Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
I was chatting with a horrified Swedish visitor who described a visit to Nevada.
“There was this grandmother, an elderly lady, and she took out a gun from her purse,” he told me, shaking his head.
We were having this conversation in a city which had racked up 77 shootings in just one month.
Few New Yorkers legally own guns. The NYPD has issued around 40,000 handgun permits in a city of over 8 million. That’s around one handgun for every two-hundred New Yorkers.
Don’t assume that the parts of the city with the most guns are the most dangerous.
The vast majority of handgun permits are in Staten Island, which has the lowest crime rate in the city, as opposed to the Bronx, with the highest. Manhattan has few legal guns relative to its population while the white working class areas of Brooklyn have some of the most legal guns.
The Daily News, which interviewed a criminologist as part of its anti-gun crusade, found that he was puzzled. “Some people see a mugging in the Bronx, and they want to get a gun on Staten Island,” he argued. “That’s not rational, but some people really want guns.”
Perhaps one of the reasons that there are fewer muggings in Staten Island is that more of the folks there can prevent them. Muggers, like most predators, prefer victims who don’t fight back.
Big city progressives find guns indefinably ‘icky’. It’s not only foreigners who marvel at a country where guns, even ‘big scary black ones’, are available everywhere. The propaganda of Michael Moore’s “Bowling in Columbine” and countless network news shows is that people who live surrounded by guns have created the conditions for mass shootings. And they have it coming.
But New Yorkers, like most big city dwellers, live surrounded by guns. These aren’t the guns that ride on trucks or sit in sporting goods store displays. They’re the guns flashed by a mugger under his heavy down winter coat, or shot by rival gang members exchanging fire in the 73rd precinct in Brooklyn which accounted for around 100 shootings in just one year alone.
And there are the guns worn more openly by the army of police officers, security guards, bodyguards, and others, many of whom live on Staten Island, who are hired to keep New Yorkers safe. Two years ago, Bond, an app that some have called ‘Uber for Bodyguards’ debuted, allowing New Yorkers to order their own security personnel. New Yorkers, who disdain guns, instead tap an app for bodyguards to escort them from their train stop to their office.
Most urbanites hate living in this kind of world, but they hate the alternative even more.
Gun control isn’t policy, it’s culture. And while the media often goes on about “gun culture”, there’s little thought given to “gun control culture” for the same reason that fish rarely film documentaries on what it’s like to have gills and swim underwater.
Gun control culture means paying men with guns between $50,000 to $85,000 a year in the hopes that they’ll show up in under 10 minutes and do something useful when you call 911.
That strategy didn’t work very well in Uvalde. It doesn’t work all that well most of the time.
Before Uvalde, in the recent Buffalo mass shooting, a 911 operator hung up on a store employee calling for help. The cops arrived in 5 minutes: in time to talk the shooter out of killing himself in front of the store so that taxpayers can pay for his trial and a 50-year prison term.
And that’s what a fantastic response time looks like. But by then, 10 people were dead.
Gun control culture pathologically hates guns, but also hates the men it hires to wield them. Urban lefties threw an anti-police tantrum that was so successful that their cities are frantically trying to hire more police officers to keep up with the resulting crime wave on their streets.
Police defunding is deader than the thousands of additional murder victims in the Year of BLM.
Gun control is a fantasy that somehow making guns as illegal in the rest of the country as they are in New York will put a stop to all the violence so that urban and suburban elites won’t have to choose between being victims or paying the armed men they disapprove of to protect them.
Eliminating guns isn’t actually on the table.
This is a choice between an empowered public of gun owners and an endless running battle between cops and thugs in a society where only criminals and governments have guns.
A nationwide New York or Chicago.
Most Americans don’t want to live in this kind of world. Neither does anyone else. That’s why the wealthy hipsters who poured into New York City after Giuliani cleaned it up are leaving. Those who can afford it, go to the suburbs or to wealthy enclaves in other parts of the city. While crime hasn’t entirely depopulated the city, it has put a stop to gentrification. A slow motion white flight is happening all over again even though its participants are too ashamed to admit it.
The sharp division between gun culture and gun control culture is the border of an affected distancing from life’s realities. Gun controllers aren’t necessarily physical cowards, but they are moral cowards.
The same sorts of people who think guns are ‘icky’ also don’t want to know where their meat comes from or to see the soldiers who come back from the wars. These are things that they pay other people to do because it preserves their illusions about the world and about themselves.
America is becoming a nation split between those hard workers who take responsibility for dealing with life’s realities and the managerial elites who only issue meaningless orders.
Faced with shootings, managerial elites apply rule-based abstractions to messy realities that they are incapable of grappling with. The Left is always good for easy solutions that take away agency from individuals and invest it in a central authority in order to solve the unsolvable problems of human nature. And the managerial elites are always suckers for the myth that getting everyone to follow the rules in line with some grand theory will solve everything.
The people who, as the champion of managerial elites, once claimed, “cling bitterly” to their guns, understand that life is messy and that there’s no grand fix, only a series of choices.
Gun ownership is an act of personal responsibility. By buying and owning a firearm, a man is saying that he also intends to take ownership of his personal safety and his choices. That doesn’t always end happily, but there’s far more moral self-awareness in that choice than there is in urban elites who hate guns paying the gun owners they despise to keep them safe.
The one thing we absolutely own in this world are our choices.
Gun control isn’t about stopping gun violence, but disavowing moral responsibility for preventing it, passing the buck to the cops, to society, and to some force outside our control. Gun control rallies are the virtue signaling of moral cowards seeking to blame someone else for horrors that they cannot cope with and that they do not intend to take any personal action to prevent.
Disarmament, national or personal, is not a moral stance, but the abandonment of morality.
Gun controllers have had a field day with the inaction of the Uvalde cops, but it never occurs to them that’s who they are, standing around, wringing their hands and waiting for someone to tell them what the plan is, so they don’t have to make any difficult choices in the face of a crisis.
Gun control is the moral idiocy of the irresponsible blaming those who have taken responsibility.