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Mass Shooting Delusions

The illogic of "common-sense gun safety laws"

Two days after the massacre in San Bernardino, Marco Rubio said something that most gun control supporters probably thought was outrageous. The Florida senator, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, told CBS News "none of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years" would have been prevented by the gun laws proposed in response to them.

Last week Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler, asked to investigate Rubio's statement by a colleague who thought "it was almost certainly incorrect," discovered that Rubio was right. The implication, which Kessler was too polite to spell out, is that activists and politicians who push legislative responses to mass shootings are either fooling themselves or trying to fool us. The latter seems more likely.

President Obama has repeatedly implied that members of Congress have blood on their hands because they refuse to "do something" in response to mass shootings. Yet at a briefing the day after Kessler's article appeared, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest could not cite any mass shootings that might have been stopped by expanded background checks or a federal ban on "assault weapons," the measures that Obama reflexively proposes after such crimes. Instead Earnest talked up another policy that would have made no difference: banning gun purchases by people on the federal government's "no fly" list, none of whom has been linked to a mass shooting.

The idea that "assault weapon" bans can prevent mass shootings is clearly a fantasy. The vast majority of guns used in these attacks—86 percent, according to a tally by Mother Jones—do not qualify as "assault weapons," an arbitrary category defined by military-style features such as folding stocks, pistol grips, and flash suppressors. Even if a law could magically eliminate the millions of "assault weapons" already in circulation, it would leave plenty of equally lethal alternatives.

Banning "assault weapons" makes even less sense as a response to less newsworthy crimes, which account for about 97 percent of homicides. According to the FBI's numbers, rifles in general, which include many guns that are not considered "assault weapons," were used in about 2 percent of homicides last year.

There are similar problems with legal limits on magazine size, which Obama also supports. Laws can prohibit new sales but cannot make larger magazines disappear. And as Kessler pointed out, "an experienced shooter…can change a magazine in just two to four seconds," a pause that is unlikely to make a significant difference in attacks on unarmed people.

Expanding the federal background check requirement to cover private gun transfers as well as sales by licensed dealers, another idea favored by Obama, cannot reasonably be expected to have a noticeable impact on mass shootings either. As Kessler noted, the perpetrators of such crimes often have passed background checks and in any case rarely have criminal or psychiatric records that would legally disqualify them from buying guns.

Furthermore, decreeing that a background check be conducted every time a gun changes hands and making it happen are two very different things. It is hard to see how such a requirement could be enforced, especially without a national gun registry.

Felons who buy guns are already breaking the law, and so are the people who supply them, assuming they know about the buyers' criminal records. Yet criminals do not seem to have much trouble arming themselves. Survey data indicate that they generally obtain guns from people they already know or from black-market dealers, sources that would be unimpeded by a new background check requirement.

The "common-sense gun safety laws" touted by the president would impose new restrictions and burdens on law-abiding Americans in exchange for highly uncertain benefits. Especially when considered as responses to mass shootings, which is how the president and his allies present them, these measures make little sense upon calm reflection—something that gun controllers seem eager to prevent by blinding us with blood.

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  • dchang0||

    Switzerland doesn't need the grief. How about Antarctica instead?

  • Hank Phillips||

    A very apropos illumination of a popular blind spot. The Waco standoff is an added example. Federal agents initiated the use of deadly force against the Christian compound in Waco why? Because they had paid an informant to insinuate that someone might have failed to pay a tax assessed on a specific removable part that might have been inserted in a rifle on the premises. So that entire bloodbath--that included the deliberate silencing/murder of some fifty children--was the direct result of government efforts to tweak and infringe the Second Amendment, and then back that foolish law by the initiation of force. This shocking coercion was exercised by religious bigots to wipe out a congregation with a slightly more libertarian take on the Teachings of Their Lord.

  • ace_m82||

    How was this coercion used by "religious bigots"? Do you mean the biggest religion in the country, the one True church of government worship?

  • BambiB||

    Adding to the blood on government hands: The ATF agents who were going through the purchase records of the FFL where Koresh bought most of his guns were invited by Koresh to come over and look at what he had. They declined. Instead, the ATF carried out "Operation Hollywood" which was to be a splashy arrest recorded by no fewer than five cameras (3 still and 2 video if memory serves). Miraculously all five cameras were found to have failed after Koresh handed the attacking ATF agents their heads.

    Anyone recall the scene of ATF agents walking away from Mt. Carmel with their hands on their heads? After their initial assault, they were out of ammo, pinned down behind cars in the compound, dressed in their black gestapo uniforms baking in the hot Texas sun - and instead of picking them off (which he could easily have done) Koresh let them go.

