New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has written an article, titled, “Some Inconvenient Gun Facts for Liberals,” that more or less concedes everything those of us who support gun rights have been saying for years. When a supporter of gun control opens by admitting that our homicide rate has dropped while gun ownership has risen, that the Assault Weapons Ban didn’t save lives, and that more people are carrying firearms without causing an increase in murders, what’s left to argue about?
Sadly, Kristof manages to pull some bad argument out of such a promising beginning. He goes astray by repeating the assumption found in his title—namely the belief that gun rights vs. gun control divides along lines of party affiliation. Support for gun rights is stronger among people who identify as Republicans, but a quarter of Democrats surveyed by the Pew Research Center say it’s more important to protect rights than to control ownership. Millennials make categorization hard, since they’re much less willing to declare themselves as belonging to either major party, but while they hold traditionally left-wing views on marriage equality, immigration, and marijuana legalization, forty-nine percent also favor protecting rights. The idea of a liberal who exercises and supports gun rights may be asking a lot of Kristof’s ability to believe. Or perhaps he is hoping to seduce people into greater orthodoxy with their political orientation—an effort to get us to become more stereotypically Democratic or Republican, rather than encouraging people to think for themselves.
He makes me suspicious of his intentions when he works in one small paragraph on making control efforts socially acceptable:
And every time liberals speak blithely about banning guns, they boost the N.R.A. Let’s also banish the term “gun control”: the better expression is “gun safety.”
Whenever I’m addressed in a condescending tone of voice, I am disinclined to support what is being proposed. Of course, Kristof thinks he isn’t talking to me. He also seems to think that his image of the gun owner, a right winger, won’t be capable of recognizing when language is being manipulated to conceal the real goals. It’s hardly necessary to point out that “gun safety” means “gun control,” but it is worth noting the many times advocates of control try to make us think otherwise.
The article finishes up with a repetition of the favorite numbers among gun control advocates—the comparison of domestic gun deaths to deaths in all the wars since the Revolution, the comparison with murders perpetrated by terrorists, the percentage of guns purchased without a background check being performed. Kristof does break free from the cliché solutions. Instead, he discusses programs to help victims of abuse get out of their violent homes and to pull at-risk teens away from the influence of gangs. Add in efforts to improve mental healthcare and make sure people considering suicide have access to alternatives, and once again, he almost sounds like one of us.
Again, almost. And there’s hope here. When a columnist for the New York Times gets this close to making sense on guns (but falls back on old answers), we should all give a cheer and then get back to the work of protecting rights.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.