See Notes on Lethal Logic for links to all my posts on Dennis Henigan’s book Lethal Logic.
Chapter 1 of Lethal Logic is titled: “Guns Don’t Kill People. People Kill People.”
Henigan claims cars are a valid analogy to guns:
Automobiles do not often exceed the speed limit without a driver behind the wheel. Sitting in a driveway, a car seems pretty innocuous indeed. Does this mean that the sum total of our public policy response to reckless driving should be severe punishment of drivers who violate the law? Few would think so.
For example, most of us are quite comfortable with the idea that before anyone is permitted to operate an automobile he must be licensed by the government to do so.
It makes sense to have a system in place to prevent potentially high-risk people from driving in the first place.
The first thing wrong with this is that Henigan ignores driving on public roads is considered a privilege and that in D.C. v. Heller all nine supreme court justices agreed that the right to keep and bear arms is a specific enumerated right. Rights may not be licensed. You don’t have to get a license or even notify the government if you decide to worship zero, one, or a dozen gods. You don’t have to get a learners permit from the government to learn speaking in public. You don’t have to fill out justification papers in triplicate, pay $100, submit your fingerprints, and wait 90 days before being allowed (or denied on the whim of some bureaucrat) to exercise your right to read Das Kapital, or Mein Kampf although those books and many other books have directly contributed to far, far more deaths, violence, and misery than the private ownership of firearms has. Even abortion, where it can be argued that an innocent life is being taken, no one has to take a class, apply for a permit, give a reason to a government bureaucrat, and have government records on file for exercising that right. Creating expensive, time consuming barriers for those choosing to defend innocent life using the best available tool for the job just somehow “makes sense” and infringment on a specific enumerated right is unworthy of notice.
The second point is that our drivers license system does not “prevent potentially high-risk people from driving in the first place.” It only allows for an easier means to identify those that may be lower risk drivers. There are lots of people that drive without a license and data indicates unlicensed drivers are involved in 17% of fatal car crashes. It is misleading for Henigan to use licensing of drivers as a successful model for gun ownership, use, and “prevention of gun violence”. And more directly to the point one only needs to check out Chicago and Washington D.C. with their firearms licensing schemes and see how effective they were in “preventing gun violence” compared to the surrounding communities.
Henigan and his organization expects us to believe that it is possible and desirable to prevent bad things from happening. Preventing crime has long been a hot button of mine. And it’s not just me. The legal system has ruled on this in specific reference to firearms before and even has a name for it in relation to the First Amendment: Prior Restraint.
The next point Henigan tried to make is that guns are unregulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission or in some similar manner to what the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration does for automobiles. I don’t need to give this point much attention in this chapter because Henigan doesn’t do anything with it. The Brady Campaign and other anti-gun organizations have attempted to get magazine disconnectors, loaded chamber indicators, microstamping, and “personalized” firearms (also called “smart” guns) mandated. They have been successful in Maryland, New Jersey, and California but I find it telling they have yet to supply any data showing this has improved public safety. I expect these restrictions will be found by the courts to be unconstitutional within the next few years.
I know of no gun rights activists who believe regulations such as those proposed will satisfy the anti-gun people. I am of the opinion that “everyone” knows the only thing it will do is increase the price of guns with no measurable public safety benefits. Increasing the price in of itself is seen as a good thing by anti-gun people as shown by their frequent mention of “cheap” handguns in a pejorative manner (see page 164 in Lethal Logic, the Brady Campaign website, and the VPC website).
The remainder of the chapter is devoted to explaining that guns are weapons which makes it possible for a single person to take on multiple people from a distance and with reduced risk to the individual with the gun compared to a knife, or baseball bat. This is true. And as Henigan points out this is a bad thing when a violent criminal uses a gun to do evil. But what Half-Truth Henigan doesn’t say is those same characteristics make it a useful tool for self-defense. It allows the elderly, the disabled, and the outnumbered to successfully defend themselves.
Regardless of which point Henigan attempts to make he completely fails to “explode the myth”. The most that can be said of this chapter is as a lawyer he knows how to distract people from the fact that guns don’t kill people–people kill people.