Monday, August 01, 2016


I'm Beginning to Think that Logic is Not a Democrat Value

Once more unto the breach, dear friends. Here's former Brady Center VP Denis Henigan failing to see the bleeding obvious in The Daily Beast. He's counting down the three arguments against further gun control laws he finds most fault with. Let's get to it.

Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People
This is the granddaddy of them all, a brilliantly clever way of conveying two related ideas: (1) because guns themselves are morally neutral objects that become a problem only when used by dangerous people, it makes sense only to focus on punishing bad people who use guns, rather than regulating guns themselves;

It's difficult for me to see what is wrong with the logic of the statements above. I wouldn't say only focus on punishing bad people but the major focus must be there if what you propose is to be effective and not mere harassment or punishment for the law abiding. But that's only the first of his objections on this issue about guns being mere steel, plastic, and alloy. He sets up a straw man next.

and (2) even if dangerous people can’t get guns, they will simply use other weapons to inflict death and injury. In short, there is no gun problem; there is only a people problem.

Our argument is not that the laws making it more difficult for the law abiding to buy a gun will be followed by those willing to violate the murder or assault statutes; so that those with murder on their minds will turn to a second best, other type of weapon, not a gun. What we actually say is they won't obey the gun ownership prohibitions and will get guns through other, generally illegal means. The criminologists who actually asked criminals where they got their guns with which they had committed crimes learned that universal background checks will do next to nothing to stop the criminals from obtaining firearms. Here is the study. The rest of Henigan's writing on this straw man argument is specious. Moving on.

Criminals Don’t Obey Gun Laws, Only Law-Abiding Citizens Do
This is the futility argument. According to the National Rifle Association and its allies, since gun laws are directed at criminals, who of course pay no attention to any laws (that’s why they’re called criminals), gun control can’t possibly be effective, except in making it harder for law-abiding citizens to have guns to defend themselves.
This is what we say and we say it because it's true. What could Mr. Henigan have against it? Let's see:

First, the argument is transparently circular. Of course, as to individuals who are willing to disobey gun laws, the laws are futile by definition. But what about the possibility that there are potentially violent individuals who are deterred from carrying guns by the illegality of doing so? Surely compliance with a law cannot be determined merely by looking at the instances of when the law is violated. If it could, we would regard all our criminal laws as ultimately futile because all of them are frequently violated. Should we repeal our laws against homicide because murderers don’t obey them?

But it is silly to compare gun control laws proposed by Henigan's ilk to the homicide statute. Murder is malum in se. A requirement of a background check, permission from the government to exercise a God given right, is malum prohibitum. And of course we look at the compliance rate of malum prohibitum laws to see if they're worthwhile. Think Prohibition and its repeal. Not only was the law flouted by non-criminal citizens but the ban on booze was having a detrimental effect on law enforcement and society in general. Prohibition made things worse not better.

There is indeed a "possibility" that a hardened criminal will not carry a gun for fear of being caught with it. (That's what the successful 'stop and frisk' program in NYC was relying on. If you have a decent chance of getting in serious trouble for merely carrying a gun illegally, many criminals will not carry one. Of course Henigan and his ilk hated that Giuliani program which brought NYC homicides down from nearly 2,000 a year in 1992 and 1993 to 909 in 2002. Under Bloomberg the trend continued down to 333 in 2014 but now that Democrat de Blasio has stopped the effective anti-crime programs of his predecessors, the murder rate has started back up). But the new prohibitions proposed by the Brady Center are not stop and frisk enforcement but universal background checks and prohibiting those on the terrorist list from buying a gun legally. Henigan praises those proposed laws but misses the point completely. Criminals don't get guns from places where they have to go through a background check to get them. So expanding the background checks, from federal firearm license holders to every person who obeys the law and sells or transfers a gun, will have no appreciable effect on criminals' obtaining guns. The terror list prohibition is a violation of due process. Democrats and gun grabbers don't appear to care about due process or many things actually in writing in the Constitution.

No matter what experience tells us and what competent, unbiased researchers tell us about where criminals get guns and how little effect the proposed new prohibitions will have on reducing criminal access to guns, Henigan and his ilk have a near religious, unshakable belief that people willing to break the murder statute will obey this new gun legislation. That's not logic; that's magical thinking.

I'll skip Henigan's criticism of the rational fear that gun registration will make it easier for collection of these weapons by the government if they are banned. Of course it's easier to confiscate the guns in private hands if you know who owns them. When the Democrat gun control enthusiasts drop the mask and admit they are for gun confiscation, are we to ignore this? Treat it like a faux pas? Think they don't mean it?


Mark Perry has a Venn Diagram bonanza today that underscores your point that "logic is not a Democratic value."
Very Nice!
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