Would You Be in Favor of a Government Program That Did Not Work?

In the last few weeks, I have been engaged in two separate conversations on the subject of guns, a topic about which I know very little. As yet, I have made no effort to combine the discussions out of fear that it would not go well. Since both conversations are with friends, that would not be the desired outcome.

Friend A has not previously expressed much of any opinion on the subject of guns, but some of his coworkers had children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Friend B is a person I met more than 50 years ago but have seen only sporadically since. He lives in a rural area and he is a gun owner (at least I am pretty sure he is). We exchange ideas by email quite often.

I am free from doubt as to the good intentions of both, but I am in a quandary because those intentions appear headed in opposite directions. The weekend’s Wall Street Journal did not make it any easier. In an article entitled Why Our Gun Debate Is Off Target, author, Dan Baum, raises a number of interesting points.

“America’s gun owners have every right to object to sweeping controls, but until they take responsibility for their own role in accidents and violence, they are setting themselves up for more regulation.”

“Believe it or not, what’s missing from the current shout fest over guns and gun control is the voice of gun owners.”

“Yes, the National Rifle Association has been screaming its head off since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, but the NRA doesn’t speak for the country’s 100 million gun owners. If it did, it wouldn’t have just 4 million members. Some ‘gun guys’ (as I like to call them) probably support the NRA without joining, but if only 4% are signing up, it’s safe to say a large majority of them want nothing to do with the NRA’s angry extremism.”

Baum describes himself as a “lifelong gun guy who is also a lifelong liberal Democrat,” and he has logged 15,000 miles driving around the country talking with gun owners.

I am fairly certain I will not resolve this issue and I suspect Baum is too though he is at least approaching the question better than most others.

Back to the question “Would You Be in Favor of a Government Program That Did Not Work?” How easy is that to answer? Of course not.

But there are three groups of people who would not answer our question in that way, especially if they were being honest, and they are more important than any of the rest of us.

Group number one consists of the politicians and interest groups who would prefer to stick it to gun owners — who don’t favor their politics — and score a high visibility win. It is irrelevant to them if any program works because it is the win that matters.

Group number two consists of the politicians and interest groups who would prefer not to have it stuck to gun owners — who do favor their politics — and want to avoid a high visibility loss. It is irrelevant to them if a particular program works because it is avoiding the loss that matters.

Group number three has neither politicians nor interest groups on its side, and most are probably unaware that they are even in the largest group of all of them. These are the ones who don’t know what the final word of the question – Would You Be in Favor of a Government Program That Did Not Work? – means. Do we really have any idea what we are trying to accomplish?

At the margins, obviously we do — no school shootings, deer hunters are fine — but what happens when the questions become more tactical? How do we accomplish this or that? Will this idea work or not? Is there any hope of honest science to assist in finding the right answers or will all of the data be spun? Can we even agree upon the goal?

I sincerely doubt friend A wants to take shotguns from duck hunters and I am equally sure friend B opposes the death of innocent children.

According to Baum, “Lacking a national church, Americans have few ways of expressing public morality except by saying, ‘There oughta be a law.’ So both sides of our ‘gun debate’ can think no further than what the government might do.”

Sadly, I suspect there are few in this country who actually know how to solve this problem and they are likely outnumbered by those who profit monetarily or electorally from continuing to have it.  Prosperity be upon you, groups number one and two.

Maybe this piece is really not even about guns at all?

8 Responses to “Would You Be in Favor of a Government Program That Did Not Work?”

bill gordon, February 17, 2013 at 12:48 pm said:

Yep, a lot said in very few words. Well done.


Ashley Higgins, February 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm said:

“America’s gun owners have every right to object to sweeping controls, but until they take responsibility for their own role in accidents and violence, they are setting themselves up for more regulation.”

I am about 67 years old. I have been shooting since fairly early childhood. My father, who taught me how to shoot and how to be careful, allowed me at age 12 to wander around alone in the country with a .22-cal. rifle. I own guns. I have five children. I taught and armed all of them. Not one of us has shot anyone–ever. We take responsibility for ourselves and for our firearms. We have had absolutely no role in accidents or violence. And, if we do, I believe we will take responsibility for our acts.

So, is Dan Baum suggesting that my childraen and I have any responsibility for the murder of the children at Sandy Hook? Is he saying I am responsible because an insane 20-year-old man stole his mother’s guns, shot her in the face and killed her, and went to the school and murdered children and school personnel? Is he sayig that I am going to be the cause of additional regulation? If he is saying that, then he is an intellectual fraud and is despicable.


Randy Frank, February 17, 2013 at 2:38 pm said:

Mr. Baum is an intellectual fraud. No gun owner, besides the person that pulls the trigger during an illegal act is responsible? His question is a good one though,and it could be applied to just about every government program. We tax payers have pumped TRILLIONS of dollars into the “War on Poverty” since 1964 and we are losing that war badly. Is any Democrat politician clamoring to pull out of that war? NO!!!


Sellers McKee, February 17, 2013 at 11:13 pm said:

Would You Be in Favor of a Government Program That Did Not Work?

