Gun Control

Pete Buttigieg Pushes Dubious Gun Controls in Response to a Nonexistent 'Epidemic'

The presidential contender feels no need to defend the policies he favors, because "we all know" they are "the right thing to do."


The discussion of gun violence during last night's Democratic presidential debate started with a misleading question, which prompted answers that were both misleading and irrelevant. "There were three large-scale shootings this past week in America, at a park in Brooklyn, on the streets in Philadelphia, and one that left three dead and 12 injured at a food festival in Gilroy, California," said one of the moderators, CNN's Don Lemon. "Mayor Buttigieg, other than offering words of comfort, what're you specially going to do to stop this epidemic of gun violence?"

Since Lemon referred to an "epidemic of gun violence," you could be forgiven for inferring that homicides committed with firearms are on the rise. In fact, the number of such crimes fell in 2017 and 2018 after rising in 2015 and 2016. And even at the recent peak of 11,138 in 2016, the number was nearly two-fifths lower than in 1993, just before violent crime began to fall, a trend that continued for two decades. Since the population grew during that period, the gun homicide rate fell even more sharply, from 7 per 100,000 in 1993 to 4.5 per 100,000 in 2017, which is higher than the rate in 2014 but still 36 percent lower than the 1993 peak.

Responding to Lemon's question, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg compounded the confusion. "This epidemic of gun violence has hit my community too, far too many times," he said. Later he added: "I was a junior when the Columbine shooting happened. I was part of the first generation that saw routine school shootings."

Mass shootings like the one at Columbine High School in 1999, or like the ones Lemon mentioned in his question, account for a tiny share of gun homicides: 1 percent in 2017, which had an unusually high death toll because of the Las Vegas massacre, which killed 58 people. But is Buttigieg right that school shootings, which account for an even tinier share of gun homicides, became noticeably more common after Columbine?

According to research by Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, fatal school shootings peaked in the early 1990s, when they were far more common than in 1999 or the following decade. "There is not an epidemic of school shootings," he said last year, noting that deaths caused by firearms at schools remain very rare. During a 25-year period, he found, an average of about 10 students died that way each year. Seven times as many children die from drowning each year, and 10 times as many are killed in bicycle accidents.

Nor do Buttigieg's solutions—"universal background checks," "red flag laws," and "an end to assault weapons"—make much sense as a response to mass shootings or gun violence generally. Mass shooters typically do not have disqualifying criminal or psychiatric records, and common criminals easily avoid background checks by buying guns on the black market or through proxies. The effectiveness of so-called red flag laws hinges not only on the ability to identify would-be murderers ahead of time but on their compliance with court orders. All rifles combined, a subset of which politicians would describe as "assault weapons," accounted for less than 4 percent of gun homicides in 2017.

Handguns accounted for 64 percent of murders with firearms that year, and they are also the kind of weapon used in most mass shootings, including two out of the three incidents mentioned by Don Lemon. The perpetrator of the Gilroy shooting used a rifle he legally bought in Nevada that is banned as an "assault weapon" in California, which The New York Times seems to think is a big deal.

"In Nevada, the purchase by the 19-year-old was legal," the Times says. "But just across the line in California, where the minimum age for purchasing a rifle is now 21, the weapon is banned and should never have been brought into the state, according to the state's attorney general, Xavier Becerra." Yet a graphic explainer accompanying that article notes that bans like California's have no significant impact on the lethal capacity of legally available firearms, which are "nearly indistinguishable from illegal assault weapons."

Why is that? Possibly because the "military-style" features that legislators dislike, which in California include pistol grips, folding stocks, and flash suppressors, have little or nothing to do with a gun's functionality in the hands of a mass murderer. "Gun owners say those features are largely cosmetic and don't necessarily make the weapon more dangerous," the Times notes. "The proof, they say, is that the same features remain legal for rifles with a fixed, or attached, magazine."

But as far as Buttigieg is concerned, the burden is not on him to show that his policy prescriptions would actually have a measurable impact on gun violence. "Something is broken if it is even possible for the same debate around the same solutions that we all know are the right thing to do," he said. "They won't prevent every incident. They won't save every life. But we know what to do, and it has not happened." In place of an argument, Buttigieg offers poll numbers. How do "we all know" the policies that Buttigieg favors are "the right thing to do"? We just do.

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  1. No amount of facts will stop a politician determined to destroy the constitution.

  2. With the 2nd Amendment in place, all gun control is unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

    Buttigig discussing repealing the 2A is fine and is the only acceptable means of having gun control in the USA. The 2A wont be repealed anytime soon, but discuss your hearts away.

