How the Anti-Gun Left Picked the Worst Hill to Die on.
In one of his recent Periscopes, following the Mandalay Bay shooting in Las Vegas, Master Persuader, Scott Adams, goes through a list of arguments for and against gun control, highlighting some of the worst of the bunch in terms of their persuasive impact. Whether you're for or against, you can appreciate the brilliance of his insights. Both Scott and I are pro-gun, and largely for the same reason: the individual's need for self-defense against criminals and tyranny.
The point of mentioning his Periscope, however, is that, regardless of what side of the issue you fall on (and this is true of any issue, not just guns), it's important to pick your battles strategically.
One thing you've probably heard a lot lately is this notion that we shouldn't politicize recent tragedy. That the left is quick to talk about gun control after a mass shooting, while the right is quick to talk about radical Islam after a terror attack. Each side cries hypocrisy when the other side does it, and certainly there is something to be said for the human element and loss of life in all this. The death of any innocent is something that should be treated with a certain degree of reverence, I agree.
But one thing that's important to bear in mind is that it's actually OK to talk politics when the issue itself is innately political. In the case of Mandalay Bay and the most recent Sutherland Springs, Texas, shootings there was no political motivation (so far as has been reported). Just some random mentally ill person with a death wish. The same cannot be said in the case of the New York City truck attack, which was carried out rather flagrantly by a radical Islamic extremist yelling "Allah Akhbar," which the media-political complex then proceeded to downplay.
The reason the New York attack was different is because terrorism, by definition, is political:
Terrorism (n.) 1. "The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes."
Political motive is what separates terrorism from ordinary crime, and we know that the motives of Sayfullo Saipov were political in nature.
Your first thought might be, "Well isn't Islam a religion?" and you'd be correct, that Islam is indeed a religion; but in many ways, it's also more than that. It's a legal, social, and political system as well that, at least in the fundamentalist sense, prescribes domination over the entire world (sort of the same way Christians are told to go and make disciples of all the world, but Islam also expressly condones the use of violence in its subjugation).
In the case of the Islamic State, it's even more political in that ISIL doesn't just kill kafirs (infidels), they kill devout Muslims as well. Their primary goal is to impose their own narrow brand of theocracy, taking advantage of the power vacuum left by the removal of secular dictators like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi under the Bush and Obama administrations, respectively.
Your second thought might then be, "Well, isn't Saipov also mentally ill?" and he might well be, but it may surprise you to learn - as it surprised me to learn - that many radical Islamic extremists are actually quite rational and well-education:
It's worth your time to watch the video, though one point in which I dissent with both Sargon and Emma Vigeland on, is that they each only seem to be addressing half the problem, when in fact there is fault to be had on either side.
To Emma's point, American imperialism hasn't helped the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. In fact, it's made things a lot worse, causing many Arabs, Muslims, and North Africans to turn to radical Islam as a way of coping with the injustices done to them by western powers of the U.S., Israel, NATO, and the UN. Chief among them would be the Palestinians. Groups like the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, the Mujahadeen, and ISIL likely would not have existed without the help of foreign meddling in other parts of the world.
That said, to Sargon's point, even if the rest of the world kept to itself, there'd still be internal problems with the regressive ideology of fundamentalist Islam. We know this because even radical big government globalists like, say, Thomas Jefferson were forced to deal with this issue in military terms.
And even long before that, before there even was an America or an Israel, before the start of the Crusades, the forces of Western Europe had been plagued by Muslim armies threatening religious and political conquest.
It's a long and sordid history of violence to be sure, with all sides contributing their fair share to the problem; but none of that really has to do with the topic dujour, which is gun control.
Now, I have my own views on guns, but I'm at least happy to have a civilized debate about it, independent of whether or not it's right to politicize a tragedy. That said, I have to point out that the anti-gun left really picked the absolute worst incident to plant the flag on when it comes to forwarding their agenda on gun control.
In general, their argument goes something like this: "Mass shootings are bad, and guns that let you kill a lot of people make it easier to do that. So we need to make it harder for people to get them, even outright banning them in some instances, since most law-abiding citizens don't need them for personal defense. In fact, vigilantism tends to get in the way of law enforcement, making the situation worse."
There are several reasons why this particular incident is not very persuasive - and is in fact even anti-persuasive - to the left's case.
First of all, the gun used by the murderous Devin Kelley was already illegally-obtained, meaning it wasn't so much bad policy, as it was bad enforcement, that provided tinder to start this particular fire. So coming out and demanding a change in the laws when you can't even enforce the ones on the books as is, seems rather pointless, since that's just more opportunity for the government to botch the job and won't actually make anyone safer.
Secondly, the church at which this horrific shooting took place was already a gun-free zone, meaning that, once again, the law was powerless to stop the attack.
When you implement gun control, you generally get three types of people:
Those law-abiding citizens who'll happily comply with the law, who weren't any risk to begin with anyway, so you're not making anyone safer by disarming them. If anything, you're making those individuals less safe.
The molon labe crowd who invite the government to take their guns "from our cold, dead hands," who will actually fight (justly, in my opinion) against any attempts to deprive them of their natural rights. In such a bout, there will likely be a great deal of preventable bloodshed on both sides. I don't see the government winning that long term in America, if only because people will come to craft a sympathetic narrative for the heroic patriots fighting against an oppressive regime. Our country was born and baptized in such a fire of rebellion, recall.
