The Corner

On Evan Todd’s Open Letter to the President

Anybody possessed even of a modicum of sophistication and learning knows that randomly chosen victims of violence are, by virtue of their ordeals, invested with special — even magical — opinions, and are thus of inordinate value as proponents of gun control. As we’ve learned from the recent and cynical use of Gabby Giffords, one victim is worth 20 years of statistics. “I know that’s what the data shows, but look at this person who was shot” is the attitude that none dare call out. If you oppose gun control, it seems, then you oppose the victims of gun violence; and almost certainly in the name of something sinister.

Well fine, if that’s the game then let’s play. Today, The Blaze has a letter to the president written by Evan Todd, a survivor of the Columbine massacre. Todd, who was the first person shot that day, is against “universal background checks,” against an “assault weapons” ban, and against limiting magazine size. “In theory,” he writes to the president, “your initiatives and proposals sound warm and fuzzy.” But,

in reality they are far from what we need. Your initiatives seem to punish law-abiding American citizens and enable the murderers, thugs, and other lowlifes who wish to do harm to others. 

“Seem to”? That’s wooly language. How about this, then?

Let me be clear: These ideas are the worst possible initiatives if you seriously care about saving lives and also upholding your oath of office. There is no dictate, law, or regulation that will stop bad things from happening — and you know that. Yet you continue to push the rhetoric. Why?

Good question. I’m not convinced that the president does know it, nor that he is much interested in finding it out. Still, continue to push it the president does — and despite his own government’s research to boot. A 2004 University of Pennsylvania study commissioned by the DOJ that sought to examine the effects of the first “assault weapons” ban concluded:

We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.

It certainly didn’t work in Columbine.

As for a second such ban, NRO’s Eliana Johnson noted recently:

Prepared by the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Justice Department, the report concludes that an assault-weapons ban is “unlikely to have an impact on gun violence” because such weapons are not a major contributor to gun crime in the United States. However, the memo notes that “if coupled with a gun buyback and no exemptions then it could be effective.” Although the Obama administration and some congressional Democrats are currently pushing for a ban on assault weapons, they are not proposing a program of mandatory gun buybacks.

It’s not just the DOJ that says the president’s “assault weapons” plan is pointless. And despite the nonsense about “moderate solutions” and “reasonable control,” it’s not just an “assault weapons” ban that is silly but the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle. Try as the Left might to bend the “science” to its side, I concur with Steven Levitt, of Freakonomics fame, who wrote recently: “I would just say that anyone with any sense looks at the current political climate, thinks about the kinds of proposals that are being made and accepts the fact that none of these proposals are going to have any real impact at all.” Those “proposals” include universal background checks, limiting magazine size, and an “assault weapons” ban. It is not in fact sensible to support these measures, it is hysterical.

All very nice, Charles, I hear you say. But you’ve never been shot. True. In which case, let’s ask Evan Todd what he suggests instead:

First, forget all of your current initiatives and 23 purposed executive orders. They will do nothing more than impede law-abiding citizens and breach the intent of the Constitution. Each initiative steals freedom, grants more power to an already-overreaching government, and empowers and enables criminals to run amok.

Second, press Congress to repeal the “Gun Free Zone Act.” Don’t allow America’s teachers and students to be endangered one-day more. These parents and teachers have the natural right to defend themselves and not be looked at as criminals. There is no reason teachers must disarm themselves to perform their jobs. There is also no reason a parent or volunteer should be disarmed when they cross the school line.

He continues that he “personally witnessed two fellow students murder twelve of [his] classmates and one teacher. The assault weapons ban did not deter these two murderers, nor did the other thirty-something laws that they broke.” It would be nice if everyone could get over the peculiar idea that the victims of gun violence should in some way be privileged in our conversation. But if we are not able to do so, we would do well to ensure that among the victims trotted out to be used as puppets there are some arguing that the president’s proposals are counterproductive and dangerous. There are plenty of them out there.


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