January 18, 2013

NICHOLAS JOHNSON: Presidential Sophistry.

The President has held two news conferences in three days commenting on the coming wave of gun control initiatives. His presentation has been emotional and properly reflects the anguish that we all feel for the victims of gun crime. It also has been a dazzling display of sophistry. I say that because the President is smart. And if he were not smart, I would say that, so far as his gun ban proposals, his comments were a profound display of ignorance. . . .

A separate but truly dazzling display of ignorance about the basic parameters of the gun crime problem is evident in the media reports of the addresses of gun carry permit holders and the threat to publish a full list of owners. One of the TV talking heads justified it on the basis that we report sex offenders so we should report gun owners. This approach I guess makes sense to people who have the illusion that no one they know owns guns. But on average 40% of households have guns. So these maps will be an education and will make the “investigative reporting” look silly. Unfortunately the implications go beyond silliness into the realm of clear hazard.

If you listen just to media reports, you would think that guns used in crimes come mainly from straw sales or the “gun show loophole”. But these sources account for only a small fraction of the illegal gun supply. Most crime guns come from a black market that is supplied by theft. On average about 500,000 guns are stolen each year. So publication of gun owners’ addresses is a wonderful public service …. to gun thieves.

Gun control is a culture-war effort to rub middle America’s nose in the fact that the world is run by its betters. Any actual improvement in public safety is of no concern at all.