Charlotte Was Awful, But Not Evidence We Need More Gun Control

AP Photo/Nell Redmond

The shooting earlier this week in Charlotte, North Carolina that left four law enforcement officers dead and four others injured was a terrible occurrence. There's really no other way to put it and few would disagree.

Those who do are people whose opinions don't matter to me anyway.

Yet in the aftermath, one thing we knew we'd have to do is discuss gun control. Sure enough, the president had to put in his two cents worth, as he always does, generally even before we know what happened.

And he was never going to be the final word.

Unsurprisingly, the anti-gun media have started their push following Charlotte.

From New York to Texas to Alabama, law enforcement officials have warned for years that relaxing gun laws would lead to more violence toward police. The fatal shooting of a local police officer and three members of a fugitive task force in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday seems to bear those fears out.

The task force including U.S. marshals was trying to arrest a man for possession of a firearm by a felon. The man used an assault-style rifle to kill the four officers and wound four others before being killed himself.

Behind such incidents, in part, is a changing atmosphere around gun rights. Law enforcement officers themselves sometimes walk a thin blue line between lobbying for gun restrictions and having a wider conservative worldview of gun rights as sacrosanct.

So, which is it? Are law enforcement officers favoring restrictions on guns or are they somehow viewing gun rights as sacrosanct?

Those are mutually exclusive positions. You can't view them as sacrosanct and favor gun control. It's a contradiction that can't really be reconciled.

Then again, what we have is a case of the writer viewing law enforcement as a collective, a monolithic entity where the outspoken views of some are attributed to the whole. There are some law enforcement officers, generally police chiefs of large cities that have to reflect the political leanings of the elected officials in order to get the job in the first place, who favor gun restrictions.

Many officers on the street, however, feel differently and favor gun rights because they're in the trenches and realize that criminals aren't getting guns in gun stores and aren't going to obey carry laws and law enforcement can't protect everyone no matter how much they'd like to.

But then again, the author is full of contradictions, such as this one:

While most states still require a permit, a growing number now let people carry concealed weapons without one. Some have loosened laws even further, moving from granting gun permits for those with a legitimate need to carry a weapon, to passing laws guaranteeing the right to a concealed-carry permit for anyone not specifically prohibited from doing so.


Today, 29 states no longer demand a permit, or training, to carry concealed weapons. Much of that shift is driven by what gun rights activists call a “good guy with a gun” scenario that, in effect, enlists parts of the population to help keep the peace.

So yeah, we clearly don't have a potential rocket scientist who gave it all up and became a journalist instead.

But the underlying point of this piece is that Charlotte somehow proves that loose gun laws lead to dangerous outcomes for police and cites a handful of cases where someone echoes that opinion.

Yet the underlying data doesn't actually support that.

First, let's look at Charlotte. For all the talk about constitutional carry being bad for police, this wasn't a guy walking around on the street with a gun that was legal simply due to a lack of gun control laws prohibiting him from having one.

No, this was an armed felon, someone who could not possess a firearm lawfully. In other words, there were gun control laws on the books intending to keep him disarmed. They failed. 

It wasn't the lack of gun control that led to Charlotte. One could even argue that without gun control, those four officers would still be alive as they wouldn't have been on a raid to arrest someone for an illegal firearm.

Tell me, how would more gun control stop someone who could already violate federal gun laws with such impunity?

The short answer is that you can't.

But on the upside, if this is piece is the best attack the anti-gunners can muster, we've got nothing to worry about.