Attacking Ben Carson Over Gun Control

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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Let’s get a few things out of the way first…

1. Ben Carson isn’t actually running for president. I think it would be premature for him to do so.

2. The 2nd Amendment is non-negotiable.

… but Carson isn’t some Republican official who is preparing to sell out the country. He’s a successful doctor who is taking on a role as a conservative commentator, but he comes from a background of having lived in dangerous cities like Detroit and Baltimore.

Instead of rushing to attack him, it might be better to understand where he’s coming from and educate him.

The “damning” quote that is being circulated shows his confusion about the issue and his attempt to come to grips with it.

“When asked by Glenn Beck if people should be allowed to own semi-automatic weapons, Dr. Benjamin Carson said: “It depends on where you live. I think if you live in the midst of a lot of people, and I’m afraid that that semi-automatic weapon is going to fall into the hands of a crazy person, I would rather you not have it.” (Glenn Beck Show, March 1, 2013)

Carson’s comments reflect his life experience. He respects the Bill of Rights, but he has trouble applying it to the everyday reality of a major city where shootings are commonplace. It’s a problem that a lot of urban residents have.

A lot of city dwellers look up from a front page story about three people dead in a gang shooting and have trouble believing that the answer is less gun laws. That doesn’t mean they’re right, but it does mean that they need to be educated. Most of the country still supports the 2nd Amendment, but support is notoriously weak in many cities.

African-Americans tend to support gun control in large numbers. This is an emotional attitude that comes from life experience. It has to be overcome with facts, but it’s hard to convince people who have lived a certain way that their life experience isn’t valid.

Both of these are reasons to reach out to Carson. He doesn’t appear to have his mind firmly made up and is still grappling with the issue. If he actually enters the race or becomes a vocal advocate for gun control, it might be another story, but at this point it would be better to show him why gun control doesn’t work instead of denouncing him loudly for not taking the right position on an issue that he is clearly still uncertain about.

You don’t win over allies when you yell at people who have good intentions, but aren’t fully on board. There’s a big difference between someone like Carson and Crist.

Urging Carson to run for president is premature. Treating him as if he’s already in the race is also premature.

Carson understands the moral and legal principles, but he’s hazier on the social functions. It’s a challenge, but it’s the kind of challenge we need to meet if we’re going to win the war of ideas.

  • Max

    “Confusion” on a basic civil right…

  • vnamvet1969

    How true. I grew up in a rural area and reaching the age to hunt was as important as that first driver’s license. I don’t recall any age restrictions by law, but I was hunting at the age of 13 and had my first gun, a .22, as a freshman in high school. I was allowed to go shooting by myself, as all of us were around that same age. There were no shooting accidents all of those years of my youth, and I have heard of none since that time and I am 67 now. It was a part of culture and we were trained by parents. And a State training program, I recall, which was a hunter safety class. I raised my children and grandchildren the same way. Most city people don’t understand that guns are our heritage, and threats to take that away don’t sit well with us.

    • tickletik

      I think most city people would view guns differently if they had the same positive healthy exposure to guns as you did.

      The problem is we are trained by our authority figures (schoolmarms, spindle armed college professors, other assorted idiots) to be unarmed, and as a consequence are surrounded by criminals who have no problem with arms, so we end up with a double negative reaction to guns.

      • Erudite Mavin

        But not every one is positive and healthy.
        I live in a good neighborhood in the heart of a
        large city.
        Several hundred people live on my block.
        Over 600 people live the next block over in high rises, etc.
        It would take just one person who could go off with an
        automatic weapon and kill hundreds in 2 minutes.

        • gyro

          Erudite Mavin. You only have wild speculation concerning this issue. We have facts, education and the law on our side.

        • T800

          “automatic” weapons(machine guns) and semi-automatic weapons (one shot per trigger pull) are two -different- guns. NEVER confuse the two.
          Machine guns are already strictly controlled by the 1934 NFA and 1968 GCA.

          Assault RIFLE is the correct term for military combat rifles.

          “assault weapons” is a made-up term from the gun control lobby.
          it is INTENDED to get people confused about semi-auto rifles and already-regulated machine guns.(NFA weapons)

          note the latest media catchphrase is “weapons of war”.

          there is NO military in the world that uses semi-auto rifles or any of the firearms covered in the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban,that were ALL semi-auto guns.

