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L. Neil Smith's
Number 174, May 20, 2002

The Last Days of Gun Control: Vermont Carry Shows Why

by Charles Novins

Copyright May 2002

Special to TLE

For those of you sufficiently uninformed to think gun control is a good idea, I have disastrous news for you: The Democrats, on seeing that there aren't quite enough of you to be useful to them, are cutting you loose.

This has been written about a few times now in the mass media. The latest broadside may be found at the Christian Science Monitor: www.csmonitor.com/2002/0510/p02s02-uspo.html

This is a common peccadillo for the two parties who, in terms of principle, represent nothing. Any of you who were, for whatever reason, opposed to capital punishment have undoubtedly already noticed that the Democrats cut you loose decades ago. A person opposing the death penalty understands precisely what is meant when it is argued that there isn't a "dime's worth of difference" between the two parties.

If your pet-favorite issue is the subject of that "dime's worth," just keep in mind that your issue could be next, so watch where you invest both your campaign funds as well as your illusions.

The reason for this about-face on guns seems petty straightforward; several analysts have shown convincingly that, had Al Gore not supported gun control, he would probably have been elected president.

(A pro-gun control USA TODAY article noted this at www.usatoday.com/news/e98/raasch/r086.htm)

And the big news is that the Republicans have capitalized on this with the administration's revolutionary announcement that the Second Amendment is what it says it is. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=514&e=5&cid=514&u= /ap/20020508/ap_on_go_su_co/scotus_guns_3

But there's much more to this seemingly-sudden national shift.

The MONITOR story cited above soft-pedals this, but Democrats (and Repubs) have long known that many gun advocates are one-issue or critical-issue voters. On the other side, the gun-control people are a more generalized lot. They tend to want government controls on many things, so a freedom-oriented candidate is not an option even if their favored candidate takes little or no position on guns.

Many gun advocates feared that the various school shootings would bring the same parity to their cause, but it never occurred. There are a number of reasons why.

I believe that September 11 was a big one. Many on the gun-control side of the debate are there because they've implicitly accepted pacifism. That's an easy error to make when you have the advantage of living in one of the most peaceful places on Earth, which the United States is.

September 11 re-acquainted Americans with the notion that violence in defense of your country, or your family, or even your person, is no vice. The nation's been a century-and-a-half without domestic warring except for two singular assaults. But one of them was, well, just the other day.

But the really huge problem for gun-banners has been right there in front of them for decades, and there is simply nothing they can do to stop it, argue against it, or refute it.

It is, of course, Vermont.

The central idea that propels gun-control is that you simply cannot let guns loose. People (and by that we always mean "other people") simply cannot be trusted to own and use guns safely. Guns must be regulated and carefully watched by law enforcement. In at least some significant degree, this is how it is done everywhere.

Except, of course, in Vermont. No gun laws in Vermont. Period.

There are indeed jurisdictions that allow many people to carry and use guns, but those exist in far-away, culturally-odd places like Missouri or South Dakota.

But you can drive from Manhattan to Vermont in a few hours.

And we are told that it is certainly guns that are the problem, not people. If guns are freely available, it stands to reason that there's going to be more violence and more crime.

But somehow, in Vermont, there's less of both than anywhere else in the United States.

Where is the "common sense" on Vermont? Are people there so different that they don't draw guns in traffic disputes and kill one another? Isn't this scenario what's supposed to happen when guns are unrestricted? Why doesn't it happen in Vermont any more often than anywhere else? And then ask yourself why it actually happens in Vermont LESS often than almost anywhere else?

How is it that Vermont has flirted with this dangerous idea of leaving people free for all these decades and remained unscathed?

On the gun issue, the ignorance is both deep and wide. The world's number-one newspaper - The New York Times - employs a fellow named Bob Herbert to write opinions for them. Yesterday, he said: www.nytimes.com/2002/05/09/opinion/09HERB.html

"I had a .45-caliber pistol hanging low on my hip many years ago when I was in the Army. And I can tell you, I'm not anxious to think about that kind of weapon (or something smaller and easier to conceal) being in the pockets and the purses and the briefcases and the shoulder holsters of the throngs surrounding me in my daily rounds in Manhattan."

This is such a statement of vile ignorance that the residents of Vermont would be understood (though not forgiven) if they indeed made Herbert's nightmares come true during any visit he might make. But they do not, and have not, and would not. Too bad Herbert is so utterly outside of reality that he can't imagine how that might be so.

Vermonters needn't worry, however, since Herbert, if he is sincere, will stay, comforted, in the gun-safety of NYC.

- - -
For more information on the facts alluded to in this article (for example, that Vermont has the lowest rate of crime in the nation), the best source is John R. Lott Jr., a scholar who has produced research on these issues. His latest commentary in USA TODAY can be found at: www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20020509/4097089s.htm


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