Politics & Policy

Why Would Scalise Change His Mind About Gun Control?

It seems that there is widespread amazement on the Left that, having been targeted by an assassin with a rifle, and almost killed, Rep. Steve Scalise has not changed his mind on gun control. “After being shot,” read a headline at NBC, Scalise still opposes more gun control.” “Even after . . .” added ThinkProgress, indignantly. And the chorus cried “no fair!”

This, alas, was to be expected. When I write on this topic, I am often told that I would feel differently if my family had been killed by a deranged shooter, or if I had more personal experience as a victim of violence. Leaving aside that, even if this were true, it wouldn’t tell us much — I’ll let Mitchell and Webb make the point against relying on victims for instant policy expertise — it always strikes me that this is ultimately an admission of ignorance. If Scalise held his views because had mindlessly followed his Dad, or because he was loyal to his party, or because the culture in which he is ensconced is monomaniacal on this point, sure, the experience might have changed him. And if, as an adult, he were somehow unaware that firearms are dangerous by explicit design, then yes, his being shot might have altered his thinking. But there’s no evidence that either of these is the case. Rather, Scalise seems to have a solid grasp on the arguments for an armed citizenry — arguments that, as he noted yesterday, preceded the founding of this country. 

Given that, it would be rather odd for him to come out of what was undoubtedly a harrowing experience and say, “I will now subordinate this constitutional lynchpin to my own feelings,” wouldn’t it? In fact, it would be dishonorable. That ThinkProgress and co. can’t grasp that speaks volumes.