Gun Control

Yes, It's True That Gun Laws, Actual or Proposed, Would Not Have Stopped Recent Mass Shootings


Not so much news to readers of Reason as we alas have occasion to remind you of this anytime a gun murder makes big national news, but presidential candidate and Florida Senator Marco Rubio apparently shocked some people the other week when he declared on CBS's This Morning program that "None of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us, would gun laws have prevented them."

Gage Skidmore via / CC BY-SA

This seemed fishy to people who don't pay attention, for some reason, so the Washington Post's fact-checker was asked to investigate

The full article details 12 different mass shootings, and looks at "whether proposals might have made a difference in how the guns were obtained, or whether existing laws worked as intended."

Despite the suspicion that sometimes media fact checkers have agendas of their own, the truth is too obvious in this case. The Post gives Rubio's statement "a rare Geppetto checkmark" as their article demonstrates how neither existing nor proposed gun laws would have prevented them.

Some interesting quotable details getting down to the minutia of magazine size bans, a favorite "common sense gun safety" proposal:

The common thread that binds most mass shootings is semiautomatic firearms with the ability to accept a high-capacity detachable ammunition magazine," said Avery Palmer, communications director at the Violence Policy Center, which supports restrictions on guns. "These can range from assault rifles, pistols, and shotguns, to compact, high-capacity pistols marketed for concealed carry. Today's gun industry has embraced increased lethality as its marketing lodestar, and one key element in reducing the occurrence and severity of mass shootings lies in ratcheting down the firepower in civilian hands."

By contrast, gun-rights supporters argue that bans on certain weapons and large-capacity magazines would accomplish little. There are already more than 5 million AR-type rifles in circulation in the United States, ownership of which would have been grandfathered under proposed bans….

…an experienced shooter, as shown in this video, can change a magazine in just two to four seconds. That calls into question whether such a ban would significantly reduce the death toll.

A new study by Gary Kleck of Florida State University studied news accounts of 23 shootings between 1994 and 2013 in which more than six people were killed or wounded and large-capacity magazines were used. In only one case was a shooter stopped as he tried to reload. In all of these 23 incidents, the shooter possessed either multiple guns or multiple magazines, indicating that a determined shooter would not have been deterred by smaller magazines.

In other gun-related fact-checking news from the Post, they also cut through the prevarications from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and others about how their proposed bill killed by Republican in the Senate to pre-emptively deny Second Amendment rights to a class of citizens they like to refer to as terror suspects did not just apply to people on the more limited "no fly" list.

Rather it would have entrapped everyone tarred with the incredibly broadbrush and secretive 800,000 people "terror watchlist" of unverified suspicion, with the no-fly list less than 10 percent that big. It was not, despite what you might hear, as simple as "if you are too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to buy a gun." 

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  1. The truth is of no importance to gun control advocates. Their position stems from emotion, not reason or principle. They’ll just stamp their little feet and screech “But we’ve got to do SOMETHING!!! Don’t say that we can’t do something! If you do you’re just a negative meanie hater bitter clinger cis heteronormative shitlord!!!”

    1. Yeah, most gun control advocates are probably under no illusion that the laws they propose wouldn’t have stopped various mass shootings. They just look for any opportunity to push the laws they already wanted.

      1. Most of my friends and relations are pro gun control. Their position, to the last of them, really is as simple as “guns are scary and shouldn’t exist”. They see pointing out that laws won’t work as simply trolling and willfully failing to see the obvious truth.

        1. I don’t know about your friends, but most pro-gun control people I’ve known consider themselves very intelligent. Apparently intelligence doesn’t include any historical awareness, as anyone with half a brain would know that human history before the invention of the gun was very brutal and there are many things people can do to one another that are a lot scarier than brandishing or firing a gun.

          1. Oh, they consider themselves very intelligent. Way smarter than people who don’t understand that gun violence is impossible without guns!