You mean like EPA? FDA? TSA? Dept. of Education? In fact, the vast majority of our Federal Government? You hit the nail on the head, Haven. This is about those who believe the government improves our lives, and those who believe everything the government touches, however well-intentioned and initially successful, eventually turns to bureaucratic lead.

The government cannot solve most, if any, of our social problems, but that does not mean that the masses will stop clamoring for it to do exactly that (at huge expense and vast waste of what could have been productive resources).

Gun control, in my opinion, is more about control than guns. It is another power grab in a long line of power grabs. And if they succeed in doing away with the Second Amendment, why not the First Amendment? The Tenth and Fourteenth seem to be on their way to extinction as well. They gun-grabbers know that anything they do about guns will be like treating a gash to the wrist with eye make-up, but hey, the political theater is what it’s all about, right? You have to DO something. Who cares if it works? “If only one life can be saved, we have to………” On that brilliant logic, we need a National Speed Limit of 10 MPH. Good luck with that!

On the specific issue at hand, I’m with Ashley, though I am more concerned with self defense than with hunting. I consider a day or a few hours at the range time well and enjoyably spent. In fact, in November my wife and I spent an entire week at a “defensive handgun” training camp in Nevada. It was like going to school: we learned a lot and the hours were long (7:30 to 5:30). Even so we had a great time (my wife had been very skeptical, but loved it). Literally hundreds of armed citizens in attendance: no violence, no accidents. All of them the nicest people you would care to meet anywhere (even though a surprising number came from California). In addition to background checks, everyone had to submit a character reference. I guess the school was aware how ineffectual the background checks really are.

I am not sure what role I or any gun-owner I know has ever played in “accidents and violence,” but if I had to guess I would say none. Certainly that applies to myself. I categorically deny responsibility for any of the violence in the country, and while I am hardly in the business of defending the NRA, where is this so-called “angry extremism?” I have been a member for many years and have yet to encounter anything like anger or extremism. In fact, it seems to me that the angry extremism comes from the opposing side which constantly distorts the facts and the news in the vain attempt to make its position seem rational. To paraphrase tMr. Baum, “Believe it or not, what’s missing from the current shout fest over guns and gun control is a rational and reasoned position from the gun-grabbers.” They refuse to address the issue of how making life difficult for law-abiding gun-owners will make anyone safer. They won’t address the issue because just the opposite is true and they know it. Instead they rely on emotion and catch phrases (Gabby Giffords deserves a vote!) to try to sway opinion. Unfortunately, there are a lot of stupid and ill-informed people out there who agree with Chris Rock (The Obama’s are like our mothers and fathers!). Talk about brain-washed idiocy!

Anyway, the NRA’s suggestion of putting armed personnel in schools is hardly angry extremism. It’s just plain practical. I have not heard a better suggestion from the other side. In fact, I have not heard ANY rational suggestion from the other side: only ideological clap-trap. The idea of banning assault weapons because they look dangerous is laughable, but that’s what Ms. Feinstein is attempting. Hammers and baseball bats kill more people every year than “assault weapons.” People fall off ladders and drown in pools (pools kills far more children every year than guns do). Ban them all? Cars are dangerous when they go more that 10 mph. So?

My guns have never hurt anyone. They cannot walk and they cannot talk. They cannot pull their own triggers. Most of them have sufficient safeguards that they cannot go off accidentally if dropped.

While our hearts go out to all victims of gun violence, the government is not willing to deal honestly with the real problems, which include ignorance, moral and religious decadence, poor education (which today borders on socialist indoctrination), lack of “values,” lax judges, short prison terms for dangerous criminals, allowing the insane to wander our streets, rage at a world which seems to have gone crazy, and many others. Truth be told, the government is perhaps incapable of dealing with these problems for the simple reason that it was the government’s Liberal-Progressive agenda that spurred their growth in the first place (I blame both parties for this).

There are more than enough gun laws on the books, but the “Justice System” is not even prosecuting those people who lie on their background checks. They say more stringent background checks are the answer? I think not. Criminals and crazies are the ones lying and cheating and they are not being prosecuted as it is. The “Government” has only itself to blame on the “background check” front (which even at the best of times deals almost exclusively with “the good guys,” to no effective purpose whatsoever).

Randy Frank also makes a good point, to which I would like to add the “War on Drugs.” While I do not condone drug usage, this “war” seems to be a little more than a wonderful and expensive boondoggle for thousands of government employees. What has it really gotten us other than an expansion of the size of and violence in our ghettos, and a huge increase in the number of people, especially young black men, behind bars? Like the War on Poverty, it has also made a huge contribution to the destruction of black family life.

Why is it that these politically correct wars and dozens if not hundreds of other stupid politically correct concepts being pushed by our government are exempt from criticism? It seems that the expression of rational thought or even respectful disagreement these days will serve no purpose except to get one branded as a racist. It’s too sad… Maybe Dr. Benjamin Carson can be our savior. It might well be that only a conservative black man can turn this country around. Unless, of course the Liberal media catches him taking a drink of water at an inopportune moment…

By the way, did you catch the clips of Biden asking for help from the “legitimate” media, by which he means the media which agrees with the Democratic Agenda, on Gun Control? Does he really think he needs to ask?


