Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book Review: Control, by Glenn Beck

There are several books you should have on your bookshelves if you want to be informed about gun rights and the gun's effect on society in America. One of these books is A Nation of Cowards by Jeff Snyder. The book is a series of essays Snyder has written over the years exploring gun rights, and the hypocrisy and immorality of laws intended to infringe those rights. He starts from the individual's right to life, infers a right to self defense, and then finds that we have the right to the most effective defense, which today means a firearm. This was the same line of reasoning that resulted in the 2nd Amendment.  He explores the hypocrisy of a government that denies its citizens guns, then goes to court to claim they do not have to protect the individual. He questions whether a government that denies citizens guns can claim to have the consent of the governed. Voting is only half of the test of consent, for if your elected representatives refuse to stand for re-election, and you have no way to force them to, then what you really have is tyranny.  In addition, he explores the arguments for gun control, and finds them and immoral. Snyder is must read.

Then there is the work of John Lott in More Guns, Less Crime. Where Snyder explores the principles upon which our right to arms is based, Lott has taken the practical statistics, broken them down by county nationwide, and explored the trends over time. The book that results is definitive, exhaustive, and exhausting to read. But nobody has been able to refute Lott's work. The conclusion is that having more peaceable armed citizens carrying a gun results in less crime over time, and the effects, 20 years out, show that the effect is not diminishing. Thus principle supports the practical.  Lott is another must read.

You can now add Glenn Beck to that list with a book entitled Control. Beck contends that the real purpose of gun control is to control you and me. Put another way, what the gun grabbers unstated goal is to be able to impose their will unfettered by any objections from those they intend to rule. Guess what? He is right.

First some background.  I have been listening to Glenn Beck for almost 10 years now.  Unlike Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, Beck was not partisan, and told you what he thought.  More importantly, what he thought was well researched, and I kept discovering that the things he said, some of which seemed outrageous at first, were indeed true.  Interestingly, on one of my trips to Ohio, I got my wife to listen to Beck as well, and she also found what he said compelling.  Now, when my wife, who comes at things from a liberal and utilitarian background, and I, who looks at the same things through a prism of principled conservatism, find ourselves in agreement, that is a day to mark on the calendar. We have both been Glenn Beck fans ever since.  So, when Glenn Beck puts out a book on gun control, on a topic on which I feel pretty knowledgeable, but knowing his propensity for digging deeper that anyone else, I had to have a copy.

And Beck doesn't disappoint, but more importantly, his book is likely to reach a wider audience of people.  I often have the feeling that we in the gun rights blogging community are a circular choir singing to each other.  The people reading our blogs are often people already convinced of the need or desirability of having guns, whether for self defence of to deter the government from imposing a dictatorship.  It is necessary work, keeping spirits up and making sure we don't fall into defeatism because of the massive propaganda machine that tells us there is no way we can win.  But we often don't make any new converts.  Indeed, I have had the most luck making new converts with people at work or the range.  But we are fighting a cultural war for control of hearts and minds.  One or two people here and there just isn't enough, nor fast enough.  Glenn Beck has the third highest rated talk radio program, and he commands a huge audience.  So I was happy when he wrote this # 1 rated book on gun control. 

The book is laid out in three separate parts.  Part one attempts to put the truth to the myths and lies that are told about guns.  Here, as he so often does, he takes the gun grabbers words and responds to them.  You see quotes from Piers Morgan,  Representative Carolyn McCarthy, Nicholas Kristoff, Mayor Bloomberg  or other public gun grabbers, then you see a refutation of these statements, many times with statistics taken from the United Nations, National Institute of Justice or John Lott.  One interesting myth that I had never paid attention to was the claim that mass killings like Aurora Colorado or Newtown Connecticut "only happen in America" where our "lax gun laws" encourage us to murder each other in such gory explosions of blood because of "easy access to guns."  It turns out that this is a world wide phenomenon, and points toward causes other than American gun laws.
Which brings us to part two.

In part two, Beck answers the question: if additional gun control isn't the answer, then what is?  Beck takes an apparently discredited theory and gives it new life.  He thinks that violent video games in particular, and violence in entertainment such as books, television and movies cause some people to become mass killers.  Beck points out that most people viewing or playing these games will not become mass murderers as a result.  Indeed, one of the things he points out is how rare mass killings truly are.  It turns out that a person is less likely to die in a mass killing than to be hit by lightning.  And being hit by lightning is a pretty rare event.  Still, the research is compelling, and points to somewhere an economist might provide useful statistical analysis.  At the same time, Beck calls out the Hollywood elite who make money on films that promote violence while calling for more gun control.  After all, simply shooting your enemies has a certain kind of amoral satisfaction, and solves the problem in the short run.  But you can not shoot an idea, and until it is defeated with the light of truth, it doesn't die.  Gun rights are not about a bunch of Rambo vigilantes shooting their enemies,  but preventing violence wherever possible.

Which brings us to part three.

So, if gun control doesn't work, and we know that violence in entertainment may be at least part of the problem, what do we do about it?  Beck is clear that we don't need to government to impose more laws or regulations.  What is needed is for us to take personal responsibility for our families' protection both physical and from violent entertainment.  Hollywood has the right to make violent films and games.  But we don't have to watch them.  As for video games, parents need to become familiar with the rating system for video games, but in addition, they need to play the games to make sure they aren't violent.  You might even play the games with your kids.  We have wii and we have games such as golf, and bowling, that our grand kids like to play, and we often play with them.  More importantly, get the kids out of the video games and go outside.  Now, if you live in places like New York, finding a healthy outlet for your kids is more of a challenge than if they live near Stately PolyKahr Estates, but as they say, "if it saves just one child."

As far as guns, we already have a staggering number of laws on the books, most of which are not enforced even when we have the perpetrator dead to rights.  The NRA calls on the government to enforce the laws on the books, not because it agrees with those laws, but because it makes starkly obvious that if the government can't enforce the laws it has, it has no business making yet more laws that just infringe the rights of peaceable armed citizens.

Moreover, the call to enforce existing law points to the fact that many in both Congress and the commentariat don't know what the law currently is.  Bob Beckel of the Five on Fox News has called for background checks on Internet sales, as have others, claiming you can buy a gun from the Internet without a background check.  It is simply not true.  Let us say you buy a gun on or from  Both of these Internet sellers are Federally Firearms Licensed (FFL) dealers.  Once you pay them, they ship the gun to a local brick and mortar FFL of your choice.  That FFL then performs a background check, and ensures that all other laws governing the sale in your State are satisfied before turning the gun over to you.  Beckel simply doesn't know of what he is talking, but he is sure we need more gun laws.

Finally, the calls to enforce existing laws makes starkly clear that the goal of such laws is not to control crime, but to make owning and carrying a gun such a confusing minefield that the average person simply throws up his hands in disgust.  In balancing the possible protection that a gun provides against the potential consequences of unknowingly becoming a felon, the potential felon argument wins.  The peaceable citizen is thus psyched out of even getting a gun, making the job of eventually confiscating the rest that much easier.  If that isn't infringement, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn you may be interesting in buying. 

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