This is the subject of my article in a forthcoming symposium issue of the Fordham Urban Law Journal. The article details the political, cultural, social, and legal battles over gun control from the 1920s to the early 21st century. Here’s the abstract:
Mr. Kopel is one of the classic spin-doctors of the gun debate. He bases his entire work on the presumption that gun control folks want to ban guns.A movement to ban handguns began in the 1920s in the Northeast, led by the conservative business establishment. In response, the National Rifle Association began to get involved in politics, and was able to defeat handgun prohibition. Gun control and gun rights became the subjects of intense political, social, and cultural battles for much of the rest of the 20th century, and into the 21st.Often, the battles were a clash of absolutes: One side contended that there was absolutely no right to arms, that defensive gun ownership must be prohibited, and that gun ownership for sporting purposes could be, at most, allowed as a very limited privilege. Another side asserted that the right to arms was absolute, and that any gun control laws were infringements of that right.
"A movement to ban handguns began in the 1920s," he says, followed by the very inaccurate description of the gun control side of the argument as, "One side contended that there was absolutely no right to arms, that defensive gun ownership must be prohibited."
This is a false premise.
The truth is, the gun control side of the argument generally seeks common-sense regulations that would keep guns out of the hands of unfit and dangerous people. There is nothing "absolute" or "extreme" about that. So, why would an intelligent man who is a gifted writer say such a thing? It couldn't be an accident?
By exaggerating the position of the gun control folks and making them sound fanatical, he balances the equation very nicely. The gun-rights people actually do feel any restrictions are an undue infringement and in violation of their rights.
In other words, the average gun-control argument is fairly reasonable while the average gun-rights argument is not.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.