By Sam Hoober
There’s a presumption that people who go to elite East coast schools and rise to positions of prominence in government do so by merit. After all, they’re smarter and better and therefore should be the people in charge.
Frum, if you recall, was a speechwriter for the George W. Bush, and was a semi-important figure back when people thought there was actually a difference between neocons and Democrats.
Frum, in his wisdom, has penned a column for The Atlantic and declared that “responsible gun ownership is a lie.”
Frum’s thesis is the following:
More people than ever are buying guns, and gun violence is ticking up in 2021. More mass shootings are happening than ever. Therefore, guns are contributing to crime.
Accidental shootings and shootings related to arguments make the American people less safe.
He posits that any statistics related to defensive gun uses are flawed, because they rely on gun-owners to self-report, which can therefore count gun owners’ rose-colored recollection of their role in a DGU incident instead of the truth.
He further goes on to say that if more liberal gun laws really did make Americans safer, America would be safer than the more restrictive nations.
Before we get back to how David Frum is a moron, I want you to give you a parable. A metaphor. Something to think about.
Let’s say you went to the beach, and filled a cup with water. What can you learn from it?
Well, besides salinity (sea water has roughly 33 to 37 grams per liter of salt) you can’t really learn much. However, if you were a complete moron, you’d conclude the entire ocean was that color and temperature, and contained no fish.
I’ve made this point before to colleagues when they start talking about performance metrics at work, and here’s the idea: any measurement is next to useless in and of itself without context. The ignorant or mendacious can use them to basically demonstrate whatever they want.
And this is the same blunder that David Frum – whom you’d assume is one of the better and brighter of Americans based on his resume – is making.
So let’s get started.
First and foremost, let us dispense with something right away.
The United States has more violent crime than the rest of the Western world, including homicide. There are a lot of reasons for that (violent crime is a complex phenomenon) but mere access to guns by law abiding citizens is not necessarily one of them.
Russia forbids ownership of handguns completely, and their murder rate is double that of ours. Brazil is restrictive, and their homicide rate is six times that of ours.
One of the safest countries in the world in terms of homicide rates is the Czech Republic, and they have a national shall-issue policy. It’s also the home of CZ, and darned if those aren’t some of the best handguns there are.
If you look at the 10 least-violent states in terms of violent crime per 100,000 residents, 6 out of 10 of them are constitutional carry states. Only 1 out of 10 is a restrictive may-issue state, and Rhode Island, well, Rhode Island is complicated as far as carry permits go.
Clearly, handgun policy has minimal – if any – influence on crime rates. So his assessment that somehow the ability of Americans to purchase and carry a handgun, permit or no, is clearly ignorant in the extreme.
Next, we have mass shootings.
How the hell do you define mass shootings? Because if you exclude gang-related shootings where four or more people are shot only a few happen per year.
2021? Which Frum says is the worst year ever? We’re up to 5. Yes, they’ve been horrible, and yes we should do more to stop them. But 5.
As far as DGUs are concerned, here one has to give him a point that you can’t take estimates as gospel, because they’re estimates. However, that also means you can’t completely discount them either, because you either know something or you don’t.
What can be safely assumed is that a number of Americans have and do use firearms to successfully defend themselves, loved ones, and others out in public. You also cannot argue that police cannot respond fast enough to save lives in all cases; what Frum is saying is that he’s willing to sacrifice those lives because keeping guns out of more homes will save more lives than will be lost to criminals.
I can’t say that I want the same trade off.
Where I am absolutely willing to concede that he has a fair point is in the following regards.
Firstly, that some people use a gun (lawfully owned or not) to settle disputes. It happens. And this is something that absolutely needs to be addressed. When someone comes up with a way to screen people based on emotional fitness that’s reliable and accurate we can talk about implementing it, but that has not manifested itself yet.
Then we have accidental and negligent shootings.
Frankly, my weekly column here is full of incidents and commentary where I rake people over the coals (and rightfully) for doing dumb stuff with guns. Carrying in a pocket without a holster. Not clearing them before cleaning.
Let me state this here and now: when anybody does reckless, stupid, irresponsible and stupid stuff with a gun, it makes everyone who owns a gun look bad. And we, as the gun owners in this country need hold each other accountable, and stop doing dumb crap that gets people shot. We need to make sure that newbies are brought up to speed on what that means.
Like…don’t carry a gun in a pocket without a pocket holster. Like…don’t leave a loaded gun in your car unless you have a car safe. Like don’t leave guns where your kids can get to them. Like stop with the damned Tannerite in areas at risk for forest fires, you absolute nincompoops.
But in closing David Frum doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, and neither does anyone else that riffs on the same talking points.
Sam Hoober is a hunter and shooter based in the Inland Northwest.