The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Gun Control and the Politics of Ignorance

Posted on | January 3, 2013 | 18 Comments

“Senator Feinstein’s latest attack on the Second Amendment relies entirely on public ignorance of firearms and their legitimate uses,” writes William A. Levinson in an American Thinker article answering the question, “Why Does Anybody Need a 30-Round Magazine?”

It’s important to consider worst-case scenarios: Suppose that you found yourself in a conflict with multiple assailants, each armed with 9-mm pistols, each with a magazine capacity of 10 shots. In that situation, a 30-round magazine gives you equal firepower (without reloading) to three attackers. You may not be able to imagine such situations, but sometimes the unimaginable happens, and who is Dianne Feinstein to tell other people what precautions they are permitted to take?

The Politics of Ignorance is what enraged me so much about the so-called “assault weapons” ban that Feinstein supported in 1994. Repeat after me: A semi-automatic rifle is not an “assault weapon.”

Feinstein and her allies in the Clinton administration were exploiting public ignorance. They had polls and focus-group information showing that “soccer moms” — suburban middle-class white women, a key “swing” constituency that Democrats sought to win over — supported restrictive measures against guns, in large part because of (arguably racist) fears about inner-city drug gangs.

Despite headline-making incidents like the Oklahoma City bombing and the Long Island commuter-train massacre, the political impetus behind the law (officially titled the “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994”) really had nothing to do militias or mass-shooting sprees, and everything to do with fears of the criminal violence associated with the crack cocaine epidemic.

Ultimately, of course, the crime problems of the 1980s and ’90s were “solved” by a drastic increase in incarceration rates due to mandatory sentencing laws (especially for drug offenses) and so-called “three strikes” laws, as well as improvements in law-enforcement tactics and private security. The widespread use of video surveillance at retail venues and advances in DNA testing, to mention just two examples, have not only helped police solve more crimes, but also have a significant deterrent effect, because would-be criminals know the greater risks of apprehension.

The Feinstein-backed “assault weapons” ban was classic Clinton-era pandering: A largely cosmetic response to media-hyped hysteria, producing a law that did not actually ban anything — existing weapons were not outlawed, but merely the manufacture or importation of such weapons — and the prohibited weapons were only superficially different from weapons that remained fully legal.

That idiotic law expired in 2004, thank God, but gun-control advocates continue relying on appeals to ignorance, particularly when talking about the so-called “gun show loophole.” What this rhetoric is about is trying to inhibit the private re-sale of weapons, thus depriving gun owners of the full economic value of their assets.

Many millions of Americans own guns and these are actually economic investments, as firearms tend to retain value. There is a ready market for antique and collectible guns. A model 1911 Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol can sell for more than $1,000. And so the family gun cabinet represents a real financial asset to the owner — if he is permitted to re-sell them.

However, when liberals talk about “closing the gun-show loophole,” what they actually mean is requiring these private gun owners to run background checks on purchasers, just like federally licensed gun dealers. This would impose an all-but-prohibitive restriction on the private seller — how much would compliance cost? — and thus makes it practically impossible for him to reap the full value of his asset. True, he could sell his guns to a licensed dealer, or place them for sale on consignment with such a dealer, but in the process he would lose not only the price difference between wholesale (what the dealer pays the seller) and retail (what is paid by the dealer’s customer), but also the convenience of being able to sell the gun himself.

There are millions of guns owned by individuals in this country that have been re-sold over and over — from one private citizen to another — without any licensed dealer being involved in the transactions since the day they were first sold, brand-new. If your brother-in-law admires your Winchester .30-06 or your Mossberg 12-gauge and offers you a fair price for it, you can sell it to him.

You could sell your guns at your next garage sale, if you wanted to, and why not? It’s your gun, isn’t it? It’s a free country, isn’t it?

Well, not if Dianne Feinstein gets her way.




18 Responses to “Gun Control and the Politics of Ignorance”

  1. jsn2
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 11:40 am

    An assault weapon is in the eye of the beholder. Without a doubt the 22 pens Obama used to sign ObamaCare into law are assault weapons. A gun is just a gun.

  2. Jacob
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 11:42 am

    I honestly do not want to go to jail for utilizing my right to own guns. It angers me that the only people that the politicians want to remove guns from are the law abiding citizens.

