Guns and the perfect as the enemy of the modest progress

So, the other day I mentioned Dylan Matthews excessively skeptical take on much of anything short of full-scale Australian-style gun confiscation.  In fairness, Matthews admitted some policies might have some modest impact.  Of course, Matthews lives in the real world.  Charles Krauthammer, in contrast, lives in Republican fever-swamp land.  Today’s column essentially asserts that an Australian-style confiscation is the only thing that could reduce gun violence and since we know we can’t do that, there’s no point in even trying.

The reason the debate is so muddled, indeed surreal — notice, by the way, how “gun control” has been cleverly rechristened “common-sense gun-safety laws,” as if we’re talking about accident proofing — is that both sides know that the only measure that might actually prevent mass killings has absolutely no chance of ever being enacted.

Mere “common-sense” regulation, like the assault weapons ban of 1994 that was allowed to lapse 10 years later, does little more than make us feel good. AJustice Department study found “no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”

As for the only remotely plausible solution, Obama dare not speak its name. He made an oblique reference to Australia, never mentioning that its gun-control innovation was confiscation, by means of a mandatory buyback. There’s a reason he didn’t bring up confiscation (apart from the debate about its actual efficacy in reducing gun violence in Australia). In this country, with its traditions, public sentiment and, most importantly, Second Amendment, them’s fightin’ words…

In the final quarter of his presidency, Obama can very well say what he wants. If he believes in Australian-style confiscation — i.e., abolishing the Second Amendment — why not spell it out? Until he does, he should stop demonizing people for not doing what he won’t even propose.

So, the poorly-thought out, overly-comprised assault weapons ban didn’t do much of anything therefore no non-confiscation policies will actually do anything.  Wow, there’s some rigorous logic.  As to policies what would surely make a meaningful dent, I detailed those the other day.  This is just such an intellectually vapid argument.  And, of course, Krauthammer is what passes for a smart guy among conservative pundits.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Guns and the perfect as the enemy of the modest progress

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    Instead of calling it “gun control” can’t we call it something like “gun sales” laws?
    The primary focus should be keeping arms away from the incapable, the violent and the criminals. The words “gun control” trigger a reflex into angry rejection which ends rational discussion before it can start.
    If we start by discussing “gun sales” laws we can address background checks and other issues that involve buyers and sellers. Maybe a step by step way of approaching the issues of how we can reduce gun deaths would be better than ways that try to discuss several ideas at the same time . It’s the KISS method – keep it simple….uh….sweetheart.
    Maybe there is an even better two words to defuse the discussion than “gun laws”…anybody?

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