Nicholas Kristof’s Dishonest, Confused, Cynical, And Astoundingly Naive Gun Control Op-Ed

Safe gun

[UPDATED: 1/18/2016]

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?

Guess.

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.

Kristof concludes,

“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.

55 thoughts on “Nicholas Kristof’s Dishonest, Confused, Cynical, And Astoundingly Naive Gun Control Op-Ed

  1. I certainly do support banning guns. Irrational? In today’s context it probably is, but times do change. Is it likely to happen? Not in my lifetime or maybe even my children’s (all of whom are licensed except my daughter).

    Obama made a mild effort that was mostly emotional based and it is another slight – ever so slight – path towards my own ultimate hope.

    • If times ever change to the point where the public peacefully accepted gun banning and confiscation, the United States and many of the core values that make it the United States will have already vanished, with far more damage to freedom and personal liberty than Second Amendment rights. The nation is about preserving an individual right to self-determination, and having access to the power conveyed by a gun is the symbol of that.

    • I certainly do support banning guns. Irrational? In today’s context it probably is, but times do change. Is it likely to happen? Not in my lifetime or maybe even my children’s (all of whom are licensed except my daughter).

      What do you expect banning guns to do aside from create black markets?

      • There will be – just as there is now – a black market for guns. Banning guns are done incrementally and that is already taking place and has for decades. Abolishment is a very long range objective.

            • Do you really think our cultural mentality has improved in the last 100 years? Do you think that the very, very strong correlation between an absolute consolidation of centralized power and the wholesale slaughter of those who step out of line will ever go away? Does it seem coincidental that more and more power is being ceded to the feds,at the same time that the Ministry of Propaganda is pumping out a record quantity of plainly agenda-based anti-gun swill?

              • Sorry, but I don’t believe for a second that these politicians mean well, and just want to save lives. They know It won’t.It always has been, and always will be, about power.

              • Of course it has. I am looking at it from a social context advancements in women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights and any other rights we can dream up. Other issues have changed dramatically such as abortion. The same will eventually happen to gun ownership as there will be a shift. You can see this happening now with people more receptive to more restrictive gun control laws. That will continue to go in that direction. This will be a real long games which is why I used the hundred years. this will be a real long game which is why I use the 100 years.

        • Ok, so once the end has been reached. And private citizens can no longer legally own a gun. And all of those private citizens have relinquished their firearms that were legally obtained. What is the United States like then? What beyond the accomplishment of removing the guns has been obtained?

          • The United States then has accepted the primacy of government over the individual, and citizens have voluntarily made their self-preservation and safety dependent on the good will and competence of a government. Rendering its right to reject the established government when it becomes abusive, dictatorial and unjust null in practical terms. That’s what.

            I don’t see that as “an accomplishement,” but that’s just me.

            • I feel the same way. But because it seems obvious, I want to make sure that I’m not missing out on a fair argument on banning all private ownership of firearms. I would like to here what Rick M has to say which is why I spoke from his perspective and called it an accomplishment. It doesn’t seem like he is going to supply an answer to the question.

            • It doesn’t seem like you took my questions seriously. You said, your ultimate hope is to have all guns banned. And your vision of American without the legal ownership of guns is a false comparison of the number of homicides now and the number from the “Old West.” If that is your greatest hope, I don’t see how that is fair to anyone who does or can legally own a firearm.

              • The “battle” for gun “rights” is essentially over. That it will happen is most certain – JMO. The pattern is clear.

                I would rather be in Tombstone than certain inner city areas today as Obama noted with Chicago.

                • “I would rather be in Tombstone than certain inner city areas today as Obama noted with Chicago.”

                  So you’d rather be in a place that respects the individual right to own firearms as opposed to a place with some of the strictest gun control laws in America?

                  You are a walking self-contradiction.

                  Amusingly enough, you do realize that the gunfight you allude to was between LAW ENFORCEMENT (with arguably corrupt backgrounds) and criminals right? Not between peaceful citizens firing willy nilly for fun?

                  You do know that, right?

                  • Everyone knows that the Earp regime made visitors turn in their guns when they arrived, right? It is also worthy of note that that shootout eventually became famous, which means it was unusual, which, in fact, it was.

                    • Visitors yes. Residents? Not sure about that.

                      And yes, gun-control loons like to say things about the “Wild West”, which, remarkably from what I understand was less violent than the settled East.

                  • Tombstone is an analogy for the west as structured in literature and media. Part of our cultural heritage. I could have said Dodge City, Deadwood or any other western community that has that connotation in a similar 20-year time frame.

                    Chicago is a beautiful city that has a mountain of gun violence. Obama certainly alluded to that in an emotional speech. A superior effort – rare as it may me – on his part.

                    Where I live the place of notoriety is Brockton, MA. Maybe some day both will be more pristine? The long march to the abolition of guns will eventually succeed.