        • anaverageman

          I’ll agree that one life senselessly taken is too many, but making ridiculous statements like “…kill hundreds in 2 minutes” goes to show how little you understand guns and how making it impossible only for the law abiding to own weapons is a ludicrous solution.

      • gyro

        It hasn’t helped that municipalities haven’t complied with the constitution and wrote laws in violation of the law. I think some of this is due to a radical interpretation of the second amendment perpetuated by some of those “assorted idiots” that it was a collective not an individual right. I think given the state of the courts at various points, gun rights advocacy groups feared they would lose the right if challenged legally and just gave up ground in those areas. Given the Heller decision, they are fighting to gain back some of those areas and the courts are forcing those areas to comply with the decision, most notably DC and Chicago.

  • Monroe Parsons

    Fundamental constitutional rights do not vary by location. Dr.Carson needs to review this before he speaks out any further if he does not wish to appear foolish. That said the firearms owning community should reach out to Dr. Carson and offer to take him shooting. The problem with city dwellers like Dr. Carson is that they simply have no experience with responsible firearms ownership and use. I think he was speaking from ignorance not with malice toward our civil rights protected by the 2nd Amendment.

    • LuKe

      There are a lot of people in NYC, never mind NYS, who own legal firearms. The problem is obtaining a conceal and carry permit in NYC is virtually impossible, and the restrictions are do to the illegal gun crime in the city that occurs among minority neighborhoods.

      I do agree that if responsible people were allow to conceal and carry crime would drop dramatically, and for owning semi automatic weapons I am in favor. We need these weapons to protect our property in case of natural disasters and the chaos that would ensue after Riots, looters ETC

    • Scott McIntosh

      WRONG, say it and pay for it. Why talk about a Constitutional right if you don’t UNDERSTAND it first? I don’t give a damn if anyone has shot a gun. I care if they understand the law of this country!

  • A Z

    Talking about gun violence it is people that make the difference. Paramedics are scared to go to some areas of Stockholm metropolitan area due to being shot by immigrants. Is the solution more gun laws or to better check put who you are admitting into your country?

    “Patient opens fire on Stockholm paramedics”

    http://www.thelocal.se/20140220/patient-opens-fire-on-stockholm-paramedics#comment-1278854592

  • Erudite Mavin

    gyro
    Your wishful thinking can’t counter reality

    • Sifaka

      To be fair, nether of you have stated very much of anything.

    • anaverageman

      Hate to tell you rudi, but reading through your statements here you are the one struggling with deciphering fantasy from reality. Not trying to be mean…just sayin’…

  • Sifaka

    Ah, the country mouse .Vs the City mouse argument.

    This is a reversal of the Prohibition movement from the turn of the last century.

    I find the parallels between prohibition and gun control very interesting in a social context.

    For instance. The argument that beer, or more traditional spirits contained much less alcohol, and that with a modern distillation process alcohol could not be made many times stronger. There was no way to know that the alcohol would one day be this strong. Nobody needs to get that drunk..

    The temperance movement also scapegoated the booze as the reason men acted savagely.

    In reality, women had very little play when it came to the ability to criticize their husbands, so the drink became one of the few ways to limit their husband’s bad behavior.

    Not that I blame them.

    The Pro-booze lobby was hated, and was accused of buying members of congress.

    Really, just go down the line.

    The promises are the same. The methods are the same. Even the archetype of people involved are pretty much the same.

    Even the rhetoric is the same.
    “Protect your daughter, not the saloon”

    “Protect children, not guns”

  • T800

    During the LA riots of 1992,the police REFUSED to enter the riot zone to protect citizens,and Korean shopkeepers used “assault weapons” to hold off the rioting mob that came to burn them and their families alive in their shops/homes. that’s just ONE good reason,not that we need ANY reason to own them.
    it also is justification for 30 round magazines,you need firepower to hold off a riot mob.
    Not that we need any justification.
    the Second Amendment of the Constitution is NOT ABOUT hunting or sporting.
    semi-auto,magazine-fed rifles such as the AR-15 and AK-47 are today’s modern MILITIA weapons,and thus should be the most protected of firearms under the Second Amendment.

