By Jeff Folloder
This article was written just after another spate of senseless shootings by a criminal focused on destruction. Of course, that could be any time. However, the shooting at hand occurred during the run up to the presidential elections and gave the Democratic candidates, the public and various industries the ability to posture and perform. The common term for that performance is “virtue signaling,” and it has become particularly strident.
Calls for closing the “gun show loophole,” screams for expanded background checks (that use a barely functioning existing system), laments for the abolition of various types of firearms and magazines, calls for so-called red flag laws that could jam up innocent citizens (without due process) on the whims and imagination of just about anyone—all of these are, sadly, on the table. And all of our politicians have their moistened fingers in the air trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing and what they should be saying and doing to assuage the concerns of the vocal masses.
And then Walmart entered the fray, followed quickly by Kroger and CVS and then many others. Walmart said that they would stop selling handguns. And then they said that they would stop selling various forms of ammunition and that they would prefer that their customers not open carry in their stores. Kroger issued their edict regarding open carry, as did other retailers. None of these actions will have a single, solitary impact on public safety. None of these actions will deter a criminal or a deranged attacker from doing what they want to do. Sadly, it absolutely will give them more target rich environments to choose from.
So why are they doing it? Virtue signaling. A friend of mine extolled the perfection of Walmart’s play, that this costs them a minimal amount of money in terms of revenue/profit yet embraces their very vocal target consumer—the suburban soccer mom. He calls it a low-risk, high-return play. I think he’s got it wrong. It’s not the politically vocal consumer that retailers need to be pandering to. It’s the quiet masses who are regular, valuable shoppers who are not so in-your-face, not so present on social media and not visible in political rallies. Mainstream America isn’t marching or yelling at a TV reporter for a sound bite. Mainstream America is Walmart’s consumer, and Mainstream America is making choices.
Mainstream America loved the convenience of stopping by “Wally World” on the way to the range for a bulk pack of Remington pistol ammo. Now it cannot. Mainstream America has a memory, and it knows who has turned their back on it. Mainstream America will start going elsewhere and for more than just ammo. Walmart will be getting crossed off of a lot of lists, along with Kroger, CVS and all the other retailers declaring their allegiance to the shrill minority who are demanding that we do something. At some point, those retailers will realize that there really is no long-term, increased revenue from those who demanded change. The “low-cost” sop that was supposed to garner love and support will hit their bottom lines.
At the same time, criminals and enraged psychopaths will not be deterred. And the solution to that has nothing to do with more gun laws or gun control. It has to do with consequences. Quite simply, even with our tens of thousands of existing gun laws, criminals act with near impunity because they know that there really is no fear of serious reprisal for using a gun to commit a crime. Laws are words, and words are not a preventive. We, as a society, must decide that we are going to make the consequences for committing a crime, especially a crime of violence using a weapon, great enough to provide a real deterrent. We need vastly increased interdiction/education, increased policing, increased prosecution, increased penalties and increased incarceration. We already have the laws to address every single issue that is top of mind and heart for the vocal minority. What we do not have, on either side of the aisle, is the stomach to pay for what needs to be done. More words, though cheap, are simply not the answer. I am not willing to accept any new laws until the old ones start getting enforced and prosecuted and the criminals thrown in jail do real time and serve real consequences.
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|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V23N10 (Dec 2019)|