Stop equating "safety" and gun control

Stop equating "safety" and gun control
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Safety matters, particularly with firearms. There is a time and a place for all sorts of things, but acting irresponsibly with a gun isn’t unlike acting irresponsibly with a car, a knife, or any other potentially dangerous thing. You may get away with it for a while, but the moment you stop getting away with acting like an idiot is the moment you or someone else could get killed.


That’s something we should all be able to rally around, though even there some people disagree.

Yet it also introduces a bit of a problem. Some people have decided to argue that gun control is safety. Some will even try to act like it to such a degree they’ve convinced themselves it’s not gun control. People like this writer in Nevada who implores, “Nevada, let’s stop talking gun control and talk gun safety (opinion).”

Since 9/11, suicides by military members have set record highs, across all services and components (active, reserves, and National Guard). In fact, more than 30,000 service members and veterans who served since 9/11 have died from suicide.

In 2021 the number of active duty, National Guard and Reserve personnel suicides alone was 519, down from 582 in 2020. That figure does not include veterans, which is now estimated to average nearly 17 people a day.

The Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, just released a report on Friday that details the military’s proposed response to this vexing problem. It was a detailed study that looked at what strategies would work on military bases to lower the number of deaths. Military doctors, mental and behavioral health specialists, senior non-commissioned officers all collaborated to prioritize the things that would most immediately eliminate suicides.


Now, we talked a bit about those issues earlier this week. As a result, we’re not going to delve into it all over again. Suffice it to say that none of those measures will accomplish anything at all.

Yet despite the euphemisms about safety, these measures are most assuredly gun control. Pretending they’re not is beyond disingenuous. I won’t call it a lie, but only because I think people actually believe it and I’ve long maintained that a lie requires knowing something is untrue and saying it anyway.

Regardless of the semantics of whether they’re lying or just wrong, the reality is that equating “safety” and gun control as if they’re somehow the same thing or worse, that because you call it “safety,” it’s not gun control, is that you end up making actual safety measures a harder sell.

For example, pretty much everyone who writes here at Bearing Arms feels that laws that offer tax credits for people buying gun safes are a good safety measure. Yet by muddying the waters, many will simply assume that means we’re supporting gun control without actually reading what we have to say on the topic.


Further, I’m not convinced that any of those measures will do anything for actual safety. As I wrote on Monday, the truth is that it only impacts guns sold on base and not those out in town. This means all we’re seeing here are measures meant to look good to the White House without dealing with anything meaningful.

There’s no safety there. There never will be, so stop confusing the two.

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