Imagine sinking from a speech writer for a Republican president to writing throw-away gun control screeds in a failing leftist opinion magazine. How the mighty, like never-Trumper David Frum, have fallen.
Frum’s recent piece written in The Atlantic suggests that the way to persuade Americans to give up their guns is to gaslight them into thinking that guns really don’t protect them. Because — laugh out loud — guns don’t thwart over a million crimes each year and deter attacks even more.
When the coronavirus pandemic struck last year, people throughout the developed world raced to buy toilet paper, bottled water, yeast for baking bread, and other basic necessities. Americans also stocked up on guns. They bought more than 23 million firearms in 2020, up 65 percent from 2019. First-time gun purchases were notably high. The surge has not abated in 2021. In January, Americans bought 4.3 million guns, a monthly record.
Last year was also a high-water mark for gun violence—more people were shot dead than at any time since the 1990s—though 2021 is shaping up to be even worse. There was one bright spot in 2020. When Americans self-isolated, mass shooters were denied their usual targets. But as America began to return to normal, so did the mass shootings: 45 in the single month between March 16 and April 15.
Note that the BLM-fueled riots, defunded police departments, zero bail policies and disinterested prosecutors don’t merit a mention in Frum’s blame-the-guns (and the troglodytes who own them) thesis.
With Frum’s polemic, The Atlantic reinforces its growing reputation for fake news and junk “science” (“How Junk Food Can End Obesity“) that have led to a drastic loss of readers and advertisers. Things are so bad there that last year, they dumped about 20% of their staff and slashed executive pay to remain solvent. Content like this isn’t going to help matters.
Frum tosses in all manner of cherry-picked statistics, some legitimate, some from junk science, and some outright garbage. He calls gun owners “barbarians” and “race warriors” in one breath, then writes about how women and people of color make up a growing share of gun owners.
The former Bush speechwriter, prominently and proudly displaying healthy doses of urban elitism and condescension, suggests that gun owners are simply stupid.
But like the people who refuse lifesaving vaccines for fear of minutely rare side effects, American gun buyers are falling victim to bad risk analysis.
Keep telling yourself that, David.
By the end of his piece you would think every woman in America faces a gun pointed at her by an angry spouse or boyfriend on a weekly basis. Those hundreds of thousands of defensive gun uses we read about only result from trigger-happy gun owners needlessly escalating routine confrontations.
He calls it patriotic to get rid of your guns. “The gun is a lie,” Frum proclaims. They don’t keep you safe and only result in more violence…all evidence to the contrary.
Gaslighting. It’s real. Here’s how Psychology Today defines it:
Gaslighting is an insidious form of manipulation and psychological control. Victims of gaslighting are deliberately and systematically fed false information that leads them to question what they know to be true, often about themselves. They may end up doubting their memory, their perception, and even their sanity. Over time, a gaslighter’s manipulations can grow more complex and potent, making it increasingly difficult for the victim to see the truth.
And Psychology Today describes those who practice it:
Those who employ this tactic often have a personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy chief among them. Manipulators have a tendency to present one face to their prey and another to the rest of the world, leading victims to assume that if they ask for help or speak out, no one will believe that they have been manipulated and emotionally abused. Gaslighters typically repeat the tactics across several relationships.
Read for yourself the sub-head of Frum’s article and ask yourself if this is his stock-in-trade at The Atlantic:
The way to reduce gun violence is by convincing ordinary, “responsible” handgun owners that their weapons make them, their families, and those around them less safe.
Is it any wonder The Atlantic is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy?