July 25 2012

Fired Up: CNN's "Debate" on Gun Control

One of the most disgraceful performances recently aired on television was Monday’s shout down of John Lott by CNN’s Piers Morgan and legal scholar Alan Dershowitz.

Lott has argued that crime goes down when law-abiding citizens are permitted to have legal guns. But he never got to complete a sentence on Piers Morgan's ratings-challenged show. The rudeness on the part of Morgan and Dershowitz was shocking. Is this what advocates of more gun control mean when they call for “debate” on the issue?

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was also on the show and he made a call for a pretty amazing act: police, Bloomberg says, should go on strike for more gun control. Here is what Bloomberg said (as posted on the invaluable Hot Air):

“I don’t understand why police officers across this country don’t stand up collectively and say we’re going to go on strike, we’re not going to protect you unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what’s required to keep us safe,’’ he told CNN’s Piers Morgan.

“Police officers want to go home to their families. And we’re doing everything we can to make their job more difficult, but more importantly, more dangerous, by leaving guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them and letting people who have those guns buy things like armor piercing bullets.’’

This is truly amazing. Bloomberg seems to think that police are put at risk by law-abiding citizens’ having guns. He doesn’t realize that more gun control is only going to curtail gun ownership among those who are are inclined to obey the law in the first place. Those with criminal intentions may be slightly inconvenienced by tightening gun laws, but they will not be deterred from obtaining weapons.

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air points out additional reasons why hizzoner’s proposal is so outlandish:

Where to start with this nonsensical idea?  First, we have laws in most jurisdictions that prevent first responders such as police and fire agencies from going on strike at all, because of the public safety consequences.  Bloomberg is literally calling for anarchy in the streets as a way to extort unconstitutional infringements on liberty — by the police.

Perhaps Bloomberg missed a couple of civics lessons in school (which would explain more than a few of his initiatives), but police don’t get to write their own laws and impose them by force on the populace.  Neither do they get to decide whether and when they will enforce the law or let criminals run rampant in order to terrorize our communities into complying with their idea of what the law  should be.  In America, the people create the law, and the police uphold and enforce it.  If individual police officers don’t like the law, they can work through the democratic process to change those laws, or they can find another line of work.

Finally, though, Bloomberg’s proposal would only reinforce the truth that citizens have to defend themselves from crime.  Only in rare cases do police directly “protect” a citizen or keep a crime from occurring.  They respond to crimes in progress or crimes already committed in order to investigate and arrest those suspected of committing crimes.  One key reason for the Second Amendment is to prevent the need for the kind of police state necessary to protect people who refuse to defend themselves properly.

 Charles C. W. Cooke, who like me appears to have been appalled by the Morgan-Dershowitz attack on Lott, also weighs in on what more gun control won’t do: it won’t banish guns. Cooke comments on Mayor Bloomberg’s “most telling contention:”

In February 2011, while discussing the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the mayor complained that “every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns, and most of them are purchased or possessed illegally.”

As it happens, this is the crucial point, and Michael Bloomberg appears incapable of recognizing that it destroys his own argument. The debate over firearms is sometimes conducted as if in a sandbox: Were the nation being designed from scratch with each societal variable up for contention, the number of guns could be set at zero, restrictive gun laws imposed, and the murder rate feasibly decreased. (For the sake of argument, let’s ignore the impact this would have on liberty and the fact that the advantage would pass to whoever obtained other weapons.)

But, for better or for worse, America is not a game of SimCity. There are currently 200 million privately owned guns in the United States, and this fact renders the question not whether there will be guns, but who gets them. As Bloomberg himself observes, most guns used in murders are obtained illegally. This is because nobody who is prepared to transgress the ironclad prohibitions against assault and murder cares one whit whether his firearm is legal or not. To outlaw guns with so many in circulation (a fact of life that is not going to go away, whatever government attempts to do: See “War on Drugs”) would be to create a duopoly on violence, held between the state and the criminals, and leave out the one group in American life for whom the social compact was constructed: We the People.

Dershowitz was just as much of a bully as Morgan Monday night. But he is sometimes interesting and iconoclastic. He is not just an oleaginous blowhard who sucks up to some guests, while attacking others who don't toe the intellectual elite's line. Morgan's reputation is increasingly such that I can’t imagine he'll continue to get conservatives to come on his show.

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