            And if I point out that guns equalize power relations compared with the good old days when only nobles could afford swords and, thus, acted with impunity towards the peasantry, I might as well declare my allegiance to an Idaho militia.

          2. It’s because deep inside they yearn for that sort of power. They want to be the lords who control every aspect of those who they believe are less suitable to make decisions or run their lives. While the average gun control advocate is ignorant and just scared, those like Bloomberg, Obama, and others see gun ownership among the general populace as defiance and a huge barrier to power.

        2. A common theme I’m noticing is that they seem to believe the fewer guns there are, the better. Regardless of who owns them and how they’re put to use. A gun nut with 50 guns is 50x more dangerous than somebody with one for home defense. Anything they can do to reduce the number of guns in circulation is perceived as progress. That’s why they’ll proclaim with amazement that people are allowed to buy as many guns as they want, and that should frighten you, for some reason.

          1. And so they’ll keep chipping away at the edges, by passing laws that reduce the number of guns in circulation until eventually that number reaches zero. Only then will we live in a progressive utopia where terrorists have to resort to using old fashioned bombs instead.

        3. “guns are scary and shouldn’t exist”

          I’ve encountered that view before… It’s mind-boggling. Yes, let’s go back to a time when the physically strongest person won every time! When you had to spend a lifetime training with a sword or spear to have even a slight chance of defending yourself! Let’s take away the one tool that offers a good chance of surviving violent encounters after a few weeks of practice! Let’s take away the tool that gives a 90-year old grandma in a wheelchair a fighting chance against a 250-pound ex-con!

      2. I explicitly asked people to name gun control laws–any gun control laws, short of miraculous absolute confiscation–that would have prevented San Bernardino (as the latest incident to make the rounds on Facebook). I was explicitly told “I don’t intent to look backwards or play what if”. Because, y’know, basing your system of law on something as ridiculous as logic is just madness.

    2. If you question the efficacy of gun control, you must want children to be blown to bits.

  2. It will be interesting to see how many other candidates pick up what Rubio is putting down here. Will these facts get widespread distribution? Or will this be the battlecry of the grabbers that they need to freak out for stronger laws? Or will they drop the pretense and admit that these ineffectual laws they’re pushing are really just meant as precursors to confiscation?

    1. I’ve noticed that The New Republic has published an article calling for an outright ban, partly on the grounds that this would shift the debate in a favorable direction. But it will be interesting to see how far into the mainstream that gets pushed, particularly if there is a backlash. There may be pressure within the Democratic Party to back off (for the time being) so as not to damage Hillary’s chances in the general election.

      1. At least they are now being honest with their intentions even if they use lies to strengthen their position.

      2. It was a ludicrous piece written by someone with admittedly no knowledge of the situation.

        1. Yes, I had the distinct impression that the practical problems as well as the individual rights involved were of no interest whatsoever to the author.

            1. (Wait, this is familiar – Reason already linked to it, bless their hearts)

              “That the Second Amendment has been liberally interpreted doesn’t prevent any of us from saying it’s been misinterpreted, or that it should be repealed.

              When you find yourself assuming that everyone who has a more nuanced (or just pro-gun) argument is simply better read on the topic, remember that opponents of abortion aren’t wondering whether they should have a more nuanced view of abortion because of Roe v. Wade. They’re not keeping their opinions to themselves until they’ve got a term paper’s worth of material proving that they’ve studied the relevant case law.”

              1. On the one hand, good on her for agreeing that the Supreme Court’s decisions aren’t the final word on the Constitution. Her crowd had been saying in other contexts that once the Supreme Court rules, we just have to lay back and think of England.

                But as the rest of this excerpt, it looks like she’s saying don’t get bogged down in the facts when it comes to discussing the Second Amendment.

                And, incidentally, prolife groups certainly have at least a term paper’s worth of material on pro-abortion precedents and lots of other subjects. I suspect she really hasn’t gone out of her way to look it up.

