Does the Futility of Perfect Gun Control Mean it is Worthless?
Columnist Russ Douthat’s pessimistic appraisal of the declining support for gun control (“Why gun control loses,” Opinion, Seattle Times October 5, 2017) mirrors the argument of gun control opponents who say that violent incidents, even mass killings, are inevitable no matter what laws are in place — and, since gun control laws cannot stop all violence, therefore, no such laws should be considered. Apparently the argument works because, as Ross Douthat says, “… The regulatory measures they propose…, often lack any direct connection to the massacres themselves.” He then recites a number of past incidents that were not stopped or would not have been stopped by background checks, bans on assault weapons and other strict measures, the implication being that such laws are worthless. Such faulty reasoning is tellingly refuted by the aphorism: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” This argument, the favorite of the NRA and the gun lobby, is seldom challenged. But, isn’t it better to reduce gun violence, to limit the number of deaths, to save some lives, even though we can’t stop everything? How many preventable deaths must we endure before we learn this lesson?