    Militiamen were expected to appear for muster bearing arms and ammo similar to and compatible with what the Regular military had in use AT THAT TIME.
    Since we “compromised” and restricted ownership of full-auto,true assault rifles,that leaves the semi-auto versions for civilian militia use.

    • T800

      Further,I despise the NRA for not mentioning that the “assault weapons” being “regulated” are today’s MILITIA weapons,and not fighting for them under that justification.
      it’s like they WANT to lose.

    • LuKe

      I remember watching Bill Maher one night and he was saying that most 2A supporters are living in a fantasy world that armed civilains could go up against the US miltary..and when he was saying that i thought to myself well the Vietcong did pretty well, and what about the Mujahdeen in Afghanistan against the Russians..they did pretty well too

      • aaronk415

        I don’t know… Last time I checked they weren’t selling Stinger missiles at Walmart.

        • LuKe

          you’d be surprised

      • anaverageman

        And he would be correct, as the government has perpetuated the crime of denying us our 2nd amendment rights to own firearms of our choosing.

      • williamdiamon

        Or the Colonists in Massachusetts.

  • Luke Jolly

    Why are people attacking him. He is simply not sure about an issue a lot of people are not sure about. Is that a crime?

  • Marilyn Grisham Lott

    You’re right. He made those comments based on a personal viewpoint and he didn’t take a stand about a law. But after some more thought, Dr. Carson now views things differently. It’s great to see a leader who can actually be open to other points of view. Read here: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/10/Dr-Ben-Carson-Against-Gun-Registration-Because-We-Should-Be-Really-Concerned-About-Martial-Law

  • cvb1325

    Support for gun control “is an emotional attitude that comes from life experience. It has to be overcome with facts”
    .
    I think trying to undermine one’s life experience with facts, however accurate, is doomed to fail. Instead, we should be concentrating on life experience outcomes. Detroit, Baltimore, and Philadelphia are examples of municipal governments failing under poor leadership and corruption.
    .
    We should pressure our state and federal leadership to impose supervision on cities like these (as Michigan has done to Detroit) until they are able to provide services to ALL of their citizens.

  • gunnut1970

    When there is a discussion of banning “semi-automatic weapons” I wonder if the people asking for that are implying long-gun semi-automatic weapons which are sometimes considered “assault weapons” by ignorant Obamabots or actually talking about all semi-automatic weapons, including handguns. If it is the later, that is pretty much off the table already and has been for a while. When Chicago, having lost their court case on keeping handguns illegal, tried to make semi-automatic handguns illegal (legalizing revolvers only), they immediately lost this one in court. So I always am left wondering how far “allowed to own semi-automatic weapons” goes in their minds? As journalists, you should clarify this.

  • ramrodd

    Carson is an educated man who will be held accountable for remarks made, especially when it comes to gun control..

    This includes ALL the phony rightwing backdoor gun grabbers including the
    NRA and Emily Miller..

    Think of how the NRA soldout in 1968………..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5ukrWC0lns

    • thebronze

      How/why is Emily Miller a “phony rightwing backdoor gun-grabber”?

      • ramrodd

        watch the video…watch what she has to say on MSNBC..

        she is nobodys hero when it comes to gun rights

        • thebronze

          By that rationale, neither is Wayne LaPierre.

          Sorry, but you’re wrong.

          • ramrodd

            people will decide for themselves…

            the NRA has sold out in the past – 1968 gun control is one example, now they have rolled over on mental health gun confiscation..

            you keep worshipping the PHONY right

            300,000,000 prescriptions for psychiatric drugs written in 2009 alone..

  • ForMotionCreatv

    Dr. Ben Carson is wrong on a lot more than the 2nd Amendment unless you’re Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or a big government Bush Republican. Few have done a proper vetting of his ideas on health care ‘reform’ but this article lists many of the problems I’ve found in my own research:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/03/ben_carsons_views_on_health_care_problematic.html

  • bleedinell

    I disagree most African Americans are in favor of gun control. There is no poll to suggest this. They do support candidates that promote gun control, but for other reasons. All blacks I know, and I live in a 34% black area, support our civil rights (all of them), they’re just going to stupidly continue voting for the liars that promise them everything.
    .
    If conservatives can develop a real message that will offer something to blacks, they’ll get their vote. They need to reeducate the blacks to see they have been misled horribly for decades, and offer them a way out of voting for the jackass.

