Immigration restrictions and gun control

In a blog post titled Obama isn’t anti-gun, he’s anti-illegal guns, Chris Rasch considers the potential irony of gun control opponents being supportive of immigration restrictions, and questions the legal versus illegal distinction. Quoting:

Pro border control folks often bristle when you accuse them of being anti-immigrant.

“I’m not anti-immigration, I’m anti-illegal immigration. I have no problem with immigration, so long as they follow our laws, and don’t try to jump the line.”

You know what–they’re right. It’s not fair to accuse them of being against all immigration.

It’s just like how Obama is often accused of being anti-gun. But Obama isn’t opposed to all gun ownership. He only opposes illegal gun ownership.

Granted, in Obama’s utopia, it takes 10 years and $20,000 to buy a gun. In most cases, you can get a gun only if one of your relatives already owns a gun, or you’re sponsored by a business willing to pay thousands in attorney’s fees. Temporary permits that let you shoot only at certain gun ranges are capped at a few thousand each year, allocated by lottery.

But these are mere common sense restrictions on gun ownership. Just imagine what would happen if we relaxed gun laws. Poor people would buy guns. Uneducated people would buy guns. Many of them would commit crimes. Do you really want poor, uneducated people owning a gun in your neighborhood? Just look at how many of them already buy guns illegally! We can’t allow people who disrespect our laws to own a gun! Only until we’ve secured the existing black market in guns, can we possibly consider increasing legal gun ownership.

You say you’re at risk from a stalker? You own a convenience store in a bad neighborhood? Well, that’s no excuse for disobeying the law. You should stand in line with everyone else. Or hire a security guard. Or maybe you should’ve treated your ex better or spent a little more time cleaning up your neighborhood. If you had, maybe you wouldn’t need a gun in the first place.

And what about all the security guards, police officers, and other people who would lose their jobs if any shmoe on the street could just buy a gun himself? Do you want to put these hardworking Americans out of a job, just so some poor, uneducated slob can own a gun?

And what about the terrorists? Without strict gun laws, what’s to prevent Osama II from just strolling into a gun shop and buying a gun?

No, we must strictly vet every gun owner. Only then can we prevent terrorists from buying guns.

But just because Obama supports such common sense gun laws doesn’t mean he’s anti-gun ownership. That’s a calumny. He fully supports legal gun ownership. He’s merely anti illegal guns.

Just like pro-border control folks are merely anti illegal immigration.

His blog post is approvingly cited and quoted by Bryan Caplan in the blog post Best Ridicule of the Week. Caplan adds:

If you’ve spent your life in latte-land, you may not get the joke. Just imagine making this argument to a recreational border guard with a gun collection, and all will be clear.

A similar argument was made in a comment on a blog post (comment by David, the blog post was by Bryan Caplan on EconLog):

It’s a rough analogy, but one could very easily make the argument more persuasive to an Angry Republican by framing it around gun control, since Angry Republicans generally oppose it.

me: If Arizona had tougher gun control laws, would that make attacks like Loughner’s less likely?

AR: Of course not! If he really wants to be armed, he’ll find a way, especially if he wants to kill people.

me: Do you think everyone who acquires or possesses one of these banned guns will try to kill people?

AR: Of course not! Most gun owners are peaceful citizens who are exercising their God-given rights to self-defense.

me: The clip on Loughner’s Glock 9mm was banned under the assault weapons ban which was in effect from 1994-2004. Do you think the people who owned or acquired those clips from 1994-2004 were less criminal after 2004, or was that just a bad law?

AR: It was a terrible law! Bill Clinton and his liberal cronies put that law into effect, and if there’s one thing we can say for Bush it’s that he was content and willing to let it expire.

me: So you think that terrible, restrictive laws that can cause otherwise law-abiding citizens to be labeled criminals should be abolished, but that people who actually commit violent crimes should be punished to the full extent of the law?

AR: Absolutely.

me: Good. I’m glad we can agree that we should ease immigration restrictions and refocus resources toward going after actual criminals.

"The Efficient, Egalitarian, Libertarian, Utilitarian Way to Double World GDP" — Bryan Caplan