• Jim Kelly

What happens after gun control?


If America had common sense gun laws, kids could attend school safely. We wouldn't read of a new mass shooting every week. We could join all the other developed countries on the planet that aren't suffering gun violence epidemics.


At least, progressives calling for tighter gun restrictions imagine a future that looks something like that. They profess incomprehension when conservatives refuse to even try to reach it. How can anyone sit by and do nothing when kids are getting shot?


Getting specific


Gun control and its promised effects are suspiciously vague. We all demand much more precision in our private lives. We don't order "food," we order a hamburger. Medium rare, with no onion and extra lettuce. And we expect to get exactly that, and to be charged exactly what we agreed up front.


It's not entirely clear what "gun control" entails. Obviously progressives have government intervention in mind, because by definition progressivism is the advocacy of government solutions to social problems. State government is insufficient; proper gun control must come from Washington. Congress must pass laws, perhaps requiring extreme vetting of gun owners, or banning certain guns outright and locking anyone caught in possession into a cage.


After such laws are passed, shooting deaths will either fall or not. Even if they fall dramatically, sooner or later some madman would find a way to shoot up another school, and we would be reading another headline about dead kids.


What happens next? Progressives will demand even more federal gun restrictions. They cannot sit by and do nothing when kids are getting shot, and only new federal laws count as doing something.


On the other hand if shooting deaths don't change, progressives will not declare the experiment a failure, repeal the laws, and reconsider their assumptions. Whenever a new shooting makes the news, they will double down and scream all the louder for even harsher restrictions. We know this because, for example, when a federal court in 2021 declared California's 1989 gun law a failed experiment, progressive elites threw tantrums.



Words and deeds


Gun control advocates routinely claim they merely seek "common sense" gun restrictions, that they aren't out to take away all guns, and that conservatives who say otherwise are preaching a slippery-slope fallacy.


But where is the off-ramp? The left never identifies a limiting principle--a point they will feel we have enough gun laws and will be able to sit on their hands in the face of residual shootings.


Even if they did, who would believe them? These are the same people trying to rid the world of gas stoves and plastic straws and microaggressions. They'd have to be dolts to leave guns out there.


When people on the left claim they don't seek full disarmament of citizens, they sound dishonest. At best they're self-deluded, able to believe their demands modest only because they haven't thought through what will happen once those demands are met. The rest of us know perfectly well what will happen, because we've seen the same patterns from progressives over and over again. Tax rates are not high enough, and then they go up, and a year later rich are still not paying their "fair share." The proper level of funding for a public school is always "more."


To hear the left's rhetoric on guns, you would think there are no laws already on the books. If we don't yet have "common sense" gun laws, what are all the existing ones--baroque and irrational? Progressives have a chance to gain some credibility by weeding them out.


Absent the left taking its trust deficit seriously, it's hard to see the gun stalemate changing. Conservatives perceive that the gun control slope is not only slippery, it's frictionless. Since no one on the left will at any point recognize "enough" gun restrictions, it's entirely up to conservatives to define how tight gun laws will get by choosing when to become intransigent.


So is it any surprise conservatives routinely say no? What reaction are progressives hoping for?

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