  3. What galls me is that a lot of gun control advocates know nothing about the gun laws already on the books. If you challenge them and premises they go apeshit and shut down like little children. The burden is on you to prove why taking away other people’s guns will make the US a safer place.

    1. I’ve actually heard arguments to the effect of “[A gun-free zone] had to have been awash in armed people, so letting people arm themselves doesn’t work.”

    2. Yup, exactly. Aside from a ban, they want to institute LAWS THAT ALREADY EXIST.

      “There shouldn’t be a gun show loophole!”

      There’s not.

      “There shouldn’t be an out-of-state loophole.”

      There’s not.

      “We shouldn’t allow people to buy guns online without any sort of check.”

      We don’t.”

      “We shouldn’t allow these scary black guns that fire multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger.”

      They don’t.

      That’s the biggest one. Every gun control advocate I’ve talked to is convinced these SCARY LOOKING black guns are, in essence, machine guns. When I tell them they’re relatively low-powered rifles that shoot ONE BULLET per trigger pull, they’re dumbfounded and refuse to believe it.

      In any case, the above list of laws are just a few among thousands of laws on guns in this country. Sure doesn’t seem like an unrestricted industry.

      1. The biggest myth I’ve had to bust down in these conversations is the idea that Wal-Mart sells guns just like they sell any other product. These people seem to think that you can just pick up an AR-15, swipe it through the self-checkout, and schlep on over to your next massacre.

  4. “But we have to DO SOMETHING”

    1. “Don’t just stand there!”

  5. “…an experienced shooter, as shown in this video, can change a magazine in just two to four seconds.”

    Two to four seconds sounds like a slow poke to me.

    I was never that fast, but nothing to sneeze at I guess. I am old now, dammit. Most people would be astonished at how fast one can learn to shoot, reload, and shoot again even with a side by side shotgun.

    The ‘ban assault guns / hi-cap mags’ people are full of shit.

    1. Or even a muzzle-loading musket or rifle. It’s pretty impressive how fast people could shoot when that was the state of the art.

  6. Some relevant derp I saw on the facebook, regarding Obama taking executive action on guns:

    “About damn time. And no, nobody is coming to take your guns.

    If you can pass a federal background check, you are fine.”

    OK? Nobody’s coming to take your guns, even though many are openly calling for your guns to be taken. This is just an important policy change, even though it would have had no effect on all the shootings that prompted it. About damn time!

    1. What happens if you don’t pass the background check?

      Apparently, if you can’t jump through the right bureaucratic hoops, you are a nonperson.

    2. Whenever you ask them how the new law would have prevented the shootings they get angry and throw a fucking tantrum. It’s absurd how these people can’t even answer this question but think it’s a good idea to put an unenforceable law on the books to feel safe.

      1. Just look at the first line of the fact-check: “A colleague pointed out this statement by Marco Rubio as a possible fact check, suggesting that it was almost certainly incorrect.”

        You have to really not be paying attention to think it’s “almost certainly” incorrect. The gun rights crowd loudly argues this point after every shooting.

        1. If you’re told a lie by right-thinking people enough times, you don’t bother to question it.

    3. And no, nobody is coming to take your guns.

      They say that as if it means something. Pfah. They loudly declare with tears in their eyes and spittle flying from their lips that nobody needs guns, gun owners are pathetic coward losers with small dicks, nobody has a right to own a gun because the 2nd Amendment is a “collective right” and only applies to muskets even in that case, no civilized nation tolerates gun ownership, etc. But I’m supposed to believe they’ve no desire to take my guns.

      1. Not all gun controllers are carbon copies. Some want to take your guns and will tell you that. Some want to take your guns, but will lie about it. And some are OK with you having your guns as long as they don’t look scary and you are properly licensed, screened and registered.

