Misinformed Moms March

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

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Misinformed Moms March

by Ari Armstrong, May 13, 2001

The Million Mom March attracted a crowd of 150-200 May 13 at the Denver State Capitol. Below the steps, 140 civil arms activists rallied for the right of self-defense, as the Second Amendment Sisters held a separate event in Loveland.

The title "Million Mom March" is misleading in two respects: first, there were never anywhere near a million demonstrators or members of the group; and second, the group does not consist of mothers. Instead, the group's flyer refers to the "thousands of mothers and others who participated in the Million Mom March" (emphasis added). I estimate about half the crowd May 13 was male. But I won't quibble: just bear in mind that the "Million Moms" are neither of those things, even though I'll use the title or an abbreviation.

The Million Moms were peaceful and civic-minded. They waved carnations in unison to patriotic music. They listened to fluffy platitudes from a string of impressive speakers. They waved pretty, prefabricated signs with a pistol scribbled out and replaced by a bouquet of flowers.

And they spewed lie after lie after lie.

The first paragraph of the Million Mom flyer handed out at the rally alleges:

Every day a dozen children die, and many more are seriously injured, by guns. They are victims of homicide, suicide, and unintentional shootings made easy by access to guns.

It's astounding that this lie is repeated after it has been proven false so many times. The "twelve children" statistic includes legal adults ages 18 and up. It also includes self-defense shootings.

In terms of homicide, the statistic is driven largely by gang violence. Unfortunately, the Million Mom flyer obfuscates this point, for its next paragraph reads, "This is personal, not political. We are in this for one reason only: to keep our kids safe." The implication is that the "twelve children" statistic is somehow relevant to most parents. I would be willing to bet that exactly zero of the parents at the Million Moms rally have children who are gang members. The group seemed to be composed mostly of yuppies and the well-off middle class. It is indeed unfortunate that the Million Moms waste everybody's time by proposing policies which so obviously will fail to address the actual problem.

The statement that suicide is "made easy by access to guns" is also a lie. Instead, people who want to commit suicide can easily switch to other means. For instance, the suicide rate in Japan is around 2.5 times higher than it is in the United States. People in Japan don't shoot themselves, but they drown themselves or substitute some other means. The Million Moms don't attempt to explain why they think suicide by drowning or asphyxiation or car crash or whatever is an improvement over suicide by shooting.

The Million Moms are long on flowery rhetoric and platitudes, but short on specifics. Their flyer claims Million Mom members

have joined together to demand sensible gun laws that protect our children.... We want reasonable, common sense, enforceable laws.... We're calling on Congress to pass a law requiring licensing of handgun owners and registration of all handguns.... We also want Congress to establish strict oversight of the gun industry.... Many gun injuries and deaths can be prevented by setting and enforcing gun safety standards.

Not once, not even for a single second, did the Million Moms hear one shred of evidence or even a plausible theory as to how the additional restrictions might improve public safety. Instead, their policies would almost certainly increase violent crime rates. John Lott has found that a slew of gun restrictions have raised the cost of purchasing a gun for self-defense, in terms of dollars and red tape hassles, or simply prevented the purchase of a defensive gun by some, thereby leaving some people defenseless and giving criminals the advantage. Mandatory registration of guns and their owners with the federal government would only serve to further disarm law-abiding citizens, without impacting criminal behavior.

(Actually, if anything the Million Mom's proposals will only serve to heighten criminal activity directly by creating a violent black market such as currently exists for several drugs. If the Million Moms are concerned about the gun homicide rate now, they should look at the figures once they create a system of turf wars and gang trade in guns.)

In terms of BATF regulation of gun manufacturing, unintentional firearm deaths have been declining steadily over the past century. Guns are already supremely safe in and of themselves. When you look at the details, the "Congressional oversight" of the gun industry consists of letting the BATF ban any type of gun it wants at whim. Again, this will help strip the law-abiding citizenry of their defensive guns and thereby increase violent crime.

By the terms "sensible," "reasonable," and "common sense," the Million Moms apparently mean, "completely unsubstantiated or demonstrably false."

The Million Moms distributed another flyer titled, "Asking Saves Kids." (This program is discussed in http://www.freecolorado.com/2001/05/bigotedmoms.html.) As noted in the linked article, all parents should want their children to play where they are monitored by responsible adults. However, to target gun owners for ostracization, given that more children die of burns, water, and choking, is simply to display bigotry.

The flyer begins, "Over 40% of homes with children have a gun." That's a good thing, as those children are kept safer from violent criminals. (In fact, even children in homes without guns are kept safer by those parents who choose to assume the responsibility of self-defense, as criminals don't usually know which house might contain the gun. It's ironic that the Million Moms free-load in this way off the gun owners who were protesting them.)