Guy Cipriano, February 18, 2013 at 5:43 am said:

This has to be some sort of a trick question.

Answer- NO.

Limits on ” assault weapons” and the size of magazines won’t accomplish anything.

In the State of NY in 2012 there were three murders committed with rifles. Three.


Sellers McKee, February 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm said:

Dear Haven,
You really posed an very interesting and thought-provoking question. It’s a shame if most missed the point. The gun-grabbers have always failed in the past because they were using arguments based on a premise easily proved false, i.e. that fewer guns in the hands of the public leads to less crime. They had absolutely no concern for the facts, which made them ridiculous in the eyes of the public as well as in the courts. Logic and reason was never the point; rather it was about ideology and thought control.
Their new tactic, that of emotion, has a much better chance of working. It’s not about whether or not something will work. It’s about appearance and ideology and feeling good that “our” government is “taking action.” It’s a criminal condemnation of our educational system that our citizenry is so “dumbed-down” that they don’t see how they are manipulated. Right now, even the use of the term “our government” is oxymoronic. Washington’s only client is itself.
All the best,


Sellers McKee, February 19, 2013 at 2:02 pm said:

NRA Lays of the Facts in Letter to Congress

Does this sound like “angry extremism” to you?


NB: read the last item carefully to see what’s really behind “universal background checks” (according to the Justice Dept.). Registration has been the precursor to confiscation in other countries (check out what happened in England)… I would have more respect for the gun grabbers if they just admitted that their goal was to disarm us all. Then at least we could have an honest debate about the legality and advisability of such an agenda. Their attempt to get there by means of “creeping regulation” and misleading arguments about what is “reasonable,” is nefarious and dishonest. Joe Biden, when questioned about Justice’s failure to prosecute people who lie on background checks, essentially said that Justice had better things to do. This was an absolutely stunning statement in light of what had recently happened at Sandy Hook, but nobody in the media made a peep. Why? Was the man pressing for Universal Background Checks admitting they were worthless and/or a waste of time? Why have them at all if you are not going to prosecute/investigate those who attempt to bypass the system? Strangely, this is perhaps the only time I have agreed with anything Biden has said, unless, of course, he was thinking that Justice needed to make time for more “Fast and Furious” type operations.

NRA’s Letter to Congress Lays
Out the Real Facts 

TO:       NRA Members and Friends
FROM:  Marion P. Hammer
              USF Executive Director
              NRA Past President

On February 13, 2013, the NRA sent a letter to members of  the U.S. Congress concerning the White House proposals to require background checks for all firearms purchases.

The letter lays out facts that every concerned citizen needs to know — just the facts, no fluff, no hyperbole, just simple, straight forward facts.

To view a copy of the letter from the NRA-ILA’s Executive Director Chris Cox to the U.S. Congress regarding so-called “universal background checks” click here .  


The National Rifle Association supported the establishment of the National Criminal Instant Background Check System (NICS) [1], and we support it to this day.  At its creation, we advocated that NICS checks be accurate; fair; and truly instant.  The reason for this is that 99% of those who go through NICS checks are law-abiding citizens, who are simply trying to exercise their fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Since 1986, those engaged in the business of selling firearms for livelihood and profit have been required to have a Federal Firearms License (FFL).  All retail sales of firearms currently require a NICS check, no matter where they occur.

Private Sales
Regarding the issue of private firearms sales, it is important to note that since 1968, it has been a federal felony for any private person to sell, trade, give, lend, rent or transfer a gun to a person he either knows or reasonably should know is not legally allowed to purchase or possess a firearm.

Mental Health Records and NICS
According to a recent General Accounting Office study, as of 2011 23 states and the District of Columbia submitted less than 100 mental health records to NICS; 17 states submitted less than ten mental health records to NICS; and four states submitted no mental health records to NICS.[2]

Gun Shows
A common misrepresentation is that criminals obtain firearms through sales at gun shows.

A 1997 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of state prison inmates who had used or possessed firearms in the course of their crimes found that 79 percent acquired their firearms from “street/illegal sources” or “friends or family.”
Only 1.7 percent obtained firearms from anyone (dealer or non-dealer) at a gun show or flea market.[3]

In 2010, the FBI denied 72,659 NICS checks out of a total of 14,409,616.  But only 62 of these cases were actually prosecuted, and only 13 resulted in a conviction.[4]

“Universal Background Checks”
While the term “universal background checks” may sound reasonable on its face, the details of what such a system would entail reveal something quite different.   A mandate for truly “universal” background checks would require every transfer, sale, purchase, trade, gift, rental, or loan of a firearm between all private individuals to be pre-approved by the federal government.  In other words, it would criminalize all private firearms transfers, even between family members or friends who have known each other all of their lives.

According to a January 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, the effectiveness of “universal background checks” depends on requiring gun registration.[5]  In other words, the only way that the government could fully enforce such a requirement would be to mandate the registration of all firearms in private possession – a requirement that has been prohibited by federal law since 1986.


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