Policy Expert Suggests Gun Debate Should Be At Local Level

One of the difficulties regarding the debate surrounding guns is that the problems in Baltimore, Maryland and the problems in Billings, Montana are very, very different. Yet we’re debating guns at the national level as if a single solution will make the problems go away throughout the nation. That’s not the case, especially since different people have different needs.

Now, a domestic policy expert with the American Enterprise Institute thinks the debate on guns should be happening at the local level, not nationally.

Policy expert Ryan Streeter said in an interview that aired Thursday on Hill.TV that it might be worth having the gun control debate at a more local level in the U.S. to combat gun violence.

“I think that there is a problem in having this debate as a national debate,” Streeter, director of domestic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told Hill.TV’s Jamal Simmons on “What America’s Thinking.”

“I think it’s healthy to be having this debate, but when you look at what people support, Republicans as well as Democrats, they support certain common-sense restrictions on things,” he continued.

“Because of our unique situation as a country with a Second Amendment, but also a desire to have some protections, it’s very difficult in this environment to find agreement in terms of national policy.”

Streeter points out that when you have hundreds of localities working on solutions to other domestic issues, those ideas that worked were then exported from city to city and from state to state.

It’s a fair point.

However, there’s another issue that Streeter missed. In particular that the right to keep and bear arms is a constitutionally protected right. It’s also a right that, contrary to his claims otherwise, few pro-gun people want to infringe upon. At worst, we have a few that think we have sufficient gun laws and while they oppose repealing those laws, they don’t want any new ones.

Most, however, aren’t interested in more gun control regardless of where it comes from.

Frankly, we shouldn’t have to.

That said, it’s a lot easier to leave a city than it is to leave a country. If a community passed gun control laws, you could always move out of that city to somewhere that doesn’t have such laws.

But there’s another problem when it comes to gun control. Unlike other domestic issues, gun control activists don’t wait to see if a measure works somewhere before they try pushing it onto their constituents. There’s no rational behavior involved. It’s a matter of them seeing a restriction and embracing it fully because it’s a restriction. That’s not a pathway toward finding solutions. It’s just a good way to erode people’s rights.

While there will be certain limits–pro-gun communities will remain pro-gun–these are rights we’re talking about here. Streeter wouldn’t suggest infringing on the right to free speech or the freedom of religion on a local basis, so why should we do so with guns? It makes no sense.

I get where he’s coming from, but I think Streeter has missed a lot of important points that differentiates guns from other policy discussions.