Op-ed Takes Myopic View of ‘Costs of Gun Rights’

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Gun rights matter. They matter to all of us. They matter to legions of people who don’t even like gun rights.

They matter because they are, at the end of the day, one of our rights that is meant to help keep this nation free.

Moreover, the right to keep and bear arms does a lot of good.

Yet not everyone agrees. It seems an op-ed out of Maine was written by such a person. Their opposition to this is clear with a headline like, “Maine Voices: Take a look at the real costs of gun rights.”

Not one of the Second Amendment’s biggest supporters, I’d say.

Anyway, here are the examples the author brings up.

The first of these, of course, is the incalculable cost of the loss of human life. We can’t put a number on that – only the families and friends of the 18 killed know how much the loss of their loved ones means to them. But we, as a society, share that loss. These are people who will no longer be able to contribute to our society, enrich our lives, make us laugh, contribute to our overall well-being as a society. They are gone, destroyed.

But if you are willing to accept these deaths as a necessary sacrifice to ensure easy access to guns, then let’s look at some of the very real and measurable expenses generated by Mr. Card’s rampage.

There is the economic loss of earnings from those who were killed.  How many hundreds of thousands – more likely millions – of dollars will never be earned by the victims of this tragedy? How will their families live without the income these people would have generated?

How many hundreds of thousands of dollars did businesses lose during the lockdown that followed the shooting? Many businesses throughout the state shut down for several days until Card’s body was finally located and the situation declared safe for people to leave their homes.

Also there are enormous medical costs for the survivors who were injured and, likely, for the families of the victims who were killed. There are multiple GoFundMe projects under way to help pay these bills. Gov. Janet Mills has called for state funding to help victims and former Gov. Paul LePage has started a victims’ fund. Millions of dollars have been donated to the survivors.

Despite this outpouring of generosity, many bills will likely go unpaid, leaving Lewiston’s hospital system to bear the cost, one that will, ultimately, be passed along to users of the health care system in the form of higher costs.

The gist of this whole thing is that if we’d just be sensible and accept restrictions on our gun rights, these costs and many others the author brings up would be lower.

Of course, this ignores a few facts.

First and foremost is that there’s not a lot of evidence that gun control actually works. RAND keeps trying to find evidence that some of these most popular policy proposals will do what proponents say they do and keeps coming up short.

And this is a group that desperately wants to find evidence. Someone looking more critically at those studies can see that they’re all worthless.

So this idea that these policies would somehow reduce these costs isn’t well supported in the first place. That alone undermines a big chunk of the author’s claims here.

But even if it didn’t, he’s only looking at one side of the equation. He’s looking at the ramification of Lewiston and other illegal acts carried out with guns.

Yet there’s more going on that just that.

We know that defensive gun uses are a lot more common than homicides. In fact, by most estimates, defensive gun uses are more common than most forms of violent crime combined. So if gun rights is such a problem, how is it that roughly 2.5 million people each year aren’t injured or killed because they exercised those gun rights?

See, it’s easy to look at things in a small segment of the world and think you understand what’s going on. The reality is that the world is far more complicated than that.

Even if gun control worked perfectly, which not even the most rabid anti-gunner is trying to claim, there would still be costs associated with people being unable to defend themselves.

Moreover, there’s the cost to our freedom, not just in our gun rights but other rights that will likely be eroded when there’s no more way to resist them.

So it’s awfully myopic to think gun control will make all those costs go away. It’s more realistic to recognize that they’d likely remain, plus a few more from the unintended consequences of gun control policies.


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