                    • “Tombstone is an analogy for the west as structured in literature and media”

                      So a misrepresentation of facts or outright forging of history is what you have to rely on to prove a point?

                      At least you fit the model of a left wing activist.

                    • After listening to your argument it seems like you don’t believe your own words. You say that abolition of guns is a must. I’m sure you know that is impossible. Maybe the private ownership of firearms can be accomplished. But even there you won’t commit to it being a positive results. “Maybe some day both will be more pristine?” Well, I’m certain that there are many other things we could try before going to extremes.

                    • A must? I don’t recall that, but it is a very good idea – I’ll give you full credit, Mike.

                      I have mentioned numerous times when this topic has arisen that my position is extreme. Got that – everyone? EXTREME! If I was wagering I’d go 10/1 against abolition being passed.

                      If you wish to make a prediction on events that will transpire I will do so. Possibly within a 50-year time frame guns will become a do it yourself basement project or a 3D printer code. As far as the guns you have my “vision” is being kept in a secure facility with technology allowing only the person who owns to use it in a clearly defined area. I can also see liability being an issue with court cases pounding away at manufacturers and owners. Hopefully, our value system will improve dramatically in the next 5+ decades and gun violence will dissipate. If not? Well – strap ’em on and take ’em out!

                      You can see how both political and “common folk” posturing by Joe & Jane Public is starting to impact. Obama’s recent speech and EO action had support and will continue to gain support. Enough baby steps and you do reach the finish line.

    • It will ALWAYS be irrational, because trusting that any all-powerful centralized authority would never gravitate towards bloody tyranny (“history hath shewn…..”) is irrational. It will ALWAYS be irrational because natural, pre-political rights aren’t granted by the constitution, but reaffirmed. Neither you nor your descendants will ever see the day when this populace is effectively disarmed, because people who would give up their arms if ordered to do so would be as useless as people like you, if push came to shove. A lamb with a gun is still just a lamb. The rest of us would resist. So, go to your grave, knowing that the best you can hope for is more and more people waking up to what the ultimate goal of creeping incrementalists like you, and the politicians whose boots you lick, truly is. It becomes more and more undeniable every time you can’t open up a browser without seeing half a dozen op-ed’s full of fudged statistics, outright lies, appeals to emotion, and pleas to “do something” aimed at manipulating the feeble-minded. It becomes more evident every time a “mass shooting” results in the passing of laws by overreaching presidents and governors which would have done absolutely NOTHING to curtail neither the event in question, nor the actions of violent criminals generally. Thanks for at least not pulling the same old, tired “common sense” canard, though.

      • I think this is unduly harsh. Rich is dead wrong, but it’s an easy mistake to understand. If you have been raised to fear guns, see no utility in them, not to explore the deeper US culture, and to perceive firearms as simply dangerous and unnecessary rather than crucially symbolic of access to individual power, I can see Rich’s position appearing to be rational….that is, assuming he’s in the current 19% that still trusts the government. Wanting a government you don’t trust to be the sole armed entity is nuts, however.

        • Here you go on making Assumptions, Jack. And not only that you get my name wrong! Geez..and you hammered at that hack oped writer on his name. To protest I am withholding my $1,000 monthly site fee!

          I often consider the opinions here on this topic irrational.

          • Sorry—I was briefly thinking of the hopefully only temporarily MIA “RicH in Conn.” I’ve got The Bill and Other Bill, Elizabeth and Elizabeth I, Penn and Pennagain (who are the same)…this is inevitable.

            Now, I made no assumptions at all. I just described the conditions that would make “Rich’s [sic] position appear to be rational to others, and maybe you, by extension. Heck, I was defending you against assumptions.

            That’s the thanks I get.

            Wanting guns banned here is irrational because it’s impossible, Rick, all other arguments aside.

            • I apologize, Jack, I will continue that $1,000 a month. Just funnin’ you on the name.

              What happens is I have a tendency not to have philosophical linkage with issues. Generally, they stand alone. I am (surprise) strong anti-gun. A position usually subscribed to the far left and I am certainly not far left. Just an issue I feel passionate about. I also look at it as a long game. Will take generations, but it will happen with a cultural shift that we have seen on other issues. Very reminiscent to anti-smoking legislation that I was involved in. Takes time.

              • What happens is I have a tendency not to have philosophical linkage with issues.

                Intelligent, thoughtful people often don’t. You should consider issues individually, and not according to who or what supports them.

                • Exactly what I do and that can sometimes confuse. Assumptions can be made such as my position on guns. The assumption being it is probably as far left as one can get so a connect the dots is I will be far left on every issue. Far from it. I have long been an (I) in the voting booth and in my thought process.

                  What I have noticed about politics now that I have put in 71 years is that it is all about a popularity contest built on sound bites that puts a non-entity in office. A dramatic shift into the age of social media and itsy bitsy attention spans.