Those who don't care about the law or morality, who, like Devin Kelley, will think nothing of mass murder, let alone weapons bans or gun registration. These are the people you really need to worry about; and as mentioned above, we're already not enforcing the law as is, so giving the police more work to do doesn't seem like it would help any.
(As a brief aside, maybe we'd have more enforcement power if the government wasn't busy prosecuting people for having the wrong plants on their person. Just a thought.)
Is it any wonder that most horrific gun crimes tend to take place in areas where guns generally aren't allowed? Places like Chicago, Baltimore, Washington DC, New York, as well as schools, movie theaters, and of course churches like the one in Sutherland Springs. I know Scott Adams doesn't find the "Chicago Argument" to be particularly persuasive, but it becomes more persuasive when you can stack several of them together and establish a consistent pattern with the singular thread running through all of them being a restriction on the right of otherwise peaceful, law-abiding civilians to own firearms.
Why is that?
The answer is simple, really: predators prefer prey that doesn't fight back!
In the wild, lions, cheetahs, wolves, and other predatory animals typically target the weakest prey, because it's easier to catch and kill, posing the least threat to its own existence. The same is true of human predators, whether you're talking about sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein or evil psychopaths like Stephen Paddock. Why do you think dictators throughout history have been in favor of gun control? Because it's easier to control the masses when they can't fight back:
(In fairness to Obama, he didn't quite reach the same level as the others in this list, but I still wouldn't trust such a policy.)
Once in a while, you'll get someone with messed up mental wiring, or who simply likes the challenge, who goes into an already heavily armed area like the Washington Navy Yard shooting or the Fort Hood shooting, but these are more the exceptions than the rule.
Returning to the topic at hand ...
Thirdly, the heroic actions of civilians Johnnie Langendorff and recently identified Stephen Willeford blast bullet holes in the narrative that no civilian needs such weapons for their own defense. Even the left-leaning CNN reported that the actions of Willeford and Landendorff resulted in there being far fewer victims than there otherwise could have been.
How was this accomplished?
Willeford simply grabbed his own rifle and fired back at the shooter - not even stopping to put his shoes on first - hitting him twice in the side, and once in the neck. Kelly dropped his rifle and fled for his life. Willeford then hopped in Langendorff's truck and the two sped off after the perp in a high speed chase, which ultimately resulted in Kelley either dying from his wounds or taking his own life upon realizing there was no hope of escape (that part remains unclear at the time of my writing this).
Imagine that. A good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy with a gun.
And what was Willeford's training? Was he an off-duty cop? An ex-Marine? Nope. Just a plumber who was really good at shooting.
Now, you might be tempted to think that someone with no professional training in law enforcement or military service would only inhibit the true professionals from putting a stop to this horrible crime, and in seeking justice. That such vigilantism would only get in the way and make things worse, but that's not what was reported in the aforementioned CNN article:
"What do you say to the man who stepped up when he heard the gunshots? I'd say he's a hero," Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt Jr. told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday. "I don't think there's any question about that. Had he not done what he did, we could have lost more people."
Ok, ok, so he's a hero who helped save some people, but he still didn't prevent others from dying. Right? Sure, but neither did the law or the police in this instance.
The simple fact is, Willeford and Langendorff had the right tools, enough training, and the will to act, which is as much as anyone in the military or law enforcement would have. The one thing they had that the police didn't, however, was they happened to be in the right place at the right time. They got there well in advance of the police, and this is something that gun rights advocates repeat loud and frequently is that in times when seconds count, you can't always wait for the police. Sometimes, it's the difference between life and death to have a gun within arm's reach. Something to even the playing field.
Imagine if you tried applying this logic to other situations. You had to wait for the fireman to come rescue you because you couldn't have hoses or sprinklers or fire extinguishers. You had to wait for the ambulance to take you to the hospital because you couldn't have first aid kits and over-the-counter medicine. Not only would the system get bogged down to the point of perilous inefficiency, but many lives would be lost before they even got the chance to die waiting in line.
Maybe having an AR-15 won't be enough to stop a government that has nukes and tanks and drones at its disposal, but the alternative is this:
Again, predators don't like armed prey. Would you rather being throwing rocks at the enemy or firing bullets? Proverbial horns on the gazelle, as it were.
In reality, I doubt it would ever get to that point. That simply having a country awash with civilian guns would be enough to deter criminals and tyrants in the majority of cases. And even if something were to happen, I can't think of any greater uniter of people than a common enemy. I know this from my own personal experience, that even just making yourself appear like more of a threat, like more trouble than it's worth, can be enough to stave off a would-be predator.
Again, I'm more than happy to hear counter-arguments from those who claim to want common-sense gun control, but I think it's pretty clear that the Sutherland Spring massacre is not going to be a winning battleground for the left. You can make all the intellectual arguments you want, but at the end of the day, all the pro-gun right has to do is point to what happened in Texas and say, "Here's a couple of heroes who prove you're wrong."
It's a picturesque portrait of persuasion.