Tucson, Paris And Chicago: Dismissing Conservative Gun Law Myths
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris, conservative commentators quickly realized there was political advantage in using the tragedy for political gain over gun rights.
Donald Trump said that if Parisians were armed, “it would have been a much, much different situation.”
Ann Coulter said on Twitter “Too bad there were no concealed carry permits … anywhere in Europe … since 1818” and claimed that Donald Trump was elected the night of the attacks.
If only everyone in Paris had guns, they thought wishfully, then everyone would have been safer. But does a societal arms race make us safer?
Here is an illuminating example proving why everyone having a gun makes gun violence situations much more dangerous, and much more confusing: in the Tucson shooting a few years ago the so-called “Good Guy With A Gun” rushed onto the scene and very nearly killed the innocent person who had taken the gun from the real shooter. Fortunately, the Good Guy With A Gun didn’t pull the trigger, but it was a very close call.
Now imagine a much bigger, more crowded situation than in Tucson, like the one we saw in the Paris attacks. If 30 Good People With Guns had pulled out their weapons amidst the chaos, where no one knew what was happening (how many terrorists were involved, who they were and which people in the crowd they were, etc.) how could they possibly know what to do?
And with pulling out their weapons, would not the Good People With Guns immediately appear to be the terrorists? Would not the attempt of trying to be the Good Guy With A Gun in a chaotic terrorist attack be putting one’s own life in danger? Would not every other Good Person With A Gun immediately find you suspicious and threatening? Would they not try to subdue or kill you?
What if Paris had 150 Good People With Guns? What about 500 Good People With Guns? What if everyone in Paris was individually armed? Would not the situation quickly devolve into irreversible pandemonium if literally every single Parisian had pulled out a gun for protection and vigilante action? Would not Paris have erupted into a free-for-all melee with people everywhere shooting at each other?
How can a population of Good People With Guns possibly stop terrorist attacks in such densely crowded places? If everyone had been armed, the tragedy in Paris would have been a much bigger bloodbath. A social arms race is not the way to defuse social violence.
But that is what conservatives call for with their dreams of civilian militarization. In the same speech as Trump’s earlier quote he references Chicago, and points out that Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the country while experiencing some of the most rampant gun violence. He cites Chicago as proof that guns laws do not work.
But the problem is not in Chicago gun laws. The New York Times published the findings of a Chicago Police Department investigation looking for where recovered guns come from, and the results are enlightening.
The investigation found that nearly three-fourths of the guns whose origins were traced to Illinois came from neighboring towns just outside of Chicago’s Cook County, and just outside of Chicago’s strict gun laws. More than half of the guns identified, though, came from outside of Illinois, and neighboring Indiana is the source of a plurality. Along with Indiana, the next eight states most represented by Chicago’s recovered guns are Mississippi, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas, all states with conservative governors and conservative legislatures with the exception of Kentucky, whose recent gubernatorial election just resulted in a conservative victory.
These conservatively governed states predictably have looser gun laws than Chicago, and it is ironic that so many guns in Chicago come from conservative states while conservatives mock Chicago for its gun laws. It adds gun rights insult to Chicago gun violence injury.
Unfortunately, in times of international tragedy America’s gun special interests see the political expediency in calling for less gun regulations. I suppose it is a courtesy that gun enthusiasts have not been accusing the French of orchestrating an anti-Second Amendment hoax like they have accused President Obama over American mass shootings, but it would be nice if conservatives at least knew what they were talking about when it comes to the causation of Chicago’s gun violence.