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Double Action: Two NY Times Columnists Embarrass Themselves on Guns in Sunday Review

Two New York Times columnists embarrassed themselves over the weekend, betraying anti-gun ignorance in the paper's Sunday Review.

Frank Bruni went hunting for the first time (with the chef of a ritzy Manhattan restaurant), and remarked "what an unfair fight" hunting is, as if he was the first person to think that up. After lamenting "how thoroughly a weapon can be romanticized and fetishized," he pivoted to easy access to guns in "this country of ours."

I could forget, when not aiming at a bird, to keep the gun pointed toward the sky or the ground. Or my pivot as I followed a bird’s flight could bring one of my companions, so perilously near me, into my sights. I was haunted by this and by the fact that although I was a first-timer, I needed no background check, no training, no proof of any dexterity to hold this shotgun and squeeze its trigger, not on the kind of regulated hunting grounds (called a preserve) that we went to. This country of ours makes it astonishingly easy for people to arm themselves and take aim. Is it any wonder that we have an exceptional harvest of gun-related injuries and deaths, many accidental?

Bruni acted convinced that the Second Amendment is wholly concerned with hunting rights, then used that false argument to undermine gun rights in general.

....Opponents of such basic gun-control measures as universal background checks and an assault-weapons ban talk of slippery slopes and raise the specter of parents’ being unable to lend shotguns to their children for a wholesome duck or deer hunt. They assert the importance to hunters of certain semiautomatics that might be prohibited....And it’s hooey. Let’s take the broadly beloved part first. The popularity of hunting has generally declined over the last four decades

According to a survey by the Fish and Wildlife Service, only 13.7 million Americans 16 or older hunted in 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available. That’s in a country of more than 313 million people.

Times business columnist Joe Nocera, who has made daily blog entries on gun violence since January 30, devoted his Sunday column to a semi-heated Q&A liberal gun enthusiast Dan Baum.

Nocera: But assault rifles were used in Aurora and Newtown. And here is my larger point. When I talk to gun absolutists, they claim that we shouldn’t make such a big deal out of mass shootings because they are statistically insignificant. But so what? We have turned this society upside down because 3,000 people died on 9/11. In the scheme of things, that number is also statistically insignificant. Yet we take extraordinary measures, limiting people’s personal freedoms, to prevent another act of terrorism on our soil. Besides, we enact regulations all the time designed to keep people safe, even when the number of people who have been harmed is small. Why are guns different?

Nocera, who once likened the Tea Party to terrorists, accused Baum of making an "absurd, extremist argument" by suggesting armed civilians might actually be able to prevent massacres.

Nocera: After Newtown, Wayne LaPierre said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Do you believe that?

Baum: As much as I dislike the N.R.A., there’s a cold logic to it. It’s the reason we have armed guards in airports and shopping malls. When you see an armed guard someplace, what you’re hoping is, if somebody pulls out a gun and does something bad, that the guard will use his gun to protect you.

Nocera: Actually, what the N.R.A. means by that statement is that if somebody attempts a mass shooting in a movie theater, someone else in the theater will have a gun and shoot the shooter. Which seems crazy to me.

Baum: I can’t imagine anything worse than one guy with a gun bent on mass murder in a room full of unarmed people. Anything is better than that.

Nocera: The idea that some heroic figure is going to be able to get up and actually be able to shoot them...

Baum: Then why do cops carry guns? Disarm the police.

Nocera: That’s an absurd, extremist argument.

Baum: Why? I carried a concealed weapon...

Nocera: And did you think you were going to save somebody?