Contempt for ‘Bitter Clingers’ Fuels Gun Control

The massacre of school children in Connecticut has been followed by the same irrational reactions and useless prescriptions that attend every mass shooting. The usual suspects have already been rounded up, most predictably the availability of weapons in America, especially what many misleadingly call “assault weapons.” President Obama has established a commission and promised, “This time the words need to lead to action. I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”

Of course these “efforts” will include new gun control laws that will serve liberal political ends, but will do nothing to prevent the next massacre.

One of the biggest culprits in this process is the media. Their incessant coverage of the crime and its aftermath, especially the suffering of the victims’ families, turns the tragedy into a sentimentalized commodity. Morbid curiosity becomes a kind of voyeurism, the same impulse that makes people slow down for car wrecks. Another effect of the media is the platform it gives to the psychotic or evil killer eager for global attention and fame. Like Hierostratus, who burned down the temple of Artemis in Ephesus just to become famous, the lunatic loner seeks power and validation through his crimes. The 24/7 coverage of killings on cable television and the Internet assures the wannabe killer that he will get the obsessive attention to his life and deeds he craves. He may have been an anonymous loser in life, but now he is a celebrity.

All this intense coverage does nothing, of course, for the grieving families and survivors. But these irrational feelings create emotional momentum that can be politically exploited to further extend big government’s control over our lives. Witness the calls to restrict First Amendment rights by censoring violent video games, as West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller has done, despite the absence of any demonstrable causal link between such games and mass shootings. This outsized media attention and its lurid drama also obscure the more rational context necessary for creating public policy: risk evaluation. From that perspective, hysteria over gun deaths is disproportionate. Dying at the hands of a stranger is a remote contingency for most people outside of inner city areas. Getting shot to death didn’t make the top 15 causes of death in 2011. Deaths by alcohol (26,256), car accidents (34,677), and drugs (37,485; about 15,000 from prescription painkillers) all exceeded homicides by firearms (11,101), with gun deaths at the hands of strangers representing less than a fifth of those killings.

But all this everyday loss of life does not create the obsessive drama of mass shootings, or a fraction of the demands for new regulations and restrictions that always follow gun deaths. Of course, the deaths of children like those in Newtown affect us more powerfully. But every year thousands of children and teens die from legal drugs and drunk drivers. Aren’t those lives as valuable and worthy of our concern as the victims of mass shootings? Why don’t we demand more intrusive regulation and restrictions on alcohol and painkillers as vehemently and persistently as we call for gun restrictions that cannot be shown to lower the risk of getting killed by a gun? Why do we accept the risk of death that attends driving, drinking alcohol, and using prescription drugs yet demand that ownership of guns be absolutely risk-free?

The answer can be found in the way many liberals have made a fetish out of the gun. They are the anti-gun nuts, attributing mystic powers of destruction to a tool that like cars or drugs can be misused by the careless, lunatic, or evil. Thus they demand gun-control laws that are effective only for limiting the rights of the law-abiding and sane. Take the ban on “assault” weapons. The 1994 ban, which expired in 2004, had no demonstrable effect on reducing gun-deaths, according to a University of Pennsylvania study commissioned by the Justice Department. Yet new legislation is being proposed by Senator Diane Feinstein to bring the ban back, with the same exceptions and the same focus on cosmetics of the earlier legislation.

Once again, the irrational and superficial drives policy: if a weapon just looks like a fully automatic military assault rifle because it has a bayonet mount or a folding stock, then we will restrict it, even though a few simple modifications of a legal rifle can turn it back into a banned one. And what do we do about the 200 million guns currently in circulation? Or how do we stop people from getting guns illegally? We’ve spent $1 trillion over the last 40 years on the “war on drugs,” and today any motivated teenager can get illegal drugs in a few hours. Finally, there is no historical correlation between availability of guns and homicide rates. Murders increased after the 1968 Gun Control Act, and later declined after the 1994 assault weapon ban expired––down 50% over the last 30 years. Of all the contributors to the increase in mass shootings over the last decade––greater media coverage that incites copycat killers, or the deinstitutionalizing of the mentally ill­­––the existence of semiautomatic weapons that merely resemble military assault rifles is way down on the list.

