Resisting gun control

Monday, January 11, 2016

On a recent cable news show, some talking heads were discussing proposals to strengthen restrictions on purchasing guns, including background checks and waiting lists.

Later in the conversation, the show's host asked a guest who worked in law enforcement why police aren't stronger advocates for gun control, since guns are often used in domestic violence, suicides and accidents even among people who have no previous criminal record or history of mental illness.

The host didn't seem to realize that she had made a dramatic shift in the discussion from calling for restrictions that most people support to advocating repeal of the second amendment.

Access to lethal force by citizens is inherent in the constitutional right to bear arms. Such access inevitably poses risks, but then so does riding around in massive steel machines at a mile a minute.

Some readers might object to a comparison between what they contend is a non-essential privilege and an activity that is an essential component of modern living. However, gun and traffic fatalities share the characteristics of being dangers that most of us agree need to be reduced as much as possible but will never be eliminated.

That is why some second amendment defenders are so resistant to what is referred to as "common sense reform." The conversation among gun control advocates so easily drifts into advocacy of a gun-free society. Emotional appeals frequently include references to tragedies that would not have been prevented by limited "common sense reform."