Gun control supporters will no doubt be all aflutter about a new book that tries to validate one of their longtime favorite theories, while appearing to help their preferred presidential candidate appeal to anti-capitalist voters within the Democratic Party.
The theory, which makes perfect sense to voters who believe that demand is driven by supply, is, as the Washington Post describes it, that “[g]uns in America were no big deal until big business made us love them.” The book, The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture, points its accusatory finger at the Winchester Repeating Arms Company of the 19th century.
The Post says that the book’s author, Pamela Haag, began writing with the intention of not becoming “entrapped” in the gun control debate. But Haag wades into the debate nevertheless. She calls for repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, calls for consumer products regulations to be enforced against firearms manufacturers (which gun control supporters have said should result in banning handguns), calls for “smart” gun technology (which is yet unreliable, but which, if perfected, could be used to track the geographic location of firearms and/or remotely disable them), and calls for the federal government to once again give the taxpayers’ money to gun control supporters to produce gun control advocacy masquerading as research.
Haag also reveals her anti-gun predisposition in the way she tells the story of Sarah Winchester, who inherited a large part of her family’s fortune and spent a significant portion of it building what is now known as the Winchester Mystery House. The house, located in California’s Santa Clara Valley, had 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and six kitchens when Mrs. Winchester died in 1922.
According to Haag, Mrs. Winchester built the immense house to atone for people who had been killed with Winchester rifles. In fact, as explained on the mystery house’s website, Mrs. Winchester fell into a deep depression after the death of her daughter and husband, and in her grief turned to a spiritualist. The medium convinced Mrs. Winchester that the spirits of Indians and soldiers killed with Winchester rifles were responsible for her family members’ deaths, and that she could avoid the same fate by building a house on which construction would never cease. Such was Mrs. Winchester’s faith in the occult that her mystery house contained a room to which she retreated for séances.
Hillary Clinton will like Haag’s book because she, too, has been pointing an accusatory finger at the firearm industry. In her quest to defeat Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democrat Party’s presidential nomination, Clinton has sought to improve her standing with the anti-capitalism wing of her party by lying about the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) and, during a debate with Sanders in March, by yelling (at 0:30 in the video) “gun manufacturers sell guns to make as much money as they can make.”
Clinton’s shills cheered wildly at the exhortation. But in doing so, they showed that they don’t understand the first thing about economics. Perhaps neither does Haag. Simply put, gun manufacturers sell guns only to the extent that Americans are willing to buy them. Americans are buying record numbers of guns not because someone else wants them to, but because they recognize the benefits that firearms ownership confers.
As Gary Cooper, portraying the character of architect Howard Roark in the cinematic adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead, said, “The mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. The man who thinks, must think and act on his own. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion, it cannot be subordinated to the needs, opinions, or wishes of others.”
Just as people buy cars not because Henry Ford was a marketing genius, but because cars allow for faster and more comfortable long distance travel than sitting in a stagecoach or on the back of a horse, people buy guns for practical reasons, primarily, as a recent Gallup poll found, self-defense.
And for the record, Americans were buying guns long before Winchester introduced its famous repeating rifle in 1866. Eli Whitney, Sam Colt, and Eliphalet Remington, to name but a few, were well established in firearm manufacturing before Oliver Winchester. They apparently weren’t the focus of Raab’s book because they didn’t have an eccentric relative with a house-building story that could be mischaracterized to support a firearms-guilt narrative and Clinton’s campaign rhetoric.
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