    Had he instead taken a number of them hostage, Koresh and his followers might not have been massacred.

  • Rockabilly||

    Common sense gun control is newspeak for confiscation.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Furthermore, decreeing that a background check be conducted every time a gun changes hands and making it happen are two very different things. It is hard to see how such a requirement could be enforced, especially without a national gun registry.

    That's the plan, baby.

  • NYC2AZ||

    "It's a feature, not a bug."

  • Sevo||

    "The implication, which Kessler was too polite to spell out, is that activists and politicians who push legislative responses to mass shootings are either fooling themselves or trying to fool us. The latter seems more likely."

    I doubt it.
    These are not smart people; they pander for a living and in all likelihood, believe most of the BS they shovel.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    I sometimes think these people don't believe in anything except increasing government power, in the belief that because they themselves are so incompetent at daily life and so miserable without someone telling them what to do every waking moment, so is everybody else, only everybody else is too damned stupid, naive, ignorant, and incompetent to recognize it, therefore government must be crammed down everybody's throat to keep society from disintegrating into Mad Max chaos.

  • Eman||

    yup. the first thing people usually do after a revolution is install some new dictator.

  • Inigo Montoya, Micro-Aggressor||

    Let's at least be honest and upfront and admit that what the gun control crowd considers "common sense" is that no one other than a cop or active service military, should, for any reason, be allowed to own a gun. This includes not just pistols, large magazines, or "assault" stuff, it means anything that uses gun powder to fire a projectile.

    For added good measure, they would also want the ban extended to include non-functioning replicas, toy guns, water pistols, fingers held in gun-like gestures, and Pop-Tarts chewed into gun-like shapes.

    Why do we need to continue pretending they mean something less than all this, when that's not what they believe?

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Indeed, my perception is that they're getting more and more open about their desire to disarm the common citizen. Like you I see no need to go along with the "just a few reasonable gun safety laws" shtick.

  • GregMax||

    Believe me, disarming cops will be next.

  • Lorenzo Zoil||

    There is strict gun control in France, much more so than these so called "common sense" restrictions the progressives are pushing. France has "mass shootings" and terrorism involving assault rifles, rifles, pistols, bombs, fire, etc. Japan has extremely strict gun control, yet they have a suicide rate much higher than the US. At what point can we tell the progressives that correlation=/=causation?

  • WuzYoungOnceToo||

    France has "mass shootings" and terrorism involving assault rifles, rifles, pistols, bombs, fire, etc.

    With "etc" including RPGs, in the case of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

  • GregMax||

    The basic for firearm transfer background checks is the commerce clause. The justification is "compelling public interest" because - at the time - 80%of firearms deaths were connected to handguns. Both are statist bullshit. The commerce clause should have nothing to do with transfers between private parties in any state. The compelling public interest justification is also crap for two reasons (in my opinion). First, if it is a compelling public interest, the jurisdiction would not be limited to interstate transfers, leaving intrastate transfers untouched. Second, after years of this background check nonsense - the rate is still something like 70% handgun deaths. It's had little effect even if numbers have increased. So we give up our 2nd amendment right to shift the balance 10% to long arms.
    The only reasonable infringement on the right to keep and bear arms would be to prohibit convicted violent felons and adjudicated mentally ill people from having a firearm. Period.
    But as the left are calling for more "common sense" restrictions, the rest of the people are happily accepting the status quo as "good". We should go the other way entirely - a national right to carry law and no background checks other than supporting the national carry license.

  • ace_m82||

    The only reasonable infringement on the right to keep and bear arms would be to prohibit convicted violent felons and adjudicated mentally ill people from having a firearm. Period.

    A good thing then that the 2nd doesn't even allow for "reasonable" infringements. Taking the right to self defense away from anyone is injustice if that isn't what the jury sentenced you to.

  • Lorenzo Zoil||

    Here's the thing, if we could demonstrate that removing guns from our society would reduce crime and violence by a massive rate, it would be easy to pass an Amendment. Except, there is no reason to believe that gun restrictions reduce crime at all. There isn't even a correlation between gun ownership rates and crime globally. At best, banning guns has no effect. Most people are smart enough to see that.

  • GregMax||

    I agree. But realistically absolutely no infringement is not gonna happen. And if you have to give someplace those categories seem acceptable to me.

  • WuzYoungOnceToo||

    The basic for firearm transfer background checks...

    The basic *what* for BGCs?

    ...is the commerce clause.

    Given that that Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution (the so-called "Commerce Clause") authorizes federal regulation of commerce with "foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes", and the where a sale originates and terminates are irrelevant with regard to the BGC requirement, that's a pretty dubious claim.

