Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Surprisingly Good “Reflections on Newtown”

From the most mainstream of the mainstream – USA Today!  It is an opinion piece written by Glenn Harlan Reynolds.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is professor of law at the University of Tennessee. He blogs at InstaPundit.com.

Before I get to the opinion piece, who is Professor Reynolds?  From Wikipedia:

Reynolds is often described as conservative, but he holds "liberal" views on social issues such as abortion, the War on Drugs and gay marriage.  He describes himself as a libertarian and more specifically a libertarian transhumanist.  He customarily illustrates his combination of views by stating: "I'd be delighted to live in a country where happily married gay couples had closets full of assault weapons."

Reynolds criticized government subsidies to the middle class such as college loans and mortgage subsidies on the basis that they undermine the middle class. According to Reynolds, college education and homeownership are merely markers of an achieved middle class status, rather than ingredients needed for people to enter the middle class. He explained:

The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle class people.  But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay in, the middle class.  Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.  One might as well try to promote basketball skills by distributing expensive sneakers.

—Glenn Reynolds in the D.C. Examiner.

Reynolds is a former member of the Libertarian Party.

This highlighted portion offers a profound insight (emphasis added).

Back to his editorial on Newtown.  Right off the bat, he caught my attention with a comment rarely admitted in the mainstream:

According to the CNN timeline for the Sandy Hook tragedy, "Police and other first responders arrived on scene about 20 minutes after the first calls." Twenty minutes. Five minutes is forever when violence is underway, but 20 minutes -- a third of an hour -- means that the "first responders" aren't likely to do much more than clean up the mess.

The so-called “first responders” cannot respond before those who are actually on the scene can respond.  Why aren’t those on the scene in a position to effectively respond?  Reynolds suggests:

This has led to calls -- in Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, St. Louis -- for armed officers or staff at schools. Some object. But we have people with guns protecting airports, hospitals and politicians. And leading anti-gun crusaders like New York's billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg and press lord Rupert Murdoch are protected by armed security teams that could probably topple some third-world governments. Why are our children less worthy of protection?

Ron Paul rightly suggests that any top-down “solution” will certainly be a bad one.  Meanwhile, the hypocrites demand that regular citizens remain at the mercy of those who cannot respond in time, while they remain in a position to have true first-responders on standby, within touching distance, twenty-four hours a day. 

Rothbard comments on the idea of gun control in his book “For a New Liberty.”  In his comments, he quotes Don B. Kates, Jr., also reflecting on relatively wealthy, white liberals and their views of private security:

Gun prohibition is the brainchild of white middle-class liberals who are oblivious to the situation of poor and minority people living in areas where the police have given up on crime control…. Secure in well-policed suburbs or high security apartments guarded by Pinkertons (whom no one proposes to disarm), the oblivious liberal derides gun ownership as “an anachronism from the Old West.”

Rothbard continues:

…the 1975 national survey of handgun owners by the Decision Making Information organization found that the leading subgroups who own a gun only for self-defense include blacks, the lowest income groups, and senior citizens.  “These are the people, “Kates eloquently warns, “it is proposed we jail [via further gun control laws] because they insist on keeping the only protection available for their families in areas in which the police have given up.”

Professor Reynolds goes on to ask if “hate” is a liberal value:

A 20-year-old lunatic stole some guns and killed people. Who's to blame? According to a lot of our supposedly rational and tolerant opinion leaders, it's . . . the NRA, a civil-rights organization whose only crime was to oppose laws banning guns.

The hatred was intense. One Rhode Island professor issued a call -- later deleted -- for NRA head Wayne LaPierre's "head on a stick." People like author Joyce Carol Oates and actress Marg Helgenberger wished for NRA members to be shot. So did Texas Democratic Party official John Cobarruvias, who also called the NRA a "terrorist organization," and Texas Republican congressman Louis Gohmert a "terror baby."

Calling people murderers and wishing them to be shot sits oddly with claims to be against violence.

He notes that while gun ownership is up, crime is down:

In general, crime in the United States has been declining for two decades. That's good news and shouldn't be lost in all the hype.

He ends with another (previously) mainstream untouchable, the war on drugs:

The drug war, according to many experts such as Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, is a major driver of violence in America.  When you leave out suicides (which make up more than half of gun deaths) most actual murders in this country are criminals killing other criminals….As The Atlantic noted this week, the single best anti-gun-death policy would be ending the drug war. It would save money, too, at a time when the government is broke.

Ah, yes, the government is broke. And nobody seems to have a plan to deal with it. No wonder they'd rather have us talking about gun control.

Yes, a diversion.

Rightly or wrongly, many people have been on edge about a second term for Obama (as if this was to be more feared than a first term for Romney).  One of the concerns often raised was that he would take the guns from the people. 