But media-stoked irrational hysteria about gun violence isn’t the only reason we are hearing calls for more gun control. Politics is a factor as well. According to the New York Times, while 60% of Republicans have a gun in the house, only 25% of Democrats do. “Whether someone owns a gun,” Nate Silver writes, “is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics.” That’s why Obama used the Newtown killings to bully the Republicans into caving on his demands for higher taxes. Like class warfare, gun control is a reliable issue for Democrats to exploit for political gain no matter how ineffective the resulting policies. Just as the soak-the-rich policies dominating the Democrats’ solutions to the “fiscal cliff” will do nothing to reduce the deficit and control spending, so too more gun control will not stop tragedies like the Newtown massacre.

Gun control laws, then, represent yet another instance of the progressive ideology that distrusts the average person to control his own life, and so demands ever greater regulatory intrusion into private life that necessarily expands the scope and power of the government. Restrictions on guns assume that most people, especially those conservative “bitter clingers to guns and religion,” as Obama called them, are too untrustworthy or incapable or stupid to own and carry a weapon. Such laws are written by elite snobs who think they know how to run your life better than you do, just as progressive economic policy is predicated on the belief that the federal government has a right to confiscate your money because it knows how to spend it more efficiently or justly.

In the end, the progressive point is not to solve problems that history shows big government is usually incapable of doing without extracting prohibitive costs. The point is to expand the leviathan state at the expense of individual freedom and autonomy, based on a contempt for ordinary people whom progressives at heart believe are not as worthy of freedom as they are. The emotional excesses that surround a tragedy like the Newtown massacre are merely the camouflage for advancing this assault on freedom.

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  • RedWhiteAndJew

    As is illustrated by many of the leftist and statist trolls who post here, the anti-liberty crowd has a very bigoted notion of the kind of people gun owners are. According to them, we are of low intelligence, insane, uneducated, fat, male, and whiter than rice.

    The Real Answer: They are every kind of people.

    • carrie

      And southern ,rednecks or country folk.

      Conservative women,according to libs,are ignorant ,frigid,barefoot,pregnant,white,toothless,obese slobs that watch honey booboo all day and pretend to read their bibles at night.

      • RedWhiteAndJew

        I only learned of Honey Boo Boo very recently. I wish I hadn't.

        • Toa

          I just learned about Honey Boo Boo 60 seconds ago, and did a Bing search. I think my poor ol' head is about to dissolve into a mushroom cloud.

    • carrie

      And southern ,rednecks or country folk.

      Conservative women,according to libs,are ignorant ,frigid,barefoot,pregnant,white,toothless,obese slobs that watch honey booboo all day and pretend to read their bibles at night.

  • Toa

    Mr. Thornton, exactly on target.

  • AdinaK

    Ahh… the 'bitter clingers'…she knows some of them very well…aka the 'good ole boys' too…having conferred with a group of them at a security conference in Jerusalem, as they came to help secure America's interest in the war on terror. Those boys….

    And this is just one of many reasons why this topic is mentioned here –

    Here –

    And here –

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel –

  • malcolmkyle

    The National Firearms Act of 1934 was actually a direct response to the acute rise in prohibition (1919-33) engendered gun violence.

    End drug prohibition and you end one of the main excuses for gun control.

    • Yardbird

      The NFA of 1934 was a direct result of politicians being afraid of World War I vets who didn't have jobs and were a threat to Washington.

    • Ghostwriter

      malcolmkyle,I have a question to ask you and the other drug legalizers. Do you want your kids doing drugs? It's a simple question.

      • NF

        Your kids will do drugs regardless. If it was legal it would probably be harder for kids to get them has you could still keep sale to minors illegal. On top of hat,if my kids do drugs, and commit no other crime, I do not want them in jail for that.

        • Ghostwriter

          No,it will not,NF. It'll just make it easier. Easier for them to become addicted. Easier for them to kill someone or themselves. Do you want THAT on your consciences?

    • tagalog

      Ending drug prohibition won't do a thing to end the push for gun control. Gun control is driven solely by high-profile mass shootings that have nothing to do with drugs and a lot to do with the failure to control mental illness. "He shot 22 people in an insane shooting spree? Ban guns!

