Guns in Boston with 'Boston Legal'

Guns have figured frequently in “Boston Legal,” with Denny Crane (William Shatner) using them defensively from time to time. Recently, in episode 3 of season 5 (“Dances with Wolves“), Denny fired a gun to defend himself from a robber who also had a gun. The robber was not really threatening, and as Denny’s friend and fellow partner Alan Shore (James Spader) asked him: “Did you absolutely have to shoot [the robber]? Three times? In both feet?” Obviously the answer to all three questions was, “No.”

I don’t mind the humor in these shows. In fact, I laugh along with everyone else, but it would be interesting if those on the anti-gun side of this television firm (which is everyone else) would have similar fun poked at their own gun control views. Is it just not possible to think of similar jokes?

Right after Denny is shown using the gun defensively, there’s a segment showing him accidentally firing a gun into the ceiling. After that we learn Denny’s been carrying around eight guns and a “blow torch,” which was hidden on him in a place I won’t describe, though I’ll admit that was also amusing.

What was most disturbing about the episode was that it was filled with facts and numbers about the problems with guns but not one fact or number on the use of guns defensively. We are treated to numbers on how many people are killed with guns or commit suicide or are accidentally killed, but no numbers on defensive gun use. Contrast that to the show’s other segment regarding a child custody case where the mother is employed as a sex surrogate. Both sides in that discussion cited studies and statistics to make their point.

While the Brady Bill Campaign could have written the prosecution’s closing argument on the danger of guns, Denny Crane’s closing defense brought up pro-control arguments that weren’t even offered by the prosecution. To the defense, the question is whether the jurors are concerned about something as “trivial as human life.” The defense further argues that the Supreme Court decision in the Heller case was a joke and that they just inserted their own political views, not caring what the Constitution really meant to protect — we are told that is the right of the military to have guns. No mention of all the research provided here, here or here about concealed handguns saving lives and preventing other violent crimes.

Alan Shore ends the show with a small speech about how he’s shot guns but can’t understand why people don’t get together and agree on common sense gun control laws like “background checks and bans on assault weapons.” He also notes: “I see a lot wrong with an assault weapon and people like you walking around with guns.” Unfortunately, Denny is reduced to an unrelated response about how surprising it is that a liberal like Shore would own a gun.

Back in 1999, the show’s creator David Kelly, was among 200 celebrities who signed an open letter to the NRA, that appeared in “USA Today,” advocating a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, ammunition clips holding more than 10 rounds, a minimum three-day waiting periods, safety locks sold on all guns, one-gun-a-month restrictions, and the restricting of minors from firearm access. The letter was sponsored by Handgun Control.

The problem is that there’s not a single study by criminologists or economists that finds assault weapons bans reduce crime (see here and here). Similarly, there are no academic studies by criminologists or economists that find any other laws reduce violent crime (here and here), but there is some evidence indicating that laws requiring people lock their guns lead to more deaths.

Possibly, it’s just inherently easier to make fun of those that use guns than those who have irrational fears of them, but can’t one make fun of anti-gun people being forced to fruitlessly plead with criminals to be reasonable with their victims?

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