Few anti-gun advocates have been as shrill and self-righteous as the New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof, so pardon me if I find his sudden change of tone insincere. It smacks of “let’s see if this works,” but never mind: it’s a brave effort, or rather, is supposed to appear as one. Titled “Some Inconvenient Gun Facts for Liberals,” his article cites the statistics that contradict the hysterical anti-gun rhetoric coming from, for one, Barack Obama, and for another, Kristof, before this essay. We indeed have more guns and fewer homicides, Kristof admits. Banning assault weapons has little if any effect on reducing violence, and many proposed gun control measures were based on ignorance.
So much for the faux reasonableness. Kristof then pulls out some deceitful statistics of the sort we often hear, like this:
“Just since 1970, more Americans have died from guns than all the Americans who died in wars going back to the American Revolution (about 1.45 million vs. 1.4 million). That gun toll includes suicides, murders and accidents, and these days it amounts to 92 bodies a day.”
What an intellectually dishonest thing to write. Among those who have died were mobsters, gang members, criminals, murderers, terrorists and burglars. It includes people who would have killed themselves with pills or jumping out of windows had guns not been available. It includes accidents, and people die regularly in accidents involving ladders, bicycles slippery kitchen floors. This the epitome of a junk statistic, devised to appeal to emotion and bypass rational thought. Shame on him. He is just getting started, however.
Then Kristof goes off the reality rails, in familiar directions. Universal background checks will keep guns out of the hands of criminals, he says. No, they won’t. Who doesn’t know that? We should keep guns out of the hands of those who “abuse alcohol,” he says, citing a study. Meaning what, exactly? It’s not illegal to drink, or to get drunk, or to be an alcoholic. Alcoholics Anonymous is, you know, anonymous, and a doctor treating someone for alcohol abuse, whatever that means, can’t reveal that information. Does Kristof have any idea just how many Americans “abuse alcohol,” including elected officials, police officers, military personnel, artists, writers, doctors, lawyers, judges, professors, philanthropists, journalists, like about a fourth of his colleagues at the Times, and law abiding citizens?
“That means universal background checks before somebody acquires a gun,” Kristof concludes, “that” being making guns “safer” and “universal background checks” meaning “intrusive checks that go far, far beyond anything that has ever yet been proposed yet that STILL won’t stop any criminal who wants to get a gun from getting one.” “Why empower criminals to arm themselves?” Kristof asks, plaintively. You see, Nick, criminals don’t have to be empowered, because as criminals, they empower themselves regardless of what the law tells them to do. Why this ridiculously simple concept is so elusive to people like Kristof is one of life’s enduring mysteries….unless, of course, he understands completely, and is being intentionally and dishonestly dense. To what end, you ask?
Hmmmm. Well, here’s another example:
“More than 10 percent of murders in the United States, for example, are by intimate partners. The riskiest moment is often after a violent breakup when a woman has won a restraining order against her ex. Prohibiting the subjects of those restraining orders from possessing a gun reduces these murders by 10 percent, one study found.”
And what about those restraining order subjects who already had availed themselves of their Second Amendment right to own a fire arm? What do we do about those guns?
Oh deary me, laments Kristof. Why oh why do Americans, most of whom support common sense gun regulations, not wholeheartedly support the gun-hating liberals, like Kristof and Obama, who just want to enact them? ” [E]very time liberals speak blithely about banning guns, they boost the N.R.A. Let’s also banish the term “gun control”: the better expression is “gun safety,” says Kristof, sly fox that he is. Yes, that should put them off the track, the fools! Just like using “pro-choice” fools people into thinking that nothing is killed in an abortion. The only safe gun is one that doesn’t fire….or doesn’t exist.
“In short, let’s get smarter. Let’s make America’s gun battles less ideological and more driven by evidence of what works. If the left can drop the sanctimony, and the right can drop the obstructionism, if instead of wrestling with each other we can grapple with the evidence, we can save thousands of lives a year.”
He really thinks this is a credible statement of the anti-gun lobby’s objective.
It’s an amazing op-ed. Kristof claims to be bewildered about the reluctance of Americans to support “reasonable” support gun controls, in the course of an op-ed that makes it very clear why. It’s too late to pretend, after all the emotional rhetoric and false statistics and misleading arguments that every bit of gun control legislation isn’t designed as part of a long term plan to chip away at Second Amendment rights and eventually eliminate them. If this wasn’t true, why would the gun-control advocates be constantly citing Australia and other nations that have banned guns? Why would they have argued forever that the Second Amendment is a dead letter related to Revolution Era militias, and that it does not protect individual gun ownership at all? Why would they argue today that the Supreme Court was wrong to rule otherwise? If incremental erosion of the right to own guns isn’t the objective, why would President Obama discuss mass shootings in the course of announcing measures irrelevant to mass shootings?
Everyone knows, because gun-haters like Kristof have made it transparent and obvious, that if the Constitution permitted it, he, like Obama, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg and so many others, would advocate banning and confiscating guns. Yet he has so little respect for their intelligence and perceptiveness that he really and truly thinks that by saying now, “Let’s start all over again. okay? We don’t want to control guns, just make them safer! We can all get behind that, right?,” those who take their rights seriously will say, “Well, gosh! This has all been a big misunderstanding!” as if everything that came before was a dream.
Kristof understands why abortion rights advocates fight even incremental regulations on abortion, because those proposing the regulations would ban abortions completely if they could. The problem is trust, and the abortion advocates are absolutely right: they can’t trust those who would ban abortion to regulate it and stop at that. Yet Nick is so puzzled that people who may agree with rational gun regulations in theory oppose granting the political power to enact them to cynical deceivers who think like him, and who have so little respect for the American public that they believe that just a little rhetorical slight of hand will make a difference. Not control! Safety! There, all better now, you trigger-happy, blood thirsty child killers?
It’s too late, Nicholas. We know you too well.
UPDATE: Coincidence or coordination? Kristof’s progressive pal on the Times Op-Ed page, Charles Blow, arguably an even more habitually obnoxious anti-gun fanatic than Kristof, also registered a superficially conciliatory column pulling back on his anti-gun rhetoric.