The only thing cigarettes and guns have in common is that they both produce smoke. But if a pack of duplicitous San Francisco lawyers gets their way, your guns will soon be classified as a public health hazard and regulated like seat belts and Marlboros.
On November 14th, 2013 the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (LCPGV) held a public meeting that was streamed live to fellow anti-gun activists around the nation. The panel was composed of their own leadership, “journalists” from Mother Jones, and a set of activists who were previously neck-deep in campaigns against drunken driving and leading the anti-tobacco movement. Together they made unambiguous statements that signaled the next strategy in the assault on gun ownership, the canard that “smart laws lead to a healthier society.”
Ponder that for a moment. Few people decry seatbelt laws. And once the anti-tobacco lobby developed the angle of second-hand smoke, they won over most Americans. Given these successes (and the political/marketing maneuvers that made them happen) gun banners are now planning to use those PR blueprints to engineer their next conquest; your guns. Their plan? The sound-bite “Smart laws saved lives on the road and kept people from dying of cancer – we can do the same with guns” will resonate with under-informed voters, and foster a grassroots campaign of shame against gun ownership.
That’s where you come in, because you are about to learn why they are making this irrational apples-to-kumquats comparison.
The Ignorant Comparison
Equating a gun in the home with highway deaths or choking on second-hand smoke in a theater is absurd. But it is also sellable to the masses. The time is now to start talking about the differences.
First, both seatbelt and smoking ordinances involve public activities. Owning a gun in the home is a private matter. The People own the roads and get to specify rules for using those roads, including wearing seatbelts. Yet it is completely legal for you to buy a new Escalade, rip the air bags and seatbelts out of it, and drive drunk … on your own private property. So the San Francisco group’s argument immediately runs out of logical steam. So much for big city enlightenment.
The same sloppy assimilation applies to tobacco and second-hand smoke (we’ll leave aside the civil right of allowing owners of private property, that is also a public accommodation, to do what they please). Were cigarettes and cigars self-contained units with 100% effective vapor recapture hardware, and hence there was no second-hand smoke, they could only cause harm to the smoker. It is only when that same smoke enters unwilling people’s lungs that the government has any authority (aside from discriminatory taxation and nicotine regulation).
Second-hand bullets, on the other hand, are rare enough to approach fictional status. And they’re covered under different legislation; namely murder and negligent homicide laws.
Oh, and there’s no enumerated constitutional right to smoke. So there’s no comparison. In fact, the core issue here is that the very comparison is an exercise in willful ignorance.
The Ignorant Data Deception
One of the evolving anti-gun memes is the alleged dearth of data concerning gun violence, and the companion concept of research suppression.
The alleged dearth of data comes as a big surprise to criminologists and epidemiologists. Anyone studying the relationship of guns to death, injury and crime has massive amounts of free and consistent data from which to draw. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) all collect and publicize gun violence data. The FBI has been collecting uniform criminological data since the 1930s, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics has been analyzing this and other data since 1979. The CDC has collected data since the 1940s and provides the public information online, going back as far as 1981. Yet these San Francisco lawyers along with their tobacco and drunk driving ban advisory board insist there isn’t any data. Maybe that’s because the real data works against their every argument. So they dance a little two-step. Step one, deny that research and data exists. Step two, feed the public hand-crafted “research,” assembled from non-standard data sources, and using methodologies that could be the basis for Twilight Zone scripts.
To amplify their con, the LCPGV incorporates slander. They associate firearm businesses with the corrupt practices of the tobacco industry, and claim that firearm makers are “suppressing research” like the tobacco industry did when initial reports that smoking caused cancer were released. But these spin masters ignore the thousands of research reports and related data tables anyone can grab from the BJS web site, or the fatal- and non-fatal injury reports from the CDC WISQARS database, which includes break-outs for guns.
If the “gun lobby” is suppressing data, they are doing a lousy job of it.
As one of the panelists noted, “the data has to support the narrative.” This is why these disarmament wolves in sheep’s clothing must deny the existence of all this data that you or I can access at will. The data does not support their narrative, so they must con the public into believing the stuff they invented.
Where this gets interesting is that much of the misleading (some would say fraudulent) research they present has been conducted for years by biased doctors at unfriendly universities. Behind these ideologues posing as criminologists is their chief financier, the Joyce Foundation, where Barack Obama was on the board for eight years. Their “gun violence prevention” program lists the American College of Preventive Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.
Joyce also funded the LCPGV … to the tune of half a million bucks last year.
The Ignorant Grass Roots Ploys
The panelists universally bemoaned that they have not yet created a grass roots movement for gun control, and all but confessed that the NRA had. The NRA’s organizational prowess and focus on freedom explains why over the last two decades support for gun control has fallen and the NRA’s favorable poll numbers have risen. This is why the LCPGV is now playing the seat-belts-and-cigarettes gambit – they think it might ignite a grass roots movement of their own.
One panelist stated their divide-the-public strategy bluntly: “The fight is between non-gun owners and the gun makers.” Part of that ploy is to isolate NRA’s leadership. As was revealed in the leaked gun control playbook that I’ve blogged about previously – Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging – they want the public to believe that the average NRA member is a sane neighbor, but that NRA chief Wayne LaPierre roasts kittens on a spit. Untrue as the latter is, it dove-tails with the LCPGV’s alternate argument that the NRA is a money-grubbing machine that is merely a front for firearm makers. They want John Q. Public to ignore that the National Shooting Sports Foundation is the actual “gun lobby.” They also wish voters would stay ignorant that a few million dues paying members are what keeps Wayne LaPierre in control of their organization. To make the public distrust the NRA, who the public has grown to trust, the LCPGV has to connect the NRA’s leadership to a “mysterious” industry that “suppresses research” and other weirdly irrational concepts.
Black helicopters were hovering over the LCPGV event, all their officers were wearing tin foil caps, and this statement of mine is about as true as what the panel of inept social manipulators said that night.
The Ignorant Elite
All joking aside, their claims are either diabolical or insane. Given the raft of ignorant, irrational and incorrect things uttered that night, I’m tempted to assume the latter. But knowing lawyers as I do, the former is more likely. They are a dangerously clever bunch.
The sadly funny part is not the ignorance they try to hoist on the public, but the ignorance that only intellectual elitists can have. Strutting while seated, they crowed about representing the educated and informed, yet proved themselves to be completely misinformed and prone to emotional manipulation strategies. They called organizers of recent Colorado recall elections “the crazies,” call NRA activists “minions,” and showed shock that the Georgia Tea Party was against a law prohibiting the installation of solar panels. They cast themselves as the enlightened few, while showing a complete lack of enlightenment. Nowhere was this more vividly exposed than when their panelist spoke about freedom. One panelist complained about how gun owners “bought into the whole freedom thing.” In condescending tone, another said “Freedom … the scallywag’s argument.”
This, more than anything, should frighten non-gun owners and gun owners alike. America was established on a deep philosophical investigation into the subject of individual freedom and the relationship between the people and their subjects in government. Many founding fathers were slave owners, and this fed our national individual freedom-based philosophy because they witnessed firsthand the depravations that a lack of freedom brings. The colonists fought the most powerful nation on the planet to establish a baseline of individual freedom out from under an insufferable “benevolent” king, and we have since sacrificed millions of men to keep and expand it. That freedom was mocked as a “scallywag’s argument” shows their contempt for what the concept really means and for those who cherish the ideal.
It also shows that they know well-educated gun rights activists (a redundant phrase) understand the concept and its origins – that gun owners are not ignorant and will not allow their neighbors to be either. Fight on!