Pro-gun rights advocates turn fear into confidence; raise the level of discourse in policy debate
By Gerard Valentino
As evidence supporting permissive gun laws and legal concealed carry mounts, the Ohio anti-gun movement's shrill ravings and outlandish antics are a clear indication of desperation. Recent press releases by anti-gun organizations called for closing a mythical "terrorist loophole," have labeled proponents of the Second Amendment as violent insurrectionists and promised, yet again, that the current proposed pro-gun reform will cause a return to the Wild West. Despite their zeal, the anti-gun leadership failed to offer a single piece of viable evidence that a "terrorist loophole" exists, or that all pro-gun Americans are plotting a violent revolution.
In recent months, they've trotted out nearly all of their emotion-based arguments, including the image of dead children and terrorists and criminals obtaining guns at gun shows and permissive gun laws leading to "Gunageddon."
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment does confirm an individual right to bear arms, the anti-gun lobby immediately pointed out that it doesn't mean gun rights are absolute, and they are right. To determine how rights are regulated, however, requires some type of credible threat to public safety, or requires proof that exercising a right in a particular manner damages society as a whole.
A fact not in dispute is that over the last thirty years, while gun ownership goes up and more people are carrying guns than ever before, gun crime and gun accidents continue to drop.
In Ohio, since the concealed carry law was enacted, the crime rate has never risen. And after the Washington D. C. gun ban was overturned the murder rate dropped to a forty-year low. Such a series of events forces us to ask what threat to public safety justifies strict regulation of gun rights.
Everyone knows that falsely shouting "fire" in a theater is not an acceptable way to exercise First Amendment rights, and that a reporter is liable for slander. Both cases are clear examples of how fundamental rights are subject to reasonable regulation. Now that the Supreme Court ruled the Second Amendment is an individual right, Buckeye Firearms Attorney Ken Hanson points out that our new battle is over what the courts will consider acceptable limits on that right.
The good news is we have mountains of evidence to prove that a gun in the hand, or holster, of a law-abiding citizen isn't a threat to public safety. There are two key points we can rely on in the court of public opinion.
First, we know that cities with strict gun control laws have sky-high murder rates. Both Chicago and Washington D.C. fall into that category. Second, we know that in places where guns are largely unregulated there isn't a corresponding increase in gun crime and gun accident rates.
Strict regulation of gun rights has a place only in the crazed minds of anti-gun zealots, or in the minds of the small percentage of media members willing to exploit tragedy for a boost in ratings or readership. That exploitation also keeps many Americans from coming to an informed viewpoint on guns since all they read are the tragic cases where guns are used for nefarious purposes.
We can hope, as cases determining limits on gun rights make their way through the courts, that jurists rule on the merits of the case, since when logic, truth and the facts are considered, the pro-gun side of the debate always prevails.
Only by letting emotion cloud logic and by exploiting tragedy can the anti-gun agenda stay relevant in America today. But the enemies of liberty are more than willing to use emotion and exploitation as the key points in their strategy to destroy the right to bear arms.
Much like a criminal will go to any lengths to win a violent encounter, the anti-gun leadership is willing to drag the debate over guns into the mud if it means they can prevail.
That is why it is incumbent on the pro-gun majority in America to keep the debate based on logic and not steeped in emotion. After all, we know that a mother using a handgun to keep an armed robber at bay holds the most powerful handgun in the world. But we don't need that imagery to carry the debate and instead can rely on the truth and what is just.
By sticking to honesty and a fact-based debate, we not only raise the level of discourse in America, but we bring to the table the added benefit of being right. Our dirty little secret however, is that even if the anti-gun leadership is successful in making the debate about fear and emotion, we still win.
After all, few things strike fear in the hearts of people from all backgrounds more than the proverbial bump in the night, and pro-gun advocates believe in giving people the tools to turn that fear into confidence.
Gerard Valentino is a member of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation Board of Directors and his first book, The Valentino Chronicles – Observations of a Middle Class Conservative, is available through the Buckeye Firearms Association store.