Read this article about a gun owner’s attitude toward Kyle Rittenhouse. It gets to the heart of gun control. Not directly, but in the assumptions made.
I live in Japan, where guns are effectively banned; it’s incredibly safe here. In the US, however, that’s not really an option. Guns aren’t going away anytime in the foreseeable future.
However, what the right wing wants is not the freedom to own and use guns; instead, what they demand is the liberty to buy and use guns without any conditions—and, more and more, without any penalties for irresponsible misuse, either.
Gun control is the responsible medium. Now, gun advocates will immediately assume that gun control is a ban, making it so that only criminals have guns because they can just decide to break the laws.
This, however, is blatantly false: despite the NRA propaganda, gun control does not ban guns, it does not deny guns to law-abiding citizens, and it does not proliferate guns in the hands of criminals.
It does the exact opposite.
Gun control is not a ban on weapons, it allows law-abiding citizens to own and use guns, and it minimizes the number of guns that criminals possess.
In fact, under even the strictest gun control now in effect in the US, the number of guns has actually increased while the amount of crime has decreased.
This goes against what many gun opponents feel is correct: that the fewer guns you have, the better things will be. That assumption is not fully correct. The key element is not the number of guns… instead, it is a matter of the people who possess them.
To understand this, you have to understand that most gun control in the US today is compromised by something called “The Patchwork Quilt.” That is, instead of there being one strong federal law for the whole country, gun control opponents have forced each state, county, and city to draft their own laws—creating a patchwork of areas, often in close proximity, where laws controlling guns can be strict or lax in close proximity.
Chicago has a gun control problem: it is called “Indiana.” All that a criminal has to do to defeat Chicago’s gun control laws is to drive to Gary and buy his guns there. The large number of guns taken from criminals in New York State proves the efficacy of the state’s gun control laws, as the vast majority were bought out of state and brought back in.
Gun control laws work, but are defeated by nearby areas where there is little or no gun control.
Amusingly, Oklahoma and Nebraska made the case for this by suing Colorado over its recreational marijuana laws: they claimed that since their own citizens could just drive to Colorado and get weed and bring it back, it compromised their own attempts to outlaw the drug. They were, effectively, arguing for federal gun control, they just hadn’t thought about the implications of their argument.
Gun control opponents, however, will ignore the Patchwork Quilt and simply say that gun control doesn’t work because it doesn’t work, trotting out the old propaganda line laid out by the NRA.
The thing is, we have a valid test case for gun control: Hawaii. In the 70’s, Hawaii had a gun crime problem, like much the rest of the country. In 1981, they made a new set of laws, strict gun controls which constituted the strongest such laws in any state in the country. They required training, testing, background checks, licensing, and registration, along with greater restrictions against guns classified as assault rifles.
If we are to believe the NRA line, Hawaii should have descended into hell: law-abiding citizens should have been stripped of their guns, while criminals roamed the streets, the only ones armed.
The reality, however, proved just the opposite: gun deaths and gun crimes in general dropped by more than half almost overnight, and stayed that way from that time forward. Today, Hawaii has one of the lowest, if not the lowest gun crime rate in the country.
Why is this a test case? Because the Patchwork Quilt cannot affect Hawaii. Being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii has a built-in moat: you cannot drive to Alaska to get guns and then drive them back.
Hawaii proves the case that gun control not only can work in the US, but that it does work in the US—so long as there are no holes in the coverage.
But here’s where we get the twist: after enforcing these laws, not only were law-abiding citizens still able to get guns… but the sheer number of legally owned guns has skyrocketed. The number of guns owned in Hawaii has consistently grown over time. There are more and more guns every year.
This will make most gun control advocates scratch their heads. Wait, more guns are better?
Well, not exactly, It is not the number of guns that matter, but instead how they are allowed.
This brings us back to the article I linked to at the start of this post. The author writes:
I’ve owned guns all my life. … When it was time for my son to learn to hunt, we took a hunter safety course together, and I tried to teach him these important lessons just as my father had taught them to me. …the most important thing about owning a gun for protection [is that you] do everything possible to make sure you never have to use it. …
Professional police officers know how to handle a weapon, and the best cops know how to de-escalate a tense situation — they know how to keep it from getting worse. A young vigilante knows none of these things.
And this brings the point home: America could be a “safe gun” country, if we had gun control—something that gun advocates fight tooth and nail to prevent. Oh, sure, they’ll say they approve of safe gun use—but they will do everything in their power to prevent it from being required.
And if it is not required, then few will do it.
Background checks have been proven over and over again as effective means of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, while allowing law-abiding citizens free access. Yes, opponents will bring up apocryphal examples of a law-abiding citizen caught in some bureaucratic snafu—but such cases are the rare exceptions, not the rule.
And training? Why in holy hell would anyone oppose training in gun safety and gun use? It makes no sense whatsoever—unless you want to use guns without any requirement for personal responsibility.
And if you want to bring up the tired cliché about tyrants using registration lists to confiscate weapons, I would direct you back through your portal to the fantasyland from which you emerged. Tyrants and fascists are typically ushered in by those who have the guns in the first place.
Hawaii proved the case: strong gun control works, so long as it is not compromised by gaping holes every other city, county, and state.
Kyle Rittenhouse and those who laud him as a hero are the quintessential example of how fetishistic gun culture in the US has brought us our current sad state of rampant gun crime and death.
We can have our guns, and our safety—but only if we’re willing to be responsible and do it the right way.