Black conservatives get under the skin of most liberal commentators, and Ben Carson’s steady rise in the presidential polls have been driving the pundits outright batty. Detractors have seized upon Carson’s comments relating to Obamacare, same-sex marriage, and most recently about guns and self-defense.
In the latest provocation, Carson told CNN he thinks “the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed… there is a reason these dictatorial people take guns first.”
Put aside that a certain class of opinion makers thinks it offensive and indefensibly hyperbolic to make references to Naziism in the context of any contemporary policy debate. On the face of the issue, critics seem to reject a self-evident observation. As Dennis Prager offers on TownHall: “No normal person thinks that armed Jews would have prevented the Holocaust (nor did Carson make such a claim). But no normal person should think that it would have not have been a good thing if many European Jews had weapons. The hallowed Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began with the Jews in the Ghetto possessing a total of 10 handguns. Imagine if they had a thousand.” The Federalist’s Daniel Payne adds detail how the Nazi regime engaged in systematic confiscation of weapons from political opponents, including Jews in particular, and maintained strict gun control as a means to dominate civil society.
Opponents of gun rights are not interested in delving into these historical realities because they want to deny the nexus between gun ownership and self-defense. In their view, the availability of guns leads to more, not less, criminal violence, not to mention accidental injuries and death. If only we had more “common sense” gun control, they assure us, the body count of innocents would plummet.
But what is common sense, anyway? A feel-good compulsion to “do something” when tragedy strikes? Or is it more sensible to check emotions at the door and look at the empirical evidence about gun violence?
There is a lot of data bandied about by both sides of the issue, and it is hard for any fair-minded person to say the data is conclusive. What is indisputable is that violent crime has been nosediving for years, even as Americans have more guns than ever before. Proponents of “concealed-carry” laws think this fact tells the whole story, but it is impossible to prove causation. In other words, you just cannot prove that more generous gun rights will further reduce crime.
Of course, by that count, it is even more difficult to defend the merits of gun control. Here is where the policy “laboratory” of our federal system offers insights to anyone who cares to look. Cities like Chicago, with some of the most stringent restrictions, have some of the worse records on gun violence. Even Harvard scholars cannot seem to agree whether gun control reduces gun violence or not.
Our nation is based on individual liberty. Like a doctor whose first duty is to do no harm, our government must not take freedom from the people without just cause. The burden of proof is on the state, not the citizen.
Mass shootings have grabbed the headlines and prompted President Obama and his fellow Democrats to demand new laws to tighten allegedly insufficient controls on access to guns. Nowhere has anyone demonstrated that new background checks, assault rifle bans, or magazine restrictions — let alone manufacturer liability — would have prevented the massacres at Roseburg, Aurora, or Newtown. So why create laws that at best do nothing and at worst reduce the capacity of good guys with guns? Just to “do something” while enriching the trial attorney lobby?
Jewish critics of Ben Carson, self-declared defenders of sacred Holocaust cows, might want to ask themselves why Israel, which is facing the most acute urban violence in years, has just loosened its civilian permit laws to allow more people to carry concealed firearms. Time and again over past several weeks, Israelis have taken down terrorist attackers using weapons carried by bystanders or by the victims themselves. In this case the argument is not academic. It truly is a matter of life and death.
The liberal political elite will not admit it, but their actions speak louder than words. They walk among armed security guards while disparaging the rights of common citizens to arm themselves. Just like they send their kids to private schools while battling school choice for the urban poor. Just like they fly on private jets while denigrating the fossil fuels that power the working man’s pickup.
Supporters of Ben Carson have had their fill of such hypocrisy. They are placing their trust in common sense.