Not for the first time, a radical proponent of gun control echoes the big lie most favored by those who want to eliminate Second Amendment rights: In much of the United States, it is easier to buy a gun than it is to buy a beer. The statement is patently false, for numerous well-established reasons. Most gun-owners would merely yawn – or perhaps laugh – to hear such nonsense, but it is alarming that the claim was made on national TV by the man whom Joe Biden had hoped to install as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – more commonly known as the ATF.
Worse yet, the host of CBS Evening News, Norah O’Donnell, allowed David Chipman to make the statement on her show without challenge, as if he had asserted that water was wet or that bears allegedly defecate in the woods.
Hopelessly Flawed Nominee
Chipman’s nomination for the position of ATF director was withdrawn in September when it became clear that he was not going to receive the necessary level of support in the Senate. He may well have been one of the worst nominees for any federal government job in recent memory. Quite apart from Chipman’s well-known history of working with anti-gun groups and his very obvious disdain for gun owners, there was the undisclosed matter of him having likely been used for propaganda purposes by the Chinese government.
As if more evidence were needed of the man’s unsuitability to lead the ATF, an allegation surfaced that, in 2007, while serving as the assistant special agent in charge of the agency’s Detroit Field Division, Chipman remarked that blacks who had passed the ATF entrance exam “must have been cheating.”
The Big Lie
O’Donnell is apparently content to disregard the lack of candor with Congress and the alleged racism to give Chipman a platform for his anti-gun delusions. Thus, on October 26, the rejected nominee was allowed to peddle more falsehoods about himself and about gun rights in America. One statement, in particular, stood out as the most egregious. Quite apart from any other consideration, the man who wanted to head up the U.S. government’s regulation of gun industry and ownership either has no knowledge of current gun laws or decided to lie – and that is not too strong a word, in this instance – about those laws: “The reality is that in much of America it’s easier to buy a gun than a beer,” Chipman told O’Donnell, who did not question the statement.
Firstly, if the federal government were committed to both protecting constitutional rights and saving American lives, then perhaps it should make it easier to buy a gun. The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment, whereas there is no protected right to purchase and consume alcohol. Drinking beer is one of the many things that is legal because the Constitution does not expressly forbid it – and rightly so. Nevertheless, knocking back a cold one is not a freedom guaranteed within America’s founding documents.
Guns and Alcohol by the Numbers
If it’s all about protecting life, then a look at the statistics is in order. According to ProCon.org, a nonpartisan website that presents both sides of major political issues – including gun rights – the total number of gun-related deaths in the U.S. between 1999 and 2016 stood at 572,808, or a yearly average of 31,808. This number includes suicides – by far the leading cause of gun-related fatalities – accidental shootings, and “legal intervention” incidents. The numbers come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to NBC, 2020 saw 19,379 killings in which guns were used, and 24,090 gun suicides for a total of 43,469. It should be acknowledged that this represents a significantly higher number of gun-related fatalities than previous years, but 2020 was an unusual year in almost every respect. Suicides increased as dramatically as homicides, compared to 1999 – 2016.
By contrast – and using CDC figures again – excessive alcohol consumption kills an average of 95,000 Americans every year. That translates to 1,615,000 deaths over a 17-year period – around three times the number of gun deaths.
The Insurance Information Institute estimates that every year from 2010 to 2019 has seen between 9,865 and 10,967 deaths due to alcohol-impaired driving. Add that to the CDC’s 95,000 per year and throw in alcohol-related homicides and it becomes clear that if one truly cares about loss of human life, the implication that alcohol is less dangerous than firearms is entirely inappropriate.
Easier to Buy?
Why does all this matter, in the context of Chipman’s CBS interview? Because beer (together with other alcoholic products) kills a lot more people than guns do – and beer is, contrary to what Mr. Chipman claims, far easier to obtain than guns in any part of the United States. Perhaps it would not be a bad thing, after all, if it was easier to buy a gun than a beer.
There’s the economic factor to consider. After all, if one is to define “easier to buy,” one must begin with the cost involved. Depending on one’s beer preference, a 12-pack will cost between $12 and $25, approximately. Even a used handgun from one of the less-esteemed firearms manufacturers will set someone back around $200. Which is “easier to buy,” then? There are no prizes for the correct answer.
Add in the additional – and rising – cost of ammunition, and the beer-guns comparison become even more ridiculous. But, of course, after years of activism and government service, Chipman is probably not hurting for cash; thus, he does not recognize that, for the average person, the financial cost of an item is often the most significant factor in how easy it is to acquire.
Assuming one doesn’t live in a dry county, being at least 21 years old and being able to prove it by producing a photo I.D. is all that is needed to purchase alcohol. Not so with firearms, and there is no need to explain the procedures required, by every state, to purchase a gun. Suffice it to suggest that Mr. Chipman should go to his local gun store, pick out the weapon of his choice, and see if he can walk out with it just by laying down his credit card.
There is no other constitutional right so hard to exercise as the Second Amendment. There is no beer in the country more difficult to purchase than a gun. The gun control lobby can never be trusted to engage in honest debate about gun violence while it bases its argument on false premises and deceptions.
Perhaps Chipman and his zealously anti-liberty cohorts should also consider the fact that every law-abiding American who carries a gun in public does so precisely because he or she is not only concerned about gun violence but is willing to personally take a stand against it in a way far more meaningful than marching and waving banners and regurgitating easily discredited myths on national TV.
~ Read more from Graham J. Noble.