Newsweek's Ben Adler Gripes That 'Conservatives Make Inaccurate Arguments Against Gun Control'

"[W]hether you think a ban on police-style assault weapons such as the one Jared Lee Loughner used in Tuscon is good policy or not, it is curious to see that Republicans are not even bothering to make legitimate arguments against such proposals," Newsweek's Ben Adler scoffed in a January 18 The Gaggle blog post:

There is simply no precedent to support the claim that laws preventing civilians from obtaining weapons that can fire 30 bullets without reloading would violate the Second Amendment. This does not mean that one cannot have a valid concern that even constitutional laws place an undue burden on one's freedom, but that is a question of values and public policy tradeoffs, not constitutionality.

While it's true that courts have not examined the constitutionality on such a ban, it's completely ludicrous to say there is in no way a constitutional issue at play here. Courts invalidate legislation on the grounds of creating  an"undue burden" on constitutional rights all the time, as well they should, seeing that the purpose of the Bill of Rights is, well, securing rights to citizens from the abridgement of the government.

Adler would probably be the first to scream censorship, and rightly so, if there was an analogous push by anyone in Congress for legislation restricting say the number of blogs a person could write in a given day. After all, why would anyone in their right mind need to blog more than two or three times a day or tweet more than 10?

Of course, blogs don't kill, bullets do, a liberal would argue in reply, their arguments that harsh political rhetoric led to the Tucson shooting notwithstanding.

But the fact remains that its perfectly legitimate for conservatives to expect governments to have to meet a stringent test for gun control legislation to pass constitutional muster.

Adler reserved most of his scorn for Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada), calling his recent argument against the high-capacity magazine ban "so foolish [it] should be beneath the public discourse":

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) told The Washington Post: "Gun laws were not the reason that a socially isolated individual, an anarchist, chose to open fire on an elected official, her constituents and a federal judge." That is attacking a straw man. No one has argued that gun laws were the reason Loughner carried out his attack. What they suggest is that someone who wants to carry out an attack might be less able to do so without legal access to automatic weapons. You can debate that notion, but you ought not to pervert your opponent's argument into a self-evidently nonsensical one as Ensign does.


Ensign goes on to say:

"The District of Columbia is home to the nation's most restrictive gun control measures. Logic would suggest that this city must be the safest place in the country. But the facts do not support this conclusion. Gun violence in the District was consistently among the highest in the nation throughout the 30 years that the city banned handguns."

It's ironic that Ensign points to "logic" to advance such an illogical argument. Logic most certainly does not suggest that the city with the most restrictive gun-control measures would be the safest place in the country (although it is funny that Ensign seems to believe in the logic of gun control.) Stiff gun-control restrictions are typically passed in places with a high fear of crime, which is correlated with a high rate of crime. Any liberal, no matter how fervent a supporter of gun control, would agree that violent crimes, including gun crimes, are caused by a number of factors.

Could the Newsweek writer really be so daft as to think that Ensign believes in the "logic" of gun control? It's pretty clear from context that Ensign meant that the logic of gun control proponents is that the more restrictive a locality's gun laws, the lesser there will be the incidence of so-called gun violence.

What's more, does Adler honestly think that voters in states and localities with less restrictive gun laws are less fearful of crime than those in restrictive gun control jurisdictions? Even if that is true, could it be that the ability of those citizens to own and carry firearms for self defense has something to do with that peace of mind?

I suppose that logic is completely "beneath the public discourse" to Mr. Adler.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.