In 2012, I shared some important observations from Jeffrey Goldberg, a left-leaning writer for The Atlantic. In his column, he basically admitted his side was wrong about gun control.
Then, in 2013, I wrote about a column by Justin Cronin in the New York Times. He self-identified as a liberal, but explained how real-world events have led him to become a supporter of private gun ownership.
Kudos to both gentlemen for putting accuracy ahead of ideology (just like I applauded the honest liberal who wrote how government programs subsidize dependency).
Well, we can add another person to our list of honest liberals. Jamelle Bouie, chief political correspondent for Slate, just authored a piece that says it is downright silly to fixate on so-called assault weapons and to try to deny people their 2nd-Amendment rights based on the TSA’s no-fly list.
“Although well-meaning—supporters genuinely want to keep military-style weapons ‘off the streets’ and guns out of the hands of suspected threats—both measures are wrongheaded.”
Here’s some of what he wrote about scary-looking rifles.
“… assault weapons—there’s no official definition for the term, which makes identifying them for prohibition difficult, if not impossible—are scary to many Americans, especially with their presence in high-profile shootings like the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, or the theater killings in Aurora, Colorado. But out of 73 mass killers from 1982 to 2015, just 25 used rifles of any kind, including military-style weapons. Most used revolvers, shotguns, and semi-automatic handguns. Which gets to a related point: We might feel safer if we ban ‘assault weapons,’ but we won’t be safer. Of the 43,000 Americans killed with guns since 2010, just a fraction—3.5 percent—were killed with rifles.”
Mr. Bouie points out that almost all murders are with handguns, but – to his credit – he says you can’t try to confiscate those weapons because “A ban would be unconstitutional.”
He then addresses the use of the no-fly list as a means of imposing gun control.
“… civil libertarians—and liberals, at least during the Bush administration—think it’s constitutionally dubious. They’re right. … If you’re on these lists, you’re presumed guilty until proven innocent, with no due process and little recourse. The list is conceptually flawed, and using it to deny gun ownership is wrong on its face. Add racial and religious profiling to the mix—the people on the list, including Americans, are disproportionately Arab or from Muslim countires—and you have an anti-gun measure with deep disparate impact.”
Bouie isn’t actually a supporter of gun rights, as you can see from some of his concluding thoughts, but he at least recognizes that much of what we’re getting from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is empty posturing.
“The sooner Democrats abandon ineffectual gun control measures, the sooner they can turn their attention to ideas that would actually limit gun accidents, suicides, and murders. … In all of this, however, gun control supporters should keep one fact in mind: The United States is saturated with guns, and barring confiscation or mandatory buybacks, there’s no way to end mass shootings. … You can read that as futility, but it’s not. It’s a recognition of reality and a plea for perspective.”
I wonder if “a recognition of reality” is the first step on the path to being libertarian.
By the way, I can’t resist adding my two cents on the topic of Obama wanting to deny constitutional rights to folks who wind up on a list.
I recognize that there are plenty of people who should not be allowed on planes (and since I have to fly a lot, I have an interest in keeping nutjobs on the ground), but government lists leave a lot to be desired.
Consider, for instance, this tidbit from an article in the Washington Free Beacon.
“Rep. Stephen Lynch (D., Mass.) disclosed that a congressional investigation recently found that at least 72 people working at DHS also ‘were on the terrorist watch list.’”
Does this mean the federal government is so brain-dead that it has terrorists on the payroll?
Maybe, but another item from an editorial in the New York Times should make us wonder about the quality of these lists.
“A 2007 audit found that more than half of the 71,000 names then on the no-fly list were wrongly included.”
And I remember several years ago when – on multiple occasions – I wasn’t allowed back in the country until bureaucrats had taken me into windowless room for interrogation.
I never learned why this happened. Was there another Dan Mitchell with a sketchy pattern of behavior? Did the bureaucrats actually target me for unknown reasons?
More important, what if I had bitched and whined during one of these episodes and some spiteful bureaucrat decided to put me on one of the government’s lists?
And most important of all, can any of us trust that President Obama wouldn’t misuse and/or expand these lists to arbitrarily deny constitutional rights?
By the way, Reason exposes some dishonest and hypocritical leftists.
“Even though the ACLU opposes the no-fly list—and is suing the federal government for violating the due process rights of several people on it—the civil liberties advocacy group is theoretically okay with depriving people on the list of their gun rights.”
But I’m digressing. Today’s topic is supposed to be how some honest liberals acknowledge the silliness of gun control efforts.
P.S. Let’s close with some good news on guns. It’s from a liberal who is reflexively hostile to the 2nd Amendment, but is quasi honest in that she’s willing to discuss polling data she dislikes.
Here’s some of what Catherine Rampell wrote in the Washington Post.
“… millennials seem to have neither the desire nor the willpower to pressure our political leaders … Which does not bode well for liberals hoping that the arc of history will eventually bend toward greater gun control. … statements about protecting gun rights generally elicit at least as much support from younger Americans as from older ones. … This is a bit puzzling, given that younger Americans are less Republican in their political leanings than older people are and are also less likely to own a gun — two factors that are usually strong predictors of opposition to gun restrictions. These survey data suggest, then, that younger people might be especially predisposed to oppose gun-control measures, after controlling for these variables. … for the most part, young people reveal themselves to be at least as pro-gun-rights as their elders, if not more so.
I’m a skeptic of polling on this issue, largely because the questions often seem designed to elicit pro-gun control answers.
That being said, it’s good to see young people being more rational. Particularly since – as explained in this video – millennials have been at times hopelessly naive about the downside of bigger government.
Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy at the Cato Institute. Mitchell is a strong advocate of a flat tax and international tax competition.