  3. Doug Hgain
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 11:44 am

    Good stuff! BTW, just a side note, I own a Colt 1911 .45, the first handgun I ever bought, a Mossberg 12 guage pump, the first shotgun I ever bought, and a Winchester 30.06, my grandfather left me.

  4. Ignorance is the fuel that feeds the engines of Leftism | The Daley Gator
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 11:45 am

    […] The Left desires people to be the opposite. the debate over gun control is a great example, as Stacy McCain notes today “Senator Feinstein’s latest attack on the Second Amendment relies entirely on public ignorance […]

  5. Conan The Cimmerian
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 11:49 am

    They had polls and focus-group information showing that “soccer moms” —
    suburban middle-class white women, a key “swing” constituency that
    Democrats sought to win over — supported restrictive measures
    against guns, in large part because of (arguably racist) fears about
    inner-city drug gangs.

    Stacy, will you please leave the !j’accuse! of racism to the marxists. Do not play that game.

    If a lone woman walks down the street as three black men approach from the other direction, and she is apprehensive, is she racist? What does Jesse Jackson feel in that scenario?

  6. McGehee
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

    The game is on whether we play or not. Feel free to forfeit if your conscience demands it.

  7. Adjoran
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

    There is only one proper answer to the assertion that “No one needs XYZ type of gun” is “Who the heck are you to tell me how I can defend my home, business, and family?”

    The thing that worries me is that huge federal ammo purchases last year – remember, even Social Security was buying it up – caused shortages now.

  8. Steve Skubinna
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

    The disgusting footnote to magazine limits is the corollary that it may be tolerable to shoot ten people without reloading, but nailing number eleven without changing the magazine is beyond the pale.

    The next time anyone brings up magazine limits, ask them why they think ten dead is okay without a magazine change. Ask why killing the eleventh (or twelfth or thirteenth…) is okay as long as the shooter reloads?

    Push these bastards into the logical corner they have constructed and make them own whatever number they find an acceptable death toll per magazine.

    With luck they’ll have to admit that a total ban is the goal. Either that, or call you racist.

  9. TC_LeatherPenguin
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

    When the magazine limits come up, I always point out how easy I can empty the brass and reload a revolver via speedloaders, and keep going until my pockets are empty. Same holds for ten shot magazines.

  10. Adobe_Walls
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

    I suspect the shortages are a feature.

  11. McGehee
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

    I just point out that the word “need” appears nowhere in the Bill of Rights, inluding the Second Amendment. Then I invite them to consider what would happen if the government could regulate speech, religion or the press on the basis of “need.”

  12. SPQR9
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

    The gun control activists intentionally lie. They intentionally confuse people between semi-automatic rifles available to civilians and fully-automatic military issue weapons that are only available to the military (with very highly regulated and expensive exceptions).

    The bottom line is that more people are murdered each year with bare hands and feet than with all rifles of all types “assault” or not.

  13. Wombat_socho
    January 3rd, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

    Well, of course. Do you think the crooks pay any attention to their ridiculous laws?

  14. Dan B
    January 4th, 2013 @ 12:13 am

    Is the government NOT trying to regulate speech, religion and the press (cable news) now?

  15. Charles
    January 4th, 2013 @ 1:33 am

    You could require licensed gun dealers to run background checks for private purchases for a nominal fee. Or let them compete for that business. That could still be a lot less complicated than transferring title on a private sale of a used car.

    It seems obvious that it is more important to keep guns out of the hands of crazy people and punish people who sell to them or to criminals than ban whole classes of weapons. But the gun lobby needs to get creative.

  16. McGehee
    January 4th, 2013 @ 9:27 am

    The trick is to get them to realize it themselves rather than be told about it. They can dismiss anything they’re told — but what they think they’ve figured out on their own, they will know for life.

  17. A Soldier and Two Marines: Sworn to ‘Support and Defend the Constitution’ : The Other McCain
    January 10th, 2013 @ 1:08 am

    […] 3: Gun Control and the Politics of IgnoranceJan. 2: Ted Cruz Vows to Lead Opposition to Dianne Feinstein’s Gun-Grab BillDec. 30: CNN’s […]

  18. When Your Gun Is Not Your Gun : The Other McCain
    January 10th, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

    […] close the gun show loophole but total, universal background checks, including private sales.”Last week, I explained that when liberals talk about “closing the gun-show loophole,” they mean prohibiting […]