The answer is “no”

Darby Roach, an author who labels himself an adventurer and professional guide, has written an article for The Huffington Post, titled, “Why Compromising On Guns Is The Patriotic Thing to Do.”   In it, he quotes his father, a veteran of the Pacific theater of World War II, as saying, “If you need more than one bullet, you’re a piss-poor shot and have no business with a gun in the first place.”  As much as I respect his father’s service, I have to note that it’s exactly this kind of Fuddism that weakens the protection of gun rights.

Roach’s proposal is that we ban all semiautomatic firearms from private ownership.  He offers a number of promises and claims about this, which I’ll address point by point.

1.  Getting rid of semi-automatic weapons would end virtually all mass shootings.

Roach thinks single-shot weapons cannot be used effectively in a mass shooting.  It’s unclear if he includes bolt-action or pump-action guns as “single-shot.”  Perhaps he isn’t thinking of the Texas Clock Tower shooting in which a man suffering from a brain tumor killed sixteen people with a Remington 700, among other guns.  (Yes, he also had an M1 carbine, but that was not his primary weapon.)

2.  It would be in line with the Second Amendment

He repeats the cliché that we can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, even though we enjoy the protection of free speech.  Except that Justice Holmes’s famous statement was not the core question of the Schenck case, and that ruling was overturned in Brandenburg v. Ohio in, wait for it, 1969.  We could make an argument of the same type as Roach offers and say that we don’t really need the letter “e” in the writing of novels, since Earnst Wright managed to create one of some 50,000 words without needing that letter.  Or we could admit that in fact, a law such as Roach proposes would indeed be a violation of the rights protected by the Second Amendment.

3.  Not a single gun would have to be surrendered to the Government

He proposes that currently owned semiautomatic firearms would be converted to single-shot weapons, expenses paid for by tax dollars.  And the government can put a chicken in every pot and give us all ponies, if we’re going to believe in magic.

4.  No, it wouldn’t cause a civil war

We’re told our brothers in Australia did it, so we can do it, too.  As I’ve pointed out, Australia doesn’t have our constitutional protections of gun rights, and their homicide numbers didn’t change when their much smaller percentage of gun owners saw their rights violated.  He also says we tolerated the Assault Weapons Ban, so we’ll accept this new idea without fighting back.  The problem with his thinking there is that we weren’t so well educated about the consequences of surrendering rights in the 1990s.  And we hadn’t been through repeated terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that have awakened our people to the idea that our defense is primarily in our own hands.

5.  Criminals wouldn’t outgun law-abiding citizens

Except, yes, they did in Paris.  Yes, they do in gun-free zones throughout the United States.  And until Roach or anyone else can explain how we will be able to keep guns away from Americans when we have failed to keep them from getting alcohol or drugs, I remain unconvinced of this promise.

By this point, you’re seeing that Roach doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  He makes one other claim that I find laughable, namely that a single-shot gun is adequate for self-defense.  Stopping power is one of those topics that requires Scotch and popcorn, but as the data show, one shot, one kill is a fine idea for snipers and Hollywood heroes, but in the day-to-day civilian world, bad guys don’t immediately cease hostilities upon being shot once by a handgun.

These days, I have to wonder if The Huffington Post has the least idea about how guns actually work, but of bigger concern is the possibility that readers will believe what Roach insists is true.  To quote Isaac Asimov, “Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”  It’s up to people who are knowledgeable about guns to counter the stream of misinformation if we want to preserve our rights.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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