  • James

    I refuse to take barking orders from a hypocritical administration that arms foreign militias and cartel groups. Hi-cap magazine and assault rifle bans will do absolutely nothing to prevent a situation like what happened in Newtown. It take less than 1/4 of a second for a well-trained individual to reload a magazine… and handguns actually end up killing more people in the United States than semi-automatic rifles which really aren't concealable. There is no sense in trying support any of these proposed bans.

    • Toa

      What you say holds real clout, because one thing the Media seems to be sweeping under the rug is that there was no "assault rifle" used in the Newtown murders. This was predictable, as one of the main hallmarks of Leftists is that for them, politics trumps people by a very long margin.

    • Mary Sue

      Yes, it is quite odd that they seem to support gun violence in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. They are such hypocrites!

  • Asher

    They gain control over security and weapons to protect your family, and they gain control over your lives…thats what they are trying to do…plain and simple for everyone to understand.

  • Yardbird

    When are we going to learn?
    Hiding under desks and in corners does not work. "Lock downs" and waiting for police does not work. "Guns Free" zones don't work. Teachers and staff need to attack, with maximum lethal intent.

    Teachers will have to wait for a long time for a governmental solution.
    Teachers need to fix the problem themselves. Counter violence with all the courage, strength, meanness and all weapons at hand. If the school is attacked the teacher has a choice. Death or a possibility of stopping or minimizing the violent act. "Guns/Weapons free zones" are unsafe.
    When outnumbered even a shooter can be a loser in a rock fight.

  • richard ahern

    We must fight for are Constitutional Liberties at any costs The Socialism Progressive Liberal must be made accountable to we the people. This includes President Obama. The Washington Establisment has ignored the Consitution and feels tha they have the right to dictate and controll peoples lives. You do not have to be Loyal to Tyranny.
    For the full story how this came about: WASTE-FRAUD-MISMANAGEMENT

  • dmw

    When one rips the mask off the Progs who justify everything "for the greater good" (the collective life), turns out they really don't like life. If they did, they would embrace the right to self-defense. Neither do they like really like liberty. Finally, happiness to them seems to be sitting on high and having the capacity to dictate to others and implement (failed) schemes for what is their definition of happiness. In watching a biography of Ben Franklin yesterday, I learned that copies of the Declaration of Independence were banned in France by the elite (the same kind of elite that seem to be in control of America now, politically and culturally, and live off the masses of common folk) even as Franklin sought support from Louis XVI for the American Revolution. Therefore to Progs, the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights must go so Life and Liberty becomes totally expendable. It's what makes them happy.

  • Alex Kovnat

    Be careful about mentioning automobiles as being a greater risk than firearms. Automobiles have been, are, and continue to be regulated to death with ever-increasing demands for more fuel economy and safety at the same time.

    • scum

      On the contrary, Reagan deregulated emissions in the 80s for certain vehicles by classifying them as 'trucks,' with lower standards. What did this do? It ushered in 20 years of the hated SUV, which has needlessly burned billions of barrels of a non-renewable resource. As our children pay higher prices in gas, and then find it running out completely by around mid-century, they will look back with wonder at the stupidity of the conservative politics which 'drove' the deregulation movement, sucked all the oil out of the earth, and generally destroyed the environment while lining the pockets of Cheney, Bush and crew.

      • RedWhiteAndJew

        Yeah, the SUV sure is hated. Just like gun ownership is hated.

        • Mary Sue

          and they also pull the "Do you really NEED that full size Chevy Suburban?" type nonsense. People with larger (read: more than 2 or 3 kids) are getting more and more screwed as the cars get smaller and smaller. Pretty soon nobody'll be driving anything but a lawnmower with a seat on top.

          • Mary Sue

            larger Families, it's late and i forget words.

      • Drakken

        Spoken like a true commi scum sucking eviro nut job, get bent!

    • RedWhiteAndJew

      Quite true, especially with all the asinine environmental regulations. Fuel-efficient diesel automobiles, including ones as tiny as the Smart Car, are commonplace in Europe. Try finding them here. Mercedes and VW's, sure, but most diesels on American roads are trucks.

      One of the few places where America would do well to emulate Europe, and we do a 180. Typical.

