A few respondents to my “5 inconvenient truths about Detroit crime” column seem to think I set up a strawman in point 3, when I say that more guns, less crime is hogwash and that Detroit’s example proves it.
Nobody, I responded. Nobody in Michigan, anyway.
As I also wrote in that column, suburban and out-state conservatives are pretty good about offering solutions to Detroit’s troubles — everything from voting
Republican to encouraging dads to father to their children to opening charter schools (two out of three ain’t bad) — but on the idea that more guns actually make an area safer, they depart sharply from their national brethren.
Why? Because they would still like to be able to still go to Detroit Tigers games or go to the Fox Theater and breathe easy. Because carrying a gun is not only a stressor, it provides no guarantee that you won’t still be a victim. Because we all know that Detroit would be a safer city if there were fewer guns, legal or illegal. And because we all wish it were so.
Is “more guns, less crime” a stupid argument? Of course. Is it a red herring meant to head off gun control at the pass? Absolutely. Is it a strawman, something that humans being on Earth never actually argue? John R. Lott, Jr., who wrote the book on the topic, would beg to differ. As would Jessica Stanton of The Daily Caller. As would a good many other people, even though the case has been found wanting.
What makes the idea so dangerous is that the people who say things like “more guns, less crime” won’t ever be met with the consequences of the world they’ve helped create.
How many people in Detroit are going to die this year due to easy availability of handguns, argued for by lobbyists who live in tony suburbs and send their children to private school, far from the dangers of cities like Detroit and Chicago? How much credence are we willing to lend National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre’s dystopian fantasy of a population so fearful of bad guys with guns — guns the NRA doesn’t want to keep out of their hands by closing loopholes or requiring background checks — that it decides vigilantism is its only hope? The idea of arming classroom teachers so as to prevent “the next Newtown” is, in fact, an admission that the terrorists have won.
Beware the arguments you allow to go unchallenged. If “more guns, less crime” sounds ridiculous, it should. Just make sure you say so next time you hear it.