Foes of gun ownership perpetuate many myths Gregory Kane
Originally published Jul 29, 2001
QUICKLY now, who said it?
"The great object is that every man be armed. ... Everyone who is able may have a gun."
Most Americans of the liberal/left persuasion, the ones who believe guns are evil, might think it's Charlton Heston, president of the National Rifle Association. These days, lefty anti-gun nuts think of Heston as something akin to the Antichrist. They revile the NRA with a passion previously reserved for the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis. So Heston, of course, would be their prime suspect. No. 2 on the list would be anyone associated with the NRA.
But, as in their position on the Second Amendment, they'd be wrong. The one who said it was Patrick Henry. You might have heard of him. Yeah, the guy of "Give me liberty or give me death" fame. One of the Founding Fathers. A patriot. A revolutionary. One of those guys who knew the intent of the Second Amendment, because he was there when it was written.
That tidbit of information comes from The Seven Myths of Gun Control, authored by Richard Poe, editor of FrontPageMagazine.com. If you're thinking of Poe as another gawd-awful conservative, you'd be right. FrontPageMagazine.com is the Web site of conservative upstart David Horowitz, who caused a ruckus this year by taking out an ad in several college newspapers denouncing reparations for slavery as a bad, racist idea.
But it's high time we conservatives took the offensive in the battle for the Second Amendment, isn't it? Because that's what the debate is about. This tiff between conservatives and liberals isn't about gun control. What's at stake is the very existence of the Second Amendment itself. Anti-gun nuts, in their more honest moments, will admit this.
Misinformation about the Second Amendment's intent - specifically, that it only applies to militiamen - is one of the myths Poe tackles in his book. He gives the Henry quote and another from Richard Henry Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and great-uncle of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
It is on that issue of children and guns that the gun controllers get most frantic. But that's another of the seven myths that Poe challenges. It's No. 3 on his list ("Guns pose a special threat to children") and Poe destroys it with statistics that show far more children die from drowning, burning and car crashes. Those stories about kids finding daddy's gun and accidentally shooting playmates make poignant news, but, compared to other activities that put children at risk, simply don't happen that often.
Poe began his book with a tale of how the effort to keep guns away from children led to tragedy. In Merced, Calif., a man broke into the house of the Carpenter family and stabbed two children to death. All five children, ranging in ages from 14 to 7, had been trained by their father to use his .357-caliber Magnum. When the man broke in, the gun, as California law demanded, was high on a closet shelf and unloaded. Alas, the children were home alone. None could reach the gun.
The incident occurred last August. Poe stressed that news reports made no mention that a gun was in the home and that California law prevented any of the children from using it in their defense. Those passionate about gun control who are justifiably horrified when a child is shot by another playing with a handgun should consider this: 9-year-old Ashley Carpenter and her 8-year-old brother John are just as dead as any child killed accidentally with a handgun.
The other myths on Poe's list are:
Guns increase violent crime. Not so, Poe says, pointing to John Lott's book More Guns, Less Crime, which argues that states with right-to-carry laws have less crime than states that don't. Poe also says that England - one of those civilized industrial nations with strict gun laws that anti-gun nuts want us to emulate - had 40 percent more muggings than the United States in 1998. Assault and burglary rates were 100 percent higher. In the category of "hot burglaries" - where the thieves enter houses while people are at home - the rate for the United States is 13 percent of all burglaries. It's 50 percent in Canada and England.
Pulling a gun on a criminal endangers you more than the criminal. Nope. In most cases, criminals - stupid but not crazy - flee for their lives.
We should treat guns the same way we treat cars, requiring licenses for all users. Licenses, Poe argues, are for privileges. Gun ownership is a right.
Reasonable gun-control measures are no threat to law-abiding gun owners. Refer to the fate of the aforementioned Carpenter children.
The Second Amendment is an obsolete relic of the frontier era. I wonder if those Korean store owners who protected their property with shotguns and assault rifles during the 1992 Los Angeles riots have such a Pollyanna view of the innate good intentions of latter-day Americans.
The war for the Second Amendment continues to rage. Gun rights advocates should add The Seven Myths of Gun Control to their arsenal of arguments.
Copyright © 2001, The Baltimore Sun