Monday, May 06, 2013

Cultural Bias and Gun Control

It’s long been obvious that liberals’ desire for gun control simply doesn’t reflect any sort of rational policy calculus.

As Americans are increasingly realizing, no gun control policy short of outright confiscation (and probably not even that, since government could not get the guns of the violence-prone) has any hope of reducing gun violence.

Liberals, for example, simply ignore the fact that the 1994-2004 assault weapons ban had no detectable effect on gun violence.

Neither do they pay any attention to the fact that the best scientific studies of local gun control ordinances show little if any effect.

Then there is the fact that concealed carry laws, according to the best social science evidence, create no increase in gun violence, and may well have a strong deterrent effect on crime.

So what is going on here? The impetus for gun control is simply the cultural hostility of liberal elites toward gun buffs and the sort of people whom they stereotype as liking guns. For example, one columnist for the New York Daily News said of Sarah Palin’s appearance at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston:
Sarah Palin showed up at the NRA convention the other day, which was merely perfect. She belonged there as much as anybody in the hall just because from the start, from the time John McCain picked her out of the chorus, Palin has most appealed to mean, dumb, angry crowds exactly like the one she found in Houston.
Then, of course, there was Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, who told USA Today of the people attending the convention “The world’s changing around them, and they’re hunkering down.”

Ironically, the attitudes of the American people are changing, and they are becoming more supportive of gun rights.

This kind of contempt for gun rights people was clear in the tantrum that Obama threw when the Manchin-Toomey bill went down in the Senate. He whined that:
“The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill.” The Senators who voted against it are cowardly and had “no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics.” And finally “a minority was able to block it from moving forward” through “this continuing distortion of Senate rules.”
By the time the bill came to a vote in the Senate, it had been watered down to contain little more than an expansion of background checks. Supposedly, 90% or so of Americans favored that, and it seemed reasonable enough. Unfortunately, as the Wall Street Journal noted:
Mr. Obama is technically right that Manchin-Toomey [gun control compromise bill] would not create a federal firearms registry. Then again, its most clamorous supporters are also contemptuous of the Second Amendment, and they are explicitly hoping for a fifth Justice to overturn the Supreme Court’s landmark gun-rights rulings. Manchin-Toomey opponents can be forgiven for worrying that gun controllers will attempt to build a registry from whatever records they get.
Of course, if there were the slightest whiff of a possibility that the government might build a database of people of whom liberals are solicitous (left-wing teachers or Muslims with some distant connection to terrorism, for example) the “civil libertarians” would be out in force, denouncing the incipient police state. But the “civil libertarians” don’t like gun owners. At least, they don’t like white male gun owners in red states. Minority teen gang bangers, the people most likely to actually harm somebody with a gun, are another matter.

Ultimately, for liberals it was not about reducing gun crime at all, but rather sticking it to the NRA, and to those red state voters they consider ignorant rubes.

As local talk show host Charlie Syles said on Right Wisconsin:
There was in Obama’s view no principled opposition. There was no rational basis for not giving the president what he wanted. His opponents did not simply have other ideas that needed to be respected and accommodated; they were cowards and liars.

His message to Red State America: I really, really despise you.

Obama’s attitude is not new, of course. Longtime students of the president will recall his 2008 characterization of his fellow citizens: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment …”

Bitter, ignorant, and bigoted.

This was not a gaffe or a slip; it was a revealing glimpse into Obama’s political id, the full-on sneering contempt of the academic/political/media elite in its fullest expression.

Why does the president feel free to express such naked disdain for his countrymen? Because they are not his voters. And the media will not call him on it because, by and large, they share his attitudes.
In the wake of the 2012 election, liberals somehow believed that they were in control, and that the evil forces of reaction and ignorance had been forever routed. Greek dramatists had a word for that sort of thinking: hubris.

[Update]

More cultural bigotry on display from CNN in an opinion column. The writer says that:
The annual festival of conspiracy theorizing, belligerent fist-shaking and anxious masculinity known as the National Rifle Association convention came to Houston over the weekend, and it was everything the organizers hoped it would be.
And at the end of the column:
. . . the NRA has become even more extreme, even more paranoid, even more ensconced in its self-reinforcing world in which guns are all that matter. There may be a few Republicans who now have the courage to stand up to them. But there are still plenty such as Perry, Cruz and Palin, who will troop to their convention and jump into their festering pool of anger and fear. They don’t seem to realize how it makes them smell.
Yes, a lot of liberals really, really hate NRA members, as well as the mass of gun owners who don’t belong to the NRA, but don’t want their guns taken away.

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