Too many are concerned about this, and too many are aware of the points raised in this column by Reynolds; because of this, I don’t anticipate much of substance will come from Biden’s task team (and, sadly, none of the appropriate steps as outlined by Reynolds in this editorial or by me here). 

The uproar from mainstream Americans if significant government restrictions are proposed will be overwhelming, and will overwhelm the so-called opinion leaders.

In the meantime, I am happy to have met Professor Reynolds.


  1. On the never ending 'debate' (debate? really?!) with respect to firearms and the ownership thereof, the facts are as follows:

    -during the last century, 200 - 300 million human beings were killed by weapons in the hands of govt;

    -during the last century, not 1% of the total liquidated by govt with weapons were liquidated by individuals with weapons.

    Conclusion: govts should be banned from owing and using weapons.

    The shrill cries of 'citizens' and those that consider themselves our masters calling for removal of weapons from individuals is based on being criminally misinformed on the part of the 'citizens' and the fear the masters have with respect to armed individuals refusing to comply with their diktats. Needless to say, being criminally misinformed or fearful are not reasons to abrogate the rights of all.

    The rational person understands that there are evil people with malice in their hearts and malevolence in their actions and these people are all about us. The rational person further understands that to punish all for the actions of one, or a few, renders those who would do so irrational, or tyrannical. Thus, those who would abrogate the rights of others for the actions of the few are either irrational, or tyrannical. That the irrational and tyrannical are held up as models by a press corps, itself nothing more than a prostitute, does not change the facts one iota, instead serving to muddy the waters and cloud the air.

    Perhaps it is time to change the structure of the debate. Instead of always defending the right to bear arms, maybe it is time to require all to be armed. It would be interesting to see the reaction of the irrational and tyrannical if they were required to do things they do not want to do, especially because it is their own manifesto to do that to all. See how they like their own medicine, so to speak.

    In the end, IT IS GOVT THAT SHOULD BE DENIED USE AND OWNERSHIP OF WEAPONS. History proves this. That such reality is denied does not make the original premise incorrect, it only suggests the adherents are irrational or tyrannical, neither being desirable, especially in ruling positions.

    1. Not even counting deaths from actual wars, the numbers are staggering. I offer two articles on the subject – regarding the result to disfavored populations when government decides to take away the guns:



    2. Exactly. How about "drone" or "president" control seeing as far more people have been blown to bits by these tools than any crazies of late?

  2. Shortly after Newtown, my lunch buddies and I were discussing gun control. They brought it up; I never do. I'm 62, and this one "friend," "Dick," is 78 and was in the army, stateside, during the Korean War.

    I've known him since 1990, and have seen a remarkable change in him since he started watching cable political shows within the past eight-ten years. He has turned from a reasonably conservative Republican into a flaming, Obama-supporting, poor excuse for an ill-informed liberal. He always brings up politics, and all he knows is what he saw on TV the night before. He knows nothing of history. He is so ill-informed he doesn't realize that big government and liberty cannot co-exist.

    So of course, following his cue on MSNBC, he wants "assault" weapons banned. "Nobody needs those things for hunting, they are only designed to kill people," parroting, I'm sure, somebody on TV from the night before. So I said "Okay, are you proposing that the U.S. government also rid itself of assault weapons?"

    He just scowled then asked what the 2nd amendment means. I replied, saying that the whole point of it was to have an armed citizenry, to be a check against government power. It never had -- and does not have -- anything to do with hunting. I told him, "Don't believe me, check the writings of the founders about this issue, it's all on the public record." It's especially easy today, with the internet, and he does have a PC. I also explained to the clueless idiot that the rights in the Bill of Rights are natural "inalienable" rights and pre-exist the constitution; even repealing the 2nd does not repeal the right to be armed. I think he's till scratching his head over that concept.

    But he is never interested in learning ANYTHING and instead starts attacking ME.

    He ended up by saying, paraphrased, "The government needs assault weapons in order to kill people like YOU."

    So there you have it. This is what political discourse has been reduced to. I should add that, aside from the government/media complex, some of his despicable bias also comes from the fact that he and his wife both have comfortable government pensions, and that two of their four kids also work for government at various levels.

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” -- Upton Sinclair

    1. Bruce, the fact that your "buddy" would support jack-booted thugs, with assault weapons mind you, to kill someone like yourself is all the proof you need that he's no buddy at all. Irony abounds in that he'll reserve unto himself and other gun-toting archons the "right" to bear arms in subjugation of those who would seek to defend themselves from their ministrations.

  3. The Drug war is indeed fostering violence but don't expect the government to want to stop enforcing it. All those prison complexes, jobs and lucrative contracts would be put in jeopardy. Who said crime doesn't pay and pay and pay again?