by Matt Vespa
I stand firm with my fellow members at the National Rifle Association. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of an organization that defends the Second Amendment, which is one of the most important rights within our Constitution. Over the past forty-eight hours, the NRA has been slammed for being somehow complicit in the various incidents connected gun violence – with the most recent being that awful tragedy in Newtown, CT. As some in the media continue to inject hyper-emotionalism into this debate, liberals simply cannot control themselves. When it comes to gun violence, the left-wing’s end goal is the eradication of the Second Amendment from civil society. However, as we obsess over carnage – and who to blame for it. Let’s look at some facts. Conservative Daily News colleague Kyle Becker posted on December 19 highlighting these interesting statistics:
- Mass shootings rose between the 1960s and the 1990s, and dropped in the 2000s. Mass killings actually reached their peak in 1929. (According to Grant Duwe, criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections.)
- “States that allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns enjoy a 60 percent decrease in multiple-victim public shootings and a 78 percent decrease in victims per attack.” John Lott, Jr. and Bill Landes, “More Guns, Less Crime.”
- “With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”– John Lott, Jr. Co-author with Bill Landes of “More Guns, Less Crime.”
- “Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.” [John Fund, NRO. “The Facts About Mass Shootings.”]
- Total violent crime from 1973 to 2009 decreased 65%, or is about one-third as high. (Bureau of Justice Statistics)
- The U.S. murder rate decreased 8.1% between 2008 and 2009, and has fallen every year since 2006. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, based on FBI data).
- The United States ranks 24th in the world in terms of its murder rate. It also has the most highly armed civilian population.
- “International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths. There is a compound assertion that (a) guns are uniquely available in the United States compared with other modern developed nations, which is why (b) the United States has by far the highest murder rate. Though these assertions have been endlessly repeated, statement (b) is, in fact, false and statement (a) is substantially so.” (Kates & Mauser, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 30, No. 2)
- The political causation is that nations which have violence problems tend to adopt severe gun controls, but these do not reduce violence, which is determined by basic sociocultural and economic factors.” [Then why does Luxemburg have nine times the murder rate of Germany?] (Kates & Mauser,Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 30, No. 2)
- “The Middle Ages were a time of notoriously brutal and endemic warfare. They also experienced rates of ordinary murder almost double the highest recorded U.S. murder rate. But Middle Age homicide “cannot be explained in terms of the availability of firearms, which had not yet been invented.” (Kates & Mauser, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 30, No. 2)
- The odds of being in a victim of a mass shooting are far less than that of being struck by lightning.
On December 19, President Obama, along with Vice President Joe Biden, announced a new anti-gun task force to discuss the amount of gun violence perpetrated by the mentally unstable in this country. Joe Biden is heading this commission, but made a fast and furious move towards the exit when question time from the press arrived.
It is our imperative – as conservatives – to block any suggestions this anti-gun committee produces over the next few weeks. This isn’t about gun control. It’s about power. It’s about government centralizing more control over the dynamics of our society. This is progressivism after 100 years of maturation. A point aptly made by columnist George Will last winter.
As we’ve seen on the news, Connecticut has some of the most stringent gun control laws on the books – and they worked. Adam Lanza was unable to buy a rifle due to his age, but even if that weren’t the case. He was unwilling to subject himself to a background check. He had to commit a homicide and steal the guns from his mother to unleash the depraved fury on Sandy Hook Elementary last week.
As progressives and the Democratic Party readies itself to reinstate an ‘assault weapons’ ban, which infringes on our Second Amendment rights, we should have some clarification on the language that will be used when the new Congress is convened in 2013. It shows how little Democrats, or any anti-gun activist, knows about guns.
Hans Bader at the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote a great piece on December 19 about the futility of a new ban on so-called ‘assault weapons.’
“Semi-automatic guns, including ‘assault weapons,’ are not machine guns. They do not fire more than one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, unlike a machine gun. The sale of machine guns and fully automatic weapons has long been banned. By contrast, much of America’s guns are “semi-automatic.” Indeed, so many guns in this country are semi-automatic — the way most cars run on gasoline — that The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney says that ‘semiauto is the norm’ according to Bader.
He’s right. Furthermore, he wrote that:
Congress and the president may pass an “assault weapons” ban to make themselves feel good, but I won’t expect much in the way of results for public safety if they do. As Professor Volokh notes:
So-called “assault weapons” are no deadlier than other weapons. To begin with, note that assault weapons are not fully automatic weapons (which is to say machine guns). Fully automatic weapons have long been heavily regulated, and lawfully owned fully automatics are very rare, very expensive, and almost never used in crimes. Rather, assault weapons are a subset of semiautomatic weapons, generally semiautomatic handguns and rifles. Semiautomatic handguns and rifles — of which there are probably at least about 100 million in the country, and likely more — are undoubtedly extremely deadly; but the subset that is labeled “assault weapons” is not materially deadlier than the others. One way of recognizing that is looking at the definition in the 1994-2004 federal assault weapons ban; the ban lists several types of guns by name, and then provides these generic definitions:
(B) a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of–
(i) a folding or telescoping stock;
(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;
(iii) a bayonet mount . . . .[see additional examples at Volokh’s web site]
Guns that fit these categories may look more dangerous; but they aren’t more dangerous. . . .
Banning assault weapons thus has basically no effect on the lethality of gun crime, or of mass shootings more specifically.
Although Volokh says that assault weapons bans would be useless, he also says that they would likely be constitutional, since “such bans leave law-abiding citizens with ample access to other guns that are equally effective, and therefore don’t substantially burden the constitutional right” to keep and bear arms.
However, as conservatives, we should be uneasy with government banning anything. We banned alcohol with disastrous results. We have continued to support a ban on illicit drugs that has also produced disastrous results. We should re-think our drug policy, but that’s for another time.
The prevalence of so-called ‘assault weapons’ was “a modest fraction of all gun crimes.’
Furthermore, the study from the Urban Institute said they:
…were unable to detect any reduction to date in two types of gun murders that are thought to be closely associated with assault weapons, those with multiple victims in a single incident and those producing multiple bullet wounds per victim. We did find a reduction in killings of police officers since mid-1995. However, the available data are partial and preliminary, and the trends may have been influenced by law enforcement agency policies regarding bullet-proof vests.”
A ban on assault weapons is constitutional, but data shows that it isn’t worth the political capital that could be spent addressing the faults in detecting and treating mental illness in America. Frankly, I’m against any measure by the government that limits the options for Americans in which they can defend themselves. As such, Republicans should just say no to the new push to ban ‘assault weapons.’ It’s time to put this issue away, so our snobby New England brethren can never bring it back again.
Gun control laws, or at least Connecticut’s regulations, worked in preventing Lanza from buying a firearm to create havoc. Yet, the left is still guns, bodies, and carnage obsessed. People seem to forget he had to commit a crime to get those guns. That’s an unstoppable situation, unless we’re living in a universe more to the liking of Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report.
The first assault weapons ban had a negligible impact on reducing crime when it was enacted in 1994 – and had a negligible impact when it expired in 2004. As such, we must ask ourselves why Democrats wish to pursue this matter – with a renewed optimism – if it weren’t to infringe on our liberty? Do they just habitually sponsor and advocate bad policy? It would also show how government spends an exorbitant amount of time debating bad policy that would yield infinitesimal results in reducing violent crime. Well, that part is mostly tradition. Just say no to new gun regulations. Just say no to the assault weapons ban.