Gun control advocates often claim the moral high ground. They accuse opponents of selfishly clinging to their guns and having cold hearts toward the victims of gun violence. That is exactly what happened on May 20 at a Congressional hearing on the issue.
But Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) wasn’t having it.
“We care about victims,” he said in his testimony. “I care about the victims of gun control.”
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Massie then related how gun control victimized Nikki Goeser, one of his former staffers, who “watched her husband killed in front of her, because she followed the gun control laws, and her assailant—her stalker—did not. She left her concealed carry weapon in her car, because it was a gun-free zone.”
More than a decade ago, she and her husband Benjamin Goeser were operating their karaoke business at a restaurant in Tennessee when her longtime stalker confronted them.
“...I would usually carry my permitted concealed handgun with me,” she told Fox News, “But, at the time, Tennessee did not allow carrying in restaurants that served alcohol. While I obeyed the law, Ben’s murderer did not. He had no permit to carry, and he brought a gun into a gun-free zone.”
“In April 2009, the murderer shot my husband seven times in front of 50 witnesses. The whole attack was recorded by the restaurant’s security cameras.”
Ben Goeser was a victim of gun violence. But, he was also a victim of gun control. A gun control law prevented his law-abiding wife from saving his life from a law-flouting criminal.
In a tragic irony, his death contributed to gun violence statistics that are regularly used to argue for more gun control laws like the very one that sealed his fate.
An Essential Protection
Women are particularly vulnerable to being victimized by gun control. An estimated 1.9 million women are targeted and physically assaulted in the United States every year: a number of them by stalkers like the one who menaced Nikki Goeser and slew her husband.
Data show that every year, at least 200,000 women employ a firearm to defend themselves against sexual abuse. And studies have shown that armed women are highly effective in preventing rape and sexual assault with guns
With generally smaller frames and thus less capacity to fend off large attackers with their bodies alone, firearms provide women essential protection. As comedian Chris Rock has pointed out, guns are the great equalizer. “You got pecs? l got Tecs,” he quipped, referring to the Tec-9 automatic pistol.
This reality is too often lost on many who otherwise voice support for female empowerment and equality. By depriving them of essential protection, gun control disempowers, oppresses, and victimizes women on a vast scale.
When Time Matters Most
The specific gun control measures discussed in the May 20 hearing would only victimize women even more.
Gun control advocates want to eliminate a provision in the 1994 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act that allows gun dealers to proceed with a sale if the buyer’s mandated background check has not been completed within three business days. They blame it for enabling Dylann Roof to obtain the gun he used in the 2015 Charleston church shooting. Thus, they call it “the Charleston loophole.”
But in his testimony, Massie explained that Roof would have passed the background check anyway, so eliminating the provision wouldn’t have hindered him.
Who would it hinder? Women in desperate need of a gun to defend themselves and their loved ones from abusers or stalkers and whose safety can’t afford a lengthy waiting period. For potential victims in such situations, time is of the essence.
Also discussed at the hearing were “safe storage laws,” which advocates claim would prevent accidental gun deaths and suicides. But as Massie pointed out in his testimony, there is no evidence backing this assumption. Instead, safe storage laws only impair and inhibit people’s ability to use their guns defensively… as in the case of a home invader.
A survey conducted by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that on average, Americans use guns to frighten away home intruders about 498,000 times per year, and in general, felons have reported that they avoid entering houses when people are at home because they fear being shot. If criminals know that guns are safely out of reach in locked storage, they will have less of a deterrent.
A Blind Eye
“One of the great mistakes,” the economist Milton Friedman once said, “is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”
Another great mistake, explored by Henry Hazlitt in his classic book Economics in One Lesson, is to only consider a policy’s impacts on one group of people and ignore its impacts on other groups.
Gun control advocates are too often guilty of both errors. They dwell on their intentions and disregard the unintended consequences of gun control. And while accusing others of not caring about victims of guns, they themselves turn a blind eye to victims of gun control.