David Frum To Gun Owners: "All Y’all Look Alike!"

AP Photo/Steven Senne

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” goes an old saying about learning your lesson the first time and not getting conned again. David Frum, former speechwriter to President George W. Bush and a propagandist for the Iraq War (remember those WMDs?), published an article Wednesday in The Atlantic with a strategy on how to “persuade” (i.e., brainwash) Americans into giving up our guns. This isn’t the first time alleged conservative Frum has written against gun ownership.

Frum’s article oozes with condescension, but provides comic relief in the form of an accompanying cartoon (Archive Link) that shows a person dumping a gun into a trash can, a funny throwback to Hallie Biden dumping her brother-in-law / boyfriend Hunter Biden’s handgun into a trash can outside a Wilmington, DE grocery store in 2018. (The gun was never recovered.)

The article’s subtitle sums up Frum’s approach:

The way to reduce gun violence is by convincing ordinary, “responsible” handgun owners that their weapons make them, their families, and those around them less safe.

Setting aside the scare quotes around the word “responsible,” which Cam addressed head-on in his post, Frum’s strategy for reducing “gun” violence is the same strategy that sold the Iraq War to the American public: nonstop spin, obfuscation and whipping up a frenzy.

Americans also stocked up on guns. […] Last year was also a high-water mark for gun violence—more people were shot dead than at any time since the 1990s—though 2021 is shaping up to be even worse. 

Frum started his diatribe with an insinuation of a causal link between last year’s gun purchases and crime spike, something that isn’t borne out in reality.

There was one bright spot in 2020. When Americans self-isolated, mass shooters were denied their usual targets. But as America began to return to normal, so did the mass shootings: 45 in the single month between March 16 and April 15.

My oh my. How come there were 45 mass shootings in a single month? It’s because Frum is using the Newspeak Dictionary 2.0 definition of mass shooting, which now counts 4 or more people shot, not killed, as a mass shooting. Are you seeing a pattern?

Frum goes on to use crime as a cudgel against the lawful bulk of gun owners.

Americans use their guns to open fire on one another at backyard barbecues, to stalk and intimidate ex-spouses and lovers, to rob and assault, and to kill themselves. Half of the almost 48,000 suicides committed in 2019 were carried out by gun.

His comment about suicide disregards the multifarious factors involved and goes straight after guns. It’s as if Frum’s concern isn’t about suicide per se, but about gun ownership that he finds nauseating.

The legalistic approach to restricting gun ownership and reducing gun violence is failing. So is the assumption behind it. Drawing a bright line between the supposedly vast majority of “responsible,” “law abiding” gun owners and those shadowy others who cause all the trouble is a prudent approach for politicians, but it obscures the true nature of the problem. We need to stop deceiving ourselves about the importance of this distinction.

What exactly is Frum onto here, erasing any distinction between the average lawful citizen and a criminal? Is this an “All y’all look like” joke from Rush Hour on gun ownership instead of race? The Second Amendment community has solid unity in diversity around a single purpose; our superficial differences don’t matter to us. But I’m willing to bet that every one of us would take deep offense at a political commentator lumping us in with criminals.

In virtually every way that can be measured, owning a firearm makes the owner, the owner’s family, and the people around them less safe. The hard-core gun owner will never accept this truth. But the 36 percent in the middle—they may be open to it, if they can be helped to perceive it.

No, thanks, David. The American public has already been “helped” once into “perceiving” a truth that wasn’t, and the consequences in blood and treasure were very high.

Drunk driving has been illegal in the United States since automobiles became commonplace. Yet laws against drunk driving went lightly enforced until the 1980s.

I’m perplexed by how Frum is conflating drunken driving – a crime – with the harmless act of gun ownership. By Frum’s logic, because some drivers drive drunk, car ownership must be lowered. That’s preposterous.

Today, a new generation of determined women are emulating MADD, this time fighting against gun violence. The day after the Sandy Hook gun massacre, a Colorado mother of five, Shannon Watts, launched a group that now numbers 6 million: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. 

MDA isn’t going after gun crime; they are going after gun ownership. In fact, they are busy creating new gun crimes for the State to enforce, ensnaring ordinary people in an ever-expanding web of gun laws. Also note that the proposals from Shannon Watts and her ilk would fail The Nancy Lanza Test for Gun Control Proposals.

The gun buyers of 2020–21 are different from those of years past: […] 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.

Bad risk analysis? Like the one the Bush administration used to go into Iraq that resulted in a big mess?

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. […] The gun you trust against your fears is itself the thing you should fear. The gun is a lie.

I’ll eat a piece of Niger yellowcake before I believe that “the gun is a lie,” David.

Once emancipated from the false myth of the home-protecting gun, they will find it easier to write laws and adopt policies to stop the criminals and zealots who carry guns into the streets. 

We already have lots of laws that are supposed to stop criminals, but none of them work. Claiming that passing more laws will stop criminals is like saying that feeding it more hay will help your unicorn fly over a rainbow.

Win enough elections, and the federal courts will retreat from their sudden gun advocacy—and return to their historic deference to state regulation of firearms.

Frum fundamentally misunderstands the role of the courts; it’s not “gun advocacy” as he claims, but an advocacy for the Constitution, which protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms from overzealous governments that Frum wishes would disarm them.

Over the past half decade, we’ve seen American society changed for the better through mass movements such as #MeToo. Now we need a new moral reckoning. […]

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Greek writer Thucydides described the progress of civilization. It began, he said, when the Athenians ceased carrying arms inside their city, and left that savage custom to the barbarians. It’s long past time for Americans to absorb this first lesson from the first democracy.

After comparing gun ownership with crime, drunken driving and sexual harassment, Frum ends his screed calling bearing arms in defense a savage custom.

All that Frum has shown is his utter contempt for our right to keep and bear arms. I hope those Americans who still think Frum is a “conservative” look at his track record and don’t get fooled again.