Every time a crime is committed with a gun - especially when the crime in question happens to capture the media’s attention - the left wants to know, “When will enough be enough?” That is to say: When will you conservatives finally stop resisting and support gun control?
The New York Times over the weekend even basked in its own self-importance by publishing a pro-gun control editorial on its front page.
So when will enough be enough such that we will finally support gun control? The answer is: Never. Because gun control is not the answer. Even if there were 100,000 mass shootings that killed a million people, I (only presuming to speak for myself here, although I suspect I’ve got plenty of company) will never support gun control because I am convinced it would not only fail to solve the problem but would make the problem worse.
But I would like to put forth a proposal that I think would make a very big difference in reducing such crime, and it does involve guns. I don’t think the ideological left will like it one bit, but those who really want to stop the killings might.
It’s called the Citizen Marshal Initiative. The idea is to assemble a force of at least 20 million American citizens who are trained and licensed to carry concealed weapons, have received and successfully completed very high-level training in the safe use of these weapons (safe for everyone but the crooks, of course), have passed very thorough background checks, and upon completion of all this, are able to carry their weapons pretty much everywhere at all times.
In short, more people carrying more guns.
Here are some details:
The idea is obviously to increase the odds that a shooter would face armed resistance in the event he tried to pull something like Newtown, Colorado Springs or San Bernardino. And not just armed, but well trained. The proposal recognizes the fact that police cannot be everywhere all the time - a truth the criminals understand all too well and regularly take advantage of. This eliminates the confidence shooters would have going into a “gun-free zone” and introduces at least some element of doubt. Anywhere you go, you never know if a trained citizen marshal is present and ready for you.
The number 20 million is more aspirational than anything else. If we could get that many, then more than one in every 20 Americans would be deputized as a citizen marshal and ready to take action in the event of a threat. If it could be more - or a lot more - even better. Given the number of guns already in circulation, I would think you’d have a built-in constituency of folks who would be willing and able to volunteer.
One flaw would be this: Since citizen marshals would not be assigned to patrol any particular place, some targets might remain more vulnerable than others - particularly those more populated by liberal anti-gun types who are less likely to support or want to participate in the program. That would include schools. To some degree, that would mean that soft targets for mass shooters would self-select. If I were a school principal, I would urge as many of my teachers as possible to become deputized. And I would sure as hell do it myself. If they can’t overcome their antipathy toward guns, they might ironically be setting themselves up as more likely targets.
Some conservatives might not like the idea of the government deputizing citizens, because it could offend the notion that gun rights are inherent and that no permission is needed from the government to exercise them. I agree with that notion, which is why I emphasize that the deputization is about the advanced training and the authority to carry your weapon into places where people might otherwise try to ban you from doing so.
Another flaw is the obvious risk that a bad guy would successfully complete the program, which would give them easy access to big, inviting targets. But the bad guys aren’t having problems with access now, and this would at least increase the odds that another citizen marshal might also be present to neutralize them.
The Citizen Marshal Initiative makes more sense than, say, increasing funding for mental health - not that it might not make sense to do that for other reasons - because a mentally unstable person isn’t always identified before he goes on his rampage.
I’m sure liberals will deride this idea as trying to bring back the “wild west” or whatever. They’ll also claim that the citizen marshals would have itchy trigger fingers and so forth. But those who can pass both the background checks and the training should be far less likely to make such mistakes, and they would be fully subjected to penalties under the law if they did.
As much as liberals may indulge the fantasy that the government could ban the sale of guns to bad guys, the fact remains that there are already hundreds of millions of guns in circulation, and criminals don’t respect any law - including the ones that say they can’t have guns. It’s far better to arm the good guys and give them a chance to stop a crime before it happens. Under this proposal, they would have the training and the access that would increase their odds of success.
Yes, this would cost some federal money and give the federal government an expanded role in law enforcement. That will trouble some conservatives, which I understand. It will also give libertarians the heebie jeebies, which delights me to no end.
But the only thing that matters here is whether it will stop a mass shooting, and I believe this proposal has a better chance of doing that than anything else I’ve seen put forth - which is why I offer it here and why I hope other conservatives will embrace it as an alternative to the left’s never-ending call for gun control.
Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain.com
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