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‘The NRA’s Dark Vision’?


If I tried to analyze every ill-founded claim about guns made by the Brady Campaign, I’d do little else. But this Huffington Post op-ed by the Campaign’s president, Daniel Gross, deserves a response.

The piece starts out unremarkably enough for anti-gun propaganda. Gross tells the story of a crazed murderer in Seattle who, as luck would have it, happened to have a concealed-carry permit. In the process Gross says a variety of things that blur the truth, such as that in granting the permit, Washington officials “were not allowed to consider his long history of violence and mental illness.”

In fact, there is a background check, but the future murderer passed it, because no charge against him had ever made it to court. (For whatever reason, liberals seem to forget all about due process when it comes to telling people who’ve never been convicted of anything that they can’t buy a gun.) Washington also does not grant permits to people whose mental illness could pose a danger, but evidently this man’s illness was not caught during the background check.

And of course, Gross makes no attempt to answer the deeper questions the case poses. For example, should Washington State make a better attempt to keep guns from the mentally ill, rather than making it difficult for anyone at all to get one? Would a lack of a concealed-carry permit have prevented this man from going on a murderous rampage anyway? And even if in this case a concealed-carry policy armed a murderer, does it also arm enough law-abiding citizens that it deters more crime than it enables?

#more#Gross’s argument becomes even more ludicrous from there. My favorite line in the whole piece: “What about our rights? Well, in the NRA’s world, the rest of us have no right to enjoy our own neighborhoods free from the threat of gun violence, because we aren’t ‘the guys with the guns.’” Gross simply assumes, and we are supposed to accept as fact, that insufficient gun control is the only thing standing between the status quo and “neighborhoods free from the threat of gun violence.”

The closest Gross comes to actually confronting the tradeoffs inherent in gun control is when he claims that “study after study has linked public gun carrying to increased rates of violent crime like robbery and murder.”

But “study after study”? This might be true in the literal sense, because I am aware of precisely two studies that claim concealed carry increases crime. Overwhelmingly, however, the research on this topic has found that concealed carry either has no detectable effect on crime or actually decreases it. I’m skeptical of this entire body of work, but if you’re going to cite it, at least get it right.

By the time Gross gets to arguing against a new bill that would force states to recognize each other’s concealed-carry permits — an issue on which I’m sympathetic to his position — it’s awfully difficult to take him seriously. Even putting aside that he calls the bill the “George Zimmerman Armed Vigilante Act.”

Remember, this isn’t some random clown blogging for the Huffington Post; it’s the president of a leading gun-control group. If these are the best arguments the anti-gun movement can put forth, our Second Amendment rights are safe indeed.


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