a pan, absolutely take their pan away. But that’s not really what Huppke wants. Huppke (to continue with his stupid analogy) wants to ban pan ownership.. unless perhaps you’re a chef or can demonstrate a special need while you should be able to possess one. Huppke would criminalize unlicensed possession of a pan, perhaps to the point of putting people in prison for simply possessing a frying pan without government permission.
Meanwhile, there are hundreds of millions of pans out there, and a thriving black market that’s untouched by Huppke’s new pan ban. Law abiding citizens are having to make do by microwaving their meals, while assaults with pans continue to skyrocket.
As dumb as that analogy is, it’s actually better than Huppke comparing gun control to vaccines.
So let’s stop (guns) obsessing over whether there’s one device (guns) central to all (gun) shootings, and let’s not pretend there’s an easy (vaccinations) way to stop (masks) the spread of COVID-19 (masks and vaccinations) and save (vaccinations, vaccinations, vaccinations) lives.
When it comes to the gun violence epidemic or the coronavirus pandemic — or really any kind of -emic — Americans might stare at two dots that can be easily connected.
Fewer guns, fewer gun deaths.
If that were true then our violent crime rates should be increasing every year. Instead, they declined by more than 50% between 1991 and 2019, before skyrocketing in many parts of the country starting last year. But as numerous studies have indicated, there’s no connection between the surge in gun sales and the rise in violent crime. And while millions of Americans purchased firearms for the first time last year, suicides remained flat, which shouldn’t have happened if “guns” are the cause.
In fact, some of the biggest increases in violent crime involving firearms came in cities and states with some of the most draconian gun control laws around. If Huppke wants to compare gun control to vaccination, then states like New York and California should have been inoculated against increased violence, given their many restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. Instead, most California counties saw an “unprecedented rise” in homicides last year, and shootings in New York City were up by almost 100% in 2020 compared to 2019. As I mentioned earlier today, in Cook County, Illinois, where new gun ownership was greatly curtailed thanks to the months-long delays in processing FOID cards (required to legally purchase a gun in the state), homicides have increased to the most in nearly 30 years.
Gun control isn’t a vaccine for violence. It’s more like eating dirt in the hopes of fending off COVID. Huppke and his fellow gun prohibitionists aren’t offering a real solution to the rise in violent crime, but magic beans that can only flourish if they’re planted in a bed of Grade A organic bullsh*t. And when our government can’t or won’t stop violent criminals from preying on innocent victims, Huppke shouldn’t be surprised when more of us reject his fairy tale thinking and decide instead to exercise our right of armed self-defense.