I generally find myself in agreement with Ben Stein, whose insights are generally well informed, and, well, insightful. But emotion-overrun incidents like the Florida attack tend to drain rationality and logic from otherwise thoughtful people, and so it appears to be with Stein. Consider his recent article in The Spectator, titled: The Time For Civilians To Own AR-15s is over. I am almost tempted to think the article a satire or parody, so stereotypical is its use of emotion devoid of fact or reason in the place of logic, but as an intellectual exercise, if nothing else, I’ll treat it seriously. Stein begins by expressing his general support for the Second Amendment, and for individual “civilian” gun ownership, but quickly contradicts his professed respect for liberty:
But for the life of me, I cannot see why any American civilians need an AR-15 or any other military-style semi-automatic rifle. I understand why people want them. It makes your ordinary nerdy guy seem like he’s tough and rough and ready. It makes him feel as if he’s got some part of him that’s always steely and ready for action. But that’s not enough reason to own a gun that just begs to be used against people.
The value of AR-15s is a topic I’ve frequently addressed:
And most recently:
Stein should know better. No one actually “needs” anything beyond the most basic means of survival: a single pair of pants, a single shirt, one pair of shoes, a minimal daily calorie count, and some substantial vegetation to serve as a makeshift roof, of if one wants to be terribly wasteful of resources, perhaps a tent. We don’t really need a toothbrush, soap, shampoo or deodorant. After all, millions managed to survive before such things were invented. We do not, however, order our lives based on allowing government to tell us what we need. That’s communism, and history teaches how that works. We particularly do not allow this when we’re dealing with a natural, fundamental, unalienable, express constitutional right.
We also don’t ban anything based on how it looks. Corvettes look like they’re made to go fast, and if one goes too fast, they get into accidents and people get killed. By Stein’s logic, Corvettes are not made for basic transportation—that’s for slower, boxier, less fast-looking vehicles–they’re made to kill people. Still, even though car ownership is not an express constitutional right, no one is demanding Corvettes and other fast looking cars be banned, despite the indisputable fact that far more people are killed by car violence than by people using AR-15s.