A very beautiful girl reading the book Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess told me the ironic tale that Aurora, Colorado had banned the novella because of its use of objectionable language. Like all bans of its sort, the text is seen as a potential corrupter of the youth. It was subsequently banned in Alabama and Massachusetts.
The untended consequences of this fits the general pattern that invariably accompanies any sort of ban or censorship, it gives the subject matter attention (read: hype). Burgess isn’t a fan of the book and is willing to repudiate what he wrote in 1982. But the notoriety was cemented by the sexiness of censorship and attracted Stanley Kubrick to bring the book to life on the screen.
The context is different but the lesson is important and transferable to today. The ban had no observable benefits for public safety. The same principle applies to gun control in the United States. The gun control debate renewed after Jason Holmes strutted into a movie theatre just after midnight and killed 12 and injured 58. He has 24 charges of first-degree murder and over 120 related charges brought against him.
The more I read and follow the story, the more I find the argument for increase gun control is in fact no argument at all. For I can’t agree that there is a link between more laws controlling guns and less violence of the kind shown by Holmes in Colorado.
Ask yourself this: has Nixon’s ‘war on drugs’ done anything to alleviate the drug trade or junkie-ism across this shiny blue marble? Not by any measurable standard it hasn’t.
Do you think a new set of laws will do anything to stop the 200 million guns in circulation in the US? A ban would only spawn a much larger and agressive black market, totally unregulated and more dangerous because criminal gun traders would run this economy, just like the drug game.
Does outlawing abortions stop them or does it force women to solicit incredibly unsafe and unhealthy means of birth control?
Dan Baum at Harper’s explains that when Anders Breivik killed 77 in Norway, the press didn’t go on about the gun he used. They opened the debate up about racist extremism in Europe. The heart of mass killings in the US is the tragically deranged people, not the inanimate steel they are holding at the time.
Here are his own words, taken from a disagreement he had with a New York Times writer over whether politicians have done nothing to prevent this type of violence:
Rosenthal is wrong, by the way, that politicians haven’t addressed gun violence. They have done so brilliantly, in a million different ways, which helps explain why the rate of violent crime is about half what it was twenty years ago. They simply haven’t used gun control to do it. Gun laws are far looser than they were twenty years ago, even while crime is plunging-a galling juxtaposition for those who place their faith in tougher gun laws. The drop in violence is one of our few unalloyed public-policy success stories, though perhaps not for those who bemoan an “epidemic of gun violence” that doesn’t exist anymore in order to make a political point.
Baum’s comments are not without support either, two studies by the Center for Disease Control and by the Journal of Preventive Medicine surveyed all the studies done on gun control and showed any link between ‘gun control’ and public safety to be inconclusive.
Another study highlighted the quite intuitive conclusion that areas that are ‘gun-free’ – like Columbine, Virginia Tech, McGill University an Aurora movie theater or churches- are where assailants know they can commit mass killings. Its no wonder that, as the Denver Post reported, concealed-carry licenses have gone up by 41 per cent in the wake of the gunplay in Aurora.
This makes sense and is provable in recent history:
1. A man with a vendetta against a mega church killed 4 en route to the house of God that was incidentally a packed venue at that time. He stormed in with a high-power assault rifle and was shot dead by an armed volunteer. The Pastor says 100s would have died had not Jeanne Assam shot him first. She, predictably, thanked God.
2. In Edinboro, Pennsylvania, a loner started shooting people at a school dance held at a restaurant. After killing 1 and injuring 2, the owner disarmed the 14-year old with his shotgun and held him until police arrived.
3. After killing 2 and injuring 7 at Pearl High School in Mississippi, 16-year old Luke Woodham was subdued by the principal who had a revolver in his glove box. Woodham acknowledged he was headed to a junior high school to continue his spree.
4. At Appalachian School of Law, a 43-year old killed 3 and injured 3 before 2 students with handguns in their glove box subdued the assailant before he could kill again.
5. Before the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense began to arm themselves and learn and practice gun etiquette in the state of California, blacks in that state were being killed with total impunity.
These are only a few cases. Its not secret the very American obsession with liberty and struggle against tyranny. Many mock this, like cartoonist Mark Fiore. But almost every major genocide or totalitarian hellhole in the 20th century was the what came at the end of a restrictions on the right to bear arms. Who are they? The Armenians in Turkey, the millions dead in the Soviet Union, Jews were barred from weapons in Nazi Germany, Mao’s China (some army of the people!), Guatemala (an unarmed public couldn’t defend the weak democratic government from a military coup), Uganda under General Idi Amin, and Cambodia under the Khymer Rouge.
Getting rid of guns is like trying to get rid of drug abuse, or teenage sex, or any other moral crusade. Bans are ineffective, gun control linked to less safety. Let’s have an open system, a democratic one, where gun ownership and its transactions can be subjected to public oversight.