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Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
If Gun Laws Work, Why Are We Afraid?

The following article appeared in the September, 20, 1993 Los Angeles Times. During a banquet held at the Gun Rights Policy Conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, September 24-26, 1993, the Second Amendment Foundation awarded its James Madison Award to J. Neil Schulman for this article. Three weeks later, beginning October 15, 1993, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Page began a series of weekly half-page editorials called “Taming the Gun Monster.” In these editorials, the Times editors called for a national ban on handguns and any semi-automatic firearm that could be lumped into the undefined category of “assault weapons,” and denied that there were any insuperable legal or constitutional barriers to doing so.

J. Neil Schulman on Concord Bridge
Here is J. Neil Schulman on the old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, in Fall, 1993, holding his James Madison Award from the Second Amendment Foundation.

On April 19, 1775, uniformed peace officers given lawful orders by Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage — a believer in strict gun control — to confiscate a cache of illegal guns being stored by a gang of right-wing extremists, were ambushed on the North Bridge. In an act of premeditated sedition this cabal of dumb rednecks fired on the thin blue line of loyal cops merely trying to preserve law and order.

That’s how the 1993 Los Angeles Times editorial board would have described the event.

Ralph Waldo Emerson memorialized the event somewhat differently in his poem “Concord Hymn”:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Damn! Sure helps to have the media on your side, doesn’t it?

Close up of the James Madison Award
Blow-up of the James Madison Award

It’s almost funny that under existing laws a successful merchant can’t be sure of selling anything legally. If you sell a product for less than your competitors, that’s “cutthroat competition” or “dumping.” If you sell at the same price, it’s “price-fixing.” And if you sell for more, that’s evidence of “monopolistic advantage.”

In olden days, this was called a Mug’s Game.

The pundits who promote gun control, though, have stacked the cards even colder.

If you buy a handgun which is inexpensive, small, and low-caliber, it’s a Saturday Night Special. If you want a handgun which is more expensive, larger, and higher caliber, it’s “the weapon-of-choice of drug dealers.” Whatever qualities a particular handgun has, gun-controllers don’t want it allowed. Heads they win, tails you lose.

If a rifle is magazine-fed and semi-automatic, it’s a deadly “assault weapon.” If a rifle is bolt-action, it’s a “sniper rifle.” Again, all possibilities are covered.

A favorite media practice is to focus only on the bad things firearms are used for. If a handgun is used for murder or mayhem, it’s headline news. If that same handgun is used by a restaurant patron to stop a takeover robbery, the story is buried.

Another gun-controller’s game is to tell us how successful the last gun-control law they got passed is, while simultaneously telling us how “gun violence” is unchecked by current laws.

Examples are California’s 15-day waiting period on firearms, and the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Act. If these laws had reduced violent crime, why would we need new gun-control laws? Since crime continues upward, why should we believe gun-controllers when they say we need more of the same?

Here’s another. New York City has strict gun-control laws and a high rate of violent crime; Virginia less-strict gun laws and a lot less violent crime. Supposedly, criminals were buying guns in Virginia (using fake Virginia ID’s) and smuggling them into New York for black-market sales. Political pressure was placed on Virginia to limit gun purchases to one a month; the law passed over National Rifle Assn. protests that it impacted only honest gun owners, because criminals could obtain black-market ID’s anyway.

So if New York’s laws are so unsuccessful that guns can be smuggled in anyway, what good is New York’s gun control? And if Virginia, with easily-obtainable firearms, has less crime than does New York, why didn’t New York take a lesson from Virginia and loosen its gun laws instead? Do criminals know something about attacking armed people that New York politicians don’t?

But my favorite trick is the one which says that the reason gun owners keep guns around is that they’re paranoid and fearful.

We’re shown videotape of Rodney King being excessively beaten by Los Angeles police. We read Ventura County Prosecutor Michael Bradbury’s report about how even rich, white Donald Scott was killed by a Los Angeles County Sheriff during a drug raid trumped up in an attempt to steal Scott’s Malibu estate using the asset forfeiture laws. We see an acquittal of Randy Weaver for defending himself from the U.S. marshals who killed his wife and son, and see videotape of ATF agents opening fire on David Koresh’s followers in Waco, Texas, with no return fire from the Branch Davidians visible. Then we’re told gun owners are paranoid for not wanting to rely on tainted police authorities for protection against criminals.

Day after day, the news media tell us every time a gun is used in a murder, a carjacking, an ATM robbery, or a drive-by shooting, and we’re told it’s unreasonably fearful to think we’re in enough danger that we need to arm ourselves.

LA Assistant City Attorney Byron Boeckman, in discussing LAPD’s new policy of issuing concealed-carry-weapons licenses for the first time since 1974, tells us that the danger of violence to Los Angeles residents is exaggerated.

Well, which is it? Either America today is so peaceful, well-ordered, and efficiently protected by its police that there is no “gun violence” in the first place, and the rationale for gun control is based on a non-existent problem, or we are surrounded by heavily-armed psychopaths terrorizing our society, in which case being better armed than the criminals is the rational response of decent citizens who wish to preserve their civilization; and our laws should encourage, rather than discourage, civilians to train in, keep, and carry firearms.

Gun-control advocates constantly contradict themselves because gun control has never been shown as an effective solution for reducing violence. And in the absence of a provable case, all they have left in their stage magician’s trunk is old, worn-out tricks.

Which gun owners know better than to fall for.


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is A Time to Kill

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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