The PJ Tatler

Christopher Hitchens on Gun Control

Exactly one year ago today, the free world lost one of its most relentless defenders, and certainly its most eloquent. Christopher Hitchens may have succumbed to cancer and its related complications, but I find myself returning to his words time and again as though they have a kind of immortal verve to them. I remember Hitchens’s mentioning that he tried to write for posterity, and, looking back, one does sense timelessness running through many of his essays and columns.

Which brings me to this: Did you know that Hitchens despised gun control? It’s true, and it was not a position he adopted only after his “neocon” turn. Writing way back in his socialist days, in 1994, Hitchens derided gun control as “half-baked pacifism that…has as its corollary a duopoly of force in the hands of the state and the criminal.” He also reserved contempt for the suggestion that those who favored private gun ownership were all cowboy wannabes:

“A favorite liberal sneer at the opponents of gun control is the suggestion that those who favor self-defense are fixated on the Old West and the imagined tradition of the lone gunslinger.”

He didn’t simply hold this position when it was safe to do so. After the Virginia Tech massacre, Hitchens was interviewed by Slate editor Jacob Weisberg and, after the issue of gun control was raised, he said the present laws were adequate since shooting people is already illegal.

Another late leftist who opposed gun control was Alexander Cockburn. Writing after Virginia Tech, Cockburn derided the “anti-gun lobby” and advocated the arming of “appropriately screened teachers and maybe student monitors.” He also suggested that “what should be banned from campuses are not weapons but prescriptions for anti-depressants.”