    The justification is "compelling public interest" because - at the time - 80%of firearms deaths were connected to handguns.

    OK. So what does that have to do with the Commerce Clause?

  • GregMax||

    I missed a word.
    I should have said the basic government authority is the commerce clause. The reason I think that is because the federal government's compelling public interest justification does not extend to intrastate sales. So it's an acknowledgment that it has no authority to restrict the sales process - which a transfer background check is.

  • GregMax||

    Your assumption that "where a sales originates and terminates are irrelevant" is wrong. Many states compel background check through their own state laws but he federal requirement is limited to interstate transfers. Ergo the authority is "commerce clause" argument.

  • Fun at Parties||

    I've yet to read a national headline about a citizen shooting their eye out so what's the big deal?

  • ranrod||

    First off - AR-15s ARE NOT AUTOMATIC/ASSAULT WEAPONS!!!!!!!!!

    The hard-left Marxist and Islamists who infect our federal government plus the MSM media prostitutes who protect them will gleefully lie, falsify, fabricate, slander, libel, deceive, delude, bribe, and treasonably betray the free citizens of the United States..

    No matter what any president, senator, congressman, or hard-left mainstream media prostitutes tell you concerning the statist utopian fantasy of safety and security through further gun control: They are lying. If their lips are moving, they are lying about gun control. These despots truly hate America..

    American Thinker

  • ranrod||

    These tyrants hate freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and private property. But the reality is that our citizens’ ownership of firearms serves as a concrete deterrent against despotism. They are demanding to hold the absolute power of life and death over you and your family. Ask the six million Jewws, and the other five million murdered martyrs who perished in the Nazzi death camps, how being disarmed by a powerful tyranny ended any chances of fighting back. Ask the murdered martyrs of the Warsaw Ghetto about gun control.

    Their single agenda is to control you after you are disarmed. When the people who want to control you hold the absolute power of life and death over your family, you have been enslaved. The hard-left Marxist and Islamists who infect our federal government plus the MSM media prostitutes who protect them will gleefully lie, falsify, fabricate, slander, libel, deceive, delude, bribe, and treasonably betray the free citizens of the United States into becoming an unarmed population. Unarmed populations have been treated as slaves and chattel since the dawn of history.

    American Thinker

  • MaleMatters||

    Make it impossible for mass killers and terrorists to use guns, and they will use bombs.

    Make it impossible for mass killers and terrorists to use bombs, and they will use toxic gas.

    Allow everyone to carry concealed weapons, and mass killers and terrorists will use bombs and/or toxic gas to hurl as they drive or dash by.

    Think like a mass killer and terrorist. That is the only way.

  • JayWye||

    the Second Amendment of the Constitution is NOT ABOUT hunting or sporting.
    semi-auto,magazine-fed rifles such as the AR-15 and AK-47 are today's modern MILITIA weapons,and thus should be the most protected of firearms under the Second Amendment.

    Militiamen were expected to appear for muster bearing arms and ammo similar to and compatible with what the Regular military had in use AT THAT TIME.
    Since we "compromised" and restricted ownership of full-auto,true assault rifles,that leaves the semi-auto versions for civilian militia use.

    In US v Miller,SCOTUS asked if a short-barreled shotgun was a weapon that a militia would commonly use,implying that arms protected by the 2nd Amendment were arms a militia would use. AR-15's,M-16's and AK-47s would be ordinary militia arms,and "hi-capacity magazines" also would be protected.

  • josh||

    the 1994 assault weapon ban was the first time i remember having a position on guns. at the time i remember being very much in favor of gun control and even thinking the 2nd amendment was obsolete. in the 20 years since, for many reasons, i've done a near 180. it's one of the few issues where i've changed so dramatically. i keep trying to tell the gun control people they're their own worst enemy, politically speaking, on this issue, but they still think its 1994.

  • Bill Goode||

    What few people realize is that almost all of these mass shootings, we have been experiencing for the last 30 years, come as a result of psychiatric drugs. Look at the side effects labels on psychiatric drugs - "suicide and violence". Yet these drugs are distributed like candy at schools and from psychiatrists.

    The mass shootings started in the late 1980s. They were not happening before then. Coincidentally, there was also a dramatic increase in the use of psychiatric drugs at that time as well.

    But then there are also false flag operations. It's certainly not some mass group of people in the Middle East hating us for our freedom. It's the psychiatric drugs. In any case, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden's right-hand-man, is a psychiatrist, trained in Cairo.

  • Jason Vick||

    Mass Shooting Delusions

    The illogic of "common-sense gun safety laws"

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