Right-wing Daily Wire commentator Charlie Kirk said at his Turning Points USA Political Action Committee Faith conference on Wednesday that the tens of thousands of annual firearm-related deaths in the United States are an acceptable price to pay in order for Americans to keep their Second Amendment constitutional right to bear arms.
The statistics underlying this uniquely American problem as outlined in this Gun Violence Archive chart are sobering.
Although they are not listed in its graphic, the site notes that as of April 6, there have been more than eleven thousand American lives snuffed out by guns so far in 2023. Seventy-four of those deaths occurred in school shootings, which reached peak frequency in 2022.
"The total for 2022 was 46 — but that is only during school hours," National Public Radio explained on Wednesday, March 29. "If the parameters are widened to incidents after school, over the weekend, when a gun is brandished, fired, or when a bullet hits school property, that number leaps to 303 in 2022, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database, an independent research project."
The massacre at the Christian Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday, March 27 – which left three students and three staffers dead and reinvigorated the perpetual national debate over gun control – was the topic of a question posed by an attendee to Kirk at the "Freedom Night in America" event.
"How's it going, Charlie? I'm Austin. I just had a question related to Second Amendment rights. You saw the shooting that happened recently and a lot of people are upset. But I'm seeing people who argue for the other side that they want to take our Second Amendment rights away. How do we convince them that it's important to have the right to defend ourselves and, uh, all that good stuff?" he asked.
Kirk delivered an extensive response.
"The Second Amendment is not about hunting. I love hunting. The Second Amendment is not even about personal defense. That is important. The Second Amendment is there, God forbid, so that you can defend yourself against a tyrannical government. And if that talk scares you – 'wow, that's radical, Charlie, I don't know about that' – well, then you have not really read any of the literature of our Founding Fathers. Number two, you've not read any 20th-century history. You're just living in Narnia. By the way, if you're actually living in Narnia, you would be wiser than wherever you're living, because C.S. Lewis was really smart. So I don't know what alternative universe you're living in. You just don't want to face reality that governments tend to get tyrannical and that if people need an ability to protect themselves and their communities and their families," Kirk said.
It would appear that Kirk has not familiarized himself with the Founders' writings either. A 2018 report in The Washington Post highlighted several key tenets of the establishment of the Second Amendment, which have glaring relevance to our modern era and refute what Kirk claimed:
1. The Founding Fathers were devoted to the militia.
2. The amendment's primary justification was to prevent the United States from needing a standing army.
3. The authors of the Bill of Rights were not concerned with an 'individual' or 'personal' right to bear arms.
4. The Founding Fathers were very concerned about who should, or should not, be armed.
5. Eighteenth-century Americans tolerated a certain amount of violence and instability, as long as it came from other white Americans.
Kirk then attempted to justify allowing anyone and everyone to own guns, regardless of the risks to public health and safety.
"Now, we must also be real. We must be honest with the population. Having an armed citizenry comes with a price, and that is part of liberty. Driving comes with a price – 50,000, 50,000, 50,000 people die on the road every year. That's a price," Kirk declared.
"Wow," a man in the audience exclaimed.
"You get rid of driving, you'd have 50,000 less auto fatalities. But we have decided that the benefit of driving – speed, accessibility, mobility, having products, services – is worth the cost of 50,000 people dying on the road," Kirk added, declining to mention that the operation and ownership of motor vehicles are heavily regulated privileges that can carry severe consequences when they are violated.
Kirk therefore concluded:
So we need to be very clear that you're not going to get gun deaths to zero. It will not happen. You could significantly reduce them through having more fathers in the home, by having more armed guards in front of schools. We should have a honest and clear reductionist view of gun violence, but we should not have a utopian one.
You will never live in a society when you have an armed citizenry and you won't have a single gun death. That is nonsense. It's drivel. But I am – I think it's worth it. I think it's worth to have a cost of, unfortunately, some gun deaths every single year so that we can have the Second Amendment to protect our other God-given rights. That is a prudent deal. It is rational. Nobody talks like this. They live in a complete alternate universe.
So then how do you reduce? Very simple. People say, oh, Charlie, how do you stop school shootings? I don't know. How did we stop shootings at baseball games? Because we have armed guards outside of baseball games. That's why. How did we stop all the shootings at airports? We have armed guards outside of airports. How do we stop all the shootings at banks? We have armed guards outside of banks. How did we stop all the shootings at gun shows? Notice there's not a lot of mass shootings at gun shows, there's all these guns. Because everyone's armed. If our money and our sporting events and our airplanes have armed guards, why don't our children?
Here, again, Kirk omitted the obvious: firearms are typically prohibited at all of the venues that he mentioned, except perhaps at gun shows. The rule also generally applies to schools. In fact, research has shown that school shooters are rarely, if ever, deterred by guards with guns and that their presence often increases the amount of violence and bloodshed that occurs during those attacks.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.