No one expects sensible commentary on firearms from the New Yorker, but this gun control rant is worth noting because it is so typical of modern liberalism. Facts? Who needs facts? Bullying is all that the left aspires to.
The news that the parents of the children massacred two years ago in Sandy Hook, near Newtown, Connecticut, by a young man with a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle, were undertaking a lawsuit against the gun manufacturer was at once encouraging and terribly discouraging. …
The filed complaint—the numbered paragraphs give it an oddly religious feeling, like theses nailed to a church door—-
All complaints and other pleadings have numbered paragraphs. This is not normally considered to convey religious symbolism.
–is worth reading in full, however painful that might be…because it offers, in neatly logical fashion, an indisputable argument: the gun manufacturer is guilty of having sold a weapon whose only purpose was killing a lot of people in a very short time.
The Newtown lawsuit is going nowhere, because federal law protects firearms manufacturers and sellers against claims based on properly-functioning firearms. The complaint appears to be nothing but a publicity stunt.
It is remarkable how much ignorance the writer can pack into a single paragraph:
The lawsuit is discouraging because the death-by-gun lobby…
Such a calm, rational, well-considered analysis!
…has successfully advocated for legislative prophylactics that prevent gunmakers, almost uniquely among American manufacturers, from ever being held responsible for the deaths that their products cause.
This is wrong. If a gun malfunctions because it is defective, the manufacturer can be liable, as with any other product.
If a carmaker made a car that was known to be wildly unsafe, and then advertised it as unsafe, liabilities would result.
Almost all automobile accidents are the result of driver error, for which auto manufacturers are not liable (putting aside crashworthiness theories). If the car is defective and that causes an accident, the manufacturer is responsible. Same with guns. No difference.
The gun lobby is, or believes itself to be, immune. Some experts have outlined legal principles that might let sanity triumph, but it is hard to think it will. (Right-wing judges tend, these days, to be more creative than liberal ones in creating legal precedents that no one ever before imagined possible.)
This is a backhanded way of admitting that the lawsuit will fail because it is barred by the Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act, 15 U.S.C. § 7901 et seq.. (It would have no merit under standard tort law in any event, but liberals had threatened to drive gun companies out of business with endless frivolous lawsuits, and the law is designed to prevent that.) The reference to “right-wing judges” who create “legal precedents that no one ever before imagined possible” is gratuitous and wholly unsupported.
The underlying politics of gun control has always been the same: the majority of Americans agree that there should be limits and controls on the manufacture and sale and ownership of weapons intended only to kill en masse, while a small minority feels, with a fanatic passion, that there shouldn’t.
A “weapon intended only to kill en masse” might be, say, an atomic bomb, certainly not a semiautomatic rifle. As with every other factual proposition in this article, the author offers no support for his claim about what “the majority of Americans” agree on. In fact, there is currently more support for gun rights than at any time in our modern history.
On some subjects on which we wish sanity and common sense could prevail over fanaticism and irrationality….
This is a great summation of contemporary liberalism: what we think is “sanity and common sense,” what you think is “fanaticism and irrationality.” Facts? Arguments? Not needed!
[O]n the problem of gun control, no matter how far we may seem from a sane solution, the public deliberations are finished. … No honest or scrupulous person can any longer reject the evidence that gun control controls gun violence.
Of course, no such evidence is cited. As always, when liberals say the debate is over, it means they are losing. Actually, the evidence shows that the places with the strictest gun control–Chicago and Washington, D.C., for example–have more gun violence than average, not less. More broadly, the homicide rate today is only about half what it was during the Clinton administration. It has steadily declined as gun rights have expanded. The causal relationship certainly can be debated, and lots of ink has been spilled analyzing data, but the argument is empirical and the New Yorker contributes nothing to it.
[UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds adds: “It’s not meant to, merely to comfort the New Yorker’s poorly educated and easily led followers.”]
I love this paragraph:
It can be rejected only by rage and hysteria and denial and with the Second Amendment invoked, not as a document with a specific and surprising history, but as a semi-theological dogma. The argument has been revealed conclusively to be between people who actually want to reduce the number of gun massacres and those who prefer an attachment to lethal symbols of power.
What a lack of self-awareness! Who is exhibiting “rage, hysteria and denial”? Those who disagree with him want to see more gun massacres! Sure, that’s credible.
Now the finale:
Gun control stops gun violence.
Remarkably, the author never says what additional gun control, on top of the many statutes and regulations already in force, he is in favor of. I take it he doesn’t like semiautomatic rifles, but I am pretty sure that of my two semiauto rifles, he only wants to ban one. When you never mention any facts, it’s hard to tell.
Gun possession does not deter crime; it merely makes it more lethal.
This is ridiculous. Of course gun possession can deter crime. Why does this goof think policemen carry weapons? And does he seriously think there is no such thing as self-defense? Honestly, how dumb can you be and still get published in a rag like the New Yorker?
To repeat: liberalized concealed carry laws have gone hand in hand with declining violent crime rates. Is that a coincidence? The author evidently assumes that it is, but he treats every proposition as a tautology, and no evidence is forthcoming on this or any other factual issue. My guess is that he is ignorant of crime statistics.
Making these inarguable truths into necessary law takes the work of persuasion and legislation and litigation.
The factual propositions asserted by the New Yorker are not “inarguable.” On the contrary, they are argued all the time. But to participate in the argument, you have to know some facts. And note that, despite the final reference to “legislation,” no such proposed legislation has been articulated. From context, I think we can infer that the author wants to ban semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines. But that, in essence, was the ill-fated “assault weapon” ban of the 1990s. All observers agree that the previous “assault weapon” ban had zero effect on homicide or crime rates. But that’s contemporary liberalism–all bullying, no argument. The thing you always need to keep in mind is: liberals are not as smart as you are.
UPDATE: This inspiring story of armed self-defense is also relevant.