Gun Control Strategy is Moronic — Unless They’re After Something Else Instead

By Tom Gilson Published on February 21, 2023

The killings last week at Michigan State hit me hard. It happened — all of it — within ten minutes walk from where I lived for four years as a student. It slashed a deep red gash across my good memories there. And I know if it bothers me this much, it’s many, many times worse for the victims, their families, and their friends.

This is bad, and we must take action. We must do something. That’s not me speaking, it’s Joe Biden, who had this to say after that attack:

As I said in my State of the Union address last week, Congress must do something and enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, closing loopholes in our background check system, requiring safe storage of guns, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets. Action is what we owe to those grieving today in Michigan and across America.

I’ll agree with him this far: We should take action, and we should do something. I’ll add this to it: We should take wise, responsible action; we should do something both just and effective.

I’m sure he’d agree with those words, too. And just as we “owe” action to those who grieve, President Biden owes it to us to spell out how his proposed actions would be wise, responsible, just, and effective.

“Do Something!” But What?

And for just this moment I want to focus on the last of those, effectiveness, and take it to a very necessary and practical level. For the sake of analysis, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of those who think Americans generally shouldn’t have guns, who think that would be a wise, responsible, and just outcome. It’s a stretch, since I can’t agree with any of that, but I can at least agree on the “effective” part. If there were no guns to kill with, there would be no gun-inflicted homicide.

It’s pretty simple when you think of it that way. Sometimes I wish I could be a liberal so I, too, could believe reality was that simple.

Sometimes I wish I could be a liberal so I, too, could believe reality was that simple.

The problem with this (other than “wise, responsible, and just”) is that we haven’t really talked effectiveness yet. What I just described above, the absence of guns from homes, shops, and streets, is an outcome. Outcomes don’t just happen, they require process. We can’t get there without a process, and that process must be an effective one, too. What exactly do liberals propose on that part of it?

They want to pass laws, that much is obvious. We’re clear on that. Then what? The president’s rhetoric sounds a lot like this to me:

1. We have too many gun deaths, so …
    2. We’ll pass laws to limit who can have guns and what kind, so …
        3. There will be fewer guns out there, owned by fewer crazies, so …
           4. There will be fewer gun deaths.

I can see how we could get from here to point 2, and if ever we reached 3, I can also see how that would take us to 4. How do they think we get from point 2 to point 3, though? What exactly would move us from 2 to 3, in terms of realistic American attitudes and politics?

How to Get from ‘More Gun Laws’ to ‘Fewer Guns’

Seriously what are they thinking?

Voluntary compliance? Everyone goes peacefully to the police station and turns in his suddenly-illegal firearms? That’s like the football coach saying, “We can win, easy! We just have to count on their team opening the lines and escorting us to the end zone on every play.”

Gun buybacks? It worked in Australia, right? Any strategy that depends on Americans being Australians is no strategy at all.

So much for their stated objective.

Confiscation? Not gonna work. Some Americans will certainly dig in and fight back. I don’t know how many, but enough to make it a really bad year or two or three. That’s social reality I’m stating, not my own intentions. (I don’t feel a need to state my own intentions.) In the end it would produce more gun deaths, not fewer. So much for their stated objective.

Lesser measures, like outlawing sales of high-capacity magazines and “assault rifles”? That’s just window-dressing on the problem. Shooters can still shoot without either of those. If you like symbolic action, this will get you symbolic action. It will also make gun owners angry. They won’t shoot anyone for it, though. They’ll vote instead.

Jumping up and down and calling supporters of the Second Amendment nasty names? That one could actually work, though not for reducing homicides. (See below.)

It’s Moronic, Unless …

Otherwise, is there a single proposal out there for moving effectively from anti-gun laws to actually having fewer guns in the wrong hands? Or do Democrats think they’re the team that scores because the other team would just so very much love to help them score?

They’re not playing that team. They’re up against people with convictions, both constitutional and ethical. People who aren’t exactly unarmed, by the way.

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Only a strategic moron would think there’s a simple path from gun laws to actual gun control, so as to reach their objective, fewer gun homicides. It leaves us with two obvious options. Either:

  1. They really are that moronic, or
  2. They’re hiding a totally different objective under the “gun control” banner.

What They Really Want

I’m going with Option 2. This is politics, remember. A strategy like this wouldn’t be at all unrealistic:

Start with the real tragedy of violent deaths, then
   Offer simplistic solutions a la “gun control,” then
      Convince emotionally vulnerable voters you’re “doing something” (even though you know it couldn’t possibly make a difference), then
         Persuade them that conservatives don’t even care, they just want the power of their guns, then
            Sit back and enjoy the far greater power you’ve manipulated for yourself that way.

Now, there’s an objective their tactics could actually accomplish. Do you know any reason to think that’s not their real goal?

I’m still angry and grieved over the shooting at my former home, Michigan State University. I’m appalled and incensed over politicians using tragedies like this one for raw political power games. Should I give them the benefit of the doubt on that, and conclude they’re not ethical midgets, just strategic idiots? Which would they like it to be? Which is it really?


Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the highly acclaimed Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.

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