Gun Control and Terrorism

In the wake of yet another radical Islamic terrorist attack in France yesterday, a liberal I know was bemoaning the fact that conservative commentators were using the opportunity to talk about President Obama’s failed policies in the Middle East. She opined that this was exactly the same as liberals screaming about gun control every time there’s a shooting in the United States, something I’ve been critical of. In fact, the two situations are not analogous inasmuch as there’s very little data to support the notion that new gun laws would stop shootings and there’s quite a bit of data supporting the opposite view. If you type “gun control” into the search bar of my blog, you’ll find several old posts with much of these data. In fact, it was the review of these data and the failure of any liberal to counter them, which led me to transition from being an advocate for more gun control to a gun owner and NRA member. But, the more important analysis hit me this morning at the gym.

One of the unavoidable facts in the gun debate is that there are approximately 315 million extant firearms in the United States. It is neither constitutional nor, more importantly, practical to get rid of them. As I’ve written before, we might not like that fact, but it is a fact. I do think it is a totally fair question to ask whether we would have been better off enacting very tight gun laws 100 years ago so that we might have fewer guns today. It’s impossible to know and the ongoing attacks in France, with its very tight gun laws, suggests it might not have mattered. But, here’s a tautology: If there were literally zero guns in the United States, there would be zero gun deaths. If we could rewind the clock and take the number down from 315 million to zero, would we? I would say yes. I’m also reasonably confident that most liberals would answer with a resounding yes. If they want fewer guns, of course they would love to jump in Doc Brown’s DeLorean and take the number down to zero. But, that’s not a helpful discussion in the least because time machines are the thing of movies, not reality.

Now, let’s turn our attention to radical Islamic terrorism. When one of these attacks happens, whether at home or abroad, it is appropriate to talk about the root causes and, more important, how to prevent the next one in the US. Unlike gun laws, which are proven to have no or inverse impact on gun crime, US policy on Islam is completely relevant to the terrorist discussion. Not only has Obama’s Middle East policy enabled the growth of ISIS and its attacks in the US, France, and elsewhere, his and Hillary’s policy on Middle Eastern immigration to the United States will impact future terror attacks.

Here’s where the lightbulb went off for me in the gun control vs. terrorism discussion. I think we all agree that in a country with zero guns there would be zero gun deaths. I would probably even be willing to concede (though I’m not aware of data to support it), that if we had 1% of the guns we have today, we’d probably have lower gun violence. The problem, as discussed above, is that rightly or wrongly, the gun train has left the station. As much as we might like to undo it, we can’t. But, the radical Islam immigration train has not left the station. It’s exactly parallel to the gun story only many years later. In the absence of radical Islamists, we will have no Islamic terrorism in the US. As the numbers grow, the risk grows. France is now about 10% Muslim with enclaves in Paris that police do not even venture. As we sit here in the US wishing we had 1% of the guns we have, do you not think the French are wishing they had made different decisions about ramping up the radical Islamic population? I bet they are.

So, it is completely appropriate to talk about Middle East policy and, in particular Obama’s and Hillary’s roles in both creating ISIS and now advocating for bringing more Syrian refugees to the US. We have an election in November. One candidate wants to increase the number of radical Islamists. One doesn’t. It is imperative that we talk about that and our pundits on TV should be talking about it in the wake of each terrorist attack to remind us of the implications of that November vote. It may be too late to do much about guns and that’s unfortunate. It’s not too late to do something about Islamic terrorist.


About Bruce Robertson

Bruce Robertson is an amateur writer and professional provocateur
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1 Response to Gun Control and Terrorism

  1. Well, as one of the liberals who didn’t convince you that gun control made sense, I now feel terribly guilty that the number of guns in the country went up from 315,000,000 to 315,000,002. Well, I can at least try to weigh in on your thoughts of this morning.

    In the early rounds of your posting about gun control, you brought up data that you claimed supported the claim that gun control doesn’t work. You cited the city of Chicago, where gun control was legislated, and followed by an increase in gun violence. I objected that your evidence was not conclusive: the suburbs of Chicago were havens of gun buying, and gun control was legislated in response to the massive amount of gun violence (and number of guns) already in Chicago. Under such circumstances, I argued, gun control laws could never be expected to have an immediate impact. If the river is flooding uncontrollably, and I suggest putting sandbags on the banks, and the river overflows the sandbags, that is NOT conclusive proof that sandbags never work. You then asked me for data supporting the efficacy of gun control. I brought up several foreign countries, but you said they weren’t comparable, and couldn’t be used as evidence. I argued that the US has never adopted national gun control laws, and therefore there was no evidence that would be acceptable to you. You went out and joined the NRA.

    I think what is needed is some out-of-the-box thinking here. Since no evidence will be accepted in the absence of past history, we need to find creative solutions. You are absolutely right that the genie is out of the bottle with guns, but instead of giving up on ever getting her back in, we must figure out how to lure her in. I’m frankly shocked at your “can’t do” attitude on this – you, an entrepreneur, should be at the vanguard of supporting new ways to solve seemingly intractable problems.

    1. Gun buy-backs. It costs money up front, but saves it down the line – each gun incident avoided saves countless $$ in police investigations, hospitalizations, and so on. Every gun confiscated is melted down or otherwise destroyed. We simply must get the number of extant guns WAY down. Target ZERO.

    2. Toothsome penalties for illegal gun ownership. The usual argument I hear against this is that such laws are pointless, since the criminals won’t follow the laws anyway. By that argument, murder laws are also pointless. Any murder committed with a gun carries an extra, say, 15 years of prison sentence.

    3. A national culture of gun rejection (except for hunting, with guns that make sense in the hunting context). People like you, who are giving up on gun control and buying guns, can instead take a stand – gun violence is unacceptable. Cultures can change; just look at the national acceptance of gay marriage.

    4. I’m out of ideas, but I’m not a person who has thought through creative solutions to this problem. That does not mean, however, that nobody in this country can think of solutions. Pull together smart people to think it through.

    Please don’t buy more guns in response to this.

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