What the gun control debate sounds like to shooters, in a context most other people can understand. If you don’t like the alcohol context, you can use dogs.

Say it’s become “known” that many drunk driving fatalities are caused by drunk drivers who drank whiskey.Temperance advocates would really prefer to ban all alcohol, and they’ve made serious moves toward those ends in the past. They frequently and not without merit point to all the social problems that alcohol abuse contributes to, especially when there’s high-profile fatalities. But they don’t really have the political power to enact sweeping restrictions.

Instead they latch onto the idea of banning any alcohol that is brown, because whiskey is brown, and at least it’s something. Additionally, it’s only a minority of drinkers that prefer whiskey. They get a bit lucky, and manage to enact their ban on brown spirits.

The distillers switch production to clear liquors, which still gets you just as sloshed as the brown stuff, and the ban accomplishes almost nothing except pissing off whiskey drinkers, the vast majority of whom aren’t problem drinkers and don’t drive intoxicated. The temperance people cry foul, scream “loophole,” and demand clear liquors be banned too, hoping that those absinthe drinkers over there won’t really care if the vodka drinkers get it. The temperance movement makes repeated public assurances that absinthe aficionados should fear not, since they have no intention of targeting green drink, and they’ve always assured beer drinkers they are fine with yellow drink, though in the past they tried to ban beer with more than 3% alcohol.

That’s essentially what this all looks like to those of us, using the analogy, who might be whiskey enthusiasts, but who aren’t alcoholics and don’t drive drunk. We tolerate a lot of social harm in this context because most people drink. There’s an understanding that prohibition wasn’t all that successful, and that it’s not right to punish people as a whole because some misuse it. Transfer that to the gun context, and suddenly prohibition is workable, and it’s fine to blame and punish millions of gun owners and shooters for the actions of people who misuse them.

Keith Milligan
Legislative Chair, FTRPA