Americans for Responsible Solutions rebranding gun control

Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly have decided that gun control needs rebranding.  Apparently admitting that gun ownership and rights are a fundamental part of American culture, they and their political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, are now working to present an argument about saving lives while respecting what they call responsible use of firearms.  According to members of ARS and others who gathered recently to change the language of the debate, the best appeal they have is that “with freedom comes responsibility.”

Why they think that Spiderman references are particularly effective in this argument isn’t clear, but I have to question the responsibility of a group that advocates outright lies in the promotion of their cause.  That may sound like an extreme claim, but consider their own words in a brochure sent to Democrats in the House of Representatives, titled, Making Our Communities Safer:  A Guide to Understanding and Engaging Americans on the Need for Stronger Gun Laws.   Therein is to be found a list of talking points to use and not to use.  Readers are advised to “talk about reducing crime, reducing gun violence, gun violence prevention or preventing gun tragedies,” while told not to “use the phrase ‘gun control.’”  Advocates should “talk about closing loopholes like criminal background checks, strong, responsible or commonsense gun laws,” but not “talk about stricter or new gun laws.”  And, of course, always “attack the gun lobby,” rather than “attack the NRA or the Second Amendment.”

Talk like that reminds me of a child standing next to the shards of a vase with a baseball atop them, claiming he didn’t do it.  I’m told over and over that the NRA is a gun lobby, but apparently they aren’t now—until they are, depending on the story being told.  What are new or stricter laws, if not laws that for example add on new background check requirements or that are “strong” laws?  And what would these “commonsense” regulations be if not gun control?

But what about this concept of responsibility?  In legal terms, this word refers to “the obligation to answer for an act done, and to repair any injury it may have caused.”  Someone who, for example, fires off rounds at random into the sky can be made to pay for any damages caused and punished with time behind bars—especially if those bullets injure or kill a person down range.  A bartender can be sued or deprived of a liquor license for serving someone who is obviously intoxicated, considering the risk that doing so would create.  And the often cited example is the case of a property owner who leaves an attractive nuisance such as a pool open to children.

The problem with all of this is that gun control advocates don’t talk about holding people accountable for their actions.  Their focus is on limiting what we’re capable of doing.  How is a fifteen-round magazine less responsible than one that holds only ten rounds?  How is telling me that I have to get checked each time I want to buy a gun, while doing nothing to prevent criminals from stealing guns or buying them on the black market a case of responsibility?  The only proposed gun control law—and yes, it’s gun control, since I believe in being honest—that would be relevant in a discussion about responsibility would be requirements to keep guns out of the hands of small children or otherwise to secure firearms from unauthorized users.  That suffers from the same problems that all one-size-fits-all solutions have, but at least it’s within the bounds of the declared subject.

The dishonesty of gun control advocates is one of the many reasons that we who value rights must fight them on all fronts and at every turn.  If we let people who oppose our rights get away with their rebranding, we’ll have only ourselves to blame for the results.

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