What’s ‘liberal’ about citizen disarmament?

I tend to make fun of attitudes in the U.K. about guns and self-defense (a few examples), so when I see an op-ed piece written by a Brit who does fully understand the fundamental nature of the basic human right of self-defense, I feel kind of obligated to acknowledge it. When the superbly written piece appears in The Guardian, of all places, I first have to recover from the shock. Anyway, here it is.

It’s actually about Charlton Heston, but the part I want to focus on is the myth that “gun control” is “liberal.”

From great actor and progressive campaigner to reactionary old fart who loved guns: everyone agrees it was a tragic fall from grace. But did Heston really make a dramatic political u-turn? Actually, no. From the 1950s to the 1990s, he remained rather consistent in his commitment to upholding America’s freedoms. It was his liberal critics in the gun control lobby on the east coast and in trendy parts of LA who changed their tune, and made a mad swing from liberalism to authoritarianism.

How gun control came to be seen as a liberal cause is one of life’s great mysteries. In both the US and across Europe, fully paid-up lefties and progressives will tell you with pride, even pomposity, that the American authorities ought to disarm their populace and ban guns.

That there is nothing “liberal” about mandating a government monopoly on the means for the use of force is a point I have been making (albeit less effectively) for a long time.

O’Neill (the author) then goes on to present a quite good (although necessarily brief) summary of the racist motivation behind the history of citizen disarmament in the U.S. Here’s an excerpt:

Throughout the twentieth century, too, gun control tended to rise to the top of the political priority pile when the authorities feared that certain communities were getting out of control. The Gun Control Act of 1968 was ostensibly passed in response to assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, but its real targets were inner-city black communities where there had been violent riots for three summers running, and where some black activists were beginning to arm themselves. That is why the act specifically targeted cheap imported pistols, such as the “Saturday night special”; in other words, the affordable guns of the black ghetto.

Citizen disarmament advocates have enjoyed great success in purveying the myth that gun rights advocacy is the exclusive province of reactionary, racist, white men, and Mr. O’Neill has done a superb job of debunking that lie.

More at Alphecca.

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