In the wake of the Aurora, Colo., shootings that left 12 dead and scores wounded, there were predictable and frantic blogs and editorials calling for, even demanding, stricter gun control, as if somehow that would have saved the day. They were met, by and large, with an equally predictable national ennui caused by gun control forces' crushing defeats in the past few years.
As if to underscore that point, The Associated Press reported gun sales surged after the Colorado shootings. Surged.
"The state approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm -- 25 percent more than the average Friday to Sunday period in 2012 and 43 percent more than the same interval the week prior," the AP said. Concealed-weapons training certification requests also skyrocketed -- and not just in Colorado, but in Florida, Seattle, Oregon and California.
Why? Americans, fearing thugs and gang-bangers -- and one need only read the Chicago Tribune for a day or two to understand why -- rightfully have come to fear their government even more. They expected, with ample reason, that pandering lawmakers would seize upon the Colorado tragedy to make obtaining a firearm even tougher for law-abiding citizens. In the process, government and media nitwits unwittingly -- again -- became the largest single force in boosting gun sales.
Oh, pundits across the nation, and a few usual suspects in Congress, wailed and moaned about guns, high-capacity magazines, the availability of ammunition, so-called "assault" weapons and, of course, the evil National Rifle Association, supported by tens of millions of Americans. To no avail.
Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama vowed there would be no gun control push -- before the election, anyway. (Democrats cannot afford the political blowback. Ask Al Gore.) Mitt Romney said the nation should work on "changing the heart of the American people." The Washington Post, longing for a Stalinesque iron fist, fired off an editorial headlined, "Obama and Romney's discreditable silence on gun control."
So much for a reasoned approach. The New York Times' conservative columnist David Brooks says -- and not to his credit -- that he generally supports gun control "because I think the downsides are so minimal.
"But I have to say I've really been put off by the over-the-top self-righteousness of gun control supporters over the past several days. They act like the case for gun control is open and shut, and that anybody who is skeptical has blood on their hands. What strikes me about these people is their colossal incuriosity about the evidence."
When he is right, he is right. Count me among the skeptical. There is nothing more arrogant, more self-righteous than a gun control zealot bent on stripping ordinary Americans of their rights, but they are having an increasingly tough sell nowadays.
Even the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, as wrongheaded a bunch of nincompoops as ever existed, admits its gun control battle is lost; that people are not stupid after all; that most of us understand our basic rights are in jeopardy with each new law bruising the Second Amendment and are fed up.
Americans understand we are in a culture war pitting controllers against the controlled; that police are not going to arrive immediately after a call for help; that everybody must be prepared to repel boarders until help arrives. Banning or further controlling guns is not doable immediately. The Brady campaign gets it. As the Left is wont to do in defeat, it is refocusing to find compromises -- until it can better figure out how to strip us of our guns.
That would require nothing less than a police state. The Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies estimated a few years ago that the U.S. has 90 guns for every 100 citizens -- or about 270 million of the world's 875 million known firearms. That number likely is higher now. Only a tiny percentage are ever used in crimes.
It is easy to agree there are people who should never have guns: convicted felons and the dangerously mentally ill among them. We need a better system to ferret them out, but in Colorado, even that may not have helped. A solution is elusive.
The gun-grabber's most fervent fantasy, that more gun control somehow will make us safe, is fundamentally silly and, frankly, in this dangerous world, not very bright.
We must be prepared to meet evil, not shrink from it.
Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.com.