A recurring theme in western journalism, academia, and collectivist politics is the quaint notion that firearms are intrinsically evil. That is, that they have a will of their own, that somehow inspires their owners to murder and mayhem. I liken this nonsensical belief to voodoo.
The “guns are evil” viewpoint was encapsulated by social psychologist Leonard Berkowitz when he wrote: “Guns not only permit violence, they can stimulate it as well. The finger pulls the trigger, but the trigger may also be pulling the finger.” I am astounded that something like that can be earnestly said or written in modern times, and not immediately get shouted down. This statement betrays an outlook that is not much different than that of a practitioner of Voodoo. And to see this espoused by some with a nomen appendage like “Ph.D.” makes it even more absurd. (Leonard Berkowitz was awarded a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan in 1951. But apparently U. of M.’s doctoral program did not include courses in logic. And his study of what he called “the weapons effect” was conducted quite unscientifically.) Just imagine if he or one of his academic cohort were to proclaim: “Typewriters not only permit libel, they can stimulate it as well. The fingers tap the keys, but the keys may also be pulling the finger toward the keyboard by an unseen force, stimulating libel.” Any psychologist who trots out such nonsense needs to consult a psychiatrist.
I have a few questions for Dr. Berkowitz and his peers:
1.) What is the mechanical difference between a “target pistol” and a “murder weapon”?
2.) What is a “Nazi Luger”? Can a Luger pistol join the National Socialist party, and share their hatred of perceived Untermenschen and wish to exterminate them? By the same token, what is a “Communist AK-47″?
3.) How many people have been killed by guns without someone physically pulling the trigger? And in any very rare exception to the norm, was it a mechanical defect or negligent handling at fault, or did the gun really wish to do harm and “go off by itself.”?
4.) Why have gun makers been sued for wrongful death because of murders committed with their products? (If a gun does indeed consistently fire a bullet at high velocity when the safety mechanism is disengaged and the trigger is pulled, then isn’t that device working just as designed?)
5.) What, pray tell, is the distinguishing characteristics of an “assault” rifle, and what differentiates it from a “hunting” rifle? Does the attachment of a black plastic buttstock make a gun in any way more wicked, murderous, or bent on assault than attaching a pretty wooden stock?
6.) Is a magazine capacity of 16 rounds inherently more evil, criminal or sinister than a capacity of 15 rounds? (This was threshold that the geniuses in the Colorado legislature recently declared, complete with jail term penalties. OBTW, Canada set the threshold of evil at a mere five rounds, for semiautomatic long guns.)
Let step back and look at these tools logically and dispassionately: A firearm cartridge can be thought of as a simple single-use internal combustion engine, with a piston that does not reciprocate. Instead, it takes a one-way flight. The engine housing is a brass cartridge case, and the “vehicle” is the entire gun. The pistons as are called bullets. The fuel for these engines (gunpowder) creates the expanding gasses that drive the pistons. Cartridge firearms are compact vehicles for change that have shaped modern history. The righteousness of their use is entirely up to their users, since like any other tool they can be used both for good or for ill. A firearm is just a tool with no volition. A rifle is no different than a claw hammer. To wit: A hammer can be used to build a house, or it can be used to bash in someone’s skull – the choice of uses is entirely up to the owner. A bulldozer can used to build roads, or to destroy houses. A rifle can be used to drill holes in paper targets, or to dispatch a marauding bear, or to murder your fellow man. Again, the choice of uses is entirely up to the user. But, alas, even though it is the 21st Century, we are still dealing with voodoo-like superstition. If you get angry or drunk and you then use your Chrysler car to run over a neighbor’s child, should your neighbor then launch an organization called “The Coalition to Ban Chryslers,” to punish all Chrysler owners?
I am also opposed to all so-called “gun control” laws because they are a form of prior restraint. The gun grabbers presuppose ill-intent on the part of law-abiding citizens and even the guns themselves. I find these laws akin to the concept of “pre-crime” – a term coined by science fiction novelist Phillip K. Dick, in his novel Minority Report. (It was later turned into a movie, starring Tom Cruise.)