Surprisingly Good ‘Reflections on Newtown’

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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.

Reprinted with permission from the Bionic Mosquito.

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