David Frum Beats His Discordant Drum, Again

AP Photo/Steven Senne

Alleged conservative and confirmed gun control activist David Frum recently published a diatribe in The Atlantic claiming that there is no such thing as a responsible gun owner and that we should all be persuaded to give up our guns for the common good. We, of course, think that it’s a bad idea, to say the least.

But Frum hasn’t given up. He doubled down on his take in a Twitter thread, and I would like to address his new claims.

Frum starts out by saying that the private ownership of firearms as a bulwark against state tyranny is a myth. Frum’s idea is contradicted by the very rationale behind the Second Amendment, which was meant to diffuse power among the unwashed masses as a bulwark against powerful ruling elites, so the latter don’t think they are an upper caste unto themselves and act with arrogant unaccountability. The spirit of resistance written into the Bill of Rights is derived from the Declaration of Independence, the intention being to never again allow conditions similar to how the British parliament and King treated the people of the colonies.

Ordinary gun owners aren’t the only ones who think that fighting the tyranny of the Nazis or any other variety is a fantasy; Judge Alex Kozinski, in his dissent in Silveira v. Lockyer, said this on armed resistance to tyranny.

All too many of the other great tragedies of history — Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few — were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. See Kleinfeld Dissent at 578-579. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.

Frum goes on in his thread to talk about what happened in Presser v. Illinois and United States v. Cruikshank, both of which were overturned by McDonald v. City of Chicago, and concludes this.

Just about every Second Amendment advocate knows and openly admits that gun control has historically been applied against racial minorities, immigrants and other undesirables. But this is where your average gun rights supporter differs from David Frum: while Frum thinks that because power is abused in discriminatory ways by the powerful, the rights themselves are pointless and the powerless might as well give them up instead of demanding the equal treatment that Thomas Jefferson espoused in the Declaration of Independence.

David Frum proceeds with a trope that gun control activists use to claim that gun rights supporters’ stances change when they’re uncomfortable; usually, the claim is that if black men start marching openly armed, gun rights supporters, implicitly assumed to be white males, will start calling for gun control. In this case, Frum has replaced black men with Muslim men and the Black Power salute with chants of “Allahu akbar.” Given what I’ve seen with how gun rights supporters react to black men with guns or dark brown men such as myself (spoiler: they’re welcoming), I will dismiss Frum’s claim until he provides evidence to the contrary. 

Note that there have been three major Islamic terror attacks on U.S. soil committed by Muslim men – Fort Hood, San Bernardino, and Orlando – and the calls for gun control in the aftermath came from the usual gun control activists, not from Second Amendment supporters.

If you thought that the negative reaction to Frum’s article would have resulted in some humility, you’re wrong. Frum’s condescension continues as he claims that people who own guns for self-defense are deluded fools who ought to be subject to government harassment in the form of licensing and training.

Frum concludes his Twitter tantrum with a claim that the private use of arms against state oppression is a fantasy.

I would refer him to the Battle of Athens as a starter.