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An Important 2nd Amendment Debate.


              Last week my two friends, John Lott and Sandy Levinson, engaged in a debate about the 2nd Amendment which was basically a debate about guns and crime. You can watch the debate held at the University of Wisconsin here.

              Lott, of course, is known as the foremost promoter of the idea that as more Americans walk around carrying their guns, the more that serious crime will be reduced. His book, More Guns, Less Crime has been a best-seller and basic Gun-nut Nation text for years.

              Levinson is one of our foremost Constitutional scholars who authored an article in 1989 which challenged liberals to grant the 2nd Amendment’s protection for private gun ownership the same degree of deference as they give the 1st Amendment’s protection of free speech.

              John Lott basically represents the conservative reaction against government gun control, Sandy Levinson represents the liberal desire to keep government in the picture when it comes to controlling guns.

              There’s only one, little problem with the perspectives of both of these highly-qualified, intelligent, and honest men – neither of them knows anything at all about guns. And this lack of concrete knowledge about the item whose use creates 125,000 deaths and serious injuries every year and probably costs us somewhere around $560 billion in lost wages, medical treatments and overall quality of life, is fairly typical of both sides in the so-called gun ‘debate.’

              We’ll start with Lott. In the exchange with Levinson, John became overtly angry over the use of the term ‘weapons of war’ when liberals talk about banning or regulating guns. It may come as something of a shock to John, but the guns which are used in a large majority of situations in which someone gets shot happen to be weapons of war.

              The bottom-loading, hi-capacity, double-action, semi-automatic pistols which are manufactured by dozens of gun companies around the world and is available for private ownership only in the United States, happens to be a design that was first developed by Gaston Glock to answer an RFP issued by the Austrian government for a new handgun for their military troops.

              That’s not a weapon of war?

              John also mentioned again in an angry manner, that the so-called ‘assault rifle’ purchased and owned by Americans is also different from the rifle carried by our troops, because the military gun fires full auto while the civilian version requires one pull of the trigger for every round.

              Except, John’s wrong again. Because the current battle rifle carried by U.S. troopers is what is known as ‘select fire,’ which means the soldier can select whether to shoot the gun in one trigger pull that discharges a three-shot burst, or to shoot the gun in semi-auto mode. So, if a trooper sets the gun on semi-auto function, would John want us to believe that this fighter is going into the tactical situation with a ‘sporting’ gun?

              Did Sandy attempt to correct John on either of those comments? Of course not. He was too fixated on the idea that the issue of reducing gun violence needed to be understood not from the perspective of a Constitutional amendment, but rather how various jurisdictions – states, cities, etc., - create and administer ‘policies’ to control guns.

              And this was the moment of this debate which went off into never-never land, as our two discussants talked seriously about whether the government might consider giving guns to individuals who couldn’t afford to buy the guns themselves or pay the excessive licensing fees.

              As if we have the slightest idea as to how many guns are currently owned by the so-called ‘underserved’ population who live in neighborhoods where most gun violence actually occurs. John Lott has made a career out of promoting the idea that when a city or state issues licenses to walk around with a concealed gun, gun crimes in such localities go down. He notes, parenthetically, that while face-to-face crime goes down, furtive, non-personal crimes like burglary go up.

              As if it’s the same population committing both kinds of crimes! An assumption for which John has absolutely no evidence at all, and if he were to take the trouble to read works by Marvin Wolfgang and Lester Adelson published forty and fifty years ago, he might actually learn that the circumstances, motives and outcomes of violent, personalized crime versus furtive, non-personalized crime are so different that to lump them together to ‘prove’ a thesis about the impact of licensing on gun ownership and use has about as much validity as the man in the moon.

              Sandy, on the other hand, spent most of his talking time telling the audience why he thinks it would be a good thing if we were to have another Constitutional Convention that would rewrite a document which is now almost 250 years old. Sandy believes that such an exercise is necessary because our country is now much bigger and out population much more diverse.

              Has Sandy ever heard of the Industrial Revolution which started to appear in the 1840’s when not a single delegate to the Constitutional Convention was still alive and has totally transformed every aspect of American life? Does he seriously think we could have a new meeting of the minds about the 2nd Amendment because the population is no longer comprised of men and women who left England in the eighteenth century because they didn’t like the King?

              My office happens to be located across the street from the Armory which was established in Springfield, MA by the federal government in 1794 to manufacture rifles for the military since the guns which the colonial army brought with them were mostly lousy, cheap pieces of shit. Not a single weapon that this arsenal produced between 1794 when it opened until 1968 when it closed ever went to any gun dealer who would then sell the gun to someone who walked into his store.

              Why is the United States the only country in the entire world which allows its citizens to purchase, own and carry guns which in every other country are reserved only for military or law enforcement use? And would it be any infringement on the 2nd Amendment if we were to decide that such products couldn’t be owned by civilians because they’re not sporting guns?

              Both John Lott and Sandy Levinson concurred on the idea that the 2nd Amendment was written to give Americans the wherewithal to use force against a tyrannical government. Except the government that existed in 1789 didn’t have Abrams tanks, it didn’t have F-35 jet planes.

The idea that we should endure 125,000 deaths and injuries each year from the ownership and use of products that wouldn’t make a bit of difference in protecting the citizenry against government tyranny is not just a joke, it’s a bad joke which neither John Lott nor Sandy Levinson seem to understand.

             

                 

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