THE POISONED WELL
Michael S. Brown
Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws
August 29, 2001
Influential political thinkers have written
articles suggesting that both sides in the gun control debate should work
together and seek some sort of compromise.
Unfortunately, this new initiative faces a very
serious problem. The disingenuous tactics of the anti-gun lobby have poisoned
the well to such an extent that America's gun owners will never trust them.
Supporters of gun rights have many
bitter complaints about their opponent's ethics and honesty.
The first involves the true goal of the
anti-gun lobby. Most gun control organizations are careful to state publicly
that they absolutely, positively do not want to ban private ownership of guns.
In reality, this is convincingly contradicted by many quotes from gun control
leaders in unguarded moments and is reflected in the chants of their supporters
at anti-gun rallies.
The creators of new gun control laws often
admit that they will not have a significant impact on crime, yet they are always
lauded as "a step in the right direction." Which direction would that
be? Here's a clue: The anti-gun lobby stridently proclaims that the Second
Amendment has nothing to do with individual rights. Since even the NRA says the
amendment allows reasonable regulation, the only reason to attack it is if the
eventual goal is complete firearms prohibition.
Advocates of civilian gun ownership have
learned the hard way that bargaining with an adversary whose goal is your
extinction is called appeasement. Giving up something of value to satisfy your
enemy just encourages him to come back for more.
Another problem is the cynical way that
anti-gun operatives created pseudo-scientific studies to overstate the dangers
of civilian gun ownership. This "junk science" has given gun-related
sociological research such a bad name that it will be difficult to find support
for future studies.
It has never been proven that restrictive gun
laws of any kind have ever reduced crime, suicides or accidents. Crime, in fact,
often increases as gun laws are tightened. By pursuing more laws while ignoring
the glaring failure of similar laws, the gun controllers appear to have a
sinister motive beyond simple public safety.
It is also very difficult to trust
organizations that have chosen to influence the public through a long series of
misleading labels from "cop killer bullets" to "gun show
loophole." Gun owners are still seething with anger over the way that these
false labels were picked up and endlessly repeated by an unquestioning media.
As a student of this debate myself, I find it
striking how heavily the anti-gun position has been based on misinformation and
deceit. Attempts at rational discussion were drowned in emotional rhetoric,
deceptive marketing techniques, and fabricated statistics.
The gun control lobby also has a serious
penchant for ad hominem attacks. They have attempted to portray gun owners as
sociopaths who don't care about human life. Scholars whose research contradicted
anti-gun assumptions were subjected to name-calling and character assassination.
One result of these dishonorable tactics was
the founding of several new gun rights groups that are much more radical than
the NRA. They are well positioned to fight any attempt at compromise.
This poisoned well is the sad legacy of an
intense effort to win an ideological struggle at all costs. Until something
happens to soften decades of ill will, the chances of the two sides sitting down
together and agreeing to anything are nil.
Dr. Michael S. Brown is an optometrist and
member of Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws: www.dsgl.org.
See the DSGL About Us page for more
information about Dr. Brown -- including media contact information.