- - Monday, June 10, 2013

CONTROL: EXPOSING THE TRUTH ABOUT GUNS
By Glenn Beck
Threshold Editions, $12, 208 pages

Whenever a serious dilemma arises in America, a debate soon follows. And whoever is able to frame the debate gains the upper hand. For example, abortion is not about taking the life of the unborn, it’s about choice. And marriage is not defined by the formal union of a man and a woman, it’s about equality. Control the argument, win the debate.

In “Control: Exposing the Truth About Guns,” author Glenn Beck takes on the heated debate over the ownership and use of firearms in America and beyond. Mr. Beck, founder of the Blaze television network and one of the current administration’s peskiest antagonists, uses an arsenal of statistics, with a variety of studies, charts and graphs, to clarify misconceptions associated with the phrase “More guns, less crime.”

Many among the “controllists” — Mr. Beck’s word for those who wish to dictate that which citizens can and cannot do — envision a Wild West scenario associated with increased gun possession. But Mr. Beck notes that Switzerland, despite having a higher gun-ownership ratio than the United States, has one-sixth the gun-related homicides. The difference? “[N]ot the guns; it’s the people and the culture. ‘Social conditions are fundamental in deterring crime,’ Peter Squires, professor of criminology and public policy at the University of Brighton in Great Britain, told Time. [Mr.] Squires has studied gun violence in different countries and concluded that a ‘culture of support, rather than focus on individualism, can deter mass killings.’”

Mr. Beck’s arguments in “Control” are divided into two sections: “Part One: The Truth About Guns” takes on some of the myriad quotes made by popular newsmakers who, according to Mr. Beck, mislead the public with opinions based on emotional reactions to national tragedies — most recently, the mass killings in Newtown, Conn. Much of their argument can be summarized: The gun is to blame, not the maladjusted person using it. Mr. Beck points out, however, that in cases where knives or automobiles have caused intentional or accidental death, no one has suggested prohibiting their use.

Mr. Beck also reveals how even the word “control” is being wiped from the lexicon of the “gun-control” debate by those seeking an overall ban of all firearms (not just so-called “assault” weapons). These crafty campaigners are now talking about gun safety, not control. Americans, after all, have a negative reaction to being “controlled.”

One of the most compelling arguments in “Control” is found in “Part Two: Winning Hearts and Minds,” where Mr. Beck states, “We must stop looking to assign blame to the choices we are offered — whether it’s guns or large sodas or tanning beds — and instead take personal responsibility for our choice and our lives. It’s clear to me that if we raise children with no moral compass, we are planting the seeds of our own destruction. As Benjamin Franklin once wrote, ‘[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.’”

Mr. Beck also follows prolific author Steven King’s writing on both sides of the debate. Mr. King is an ardent supporter of gun control and has expounded his position in an essay succinctly titled “Guns.” Mr. King says it’s folly to think that America’s “culture of violence” is the chief cause of school shootings. This reasoning is quite odd because Mr. King’s own book “Rage” was cited by several classroom killers as the “blueprint” for their own evil deeds. “Rage,” which has been removed from publication, is the story of a child who kills his teacher, then holds his class hostage.

Much of “Part Two: Winning Hearts and Minds” uses decades of statistical data to reveal the correlation between the increasing soulless violence in video games and the soul-numbing effect it has on many vulnerable adolescents who play these games. Some adolescent players become competent marksmen having never held a real gun. Committing increasingly violent acts are the goals that reap rewards in many of these games; some are even replicating the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech. Mr. Beck further notes that the children’s parents may compound the problem when they reward their children by allowing them to play these games.

Accompanying the fully loaded compilation of extensive research and helping the case set forth in “Control” are personal stories of people saving lives, even preventing mass killings, as the direct result of gun ownership.

For readers hoping to find something on which Mr. Beck and President Obama agree, Mr. Beck offers this quote by the president: “‘When a child opens fire on another child,’ the president said, ‘there’s a hole in that child’s heart that government can’t fill. Only community and parents and teachers and clergy can fill that hole.’”

Mr. Beck calls for unity on that point. “So let’s come together and fill those hearts with hope, brains with knowledge, and souls with faith. Once we do,” Mr. Beck writes, “a gun will stop symbolizing violence and fear, and go back to symbolizing what it always has: security and freedom.”

All in all, “Control: Exposing the Truth About Guns” adds a much-needed “thinking” element to the highly charged emotional gun-control debate.

Albin Sadar is a writer living in the New York City area.