    Gun control is being rolled back around the USA, so clearly using judges to undermine the 2A is not working effectively anymore.

    1. Especially not if Trump [actually McConnell and the Federalist Society] keep filling judicial vacancies; I will vote the the ass known as Trump for no reason other than to keep this going. They can talk reparations, Green New Deals, health care for all, or whatever they want; without protection of our fundamental rights it all means absolutely nothing.

      1. More Gorsuches and fewer Kavanaughs I hope.

        1. Agreed; Gorsuch is a prime candidate for GOATJUS but Kavanaugh just fails to impress, from what I’ve read of the respective decisions thus far.

          But of course don’t discount all those many appealiate and district appointments; I hope the son of a bitch is able to fill over half of the entire judiciary before its over and done with. Progs can just fucking choke on it for generations.

          1. Except for Thomas, they all suck!

        2. fewer Kavanaughs

          Thankfully RBG won’t be able to name/recommend her successor posthumously.

      2. I do wonder how many Democratic candidates realize how many people who intensely dislike Trump (myself included) would consider voting for him simply in hopes that judicial nominees he would likely appoint in his second term would respect the Second Amendment as vigorously as the First, Fourth, and Fifth (in particular).

        (Being in deep blue state, my vote for Senator or President of course is irrelevant so I usually vote (L) just to send whatever tiny symbolic message I can.)

    2. he can maybe get the Second Article of Ammendment “repealed” but he will NEVER get the right removed.

      And if they get a compliance rate even one tenth what the poeple of New Zealand have so far delivered (some .0066 percent, my latest reading) I will be astounded. A compliance rate of ten percent (fifteen hundred times that of New Zealand, good luck with that…) that would STILL leave forty million guns i the hands of private citizens.

      The ButterGig unit is delusional, and/or bought and paid for by his handlers uptairs.

  3. They’ve been trying this “epidemic” crap for years now and gun control is still a loser nationally.

    1. The snapback against gun nuts is going to be enjoyable.

      The liberal-libertarian mainstream will call the shots on this issue, over time, following the reliable course of the American culture war for more than a half-century.

      I hope the backlash doesn’t interfere with the right to possess a reasonable firearm in the home for self-defense but if the pendulum swings that far the gun absolutists will have themselves to blame.

      1. You just keep on with those mental midget delusions.

        Just don’t have that wide-eyed, deer in the headlights look on your face when things ‘snap back’ in a direction your fantasies didn’t plan on.

  4. They are pandering to the fearful using that fear in order to win votes.

  5. The one thing I can say for BUttgig is that he’s the only one in that photo who doesn’t look like he’s trying to poop.

    1. Stop making fun of Bootyjuice’s name. So childish.

    2. Looks like he told a pretty funny joke about the two people on his borders. They don’t look like they found it funny.

  6. They don’t realize how much fun control factored into Bush II win. Even in traditionally liberal states like Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, there are large numbers of gun owners sick of the progressive laws recently passed. There is open revolt against the laws. This could easily help the GOP take back the house, hold the Senate and may even swing Colorado, New Mexico and Minnesota (this is just a matter of time), while putting Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan out of reach. Heck, it could even make Virginia and Neveda more competitive. Even as unpopular as Trump was, expect to see the GOP focus on rural districts to push this message. People who protest voted will be far less likely to this next year. It is also becoming much more clear that the Chinese, North Koreans and Iranians are trying to run the clock out in hopes of getting a democrat win.
    This policy, paired with Medicare for all, open borders (decriminalizing border crossings), reparations etc will not play well in Peoria (to use an old adage)

    1. I live in WA, and know a number of progressives here who like their guns. AR15s and AK47s inc,used.

      1. Yep. And how many gun owners live outside the I-5 corridor? Especially once you get east of North Bend or west of Olympia?

        1. How many active gun owners ilve INSIDE the I-5 corridor, even in Seattle?

          I know a few hundred…….

      2. “…progressives here who like their guns. AR15s and AK47s”

        So is this a paradox or a straight out contradiction? How is it even possible to describe oneself as “progressive” and not be vehemently anti gun, especially those sorts of guns?

    2. Many democrats at least used to pay lip service to the Second amendment. I suspect that you are right and if they run candidates who are openly against gun rights they will lose even more rural and working class voters. I know several people who would otherwise support Democrats but are absolutely bullshit about their anti-gun positions. Once you get out of the big cities there are a lot of people who are pretty left-liberal but favor strong gun rights.

