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A ‘common sense’ gun control policy is a dangerous fantasy

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Common sense gun control” is a popular refrain for liberals, but it’s nonsensical and meaningless in reality.

Any “common sense” approach to guns and violence in America needs to reckon with the reality in America. Thus far, Democratic legislators have failed to do that.

“Let’s have a serious conversation about how to stop these tragedies. First, understand that there are more than 300 million guns in America, and that’s not changing anytime soon,” Trevor Burrus wrote in National Review.

Changing that would go beyond “common sense” policies; it would violate basic Constitutions rights beyond the Second Amendment.

“Perhaps you think all guns should be confiscated. Okay, tell us how you will do that without stormtroopers roaming the country systematically violating our Fourth Amendment rights in a way that makes Donald Trump’s call for the mass deportation of illegal immigrants look like taking a census,” Burrus noted.

Gun control advocates who are presumptive enough to imagine they hold a monopoly on common sense ignore a crucial issue: political reality and results-driven policies determine common sense reforms. Not a smug sense of superiority.

American public opinion has grown in support of gun rights over gun control for decades, though gun control has a slight edge in the latest data from the Pew Research Center. Total confiscation might be a dream of coastal elites, but most Americans see some form of gun ownership as legitimate.

Indeed, the public favors various gun control proposals, such as background checks, preventing the mentally ill from buying guns, creating a federal database to track gun sales, and a ban of “assault-style weapons,” as Pew wrote it. For all of those except the weapon ban, a majority of Republicans and Democrats support the actions.

Yet public favor of gun control proposals doesn’t mean gun violence would decline.

For one, gun violence has been on a “massive decline” for decades, yet gun ownership has increased and gun control policies have become less favored. Gun control advocates lack evidence that their policies can cause a decline in gun deaths. “Gun deaths” is also misleading — the deaths are mostly suicides, not homicides.

The Washington Post found that 64 percent of gun deaths in 2012 were the result of suicide. “Gun deaths by suicide have outpaced homicide-related deaths in the United States over the past 35 years,” Jason Millman wrote.

Mass shootings get the most media attention, but focusing on suicide prevention, instead of gun control policies, could drive unheard-of decreases in gun deaths. The penchant for Americans to link the mentally ill with gun deaths, too, is an unfortunate red herring that distracts politicians from policies that actually work.

Americans in general don’t know as much as they think about gun violence.

“Passing effective gun-control policies in a nation brimming with 300 million guns is difficult; don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise,” Burrus wrote.

The United States is unique in promoting individual rights and gun ownership, even in the face of criminality. Americans can still preserve their rights against government power, even while preventing gun violence. “Moral grandstanding for cheap political points,” as Burrus noted, however, makes that goal more difficult to achieve.

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