The back flap of the flyer offers a bit more detail: "Over 40% of homes with children have a gun and many of those guns are left unlocked and loaded." You've got to love the precision: "many." A thoughtful reader might ask, "HOW many?" True, some irresponsible parents keep guns loaded where young children can get to them. That's bad parenting and probably criminal child abuse.

However, the vast majority of gun owners handle their firearms responsibly. Given that more children ages 0-14 die every year from fires than from unintentional gun shootings, one has to wonder why there is no "Movement to End Match Violence." ("The Movement to End Gun Violence" is listed on the flyer.) For comparison, consider the following possible quote: "Over 90% of homes with children have matches and many of those matches are left unlocked and near a striker." The fact that the "Asking Saves Kids" program singles out gun owners has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with politics.

The political message comes through loud and clear:

ASK if they have a gun in the home. If there is not a gun in the home... great! That's one less thing you have to worry about. If there is a gun, make sure that the gun is stored unloaded and locked, ideally in a gun safe, with ammunition locked separately.

Great!

This statement completely disregards the demonstrated usefulness of guns for use in defense against violent criminals. This is consistent with the policies of, say, Handgun Control, Inc., whose leaders have said the only appropriate use of a gun is hunting and guns not so intended should be banned.

The Orwellian overtones are no longer subtle. The "Asking Saves Kids" program actively encourages parents to ostracize gun owners. Project Exile actively encourages citizens to turn their neighbors over to federal authorities if they are suspected of owning property arbitrarily defined as illegal.

History of the last century demonstrates that children are safest when they live in a free society, not one marred by reams of arbitrarily written and enforced laws that serve only to harass honest citizens.

The Million Moms also distributed a report from the United States Conference of Mayors (Wellington E. Webb, President). This report, issued in April 2001 and titled "The Death Toll Since Columbine," reads,

On January 27 of this year, during the Conference's Winter Meeting in Washington, the mayors unveiled a wall identifying nearly 3,100 victims of gun violence from April 20 until the end of 1999 in 100 cities. For each day following the Columbine incident it listed the name and age of each person killed with a firearm -- a dramatic illustration of the magnitude of the problem.

The group specifically advocates "gun safety measures that would close existing legal loopholes and offer greater protections for children." The first goal is clearly a reference to making it illegal to purchase a gun at a gunshow from a private seller without first registering with the federal government. The second goal is more ambiguous, but perhaps it refers to letting the BATF "regulate" firearms.

Here's the extraordinary part. On December 20, two names are listed from Arkansas: Damon Pearson and Ray Watson. In the back of the report, "Circumstances Surrounding Certain Gun Violence Deaths" are described:

In the early morning hours of December 20, Damon Pearson, 22, went to a residence with the intent of shooting a rival crack dealer. Using a large caliber handgun, Pearson shot at least seven rounds through two doors and a window of the residence. Two of the rounds struck and killed 46-year-old Ray Watson -- not the intended victim -- who was visiting a woman living there. One of the women residents admitted firing one shot from a large caliber handgun at Pearson as he was leaving the front yard; this shot struck and killed him.

In other words, because of government policies which created a violent black market in crack cocaine, in this case resulting in an innocent death and the death of the murderer, Webb and his associates want to pass more laws which require peaceable citizens to register with the federal government to buy a gun!

Austrian Economist Ludwig von Mises (who fled Europe when Hitler came to power) argued eloquently that socialist controls breed more socialist controls. In this case, drug prohibition has created relatively high rates of violence in America, a situation used as a pretext to introduce gun prohibition.

Reading through Webb's report is a surreal experience.

One speaker at the Million Mom rally was Laurelyn Baker, who claimed American Indians support victim disarmament laws. That would be news to Russell Means, the first director of the American Indian Movement who will come to town this coming weekend for the Libertarian convention. In his autobiography Where White Men Fear to Tread, Means writes,

The National Guard should return to its original mission -- militias assembled in time of need to protect states against incursions by the federal government. If we honored the Second Amendment, which guarantees us the right to bear arms, we the citizens would be better armed than our government. It could never force us to do anything. (486).

He adds, "As an Indian and a Libertarian, I saw that unless something was done to awaken the people... America will be the first country to become fascist democratically -- a process that has already begun" (488).

But of course the Million Moms are not interested in the opinions of people like Russell Means. Instead, they want to pretend they have the support of moms, American Indians, and everyone else but those NASTY gun owners. The Colorado leader of the Million Moms repeated the bigoted comment made by National President Mary Leigh Blek (see http://www.freecolorado.com/2001/05/bigotedmoms.html) suggesting gun owners do not love children.

The good news is that most people seem to be rejecting the lies and slanders of the Million Moms. Maybe by next year we'll all be able to stay home with our families on Mothers' Day.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com