      1. Yeah, but it’s amazing what level of hoops they support. I know a few that call themselves pro gun, but think people should have to get a psych eval to buy one.

        Of course they also believe that requiring a psych eval to vote would be usurping your right to vote.

        1. Exactly. To find out how someone feels about gun control, ask if they would support a law requiring a gun permit to vote.

        2. I know a fair number of what I like to call “redneck hippies” who are quite good on guns. I also know people such as you describe.

      2. Yeah, but it’s amazing what level of hoops they support. I know a few that call themselves pro gun, but think people should have to get a psych eval to buy one.

        Of course they also believe that requiring a psych eval to vote would be usurping your right to vote.

    3. They don’t realize how much fun control factored into Bush II win.

      I don’t and never have thought of Trump is playing 12D chess as much as simply standing next to a field of candidates trying to stuff checkers pieces up their nose. They seem completely incapable of expecting voters to connect loose ends (being generous that they, themselves, have connected them).

      When you live in the greatest, most free country in the world with little to no crime or threat of attack the need to own a gun is considerably diminished. When the government spies on you and is run by white nationalists installed by Russian hackers. A little personal responsibility and self-protection doesn’t seem so unfounded.

      When you acknowledge that a gun registry is ineffective and unfeasible and then turn around and insist on background checks for every purchase, eventually even disinterested passive observers are going to realize that you’re peddling the exact same shit in a different box.

    4. Your argument is that right-wingers are going to reverse the course of the culture war, with gun nuts leading the way?

      Good luck, clingers.

      1. When the first and last shots of the Kulture War ring out, You know who will possess the arms, Rev. Arty.

        My condolences on Rep. Swallowell.

      2. For someone who is supposedly winning the culture wars you sure seem to work overtime trying to convince everyone you are. It reminds me of the Imperial Japanese Navy telling the Japanese people that Midway was a great victory, when everyone knew that the Japanese lost four carriers and most of their best pilots.

  7. Buttpig is just reciting the standard far left mantra of gun confiscation.
    Its a mandatory statement if he wants to be nominated for the democratic party’s POTUS nominee.
    Its like cheerleading for “free healthcare,” soaking the rich, open borders, etc.
    Next up: Comrade Bernie promising to America Venezuela Again.

    1. I think he wants to Venezuela America. If we are verbing countries.

      1. If we are verbing countries.

        French a Nepal, Bangladesh a Virgin Island, and then Venezuela America.

        1. Don’t forget to Pakistan a Bhutan. Or to Figi a Phillipines.

  8. “military-style” features

    I severely dislike this angle that gun-grabbers take. This just means modern technology. 2A is not limited by technological advance and it’s purpose is to ensure that the government cannot prevent the populace from possessing and using modern technology, military-grade weapons.

    1. And if “military weapon” is going to be a standard, someone is going to have to explain in what way a musket does not qualify, considering that it was literally a military weapon used in countless wars for hundreds of years.

      1. Or even a bolt action rifle with a wood stock, which most gun-grabbers would not pick out as a military weapon. Heck, make a wood stock for an AR-15 and they’d think it’s Grandpa’s shotgun.

        1. The Marines on Guadalcanal were among the last to use the 1903 Springfield in combat. A 5 round bolt action, and they literally kicked ass with it.

          1. Some scout and sniper units were issued 1903’s through the beginning of Vietnam

            1. With a scope it was amazingly accurate.

          2. they literally kicked ass with it

            They had boots on the bayonets.

        2. Hit up Wikipedia for the British “mad minute”.
          Amazing; not just high volume of fire from a bolt action rifle, AIMED fire.

        3. Ruger make one, they call it the Ranch Rifle. Same ammunition, semi auto same mags as their AR looking “black and ugly” guns use, and same capacity options, up to thirty rounds.
          BUT it looks like Grandpa’s deer rifle, if a bit smaller. Funny thing, neither the Ranch Rifle nor the AR style are legal for the hunting of deer in any state I know of. Why? Simple… the 5.56/.223 round is too feeble, lacking the power to reliably take the selected animal. That round was designed for fairly short range urban fighting. Not worth much past 400 yards. I’ve watched the venerable .30/06 bolt action M1903 place a round in the desired location at a distance of 1.3 miles. That round has the energy at a thousand yards to take down an elk or black bear.
          And the eedjit politicians are all knicker-beknotted over the puny not-even-legal-for-deer-hunting AR round?
          Pardon, yer iggerunts is showin………

    2. A civilian AR is not a military grade weapons in any way other than cosmetics.

  9. More senseless, and fact-less, inanity about gun control from yet another Dem presidential hopeful. Gee. Will wonders never cease?

