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Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. "Have We Learned Anything about Gun Control?"

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Taped on 07/21/1980. The short answer to the title question seems to be: No. That is, many statistics have been amassed, but our two guests, both serious students of the subject and men who have testified on it in many forums, cannot agree on what the numbers are, let alone what they mean. A ding-dong battle from start to finish between Sheriff Buckley and Carter.

Harlon B. Carter, John J. Buckley
59 minutes

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Product Details

Director Unavailable
Starring Harlon B. Carter, John J. Buckley
Studio Southern Educational Communications Association (SECA)
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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And here we are, 30 years later, still having the same conversation that Buckley describes as "the eternal debate on gun control."

This is a fascinating historical snapshot of the era, the late 1970s. The small audience is young, black and mostly female, watching Buckley, the epitome of all things white conservative Catholic WASP and intellectual, oozing wealth, elitism and privilege with every glance down his nose. I still can't believe he was born American rather than a product of British aristocracy.

Debating one side is a Boston sheriff, a Republican(!) who refuses to carry a gun on duty and advocates confiscation of handguns. Debating the other side is an NRA spokesperson raised in Texas. From just this tidbit, you've already guessed their arguments, and you would not be wrong.

The sheriff flatly states "I would like to see handguns banned from our society." Such a statement today would get the sheriff excommunicated from the Republican party followed by online petitions to have him deported for treason.

Sheriff brings up poverty and urban crime, then inexplicably rambles about strikers, truckers and coal miners. However, in the 1920s, business owners used Tommy submachine guns to stop strikers; not the other way around.

Buckley's most-stinging analogy refers to "Anti-gun fetishists trying to eliminate adultery by eliminating couches."

Sheriff says "until last September, when you joined the NRA, you could buy army weapons at 50% off." NRA guy dismissed this by saying those guns barely tore a hole in a piece of paper. Sheriff said "It wasn't until Black Panthers joined the NRA to get guns that we took a closer look at the law." This brings up racist gun control against American black men.
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Yes, here we are, decades later, looking at the same issues and nothing has worked on the gun control front. Harlon Carter was soft on the gun control issue and was the chief reason very little was accomplished in the 70s. The facts he didn't point out was that courts have consistently held that the police only have an obligation to protect society at large and not individuals. That means, according to the courts of this land, that ultimately each person has the obligation of protecting themselves and their families. Carter, despite being president of the NRA, consistently veered off from supporting the right to legally carrying handguns, most probably because he thought that position a bit extreme. A previous reviewer pointed to Sandy Hook as a result of handgun ownership. But hey, things like that never happened when I was going to schools in the 60s, and guns were far easier to obtain back then. Let me say, look at Baltimore in 2015! Cops just stood back while they and innocent bystanders were attacked and knocked senseless by roving bands of looters going ape s***, burning and rioting, stealing cars and running them into flames and setting other cars on fire. Where was our police? Maryland doesn't allow citizens to carry a gun because the position of its legislators is that we don't need them because we have the police. Would that the decent citizens of that hideous sinkhole had the weapons to defend themselves. As it was, only the criminals had guns. But isn't that the way it always is? If we don't need guns, then neither do the police. Perhaps if they didn't carry them, they'd be more polite when arresting people.
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By DLU on October 1, 2013
Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Amazon gives us the opportunity to hear a discussion with Mr Buckley, a sheriff who would.ban guns, and a representative of the National Rifle Association. The discussion is particularly of interest given how the arguments remain much the same with the new players on the field.

The one difference between back then and now is that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that citizens have the right to bear arms. Now many state and local jurisdictions are assiduously toiling to find ways to effectively prevent and discourage people from exercising their right.

I live in the Chicago area, and find it difficult to discourage law-abiding people from owning firearms. Given that the city has long-standing armed gang problems (frequently using drive-by shootings) the list of victims gets longer and longer.. Innocent children have been killed as have unarmed adults. Of course Mayor Emmanuel and his Police Commissioner have armed security details so they can have guns by proxy.
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