While reading Edd Merritt’s commentary in the November 29 issue of The Charlotte News, titled “There are guns, and there are guns?” I discovered several instances of arguable and nonfactual ideas which I would like to address here.
The first example of the author’s unawareness about certain gun control laws was when he said that he is “of the opinion that our ability to buy automatic war rifles on the street is the first thing we ought to ban in the way of gun control.” First of all, numerous gun control measures have been in place since 1934 when the National Firearms Act was signed into law. This law severely regulated all fully automatic weapons, and later in 1986 the production of machine guns was explicitly banned altogether. Although machine guns made before 1986 are still obtainable, they are extremely hard to get under existing law. And saying that machine guns pose a grave danger would ignore the fact that since 1984 machine guns have been used in just one mass shooting.
The second arguable idea occurred when he says that we must “control the [killers’] tools of destruction,” while ignoring the fact that criminals will by definition ignore law. Despite America’s 40-year “war on drugs,” for example, more than 59,000 people are estimated to have died of drug overdoses in 2016, according to The New York Times, despite annual anti-drug spending of more than $50 billion annually. Any ban of a product will always open up a lucrative black market that lawbreakers will take advantage of.
Finally Mr. Merritt’s commentary failed to address, let alone rebut, the common arguments of gun ownership as a means of self-defense and a safeguard against a potential fascist state. The majority of gun owners are simply individuals taking steps to defend themselves from home invasions. Would the author want to deprive people of the fundamental right of self-protection? If we do not have the power to protect ourselves then we are helpless to the whims of the few maniacs.
This basic right of self-defense also extends to defense from authoritarian governments. Mao famously said that “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.” Gun control is all about giving the government more power and taking away the people’s chance to fight for a free society.
If you think that a dictatorship could not happen in America then you have failed to learn from the fatal mistakes of the democratically elected regimes of Germany, Egypt and Venezuela. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
River Segel is a 15-year-old homeschooler who enjoys politics and playing the piano. He lives in Charlotte.