        Not to say that any or all of those people are terribly consistent or well considered, but there are a lot who have no current desire to take your guns, assuming you are a mentally sound non-criminal.

        1. Of these three groups, which one do you think is driving the debate?

          And if the first two groups succeed, will the third group go, “hey, you’ve gone too far, I’m going to become an activist against this total gun ban!”

          HINT: No.

      2. When I hear progressives fuming about how Republican-sponsored voter ID laws are a racist plot to stop black people from voting, I like to say, “nobody wants to take away their right to vote… Where do you come up with this crazy stuff? They just want a few common-sense precautions to make sure that the wrong people aren’t voting! How can you be against these perfectly sensible measures?”

  7. there’s a firesale on butthurt in the comments at WaPo.

    1. The first one that pops up for me:

      You omitted the Gabby Giffords shooting where the shooter was stopped from further killing when he stopped to re-load. Can’t take this fact check seriously when such a well-known event is omitted. You also apparently omitted proposals to subject gun manufacturers and sellers to civil liability when their products are used in this way and their negligence in some way contributes to that. The threat of liability would go a long ways toward deterring straw purchases and modifications that evade the law since manufacturers would find ways to prevent these and other similar techniques well-known to the industry when they have financial incentive to do so. All in all, a shabby, half-hearted fax check at best.


      1. Didn’t the shooter in Arizona have a Glock with one of those 33 round magazines?

        1. It had a bayonet attachment and the shoulder thing that goes up, too.

      2. In the GG shooting, he was stopped when one of the oversize 9mm magazines he was using failed to function properly.

        A large magazine size saved lives.

        1. Those drum mags especially suck

      3. Quit cherry picking data so that you don’t have to talk about *the* shooting that happened in 2011!

      4. That commenter mentioned product liability lawsuits against gun manufacturers… So this dingus would support a lawsuit against Farberware when someone gets stabbed? A lawsuit against Honda if someone gets run over? A lawsuit against Lowe’s if someone gets beat to death with a 2×4?

    2. As tragic as the Sandy Hook shooting was, it was pretty satisfying to see that even though the President was using the deaths to push his agenda, the public still went hard against him when he wanted to implement some gun control measures. They’re butthurt because they know that the public in general won’t allow the government to impede on their rights to own guns.

      1. More like 20 first graders summarily executed by some idiot who clearly should not have had a gun changed basically nothing. Yeah, people are pretty “butthurt” over that.

        1. Damn Connecticut and its lax gun laws!

          1. Don’t. Even. Say. It.

            Dan Molloy’s decided to take a break from tongue bathing Obama long enough to enact one of The Preznit’s typically ridiculous ideas:


            No due process. I hope your papers were in order, citizen.

            I however, am probably going to be able to pick up my pimped-out CZ tomorrow as planned.

            1. “I however, am probably going to be able to pick up my pimped-out CZ tomorrow as planned.”

              As an owner and concealed-carrier of a CZ-75 Compact, I want details.

    3. WaPo comments are conclusive evidence that neither Peak Derp nor Peak Lie will ever be reached.

    4. Anti-gun tears are the most valuable.

  8. Obviously if the wrong people are getting guns, it’s because the wizards in the legislature have not uttered the right magical incantation.

    With the correct spell they can stop this from happening.

    1. It’s because people have been taught to believe that government is this magic wand that solves every social ill. This sort of thinking is what drives the War on Drugs, wealth redistribution, and gun control advocacy. If the government writes a law or put a regulation into place, then all the bad things are suppose to suddenly disappear.

    2. With the “wrong people” being everyone, of course.

      Then we’ll truly be safe! Like in Mexico, where commoners don’t have guns.

      1. -1 head

    3. Well, duh, with a strong enough nationwide ban on guns, the bad people would have no way to get guns. When I ask how well a strong nationwide ban on drugs has worked, I get that all-purpose scathing rebuttal known as name-calling.

