Video: In which I get ill with Juan Williams over accusation that I don’t care about victims of gun violence

posted at 12:41 pm on February 15, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

I don’t usually post video of myself, but this got a lot of reaction this morning. I imagine my visceral annoyance speaks for a lot of people being accused of not caring about children who die at the hands of murderers just because we happen to disagree with President Obama’s preferred federal remedies for said murders (most of which have already been implemented and failed spectacularly).

Juan and I are friends, and as I say at the end of the clip, we will make it up later. But please notice that I do not impugn Juan’s motives. I would have appreciated the same consideration. I have no doubt that he cares deeply about those affected by gun violence, but I think he puts far too much emphasis on the emotional catharsis of passing a law to “fix” a problem, which then doesn’t fix the problem. If one supports a remedy, such as the Assault Weapons Ban, which has already demonstrably failed to prevent mass shootings on a national level (Columbine) and a state level (Newtown), and yet wants to implement that failed policy again, isn’t that effectively just as bad as not caring about the problem? If one supports stricter gun laws, which have demonstrably failed in places like Chicago and Washington, D.C., while ignoring the deeper social problems that cause gang-related shootings and Newtown-like single shooters, isn’t that effectively just as bad as not giving a damn? Ignoring these failures and repeating failed policies arguably goes beyond indifference into a form of criminal negligence, no matter how well-meaning.

I’ve already been accused of racism online for sticking up for gun owners and wanting to address deeper issues that might actually curb gun violence, so let me add this. One, it’s racist and ignorant to assume there are no minorities among the legal gun owners I’m defending. Two, I think there are deeper social issues at play in both gang war and single shooters, who are almost exclusively white and suburban/rural, and reference both problems in this clip, so no I’m not blaming gun violence on cities or minorities. And, finally, strict gun laws in Chicago often prevent people like Otis McDonald, a 76-year-old black South Side resident, from protecting themselves. I would like Mr. McDonald and 70-year-old Detroit basketball coach Ernest Robinson, and others like them to have that right— not be held hostage by the bad intentions of armed criminals and the failed good intentions of their liberal lawmakers.

Yet I’m the one accused of not caring for having the audacity to point out that law-abiding people shouldn’t be punished for criminals’ crimes and asking a federal law to actually produce something other than the moral superiority of its supporters. The conversation wasn’t even really about gun control. It was about being able to disagree with liberal policies or point out their inefficacy, without being smeared as a heartless racist. (Juan didn’t go there with the racism, just the heartlessness, and I appreciate at least that, although my Twitter feed is full of it.) Juan himself has faced the exact same bullying when he strays from the liberal line on issues like school choice, on which we agree. It’s unfair and unhelpful, and dare I say it, uncaring.


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