In Britain, the actor Vince Vaughn has caused something of a stir by coming out as a full-throated champion of the right to keep and bear arms. Per Sky News:
Hollywood star Vince Vaughn has revealed he believes guns should be allowed in American schools and that a ban would not stop mass shootings.
The 45-year-old told GQ magazine he supported the right to own a gun and carry it in public.
Despite a series of shootings in US schools, when asked whether guns should be allowed, he said: “Of course. You think the politicians that run my country and your country don’t have guns in the schools their kids go to? They do.
“And we should be allowed the same rights. Banning guns is like banning forks in an attempt to stop making people fat. Taking away guns, taking away drugs, the booze, it won’t rid the world of criminality.”
In 2012, Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six school staff in a shooting at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut.
The True Detective actor added: “I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home. We don’t have the right to bear arms because of burglars.
“We have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government. It’s not about duck hunting, it’s about the ability of the individual.
“It’s the same reason we have freedom of speech. It’s well known that the greatest defence against an intruder is the sound of a gun hammer being pulled back.”
Vaughn went on: “All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They’ve only happened in places that don’t allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people.
As one might expect, these asseverations have been met by the British establishment with stunned disbelief:
Vince Vaughn on guns…wow. Is he really this stupid? http://t.co/u8M7JvCG1I
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 1, 2015
— The Independent (@Independent) June 1, 2015
Vince Vaughn says mass shootings only happen in places that don't allow guns. Like Fort Hood? http://t.co/eNGGv27zBU
— Mitch Benn (@MitchBenn) June 1, 2015
But here’s the thing: Nothing that Vaughn said here is incorrect. The sort of schools that politicians send their kids to do indeed tend to be more secure than the average public school. (There is a reason why the anti-private school Barack Obama sends his children to Sidwell Friends.) The Second Amendment is indeed a check on abusive government, not a guarantee of the right to hunt ducks. And almost all of the mass shootings in the last 65 years have indeed occurred in gun free zones. (Of which, pace Mitch Benn, Fort Hood was a prime example.) One can certainly debate Vaughn’s claim that “taking away guns” will not help “rid the world of criminality.” Certainly there have been some success stories in countries that lacked the hundred of millions of firearms and the entrenched gun culture that we have here in America. But, for better or for worse, America is different than the rest of the world, and if the last three decades are anything to go by there is little evidence to suggest that draconian laws do much good at all.
On the contrary: Here in the United States the link between guns and crime is an extremely complex one, and the old canard that “more guns equals more crime” does not stand up to scrutiny. Since the early 1990s, the number of gun control laws on the books has diminished and the number of guns in circulation has exploded. The result? A massive reduction in gun crime. I am not sure how these changes interact with one another, but I do know that it is not at all unreasonable or outré to suggest as Vaughn does that gun control simply does not work in America.
None of this is to say that Vaughn’s proposal is the optimal one, of course. We do not know what effect introducing guns into schools would have — and, even if we did, that wouldn’t necessarily make it a good or practical or affordable idea. Vaughn did not say how he would like the policy to be structured. Does he wish to repeal the laws that prohibit licensed carries from entering school property? Does he wish to arm teachers? Does he wish to post cops at the gates?Who knows? Either way, his general line of thinking is absolutely reasonable within the American context, and smugly screaming “idiot!” will not alter that.