The gun control lobby has spent a lot of time and money branding itself as the voice of “reasonableness” and “common sense” when it comes to keeping and bearing arms, so it was pretty jarring to see people like Shannon Watts and Brady’s Kris Brown (among others) launch into an attack on Elisjsha Dicken, the 22-year old armed citizen who stopped the targeted attack at an Indiana mall Sunday evening and saved countless lives in the process. I’m willing to bet that most reasonable people think it’s a good thing that Dicken was there and took action, but for many gun control activists his life-saving efforts are cause for criticism. Watts originally called for him to be arrested for violating the mall’s weapons policy, Brown labeled him a “vigilante,” and others indirectly criticized him by complaining about officials calling him a “Good Samaritan”.
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co I talk about this turn of events with The Reload’s Stephen Gutowski, and while both of us were initially surprised to see the tone-deaf response from the anti-gun activists, I think we both ultimately agreed that Dicken’s actions not only saved lives, but put these activists in a position where they were forced to reveal the real extremes behind their claims of reasonableness and common sense.
As Gutowski points out, gun control groups like Everytown and Brady helped to write New York’s new laws regulating concealed carry, including the sweeping “sensitive places” language that bars lawful carrying in virtually all private property, except in those limited circumstances where a property owner can “opt in” and post a sign alerting customers and visitors that their space is not a “gun-free zone.” Even worse, entering a “gun-free zone” while armed, even inadvertently, is a felony offense under New York’s new law; subject to prison time and the lifetime loss of your right to keep and bear arms.
That’s exactly what these gun control groups want, and if that had been the law in Indiana then Elisjsha Dicken probably wouldn’t have had his gun on him. In Indiana, carrying a concealed weapon onto private property that’s been posted as a “gun-free zone” comes with a warning. If you refuse to leave or come back with a gun you can be cited for criminal trespassing, but the law is designed with the general right to carry in self-defense in mind. New York’s, on the other hand, is designed to inhibit that same right.
So no, groups like Everytown and Brady can’t laud Dicken for saving lives even though he violated the mall’s weapon’s policy, because in their world he absolutely would be facing charges as a result. If it were up to them Dicken would be looking at prison time right now, and they’d be pressuring prosecutors to throw the book at him. Offering any words of praise for the young man completely undercuts the laws that they’re busy putting in place in blue states around the country (and trying to impose federally as well), but that doesn’t mean they actually have to say the quiet part out loud either.
Gutowski noted that Giffords hasn’t said anything at all about the armed citizen aspect of this incident, and wonders why groups like Brady and Everytown felt the need to weigh in and try to turn Dicken into a villain. My theory is that Giffords is the outlier among the gun control groups for one specific (and temporary) reason: co-founder Mark Kelly is one of most vulnerable Senate Democrats this fall and the group doesn’t want to give Republicans any more material than necessary to run attack ads against him on gun control. Voting for the Senate gun deal is one thing; having the group you co-founded bash a legal gun owner who stopped a massacre before it got any worse is something else entirely.
But for the gun control lobby writ large, I think what we’re seeing is a calculated response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen. Democrats want “fighters”, and the gun control groups want donors, so that means they’re going to fight this culture war as hard as they can, even to the point of demonizing a guy most people consider a hero. To do anything less would not only undercut their own agenda and ideology, but their place in the activist left as well.