Understandably, after every mass shooting that receives media attention, there is an immediate call to do something about it. Politicians, activists, and many well-meaning citizens call for more gun control — often putting Second Amendment advocates on the defensive. Yet, the do-something, do-anything crowd ultimately makes little progress in the quest to pass more laws or ban firearms. The glaring problem for the gun control crowd is that tens of millions of Americans legally own firearms, and they never have any kind of issue with a gun during their life. 

In fact, after a media blitz calling for more gun control, especially after a mass shooting, Americans tend to buy more firearms because they feel less safe. Permits for concealed carry inevitably rise, too. In the last few years, many states are relaxing restrictions on firearms, which doesn’t reveal any correlation to an increase in crime. Since 2010, 23 states have enacted constitutional carry, which allows citizens to carry concealed or unconcealed without a permit. Exactly half of all U.S. states allow for constitutional carry now. 

There is a myriad of reasons that gun control is fledgling. The main reason is both overlooked and obvious at the same time. Gun control advocates often try to link gun crimes to law-abiding gun owners — as if they are somehow connected or cut from the same cloth. Indeed, they are not morally equivalent. In other words, it’s not the gun. 

The fact is that 80% of gun crimes are committed with a handgun by somebody who did not acquire the firearm legally. 

The quest to ban guns thus inevitably falls on deaf ears. Why? Because the essential argument for more gun control is fatally flawed. Gun control hinges on punishing legal firearm owners but not those with no use or concern for following the law. The gun-control advocate is essentially signaling that because we can’t control lawbreakers, we at least need to control those that are following gun laws. But what good does that do for public safety? Anything outside of rounding up by brute force the more than 300 million firearms will do little to nothing to stop gun violence. Gun violence is likely to escalate rapidly if only criminals and law enforcement have access to firearms. 

This doesn’t mean the citizenry should throw up their hands and concede nothing can be done to protect children in schools or Americans from random gun violence. Improvements to mental health capabilities — particularly for young men — school security, and family culture all need extreme pro-active attention in this country. 

Much of the outcry for gun control is centered on pleading for federal solutions, yet federalism still works. Some states, like New York, are passing even more gun laws because supposedly the populace wants it there.

Yet, top-down mandates or gun control laws remain ineffective, as cities like high-gun-crime New York and Chicago continually prove. Additionally, Congress is bankrupting this nation through wasteful spending, showing no ability to make wise or prudent decisions — even during tragedies or national emergencies. Unfortunately, they can’t be relied upon to fix any problems this country currently faces.

Gun-control advocates will continue to flounder and fail since their main goal will only impact law-abiding firearm owners. Most gun owners are proving every day that self-government works — as it has for centuries. And that’s a big problem for those who want to take away guns and a constitutional right the Founders believed to be inherent. 

Ray Nothstine is opinion editor at Carolina Journal and Second Amendment research fellow at the John Locke Foundation.