Pronouns matter. I’m not referring here to a one-time Wheaties box athlete or a certain private currently spending time in the federal stockade. I mean here the difference between we and they, as in identifying with a group of people or seeing them as an Other.
This is illustrated by an article written for CNN by Philip Alpers, founder of Gunpolicy.org, titled, “Trump or Clinton, stricter gun control is inevitable.” The author struggles with what his purpose is, either lecturing or summoning from within.
Gunpolicy.org, hosted by the Sydney School of Public Health, calls itself the “world’s most comprehensive and accessible Web source for published evidence on armed violence, firearm law and gun control.” The site’s stated goal is to “prevent gun injury,” and Alpers makes it clear in his article that this means onerous gun control — gun control as practiced in Australia — as his means of achieving that end.
Alpers insists that “it is inconceivable that the people of such an advanced nation will tolerate an ever-worsening state of armed violence and insurrection” that will make us use “solutions already tested and championed by the United States.”
Perhaps he hasn’t seen The Princess Bride, but I don’t think “inconceivable” means what he thinks it means. Our ever-worsening state of armed violence and insurrection? That’s only if “worsening” is another word that he doesn’t understand. We are, in fact, at a decades-long low in all types of violence, including homicide. And if we consider our history since colonial days, the situation is even clearer — we’re at our least violent time. Does Alpers mean that things are getting worse for gun control? After all, our gun laws on the federal level and in most states have been loosening in recent years.
There is one set of gun control that Alpers cites as a solution that we’ve “tested and championed,” namely the National Firearms Act of 1934. He tells us that this law has been a success, but the problem here is that it’s hard to say how many of the heavily regulated machine guns were in private hands prior to the enactment of the law and how many legal and illegal fully automatic weapons have been in circulation since then. In 1995, there were some 240,000 such guns registered with the ATF. The total number of guns of all types in that year was around a thousand times the full-auto figure, and today’s total is at least a hundred million more.
In other words, even if we adopt Alpers’s solutions, “background checks, micro-stamping of firearms and ammunition as a crime-busting tool, smart guns that only the owner can fire — and yes, licensing and registration,” we’ve long ago passed the point at which the kinds of controls imposed on machine guns would be practical for all types of firearms. But the worst part of his argument is his comparison of gun control to our choices to acknowledge the right of women to participate in society by voting and to abolish slavery and Prohibition. As always, I find it strange that anyone can see our times of expanding the protected exercise of rights as having anything in common with his demands to curtail other rights.
Alpers clucks his tongue about “how naïve were we to imagine that the massacre at Columbine High might prove to be the tipping point.” Note the “we” there, perhaps meaning gun control advocates in Australia and other nations not the United States. He spends too much time lecturing at us to be believably one of us. As with so many other advocates of more and more gun laws, his dreams of control have no support in reality. He thinks that our children will insist on his list of demands, and it’s up to us to make sure that we and they — the present and the future generations of this country — never give up our love of 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.