Why Not Gun Control for the Government?

Anthony Gregory
The Independent Institute

Whenever someone commits a particularly shocking crime with firearms—especially a horrific mass murder—there are calls for gun control. The reasoning seems to be that a law prohibiting the ownership or carrying of certain weapons will prevent or reduce the number of such atrocities. Although most other laws targeting ownership of contraband—such as drug laws—do not really work in keeping the barred items out of determined people’s hands; and although people bent on committing mass murder do not tend to be the more law-abiding members of society; we are supposed to believe that the way to stop violent crimes is simply to make it illegal to be armed.

On the other hand, government commits violence against the innocent on a daily basis. In foreign lands, hundreds of thousands have died in the last decade, in a killing spree unleashed by the U.S. government in response to 9/11. On the local level, police frequently brutalize the accused and taze, beat and shoot innocent people. The TSA has become an agency of routine sexual molestation. In detention centers at home and abroad, the criminal justice system has become an accessory to mass rape and gang violence. The feds commit torture.

Yet rarely do people suggest that gun control is the answer to these atrocities. And of course, what would that even entail? Disarming the police? That would be part of it, yet even that would not suffice, for so long as there is political power at all, we can say that Mao was right that it flows from the barrel of a gun. Government is institutionalized violence.

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