      1. I get the “well, if it saves one life!” rebuttal.

        1. As we all know, guns have never been used to defend or save lives!

          1. Private citizens with guns only ever get themselves or some other innocent person killed. I mean, that always how it turns out on TV and in movies! Only in the right hands are guns safe.

            1. That’s a theme I’ve being seeing on Facebook: someone reposting an article from somewhere that purportedly is an interview with “combat veterans” or “SWAT officers” who declare that there’s just no way the average citizen could possibly defend himself with a gun.

              1. And oddly this is largely from people who in any other context would dismiss combat veterans and SWAT officers as knuckle-draggers unfit for polite company.

                1. Ha, true that. I just an article on a local news site reporting on a survey that was taken of special forces operators regarding the inclusion of women into the special forces. Not surprisingly many of the operators’ comments make reference to the reality of combat and how women won’t fit well into that reality. I haven’t seen any reader comments yet but I’m sure the word “troglodyte” will make an appearance soon.

            2. I’ve been watching some Hart to Hart’s on cozi tv recently (for those who don’t know, it was a breezy, cheesy early 80s husband & wife crime drama) and it really sticks out to modern viewers how often they defend themselves and others with guns.

              1. Lionel Stander is *not* cheesy!

                1. “He’s gorgeous!”

    4. Well, it’s not the wizards’ fault that the criminals keep making their saving throws!

  9. Laws are strange things. When you like the law it is magical and no-one in their right mind could possibly disagree. They are perfectly effective and take away the bad thing that makes you look for mommy in the middle of the night .

    On the flip side, if you hate the law or lack of, then it is to blame for everything bad. If you could just make a new law, then all the world would be right.

    It’s so simple. How do you fools not see it. //said by the way. Get your damn meters checked.

    1. Goddammit, I hate and love you auto-correct

  10. This is certainly a depressing chronicle of death and tragedy. But Rubio’s statement stands up to scrutiny ? at least for the recent past, as he framed it. Notably, three of the mass shootings took place in California, which already has strong gun laws including a ban on certain weapons and high-capacity magazines.

    Gun-control advocates often point to the experience in other countries that have enacted gun laws that heavily restrict gun ownership; as we have shown, quantitative measures of cross-comparative crime statistics, especially where the crime is not consistently defined (i.e., “mass shooting”), usually end up being apples-to-oranges comparisons. It is possible that some gun-control proposals, such as a ban on large-capacity magazines, would reduce the number of dead in a future shooting, though the evidence for that is heavily disputed. But Rubio was speaking in the past, about specific incidents. He earns a rare Geppetto Checkmark.

    Aww, cheer up WaPo!

  11. ‘You are all ideologically driven.’

    This is the new line prog-libs use in a debate. I keep being told that. ‘You’re an ideologue’. As if they’re all the way up in ‘I’m so enlightened land’.

    Gun-control is such an emotionally driven issue there’s no room for any type of rational discussion.

    1. Stop using facts, you fucking ideologue.

      1. That’s EXACTLY what happened. I presented a fact and was immediately shot down as being ideological.

        They’re insane.

        1. They argue from a position of such principle, intelligence, and godliness, that any disagreement must mean you are:

          -an ideologue
          -something else really bad
          -all of the above

        2. The best was when an acquaintance got angry at me and said that facts don’t matter because he knows what he sees. I couldn’t even say anything after that.

          1. he knows what he sees

            To which you should have retorted, “I’m not sure what relevance the inside of your own ass has to this discussion.”

          2. He knows what he feels, and he feels it very strongly. You can’t use facts and logic to reason someone out of a position that they never reasoned themselves into. Just can’t do it. You may be able to, once the guy calms down, get him to see your point of view. But the next day he’ll completely forget.

