NYT Columnist Laments Gun Debate Not Going Her Way

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

When you write about politics and political opinions, the truth of the matter is that you spend a lot of time frustrated. You see things pretty clearly, or at least you think you do, but sometimes you watch large populations going against what you're absolutely sure is the common sense solution.


Yes, I say this from personal experience.

I don't think I'm right about everything, but no one actually knows what they're wrong about, so they act as if they're right about everything. Again, that's me but it's also most other people.

Over at the New York Times, columnist Gail Collins is thrilled to see abortion change the political debate in many places, which I'm not getting into. Yet she's perplexed that guns aren't doing the exact same thing.

But when it comes to guns, Trump clearly hasn’t seen any need to search for a pseudo-middle ground. He recently attended an N.R.A. gathering in Pennsylvania, where he assured his audience that “every single Biden attack on gun owners and manufacturers will be terminated on my very first week back in office, perhaps my first day.”

Now, the idea of making abortion a state issue only works if you’re just looking for a make-believe answer that might let you escape from discussing the subject. But we don’t have a visible gun consensus. Even mass school shooting tragedies like Sandy Hook and Uvalde didn’t bring the debate to a head. Many, many politicians are still trying to protect the right of Americans to own weapons while giving at least some verbal deference to the right of everybody else not to be shot.


The last thing we should be leaving to the individual states is gun regulation, given that it’s extremely easy — and common — for weapons to travel across state lines. And anyway, you don’t really want to rely on state legislatures when it comes to national life-or-death issues. Basically, you’d be gambling on the wisdom and prudence of people like Colorado State Representative Don Wilson, who recently had to apologize for leaving a loaded semiautomatic handgun in the State Capitol restroom.


Of course, for Collins, the only possible solution to any violence issue is to restrict firearms and she just can't understand why everyone isn't tripping over themselves to support gun control.

Well, I won't get into the abortion thing because that's not what we do here, but guns? Guns we do.

First, Collins fails to understand that guns are used many times more often to defend life than to threaten it. Restricting guns means restricting how people can respond to acts of violence, including resulting in people's deaths. We can name specific cases where that happened, which kind of undermines the whole "if it saves one life" thing so many gun control advocates try to push.

What's more, I think most people do get that criminals aren't walking into gun stores and walking out with machine guns, despite how anti-gunners try to spin it. Machine guns are heavily restricted and not available for over-the-counter purchases anywhere in the country and gun stores conduct background checks on all purchasers. While some criminals just haven't been caught yet and could buy from one, they typically don't even without a felony conviction.

We know that criminals either steal their guns or buy them on the black market, which means most of those guns were stolen as well. Why would restrictions on the lawful purchase of firearms interfere with the criminal trade in illegal guns? The short answer is that it wouldn't.

People know this.

When people like Collins talk, they're often convinced that the American people are really with them. However, surveys bounce wildly all over the place. There's support for gun control in this survey, but the next says there's no support at all, really. Politicians may listen to polls, but they're not going to suddenly change their positions on a poll that will swing back next week.


Especially when, unlike with abortion, the Constitution is pretty explicit about how gun rights are sacrosanct.

Collins may not believe it, but most people seem to grok that on some level as well.

So no, gun control isn't suddenly going to start dictating elections and we're not likely to see previously pro-gun lawmakers trip over themselves to flip-flop on the issue. Moreover, voters aren't going to trip over themselves to try and make people do so, either.

As for Collins, well, she can learn to deal with disappointment. I don't think most people in the country give a single damn what a New York Times columnist thinks on, well, anything.

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