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rebuttals to "Gun Control"
Writing for The Atlantic, Matt Valentine notes that the U.S. Army has announced a decision to seek a new sidearm to replace the 9mm M9, built by Beretta. This troubles him, because, "If history is a guide, similar pistols will soon start appearing at gun stores and crime scenes near you."
This is a problem, we are to believe, because "the last time the military challenged the industry to make a better handgun, all the innovations intended for the battlefield also ended up in the consumer market, and the severity of civilian shootings soared." The M9 is based very heavily on the Beretta 92, which had been available to civilians for most of a decade before the military decided to move away from the M1911, so how the change produced "innovations intended for the battlefield," that then "ended up on the consumer market" is left unexplained.
Also unexplained is any reason to believe that there exists any causal relationship between the military's change to the 9mm, and the rampant violence of the '80s and '90s--generally associated with the crack cocaine trade. Valentine notes that prior to 1980, revolvers greatly outnumbered semi-automatic pistols in the U.S.--a situation dramatically reversed within a decade. He claims that it was the Beretta that "transformed the commercial gun market," but offers zero evidence to justify that claim.
The U.S. military's standard sidearm, after all, had been a semi-automatic since before World War I. If the military's choice of weapons is so influential on the civilian market, why did the move away from revolvers not happen decades earlier?
The author then notes that shooting deaths in the U.S. peaked in 1993, the year before implementation of the "assault weapons" ban, with the clear implication being that the ban somehow had something to do with the reduction in violence. As "Herschel Smith notes in his Captain's Journal blog, Valentine changed gambits here:
And not only did he change the subject to mass shootings, he ignored those mass shootings that occurred during the ban.
Valentine then moves on to so-called "smart guns," lamenting that the new Army sidearm will probably not "feature" that technology:
See what he did there? After a token reference to all the problems with "smart gun" technology (and those problems are both numerous and severe), he pretends that the only legitimate reason not to use such technology is that kids won't be around--a very dubious premise, in addition to being a weak argument in the first place.
Besides, arms technology flow between the military and civilian worlds is not a one way street. Before Ronnie Barrett began selling his "Light Fifty" to civilians in 1982, there was probably not a military in the world that issued rifles chambered for the .50 BMG cartridge. Does that mean Valentine disagrees with the hysterical efforts to ban .50 caliber rifles for private citizens? Seems unlikely.
Most fundamentally, of course, is the fact that firearms designed to be effective fighting implements are the very guns most needed by private citizens, as Tench Coxe noted in 1788:
If the military stumbles upon new technology to make firearms more effective, we the people are owed access to that technology, and we must take it, by whatever means necessary.
A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denies that right, inspiring him to become active in gun rights advocacy. He also writes the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column. Kurt Hofmann Archive.