      2. Yes it’s true. This man has no dick.

    2. The arrogance is astounding.

    3. Did you ask if they knew they were following the gun-control ideology?

    4. This, from people who make exactly the same debunked arguments after every shooting. No matter how many times their arguments are publicly shown to be misleading, false, and ideologically driven, no matter how many times they are shot down, they repeat them again as if they are new. They are brainwashed to parrot the nonsense and they are simply incapable of doing anything else and every time they are shot down they act surprised.

      Keep in mind the king of these useful idiots, a supposed constitutional scholar, proclaimed loudly on national television that he could not imagine any argument for not taking people’s constitutional rights away without due process. He thinks putting people on a secret government list by secret means and then stripping their rights is a ‘common sense idea’.

      Who is the ideologue? Project much?

      1. Dude! Their arguments feel right, so they must be right!

      2. He thinks putting people on a secret government list by secret means and then stripping their rights is a ‘common sense idea’.

        “When the President does it, it’s not illegal!”

    5. Well, yeah. If you operate with any principles at all, any sense of right and wrong, any sense of morality, then you’re an ideologue who deserves nothing but scorn and ridicule.

    6. No, they’re proud of going straight from emoting to acting.

  12. Huh. Didn’t know that Rubio was a Nazi. Achtung, baby.

  13. The other day I was watching local news and they went to segment with a political scientist to talk about American gun-control. Long-story short, in a nutshell the discussion was two people wondering when America will become civil and ban guns. Not a hint of nuance or facts to describe the sheer size and scope of the issue, the history, or appreciation and respect for law-abiding citizens who would be affected by it. It was all EMOTIONAL.

    The irony? They were talking about it in the context of TWO MUSLIM TERRORISTS who just murdered 14 people.

    It’s beyond retardation and laziness. I told my wife a simple search by the two idiots would have enlightened and alerted them to differing views rather than rely on ONE stupid NYT article.

  14. Today’s gun industry has embraced increased lethality as its marketing lodestar, and one key element in reducing the occurrence and severity of mass shootings lies in ratcheting down the firepower in civilian hands.”

    I appreciate the honesty.

  15. Looks like some people are starting to get it…..time-ever/

    1. Its not amazing if you think about all the combat veterans in the USA now, nearly everyone knows at least one, and I’m sure the majority can recite a story or two about how a gun in the right hands could have prevented a LOT of bad shit from happening. Of course, most of the knuckleheads in DC didn’t go to the sandbox and acquire their knowledge about guns first hand.

  16. Critics of the Syrian regime accuse it of avoiding a confrontation with ISIS and even creating space for it in order to weaken the broader rebel movement, part of which the U.S. supports.

    It wouldn’t surprise me for a second. Everyone accuses these Arab states of thinking one-dimensionally.

    Look what happened in Egypt. The Arab Spring actually strengthened the Mubarak regime.

  17. The problem is guns not Muslims. I mean it’s not like the majority of Muslims support Sharia law or 25% support violence or anything.…..americans/

    Hey let’s continue to impress our Prog friends about how cool we are and how groovey Muslims are.

    1. Hey let’s continue to impress our Prog friends about how cool we are

      Yeah, nothing shows how cool you are to progressives like respect for the Second Amendment.

      1. Or denying Muslims might be a problem

        1. “The problem is guns not Muslims.”

          Your words.

  18. And, of course, all these hoplophobes want laws that require enforcement by (say it with me):


    As someone here pointed out so beautifully the other day, personal violence is morally reprehensible, but farming it out to government actors is just peachy-keen.

    1. The ban-all-guns article from the “writer living in Toronto” said the police should be disarmed. Or maybe partially disarmed. She wasn’t clear.

      I suppose she meant police in Idaho should be armed in case they run into any Aryan Nations compounds, but police in “urban” neighborhoods should be disarmed.

  19. ownership of which would have been grandfathered under proposed bans…

    Every time I hear that term used I’m reminded that I actually am a grandfather. If I let the gun-banners’ “common-sense” laws get through, one day I’ll have to explain to my grandkids why I had rights, and they don’t.

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