  10. While the purchase of a rifle by a 19 year-old in Nevada could be completely legal in a private-part transaction under the laws of the State of Nevada, selling a firearm of any kind in NV to a resident of another state without processing the transfer through a FFL in the home state of the buyer (which includes a NICS check and verification that the buyer is eligible to receive the weapon under the laws of that state) is a violation of existing federal laws which go back longer than the change in CA law that used to allow 18-year olds to buy long guns.

    Do they think that whatever seller was willing to violate one law to make that sale would be less willing to violate two?

    1. you are mistaken. If it were a handgun, yes, no state’s FFL can sell a handgun to a resident of any other state without sending it directly to an FFL in the buyer’s state, who will then do all the legal beagle nonsense with the buyer face to face in his home state.

      BUT. when it comes to long guns, interstate sales ARE permitted, with a few caveats: selling FFL must verify that the purchaser can legally take possession of the firearm in his home state, AND the sale and peperwork MUST all comply with whatever requriements are binding in the buyer’s state.

      In this instance, the buyer was 19, Calif now requires 21 minimum, so right there the transfer was illegal, and if it was n FFL he broke the law. If it was a private party, he did too. NO private sales interstate. NONE.
      Second, the long gun in question is, apparently, an AR style rifle, which are banned in California except for those already possessed before the law came into affect.. thus this sale was illegal on that score as well.
      So enough of this “he bought the gun legally in NEvada claptrap. Not true on several counts.

      1. Does not matter because tactical rifles were banned in California in 2000. The only ones allowed are those owned before 2000 and they must be registered. So even if this guy bought his in Nevada, the moment he crossed the border he was breaking the law which is exactly why more laws will never help. McVeigh killed 169 people with a panel truck, fertilizer and diesel fuel.

      2. His family lived in NV at the tie of purchase. He later brought it to CA.

  11. Mass shooters typically do not have disqualifying criminal or psychiatric records,

    You are techinicaly correct… few have the RECORDS on file at FBI/NICS.

    But, of the recent mass killers I’ve known about nearly all of them have the RECORD, but because some incopetent/corrupt government functionary failed to move the information along to the correct database to stop the sales. I will include the

    Parkland School Florida killer (FOUR at least felony events, not one of which was prosecuted, the sheriffs and school district preferring to reduce their ARREST rate amongst high school age kids, never mind they did nothing to reduce the CRIME rate, preferring to “win” the $Mn54 prize for reducing the ARREST rate (never mind the crime rate which has steadily increased)

    SUtherland Springs church murders, all 26 of em were killed by a man witih a felony record, convicted, and a dishonourable discharge from the military… four disqualifying events, NONE of which were ever reported by the Air Force desk jockeys responsible for said reporting…. one at the indictment, the other at the guilty charges handed down by the jury in his trial. He SHOULD have not been able to buy his murder weapons, but did, cause NICS came back clean. Fix NICS by making those who FAIL to report mandated information to NICS liable for criminal charges and other disqualifying events when it is their JOB TO DO SO face criminal penalties suited for the crime the not-disarmed killer deserved for his actions.
    I can think of at least half a dozen, likely more, incidents where the perp shoud NOT have been able to get his tools of destruction but did because some flunky “forgot” to do that for which the general public pay through the nose to have done…..

  12. quote
    The perpetrator of the Gilroy shooting used a rifle he legally bought in Nevada that is banned as an “assault weapon” in California, which The New York Times seems to think is a big deal.

    it IS a BIG DEAL. That sale never should have returned a PROCEED code to the dealer. NO interstate sales of long guns can take place except those in which the FFL establishes that the buyer is lawfully able to buy and possess the gun Since he was both too young, and the gun is prohibited in California, the sale was NOT legal, and never should have happened. I’ve got this nagging thought that the seller of that weapon will be facing some serious criminal charges. His best defense would be that California violates the US Constitution in making those two requirements for their residents, thus it should not be illegal for him to sell, or perp to buy, the rifle used in his attack.

    1. His family lived in NV at the time. He later brought it to CA.

  13. Don’t forget, when they say “assault weapon” instead of “assault rifle” it’s intentional. They want to ban semi-automatic “assault weapons” of all kinds, including pistols.

    1. exactly. They want to ban anything they decide is dangerous.

  14. Hey Pete let’s outlaw guns just like we did alcohol. That worked out real well.
    Do something that makes sense. See something say something and deny guns to people with problems would have stopped virtually ever one we’ve had.

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