Tags: assault weapons | control | giffords | kelly

Gun Bans Won't Stop Massacres

Image: Gun Bans Won't Stop Massacres
(Martin Šandera /Dreamstime) 

Tuesday, 10 Oct 2017 12:07 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In the wake of another mass shooting, the debate has, predictably, turned to guns, which is a good thing. Honest debate is needed to cut through the white noise and ascertain the truth about guns, and more importantly, why massacres keep occurring.

There is a lot to cover. Hopefully, both sides will be able to be straight with each other on the facts, striving for the moral high ground by respecting each other’s views. But if the goal remains those whom we can most demonize — we will have accomplished nothing.

To that point, several statements made in the wake of Las Vegas are unforgiveable. Commentator Keith Olbermann labeled the National Rifle Association (NRA) a "terrorist organization." Then we had psychiatrist Michael Welner on Fox News say that "CNN is going to have to answer for how they demonize gun enthusiasts and how CNN actually contributes to mass shootings." This inexcusably deflected full blame from the shooter.

A now-fired CBS executive had the gall to declare, "I’m actually not even sympathetic because country music fans often are Republican gun-toters."

Comments like these aren’t just salt in the wound of the victims — and all Americans, since we share this tragedy — but serve to make both sides dig-in further.

Those shameful statements merit our scorn.

Now on to the guns. Consider:

Excepting wars, the two greatest massacres on American soil did not involve a single gun. The 9/11 attacks killed 2,996 while wounding 6,000.  And Timothy McVeigh, the all-American boy next door, killed 168 and injured 680 when he blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Someone as unstable as the Vegas shooter, hell-bent on killing as many as possible, will find a way to do just that, regardless of gun bans. Unhinged people planning crimes of that magnitude will simply not be deterred by laws regulating how many weapons can purchased in a month, what types of guns can be bought, and how much ammunition they hold. Criminals, by definition, don’t abide by the law.

Put another way, had there been a gun ban, the Vegas murderer would not have shelved his plans in favor of resuming a "normal" life of cookouts and ball games. He snapped; no law was going to stop him from executing his vision. Undoubtedly, he would have found an alternate way to kill.

Mass shooters are as dangerous as suicide bombers and Kamikaze pilots, because it is virtually impossible to stop someone who has decided that he will not live to see the next sunrise. The primary issues we should be focusing on are how to identify these people before they explode, mitigating their violence, and identifying why people are engaging in this behavior when they weren’t doing so just a generation ago. But civil liberties must never be sacrificed. Life will never be risk-free, but negatively impacting the rights of millions because an individual committed a random, isolated act doesn't make sense.

Gun bans won’t work for a simple reason — math. Let’s assume that from this day forward, it would be illegal to manufacture guns of any kind. That would leave at least 300 million in America, a stockpile from which a mass murderer could steal, buy on the black market, or purchase at gun shows. Fact is, the Sandy Hook school mass shooter murdered his own mother (obviously a serious crime), and stole her guns (another serious crime) before he entered the school to commit his heinous act. Even Connecticut’s stringent gun laws couldn’t prevent that massacre.

Keep in mind that when the Columbine school shooting occurred, the Clinton-era assault weapon ban was fully in place, thereby proving that such bans are ineffective. A ban, by the way, which was enacted not on the mechanics or firing rates of guns, but was based on bells and whistles and a weapon’s visual fear factor — pure political theater. 

For those advocating confiscation, think again. Any attempt would be met with opposition so fierce that it would make the Civil War look . . . civil. That’s not speculation, but hard fact. Not only is gun ownership a Second Amendment right, but Americans do not cede to authority as easily as they once did.

In 1933, when the government confiscated gold after making it illegal, most Americans complied — yet that act of submission would never happen today. And sexual harassment claims are seeing the light of day (Roger Ailes, Harvey Weinstein) that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable to bring forward. Times have changed.

Bottom line. Guns are here to stay — period.

Many common sense regulations are already in effect, but we can do better, from outlawing devices that allow a weapon to become a machine gun to passing a bill by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., mandating instant background checks for gun show and Internet purchases.

Those opposing such measures hurt their cause in the eyes of the great American middle, who decide all elections. It is not helpful when people make incorrect claims, like former astronaut Mark Kelly (husband of former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who herself was the victim of a mass shooting). Kelly stated, "Thirty-three thousand Americans dying every single year from gun violence is completely unacceptable."

Except that the truth is starkly different. First, of the 33,000 gun-violence deaths Mr. Kelly cites, a full two-thirds are suicide — not homicide. Huge difference, so keeping statistics in proper context is critical. Second, many states and cities with the most stringent gun control laws also have the highest shooting and murder rates, such as California, New York, Illinois (Chicago has the most murders of any city), Washington, and Baltimore.

It’s a miracle that hundreds weren’t killed in Las Vegas. The 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech claimed 32 lives. The victims there were murdered by one student using just two handguns, as opposed to rapid automatic fire by numerous rifles.

The point is that many have died in mass shootings from weapons not considered "assault weapons," at the hands of individuals who legally bought guns after passing background checks.

An assault weapon ban would serve only to make ourselves feel good because we did something. Since many gun ban advocates admit that such restrictions won’t really affect anything — and people are still dying — what would be the point? Impossible as the shooter’s motivations are to comprehend, we cannot push for the wrong things in our quest to explain an unexplainable evil; especially so because it won’t solve the problem.  

Instead, it’s time to figure out what changed so radically from just a few short decades ago to now, as we’ve morphed from relative peace to regularly-occurring massacres.

We need to put partisanship aside, work together, and move quickly. If we don’t, the next tragedy will be upon us faster than we could ever imagine.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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It’s time to figure out what changed so radically from just a few short decades ago to now, as we’ve morphed from relative peace to regularly-occurring massacres. We need to put partisanship aside. If we don’t, the next tragedy will be upon us faster than we could ever imagine.
assault weapons, control, giffords, kelly
Tuesday, 10 Oct 2017 12:07 PM
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