Whatever your views on whether or not there should be controls on guns, the anti-gun control movement needs discussion, because it is extreme.

For instance, Monday morning on CNN, the news at 10a.m. ET opened with the issue of gun control and was of course unrelievedly slanted to the anti-gun side. But the striking thing was that the piece—based on no actual events that occurred—went on for 9 minutes. That’s more than an eternity in TV news—that’s two or three eternities. Monetarily, 9 minutes of top-of-the-hour coverage on CNN would be worth tens of millions.

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times both had front page stories on the gun control movement. The Wall Street Journal, responding to actual news events, did not.

I conclude that what we are seeing is a conscious campaign, initiated and orchestrated by the leftist leadership. This is not conspiracy theory. It is simply that political and intellectual strategists on the left have decided, as they would tell you openly, that the Sandy Hook shooting provides an opportunity to get gun control enacted, as (they claim) it should be.

The question is: why are the political and intellectual leaders—people who are socialist or beyond—so interested in this issue?

We can dispose of the idea that they are interested because they want to save innocent lives. We are talking about the leadership—the people whose opinions count with the chief editors at the NY Times, the L.A. Times, and CNN. We’re talking about the opinion-leaders’ opinion leaders. We’re talking not about the guy next door who voted Democratic but about the Tooheys. It would be wrong to say that these people, and their lieutenants, are indifferent to shootings and violence. It would be wrong because they relish them. They want violence, they applaud it. How else can we explain: their idolization of Che Guevera, Fidel Castro, Mao? Their lifelong attempts to censor the fact that 100 million people were killed by communism? Their love for the Weather Underground bombers and all the other violent, bomb-throwing and, yes, gun-toting, rebels of the 60s?

Consider whether a desire to protect the innocent from violence could be operative among intellectuals who enthusiastically support Arab-Islamic-Palestinian fanatics. These Leftists support people who actually commit all the evils they ascribe to America: religious fanaticism, imperialistic aggression in foreign policy, racism, censorship, ethnocentricism, and a brutal, flaunted subjugation of women, including the horror of genital mutilation inflicted on 100 to 140 million girls, according to the UN’s WHO. But have you heard feminist uproar against the Middle Easterners’ savage treatment of women? Me neither.

Consider, finally, the system that the intellectual leadership seeks to establish: statism. The leaders devote their lives to vilifying, attacking, and seeking to subvert history’s greatest example of freedom—i.e., of non-coercion, non-violence—America, and they seek to establish some form of Total State, which is the institutionalization of violence, even of gulags. Shootings? Is Michael Moore, for example, in the least put off by the fact that the Castro regime has shot thousands, for the crime of criticizing or seeking to escape the communist regime? No. Instead he goes to Cuba and makes a film attempting to sell the idea that Cuba has a better medical system than does America, and is a better society than ours in general.

All of which supports my outrageous-sounding claim that the top rung of the opinion-leaders are not motivated by a desire to have a less violent, less dangerous society. Yet these are the men responsible for the current anti-gun campaign (luring in the more innocent followers). Why? What are they after?

The anti-climax here is: I don’t know. The common idea on the right is that these power-lusters want to disarm Americans so that when the Left comes to full power, no one will be able to use guns to fight their regime. I can’t rule that out, but I find it too remote a motivation. People like Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Paul Krugman, and the lesser-known strings-pullers on the Left have to know that they cannot establish an actual American dictatorship in the next 20 years, and probably not in the next 40. And I don’t think they are long-range enough to be mounting the current campaign on that basis.

Nor do I think—believe it or not—that taking away Americans’ privately owned guns would be that much of an impediment to those seeking to rebel against such a distant dictatorship. Either there would be a sizable segment of the population who would rebel, or not. If there would be, it could get guns (importing them, stealing them from the regime, taking them off killed agents of the dictatorship) and there are other weapons, such as explosives, molotov cocktails, knives, even rocks. On the other hand, if there is not a sizable segment in rebellion, widespread gun ownership wouldn’t change the outcome. Yes, you can speculate about a marginal case where widespread gun ownership tips the balance, but I find it hard to believe that’s what the current furor over guns is about.

What I can see is a factor that seems too small to explain why, for instance, CNN devoted 1/3 of its morning news show to propagandizing against guns. That factor is the association of gun-ownership with right-wing views. It is not the Leftists but the anti-Leftists who own guns and value them. You remember Obama’s off-the-cuff comment some years back about people who cling to their religion and their guns. This would be enough to make the Left be anti-gun-ownership, but I don’t think it’s enough to explain the intensity and urgency of the current campaign.

Incidentally, Charles Kadlec, a contributor at Forbes, writes:

Surely the President and his allies in the media know that nothing they have proposed would have prevented the massacre at Sandy Hook. Connecticut has some of the strictest gun controls in the nation and an assault weapons ban similar to the Federal law that lapsed in 2004, yet the gun used in Sandy Hook was purchased legally in that state. And, the federal assault weapons ban did not prevent the Columbine massacre in 1999. Yet, the President’s response to the massacre insists the only problem is a lack of political will to control gun ownership.

Mr. Kadlec offers his own analysis, which links the anti-gun movement to a general opposition to freedom and constitutionality. He quotes this statement from the President:

Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom? and concludes:

President Obama . . . asserts the real problem is freedom, because the cost of freedom is the death of our children. . . .

The sole focus on gun control and the extreme politicization of the Newtown massacre led by President Obama and the Progressives is not about protecting our children. Rather, it has the markings of an all out effort to deflect our attention from the failure of Progressive policies in order to protect and increase their power at the expense of our liberty.

I think there is merit in this idea, but I am still puzzled about the intensity of the anti-gun campaign because there are many other more direct areas of freedom that CNN et al. could be devoting their time to propagandizing against. I don’t like multi-cause explanations, but perhaps it is a combination of all these factors: one area of freedom that, in the wake of Sandy Hook, is ripe for eliminating, an association of gun-ownership with rightists, and a vague sense that in the distant future, a disarmed population would be easier to rule. Add to that the need to switch the national conversation away from our economic troubles and the Democrats’ failure to acknowledge them.

Whatever the cause or causes, the drumbeat against guns is deafening.

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Harry Binswanger

Dr. Binswanger, a longtime associate of Ayn Rand, is a professor of philosophy at the Objectivist Academic Center of the Ayn Rand Institute. Dr. Binswanger, a longtime associate of Ayn Rand, is an instructor of philosophy at the Objectivist Academic Center of the Ayn Rand Institute, and a Senior Contributor at RealClearMarkets.com. He is the author of How We Know: Epistemology on an Objectivist Foundation and is the creator of The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism from A to Z. Dr. Binswanger blogs at HBLetter.com (HBL)--an email list for Objectivists for discussing philosophic and cultural issues. A free one-month trial is available at: HBLetter.com.

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