  • richard ahern

    Since when did Government solve problems. Makeing laws does not necessaraley solve problems:

    1. Border Protection-Failed
    2. war on poverty-Its worse
    3. Immigration Reform-We support people who brake the law
    4. Abortion-Life biggins at conception
    5. Pronography is rampant-We support immoral behavior
    6. We have bankrupted the United Stes Government
    7. President Obama and the Democrats and Republican-Social Progressives believe Government has all the answers-they have failed-
    Visit Website ;
    5. People say were is God-We have taken God out of Schools and Government

    • US Army (retired)

      WITH guns, we're 'CITIZENS', WITHOUT them, we're 'SUBJECTS'!

      “After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it.”

      "The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes." — Thomas Paine

      "The instruments, by which government must act, are either the AUTHORITY of the Laws or FORCE. If the first be destroyed, the last must be substituted; … and where this becomes the ordinary instrument of government, there is an end to LIBERTY." –Alexander Hamilton

      Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. ~ Winston Churchill.

      We will have a good government as long as those that govern are effected by those laws that they pass. When those that are passing the laws are no longer effected by those laws then they will no longer pass good laws.

      • scum

        Good Lord, army man, we're not protecting ourselves from our own tyrannous government, for God's sake. Them's the old days. Are you a member of the Hutaree, or what? Wow.

        • RedWhiteAndJew

          How old? 1938 old? Either "Never Again" means something, or it means nothing.

        • UCSPanther

          Typical leftist strategy: Trying to paint all gun owners with the same brush as those Hutaree idiots.

          It ain't gonna work, cupcake.

        • Mary Sue

          well we do need to protect ourselves from gang members if nothing else.

      • WilliamJamesWard

        "Go Army"……………William

        • Drakken

          Go Marines! Drakken

  • John_Kelly

    President Obama has voiced his total disdain for America on many occasions and his classic insult aimed at those who "cling to their guns and religion" could be far more accurately attributed to many of the Islamic organizations.

    The rabid hypocrites of the Left Wing would never aim such TRUTH at Muslims as after all …………that's ISLAMOPHOBIC !!!

    • WilliamJamesWard

      I think that with no illusions as to the purpose of leftists flooding America with Islamist
      colonizers we have enablers of BO and his pressure invaders to put Americans into
      the disorder as is in Europe. This type of control with the use of masses of people
      will backfire, Americans may stop selling deer tags and go to rag head tags, sport is

      • John_Kelly

        Great to hear from you William.

        Keep up the good fight and a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you & your family.

        • WilliamJamesWard

          Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and your's also John, hopefully
          after Christmas and a New Year celebration American patriots will be ready to
          start another Year militating for our Constitutional rights…………….William

      • Drakken

        I do believe we will be playing a whole new game called cowboys and muslims.

        • WilliamJamesWard

          Time will tell, no doubt about it…………………William

  • Thomas Wells

    There is nothing “illogical” about the desire of liberals to ban guns. They WANT a helpless cringing population of servile serfs. Who else would vote for them ?

  • jtrolla

    We're making this issue too complicated. The real goal of the gun controllers is universal confiscation. They are impervious to any arguments in favor of armed private citizens: they are totalitarian statists bent on establishing a complete dictatorship.


      Exactly so. The real purpose of banning "assault weapons" now is so that when this ban doesn't work, they can then ban the next class of guns, and then the next, until we're completely disarmed. Disarming the people is a hallmark of dictatorship, as history shows.

  • chuckie2u

    If everyone sees the Left Wing Bigots as the curse of America they need to be as well organized and use the same procedures against them. Cutting through the gun debate the base issues are over half the country wants a strong centralized government under a Socialist Economic Model. The last election proved either Obama or another Socialist will be elected President for the next several elections. With over half the caucasians socialist and a solid voting Black and Hispanic Bloc of over 20% for socialism the numbers favor more socialism in your future. They have the numbers to ban your guns and tax you at 65% to support their programs.

  • Western Spirit

    As usual the Left is attributing the wrong motive to the wrong problem since wrong is what the Left does best.

    The right attribution would be to stop the individual from committing the crime not prohibit the tool being used. A tool needed by law-abiding citizens to protect them selves and for recreation.

    Ct. had a law that was scrapped that would have gone a long way to prevent the massacre at Newton. The law was to prevent mentally disturbed people from obtaining firearms and that is the answer, of course.

    In the meantime the Left continues on its merry way of distortion common among neurotics, other disturbed individuals and the Left.

    By the way here’s another merry, Merry Christmas.

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