In the aftermath of the horrific Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, the reaction from the pro-gun control crowd was as expected–the NRA is a terrorist organization, and we should have a nationwide gun control campaign. The former point is just plain absurdity. The latter is already happening, albeit with zero success. Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), is already spewing the false “40 percent of gun sales are conducted without background check” talking point. Yet, while the data crunchers keep doling out information about mass shootings, even the left-leaning Vox admitted that mass shootings represents a very small proportion of all gun violence. Violent crime and gun deaths have gone down again, and this narrative that the county has a gun violence epidemic doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
The article’s articles second, third and fifth points about how gun violence in America detail the typical points espoused by the president and other gun control advocates. Australia is the gold standard for new gun control laws, Americans support gun control measures, but Congress prevents them from being enacted, and more guns equals more deaths. As the National Review noted through information obtained through Pew Research and the National Institute of Justice, the last point simply isn’t true. Moreover, David Freddosso at the Washington Examiner aptly noted that the data used by gun control zealots often detail overall gun deaths in America, not those specifically attributed to a violent incident.
Regarding Australia’s gun control laws, which the anti-gun left salivates over, it’s not going to happen here. It’s straight-up gun confiscation, which would require federal agents going door-to-door asking people disarm themselves. You’re on bath salts if this is within the realm of possibility. The point about Americans supporting stricter gun laws isn’t true either. According to Pew, gun rights are at a 25-year high–and Gallup noted that support for new gun control laws has sunk to 47 percent since Newtown.
The Pew data used in the Vox piece was right after Newtown, where support for anything relating to gun control was higher than usual. While the National Rifle Association we’re getting their teeth kicked in during this time, the irony is that one of their policies–having armed guards in schools–was immensely popular. Bans on high-capacity magazines are impossible to enforce, with millions are already in circulation. It’s window dressing and fundraising fodder for the anti-gun left. Most striking was the 39/58 split in support for a ban on semi-automatic weapons. This strikes me as a wording issue with the poll, and members of the news media are show their ignorance when they say a semi-automatic handgun was discovered at crime scene x in news reports.
All handguns for civilian use are semi-automatic, or self-reloading, weapons systems. In short, semi-automatic weapons require the shooter to pull the trigger each time in order to discharge a round. An automatic weapon shoots multiple rounds per trigger pull, and those weapons are an entirely different story regarding ownership.
Civilians may own such firearms, though that person would need to get a permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives via the National Firearms Act, which takes almost a year to process. Additionally, all registered firearms are in a database maintained by the ATF. Banning semi-automatic weapons is a gun ban. Period. And there would be very little support for a policy if the pollster knew, or explained, the difference between automatic and semi-automatic firearms.
Yet, as I’ve mentioned before, let’s not freak out about the gun control people coming out of the bushes with their malarkey. We’ve been here before post-Newtown, where there could have been a major push to curb Second Amendment rights–nothing happened. Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly’s efforts to curb gun rights have failed. Moms Demand Action and Everytown have failed. We’ve stopped the president, and this issue does nothing more than fractures his party in Congress.
Final Note: Ian Mercer, the father of the Chris Harper-Mercer, says that guns are to blame, not his son, for the horrific Oregon shooting. As Caleb Howe of Right Scoop wrote, “To repeat, the man who is the parent of the murderer is blaming gov’t for not preventing his child from becoming a murderer.”
The Associated Press unsurprisingly reported that Harper-Mercer showed little sympathy during his senseless attack. Yet, Jazz noted that all of the firearms recovered were purchased legally. Mercer was never in troubled with the law, nor was he mentally adjudicated. He would have passed background checks for all 14 firearms. So, expansion of background checks isn't a serious starting point.
Also, The New York Times reported that these incidents are hard to detect, as most of the perpetrators fit a profile can be applied to millions of Americans, and yet they don’t commit mass murder. They also added that most of the guns purchased in these mass shootings were legal, and that many exhibited signs of mental illness.
Those who study these types of mass murderers have found that they are almost always male (all but two of the 160 cases isolated by Dr. Duwe). Most are single, separated or divorced. The majority are white. With the exception of student shooters at high schools or lower schools, they are usually older than the typical murderer, often in their 30s or 40s.
They vary in ideology. They generally have bought their guns legally. Many had evidence of mental illness, particularly those who carried out random mass killings. But others did not, and most people with mental illness are not violent.
They do not fit in. Their most comfortable companion is themselves. According to Dr. Fox, mass killers tend to be “people in social isolation with a lack of support systems to help them through hard times and give them a reality check.”
“They have a history of frustration,” he went on. “They externalize blame. Nothing is ever their fault. They blame other people even if other people aren’t to blame. They see themselves as good guys mistreated by others.”
Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine, said these individuals often feel they do not belong, yet frequently live in “smaller town settings where belonging really matters.”
Mr. Harper-Mercer showed signs of such isolation and despair. Like others, he appeared smitten by past mass killers. “They see them as heroes,” Dr. Fox said. “Someone who wins one for the little guy.”
The article then goes on to list the personality traits from previous mass shooters, how they target their victims, some of which are completely random, while others, like Dylann Roof and Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez–sought members of the African-American community or American military servicemen. As the Times noted, “With many of the killers, the signs are of anger and disappointment and solitude,” but like gun confiscation, we’re not going to have federal agents round up young, angry, American men.
As for those who wish to see something done, there are cases where the experts and those in Washington have no solutions (yet), though they may act like they have one. Don’t fall for it; no one has a serious policy to curb mass shootings. That's why we need to have a debate about this that doesn't end up devolving into a discussion about gun bans. Then again, we may have already reached that point; Obama is using the UK, Australia model in official remarks.