Dr. Ben Carson: Your right to own a semiautomatic should depend on where you live

posted at 3:21 pm on March 4, 2013 by Allahpundit

Via the Right Scoop and Mediaite, a point of divergence from conservative orthodoxy by CPAC’s newest scheduled speaker. The urban/rural distinction was actually a key part of Breyer’s dissent in the Heller case five years ago that established an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment:

[H]andguns are not only popular tools for crime, but popular objects of it as well: the FBI received on average over 274,000 reports of stolen guns for each year between 1985 and 1994, and almost 60% of stolen guns are handguns… Department of Justice studies have concluded that stolen handguns in particular are an important source of weapons for both adult and juvenile offenders. Ibid.

Statistics further suggest that urban areas, such as the District, have different experiences with gun-related death, injury, and crime, than do less densely populated rural areas. A disproportionate amount of violent and property crimes occur in urban areas, and urban criminals are more likely than other offenders to use a firearm during the commission of a violent crime… Homicide appears to be a much greater issue in urban areas; from 1985 to 1993, for example, “half of all homicides occurred in 63 cities with 16% of the nation’s population.”… One study concluded that although the overall rate of gun death between 1989 and 1999 was roughly the same in urban than rural areas, the urban homicide rate was three times as high; even after adjusting for other variables, it was still twice as high… And a study of firearm injuries to children and adolescents in Pennsylvania between 1987 and 2000 showed an injury rate in urban counties 10 times higher than in nonurban counties…

Finally, the linkage of handguns to firearms deaths and injuries appears to be much stronger in urban than in rural areas. “[S]tudies to date generally support the hypothesis that the greater number of rural gun deaths are from rifles or shotguns, whereas the greater number of urban gun deaths are from handguns.”… And the Pennsylvania study reached a similar conclusion with respect to firearm injuries—they are much more likely to be caused by handguns in urban areas than in rural areas.

Citations omitted. I’m a bit surprised that Democrats haven’t made more of urban/rural logic on guns, punctuated by the federalist approach that Carson endorses here. Obama and Biden pay lip service to it, periodically reassuring rural gun owners that no one wants to take away their hunting rifle or shotgun, but that argument’s hard to swallow when they’re pushing blanket bans on certain weapons nationwide from the seat of power in D.C. The smarter approach would be for O to declare that he doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all solution on guns and then call on Democrats to agitate for bans at the city and state level. That would kill some of the conservative pushback to gun control — most red-staters would have little to fear — while letting city dwellers live out their fondest confiscatory fantasies. There would be limits, obviously; the point of the Heller decision is that not even cities can ban handguns outright. But there are still a lot of blanks in Heller that will be filled in by federal courts over the next decade or two in terms of which weapons, precisely, can be regulated. Liberal energy would be better spent convincing cities to limit permissible handguns to revolvers than trying to put a dent in the country’s inventory of hundreds of thousands of AR-15s. After all, we’re already past the point of anyone besides Piers Morgan seriously believing that a new assault-weapons ban will prevent mass shootings. If you’re inclined to grab guns capable of doing lots of damage, you should be focused on semiautomatics generally rather than on scary-looking rifles that resemble M-16s. And the only way you’ll make a dent there is by stepping back from your national ambitions and respecting urban/rural differences on this subject.

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