Monday, March 10, 2014

Control: Exposing the Truth about Guns

The U.S. Constitution is an amazing document.  Worked out, written, and ratified by inspired men, it created a form of government that had never been tried before.  More importantly, it enshrined rights that men have not because some government deigns confer them, but because they are provided by God.  The Founding Fathers had very intimate experiences with governments that were tyrannical in nature and oppressed their subjects.  When they designed the Constitution and subsequently wrote the Bill of Rights, they did so knowing what could go wrong with governments.  They had also just recently experienced the Revolutionary War and knew what it took to cast off the shackles of persecution from a government that no longer serves the express purpose of government, to help its citizens “exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life” (D&C 134:2).  They very clearly understood that the overthrow of a government was a very serious act, but that in extreme circumstances, it was necessary.  In fact, in the Declaration of Independence, they wrote, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”  An unarmed populace was extremely unlikely to be able to carry out its right to a government that ensured liberty: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”  They therefore wrote the second amendment to the Constitution, ensuring our right to the arms necessary to protect our rights.

The Revolutionary War and an oppressive monarchist government are ancient history in the average American’s mind.  That’s kind of too bad, though, because it has warped people’s minds as to why the Founding Fathers thought it so important to bear arms.  In Control: Exposing the Truth about Guns by Glenn Beck (ISBN: 978-1-4767-3987-8), the arguments typically trotted out by those who oppose guns (they would say they just support so-called gun control, but that’s just putting a fancy name on one thing so people think one is going on about something else) are dealt with one by one with logic and facts.  In fairness, the anti-gun crowd claims to be using logic and facts, too, but the book’s careful look at various studies puts most of the anti-gun arguments to shame.  The gun massacres that make headlines are shown to be the anomalies that they truly are, for example, especially since Beck gives page after page of example debunking the idea that gun massacres are an American phenomenon and that they’ve never been stopped by a level-headed gun owner.  Beck also talks a lot about our culture of violence and debunks a lot of the patently false and simply misinformed ideas regarding violence in video games.  In the end, though, he focuses on the real point of it all.  The examples, studies, facts, statistics, and even a few opinions all point to the idea that the Founders were men who loved liberty.  They regarded liberty with such high respect that they were willing to die for it.  They knew that only liberty provided the basis for the pursuit of happiness.  When we allow the state to control the choices we make, including choices about firearms, we are surrendering our liberty, making it harder for us to enjoy the blessings of liberty.

I am usually somewhat leery of these types of books because they’re written by big-name conservatives writing for a conservative audience.  They are sometimes peppered with references to the mental shortcomings of liberals or other knocks that make little sense (as a self-described conservative, I think the leaders of the liberal movement are anything but dumb).  This book had blessedly few of those, although there were a couple times I was exasperated by an inappropriate jab at the Left.  I was very impressed with the research and sound analysis presented in the book based on study after peer-reviewed study on everything having to do with the gun debate.  I especially liked how Beck examined the very studies often cited by gun-control advocates because Beck didn’t take them out of context or go for the soundbite quote.  That is probably considered boring by some and is why it doesn’t make the talking head shows or YouTube, but it’s informative and allows the reader to make a more well-informed decision.  There was only one section in the book out of at least a score that had me scratching my head at the end.  All in all, the argumentation was strong, and that’s good because the writing suffered from an attempt to keep it from being too dry.  I say be dry and make a stronger point based purely on logic and not at all on wit, which really isn’t an argument at all, although it, sadly, works all to well.  If you want to be well informed regarding what gun control really does and does not do and why it is so unhealthy for our nation (and, really, for people anywhere in this world), this book is probably worth your time.

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This work, including all text, photographs, and other original work, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 License and is copyrighted © MMXIV John Pruess.

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