My Response to an Anti-Gun New York Times Editorial

The New York Times recently published an anti-gun editorial, entitled “The Gun Lobby’s Long Shadow.” In that editorial, the author engages in the sort of anti-gun fear-mongering that has become all too common in the mainstream media, and also attempts to portray the “gun lobby” as a few aloof individuals, rather than a group of millions of law abiding, gun owning Americans.  Quotes from that editorial, and my responses, can be seen below:

While the rest of the nation comes to grips with fresh concerns about terrorism, domestic and foreign, Congress is wrapped up in the peculiar obsessions of the gun lobby — most of which are certain to make Americans less safe in their homes and on the streets.

The opening paragraph of this editorial starts by alluding to the recent Times Square bombing attempt (which didn’t involve the use of a firearm), and sets a fear-mongering tone which continues throughout the article.  Sadly, this common tactic of mentioning an event that is scary but totally unrelated to the topic at hand is as effective as it is underhanded.

Congress, for example, is cowering before the gun lobby insistence that even terrorist suspects who are placed on the “no-fly list” must not be denied the right to buy and bear arms. Suspects on that list purchased more than 1,100 weapons in the last six years, but Congress has never summoned the gumption to stop this trade in the name of public safety and political sanity.

Here, the author of this NY Times editorial laments the facts that the Congress is unwilling to pass a (likely unconstitutional) law to strip away the gun rights of anyone placed on a secret government list.  To recap, the “no-fly list” contains over 1,000,000 names, the overwhelming majority of whom pose no threat at all to this county – and who don’t even know they are on the list.  Those individuals have been added to the list at a rate of 20,000 per moth, and are unable to see or challenge whatever accusations have been made to land them on the no-fly list.  The no-fly list is rife with errors, and has even been shown to contain the names of infants under 1 year of age.  It is un-American, unconstitutional, and simply wrong to deny so many law abiding citizens their constitutional right to gun ownership, simply because they have been placed on a flawed and secret government list.

It is a sign of the gun lobby’s growing confidence that if feels free to keep up the pressure, public and private, after the near-disaster in New York. Normally, the lobby goes quiet for a decent interval after a particularly heinous crime occurs.

I’m unclear why exactly America’s law abiding gun owners should cease advocating for their gun rights after terrorists attempt to set off a car bomb.  If anything, a security threat should reinforce the urgent need for expanded gun rights, as armed citizens are in the best position possible to stop terrorists.  As an example, this armed Israeli used his gun to stop a terrorist who was using a piece of heavy construction equipment to attack cars and buses in Jerusalem.  Indeed, had just a few of the airline passengers been armed on 9/11, it is quite likely that that terrorist attack would not have claimed so many lives.

Legislation to close this glaring threat continues to languish with little promise of enactment because a bipartisan mass of lawmakers fear retribution by the gun lobby’s campaign machine.

The “gun lobby” is not some secret society that forces its will upon Congress and the American public.  Instead, it is made up of millions of tax-paying Americans who appreciate their Second Amendment rights, and donate their hard-earned money to groups such as the NRA in order to protect those rights.  Using myself as an example, I am an attorney who runs this website in his free time, using his own money.  I started this website because I felt it was my civic duty to support gun rights and armed self defense.  Those opposed to gun rights, on the other hand, are the aloof individuals and groups who use deception, scare tactics, and a fake populist approach.

If Capitol supporters of the National Rifle Association agenda dared to check reality outside their windows they would confront the district’s alarm over the four dead and five wounded citizens who fell six weeks ago in a spray of bullets from a semiautomatic weapon. Instead, the gun lobby aims at allowing residents to buy weapons and ammunition in lightly policed markets in Virginia and Maryland.

In the shooting alluded to by the editorial’s author, as in all unlawful shootings, criminals violated a multitude of laws – including the District of Columbia‘s current ban on so-called assault weapons, its ban on carrying a gun, its ban on owning a gun without meeting draconian licensing requirements, and, of course, its ban on murder.  The simple fact is that a person who is willing to commit a murder will logically be willing to break any other law, which is why gun control doesn’t work.  This is true even in countries which have strict gun control at the national level, such as the United Kingdom.  Instead, gun control just ensures that crime victims are disarmed and at the (non-existent) mercy of violent criminals.

To protect its clout in the political arena, the gun lobby is challenging legislation needed to contain an expected flood of unregulated attack ads in this year’s federal elections. Corporations, unions and advocacy groups were given this laissez-faire spending freedom in a misguided decision by the Supreme Court. An urgent countermeasure to require public disclosure of these groups’ stealthy money sources and donors is being opposed “in its present form” by the N.R.A.

Here, the author laments the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down an unconstitutional law which was specifically enacted to silence the NRA and other pro gun rights groups. This law directly infringed the free speech rights of NRA members, who chose to pool their hard earned money and take out advertising aimed at promoting gun rights during election season.  That sort of ban on free speech is simply outrageous, and our nation’s highest court very correctly found it to be a violation of the 1st Amendment.  Unhappy with that outcome, the editorial’s author apparently wants Congress to try passing another law to silence the voices of America’s millions of gun owners.