Make America safe again?

Marketing so much of the time is a perpetual search for just the right words to convince the uninterested to desire the unnecessary.  If only the perfect slogan can be found, so the thinking of advertisers goes, all will be well with the bottom line, the vote tally, or the push for social conformity.

The sad reality is that it works.   At least a commercial can burrow in, something like a larva from Ceti Alpha V, as a laundry detergent jingle from 1985 illustrates, a tune I still can’t forget.

With this in mind, gun control groups never miss an opportunity to insert themselves into whatever is the current subject of national attention.  Everytown for Gun Safety, called a “major gun control group” by The New York Times, has come up with a new hashtag for this election season:  #MakeAmericaSafeAgain.

Must we give Everytown credit for trying?  They earn no points for originality, and I have to wonder about the wisdom of reminding voters about the signature line of the opposing side’s candidate, but the organization has made its choice, just as they’ve endorsed the sort-of, almost, has she made it yet Democratic nominee for president.  In the words of the group’s leader, John Feinblatt,

Our litmus test is simple: does a candidate side with the public or with the gun lobby?  Hillary Clinton passes that test with flying colors — pushing back against the N.R.A.’s extreme “guns for everyone, everywhere” agenda, and ushering in a new political calculus that saving lives from gun violence is a winning issue.

The problem here is that much like Trump’s slogan (which he has now apparently stolen back from Everytown), I’m left to wonder what period exactly we’re being asked to go back to.  Surely Everytown doesn’t mean the 1980s and early 90s when violent crime peaked.  The national homicide rate hit its maximum in 1980 at 10.2 per hundred thousand, the highest in the last fifty-five years, and hovered between eight and ten for more than a decade, finally coming down to 7.4 per hundred thousand in 1996.

I’m also hoping that Everytown doesn’t wish to take us back to the period of violence tied up with Prohibition or worse yet, the rates of homicides that reached a high of more than twenty per hundred thousand in the nineteenth century.  That was itself an improvement on the well over thirty homicides per hundred thousand Americans that was experienced during the early colonial days.

So when, exactly, was this period when America was safe, in the view of Everytown for Gun Safety?  They might be referring to the period between 1940 and 1960, but our attention was somewhat occupied during that time with violence of another sort, and we’ve returned to those levels in recent years anyway.  And that’s happened while the right to carry has more and more become protected by law across the nation and gun laws generally have moved in the direction of freer exercise.  This isn’t meant as an argument of causation, but it’s important to remind ourselves—and opponents of rights—of the falsehood in the gun control narrative that more people owning and carrying guns will lead inevitably to more deaths.

The myth of the Golden Age some time in the distant past when everyone was decent and noble and just is pervasive in human thinking, but it cannot withstand rational analysis.  We’re the safest now that we’ve ever been, and gun ownership certainly isn’t taking away from that.  When Everytown wants to make America safe again, I have to ask where they’ve been.  As is typical of the gun control crowd, they’re late to the hard work, seeking to latch on to the successes of others.  It’s up to us never to let them get away with that, starting with the hashtag, #MakeAmericaSafeAgain.

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