Jeffrey Goldberg advocates for more guns, and more gun control in this month’s Atlantic magazine:
I shared—and continue to share—the view that muscular gun-control regulations, ones that put stumbling blocks in front of criminals seeking firearms, are necessary. But I was also seized by the thought that, had I been on the train, I would much rather have been armed than unarmed. I was not, and am not, under the illusion that a handgun would have necessarily provided a definitive solution to the problem posed by Colin Ferguson. But my instinct was that if someone is shooting at you, it is generally better to shoot back than to cower and pray.
The problem with this, and Goldberg’s entire argument is that it’s mostly built on the back of fighting back an assailant who also has a gun. Goldberg asks victims of gun violence if they would have preferred to have been armed on the day they were shot, and all them dismiss the idea to varying degrees. Now the people who were actually in the middle of it all are highly skeptical that being armed would have done them any good, but Goldberg is pretty damn sure it would have. Lots of people like to think they would have saved the day had they been in the theater in Aurora, but the folks who went through it are much less sure. That should give us all pause. Not Jeffrey Goldberg though:
But the worst thing that could have happened to Daniel Mauser did, in fact, happen. The presence in the Columbine library of a well-trained, armed civilian attempting to stop the killers could hardly have made the situation worse.
The fact that extremely few civilians are “well-trained” in the use of firearms doesn’t seem to faze Goldberg in the least. Furthermore he knows that it wouldn’t have made the situation worse. Because he was there! Wait, no, he was not. He doesn’t consider how a shoot-out could have easily made things worse. He moves on to Columbine after talking to an Aurora survivor who’s pretty sure that armed civilians wouldn’t have been helpful at all. You know because it was a theater, and it was fucking dark, and who knows who’s shooting at who? And did I mention the shooter was wearing body armor?
The whole piece seems built around a fantasy Goldberg seems to have about taking down someone shooting at him or someone else. He mentions places with less gun violence in passing, but only to say that we’ve gone past the point of no return, and that we already have so many guns so the only answer is MORE GUNS. Or he posits that the U.K. has more home break-ins when people are home because they have less gun ownership. Never mind that those places have far less gun violence, and crime in general.
Goldberg mentions Trayvon Martin, but only to call Zimmerman a “cowboy.” I’m also thinking of Jordan Davis, and Robbie Tolan, and Oscar Grant, and Sean Bell. All of who were killed or shot by people who were lawfully carrying guns. I point this out because that’s the crux of Goldberg’s argument. Lawful gun owners. He puts up lots of statistics to show that concealed-carry laws don’t create more gun violence. But when I look at how many people seem to have an irrational fear of Black men more guns on the street, no matter how they were obtained doesn’t make me feel any safer. I also think that’s what makes it easier for Goldberg to be so dismissive of the idea that more people with guns could be a problem. It’s doesn’t seem to be a problem for people who look like him. All the most famous instances of people being shot by someone who legally carried a weapon are Black men.
Goldberg seems to assume that when a law-abiding citizen pulls a gun on a criminal the criminal will flee. But given his focus on fighting guns with guns, then what seems more logical is to assume is a shoot-out. Does a shoot-out sound safer then a stick-up for the general public? Shouldn’t we also assume that faced with an increasingly armed populace that more, and more criminals will take up James Holmes’ lead, and wear body armor when they go out to commit crimes? There are so many issues & questions he fails to consider in what is a relatively long piece. In addition his other “evidence” he strongly implies that the rise of concealed-carry laws has played a significant part in bringing down the crime rate in America:
Today, the number of concealed-carry permits is the highest it’s ever been, at 8 million, and the homicide rate is the lowest it’s been in four decades—less than half what it was 20 years ago. (The number of people allowed to carry concealed weapons is actually considerably higher than 8 million, because residents of Vermont, Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska, and parts of Montana do not need government permission to carry their personal firearms. These states have what Second Amendment absolutists refer to as “constitutional carry,” meaning, in essence, that the Second Amendment is their permit.)
He throws out a couple more stats like that in other parts of his piece. But he also hints that his attempts at providing causation between c-c, and less crime might be bullshit:
Others contend that proving causality between crime rates and the number of concealed-carry permits is impossible. “It’s difficult to make the case that more concealed-carry guns have led to the drop in the national crime rate, because cities like Los Angeles, where we have very restrictive gun-control laws, have seen the same remarkable drop in crime,” Winkler told me. (Many criminologists tend to attribute America’s dramatic decrease in violent crime to a combination of demographic changes, longer criminal sentencing, innovative policing techniques, and the waning of the crack wars.)
He attempts to refute it in the very next paragraph though. The above quote mentions L.A., and its restrictive gun-control laws, but leaves out many other cities like say, NY or D.C. Large cities are responsible for a large majority of the reduced crime in America, and they are also the places most likely to have strong gun-control laws. All of this gives me the sense that rather than going in trying to find the best resolution to out gun problem, Goldberg went in trying to figure out how to have it both ways. He wants to have his gun so he can one day be a hero, but he wants to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill & criminals. All of this is supposed to make us safer. Despite all the stats he throws out in this piece, at no point does he even hint at any other country where more guns = less crime. Only America do we have this backwards logic. He says 47% of people in this country own guns, he wants us to believe the only real way for the rest of us to stay safe is by getting one ourselves.
It’s clear to me that Goldberg has succumbed to “The Seductive Dream of Standing Your Ground”, but the biggest fantasy is the idea that we can get even get moderate forms of gun control passed at a national level. We’d get more guns, and but no more control.
Tags: criminal justice
, gun control
, police shooting
, Popular culture
, The Atlantic