    • Abigail

      I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the growing number of black conservatives and more coming to Tea Party meetings. This is encouraging.

  • opieofmayberry

    I can see that Dr. Carson’s comment to GB might be based on intercity life experience based in some form of fear, as I read some of his books where he describes growing up aside from that, when we apply common sense to the issue, we know that deterrents is the best strategy. Statistical data supports more guns = less crime. Since criminals don’t work where police are readily available, an armed law biding, gun educated public, creates a much more apprehensive and unsafe work environment for criminals. But that’s a view devoid of emotion. 2nd point: I have yet to see any evidence that firearm control laws will compel the criminal element to participate. Kinda like dating yourself. Won’t produce much of a desired result. Those proposed laws lack any motivational element for the criminal mindset to comply with what the progressive mindset calls comprehensive gun control. Doesn’t meet my criteria for what would be called,”comprehensive”. But law abiding citizens will have to, or be lumped in with the criminal element. For what, merely wishing to protect themselves. But if passed, the government would now have control of firearm access. I would be sarcastically labeling that’s just part of government’s view of efficiency. Which is really what these laws are intended to do, control law biding citizens. Not protect them. 3rd point: It’s hard for me to believe that a criminal will voluntarily comply with new rules that limit their access to favored tools for on-demand compliance while in commission of crimes, kinda like telling a carpenter to drive nails with a tape measure. Or turn the argument around and ask if criminals if they are all for taking gun access away from there potential victims. 100% response is going to be you bet, take the public’s firearm access away. That’s why, gun free zones are just another way of telling criminals,” this area is a target rich environment.” Why is that so difficult a concept to grasp for a brain surgeon? Sorry I climbed up on the soap box.

    But I truly like the man, I just think this is a deal breaker unless he changes his indicated 2nd amendment stance. He seems like a well meaning common sense kinda fellow up until I heard the Glen Beck statement. And I got a red flag.

  • Dustin Carl Granger

    I give him no leeway on the 2nd Amendment!!!!!!!!!!!! If he will not aggressively defend it, he’s not my candidate, case closed!!!!!!

  • Monroe Parsons

    I met him (Dr. Carson) on April 15. He seems like a great guy and very level headed and to have thought about the implication of many issues. I am very happy to hear of his ROTC experience. I hope he gets the opportunity to speak on the 2nd A again and clear up his position. But he clearly said in response the question “Do I have the right to own a semiautomatic weapon?”, “It depends on where you live.” My sister, who took me to meet Dr. Carson also suggested I
    should take him to the range. She thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss the Constitution and fundamental rights with him.

    • Jack S.

      But to quote him, his response was “I’d rather you not have it”, not “I would prohibit it”. Like I said in my post, I can honestly say there are some people I’d rather them not have guns, but I wouldn’t advocate any sort of government ban knowing it could be abused. Further comments by Carson on the subject suggests he’s a strong advocate of the Constitution and is cautious of government abuse, so I am cautious about jumping to conclusions about his stand on 2A. Like you said, hopefully he will have more opportunity to clarify that position, as I think he’d be a Constitutional advocate. He’s an intellectual that seems open to discuss issues without wearing his political heart on his sleeve. We so need that in D.C.

      • Scott McIntosh

        “Shall not be infringed” I will never fall for ANY modification to that statement.

  • Scott McIntosh

    The 2nd Amendment is not changeable by region of the country and not by if you are in a rural area or urban area of the country. In fact anyone that even mentions gun crime being a result of law abiding citizens purchasing, carrying and shooting firearms is IMMEDIATELY anti-gun, anti-2nd Amendment and therefore in violation of the Constitution and I will not consider their bid for any public office as a reason to vote for them no matter how someone tries to talk themselves or others out of saying the original statement.

    The reason is VERY SIMPLE, What part of “Shall not be infringed” do you not understand?

    • matt

      Actually…the extent to which one may bear a firearm does vary by “region of the country”. Texas gun laws are very different from California gun laws.

      How do criminals get guns if not from legal buyers–stolen or otherwise? So in that way, nearly all gun crime is connected with legal buyers and users. Making that connection is not a violation of…anything.