        • Yes, it is nuts, almost as nuts as being among the 19% that puts their full faith and trust into ANY government. Harsh? Maybe so. I completely understand why someone could come to these conclusions based on their lack of experience and their feelings, but I have little tolerance for people whose feelings have short-circuited their logic to the point that they feel they have the moral authority to render the rest of us helpless.I’ve lost patience when trying to talk to people about this subject, mostly because it doesn’t matter how much logic and reason you bring to the debate. They want what they want, truth and consequences (for them, and for everyone else and their children) be damned.

        • “If you have been raised to fear guns, see no utility in them, not to explore the deeper US culture, and to perceive firearms as simply dangerous and unnecessary rather than crucially symbolic of access to individual power”

          This is usually summarized as saying “If you choose to willfully remain ignorant and unprincipled…”

  2. A little humor from something I received via email purporting to be a rant by Clint Eastwood (or his writers): “Participating in a gun buy-back program because you think that criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you think your neighbors have too many kids.”

    • Get ready. When he finally goes full NPR correspondent, he’ll change the remaining ‘f’ to a ‘v’ and add a middle name, maybe ‘Semoyovitch.’ (Sorry, I’ve been reading Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot.” As if there aren’t enough characters in the book, they are all called two or three totally different names which are themselves comprised of two or three names.)

  3. You should read the comments on this article, featuring the invincible ignorance Kristof is railing against.

    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.

    for what other item do we try to reduce the risk of accident by restricting sales to consumers?

    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?

    Maybe he wants to make alcohol abuse illegal.

    So of course we should try to reduce this carnage. But we need a new strategy, a public health approach that treats guns as we do cars — taking evidence-based steps to make them safer. That seems to be what President Obama is trying to do.

    there he goes again with the public health approach.

    Criminal homicide by the use of guns is no more a public health issue than criminal homicide by poison is a public health issue.

    f 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?

    I have read anti-gunners cite Japan as an example as well.

    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?

    Or the NAACP opposing literacy tests for voting.

    In fact, they should oppose these gun regulations, for they will be enforced by the same people who would enforce literacy tests for voting.

  4. Kristof’s is a bizarre article. Does he think he’s dropping the sanctimony, while accusing the right of obstructionism? There’s so much more wrong with the article than what you’ve noted. He begins by telling us “The number of guns in America has increased by more than 50 percent since 1993, and in that same period the gun homicide rate in the United States has dropped by half.” In other words, if there is a causal relationship between the number of guns and the gun homicide rate, the relationship is negative: more guns results in fewer gun homicides. He then goes on to argue we should strive toward reducing the number of guns. (Rather than gun homicides, perhaps his main interest is the gun suicides and accidents that, according to PolitiFact, make up two-thirds of the deaths in the “since 1970/68…” junk statistic.)

    This is my favorite paragraph from Kristof’s article: “Some public health approaches to reducing gun violence have nothing to do with guns. Researchers find that a nonprofit called Cure Violence, which works with gangs, curbs gun deaths. An initiative called Fast Track supports high-risk children and reduces delinquency and adult crime.” Sadly, Kristof seems to have no idea what this means. Apparently, changing behavior rather than the number (and type, capacity, etc.) of guns can have a significant impact on gun violence.

      • Jack, I admire and forgive your kind (to Kristof) restraint. Addressing everything wrong with Kristof’s article would take days.

    • I think it reveals the fact that it’s the guns, rather than the gun violence, that he really has a problem with. Reminds me of the time when my wife didn’t want me to have my BMW. ” Its impractical, unsafe, insurance, property tax, parts, something must be wrong with it (a 2003 540i for $2900). After checking into everything and and allaying all of these concerns, she was STILL unhappy about it. There might be some sort of correlation between guns, BMWs, and estrogen. I’ll look into it and report back.

    • Of course the right is obstructionist. He’s a far left Libbie. Agee with him and you become patrotic. Typical moonbat methods that we have endured with Obama.

  5. When it comes to the debate around guns, I respect the people who say the following two things: 1) I want to ban all guns; and 2) I want to abolish the 2nd Amendment. When they say those two things, I know I’m talking to a reasonable person who knows the purpose, place, and meaning of the U.S. Constitution and the Amendments.

    Then we can have our debate about guns in an intellectually honest way and I can stand directly opposed to them.

    • True. Certainly more above-board than those who would have you believe #1 is consistent with #2, but then what’s left is the “living document/muskets/the times they are a-changin'” types.

  6. http://reason.com/blog/2016/01/18/former-harvard-president-larry-summers-w#comment_5839191

    If they took a scientific, or logical, approach to gun related death and injury, they would likely conclude that the War on Drugs™ is a major culprit and turn it off. After the WoD was retired they might well find that a lack of jobs and independence is another problem and retract Minimum Wage Laws that keep young, unskilled black men from finding jobs. Then they might find that Welfare contributes to single parent homes and to boys growing up without a father figure, and then rewrite welfare laws to encourage rather than discourage families. Yeah, they could take a scientific approach to gun violence, but they won’t.

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