Well, if peddling North Korean propaganda wasn’t bad enough, The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof had a laundry list of things he thinks could stop another mass shooting in America. He admits that there is no magic wand that can be waved to solve this supposed problem. He’s right. Yet, he lists things that would not have prevented 64-year-old Stephen Paddock from killing 58 people and wounding nearly 500 more in Las Vegas. Yet, Kristof, like other liberals, places emphasis on the cumulative effect these (ineffectual) policy suggestions would have in the long term. Government already screws up royally on policy; it’s even worse when they pass bills to just make it look like they’re doing something (via NYT):
1. Impose universal background checks before buying a gun. More than four out of five Americans support this measure, to prevent criminals or terrorists from obtaining guns. Harvard research suggests that because of loopholes, 22 percent of guns are acquired without a background check.
2. Ban bump stocks, which allow semiautomatic rifles to fire more like automatics. In Las Vegas, a single gunman was able to shoot hundreds of people because he had converted guns to bump-stock firing.
3. Impose an age limit of 21 on gun purchases. This is already the law for handgun purchases in many states, and it mirrors the law on buying alcohol.
4. Enforce a ban on possession of guns by anyone subject to a domestic violence protection order. This is a moment when people are upset and prone to violence.
5. Limit gun purchases by any one person to no more than, say, two a month, and tighten rules on straw purchasers who buy for criminals. Make serial numbers harder to remove.
7. Invest in “smart gun” purchases by police departments or the U.S. military, to promote their use. Such guns incorporate technology to restrict their operation, such as not firing without a PIN, a fingerprint or a device in proximity, like a special bracelet, so that children cannot misuse them and they are less vulnerable to theft.
8. Require safe storage, to reduce theft, suicide and accidents by children.
9. Invest in research to see what interventions will be more effective in reducing gun deaths, so we can base our policies on robust evidence.
First, universal background checks and increasing the age to purchase all firearms to 21 years of age won’t stop mass shootings. It certainly wouldn’t have stopped Paddock who was approaching Medicare eligibility age and purchased all of his firearms legally i.e. he passed background checks. Every federal firearms licensed dealer is required to conduct a background check on all sales. There is already a ban on domestic abusers owning firearms. In fact, anyone convicted of a violent crime (i.e. domestic abuse, assault etc.) cannot buy firearms. The mentally adjudicated cannot buy firearms. Those who have been dishonorably discharged from the military cannot buy firearms.
Oh, yes, the smart gun technology. It exists—and it won’t do a damn thing to prevent mass shootings. There are questions about the reliability of the technology and the fact that criminals will always find a way to buy firearms that don’t have such technology. Even Wired noted that its effect on mass shootings would be nil. Limiting gun purchases per month isn’t going to prevent mass shootings either. It’s already illegal to buy firearms for criminals through straw purchases, which carries very lengthy jail sentences 10+ years or more depending on the state. On bump stocks, it doesn’t convert a semiautomatic into anything. It doesn’t convert a semiautomatic into an automatic, which is also highly illegal. The ATF signed off on the bump stock accessory in 2010 under Obama—and you can be sure he would have said something if he felt this was problematic; the professor definitely would have said something. It’s mostly used for recreational shooting, not mass shootings, which are still rare and don’t constitute the majority of gun crimes. It’s not even close. As for microstamping, Maryland tried it. It cost millions of dollars. It failed, which is why they scrapped it in 2015. After 15 years, you want to know how many cases it helped solve: zero.
Safe storage mandates? Is this a joke? Unintentional deaths by guns dropped another 17 percent between 2014-15. They constituted just 0.3 percent of accidental deaths in 2015 alone during a time when gun sales were at record highs. Throughout the Obama presidency, it’s been estimated that Americans bought over 100 million firearms in eight years. What about the kids’ figures? The 2014 National Safety Council’s report showed:
Firearms are involved in fewer than 1⁄2-percent of all unintentional fatalities in the United States. In a side-by-side comparison, firearms rank among the lowest causes of injury.
Firearms are involved in less than 1.8 percent of unintentional fatalities among children 14 years of age and under and are among the least likely causes of unintentional fatality.
As firearms safety education programs have increased, the number of unintentional firearms-related fatalities has decreased.
Over the past 10 years, the unintentional firearm fatality rate per 100,000 population has declined by 33 percent; since the beginning of record-keeping in 1903, this rate has declined by 94 percent!
Among fatal accidents at home, firearms rate well below poisoning, falls, natural heat and cold, mechanical suffocation, and many other categories.
As for research, the anti-gun Left complains about barriers, yet strides have been made in this field for over 20 years. Also, the findings will be questioned by the Second Amendment community and other Americans who support gun rights since we all know the science community has a left wing bias. If there is one area of research that should be increased ten-fold, it’s the detection and treatment of mental illness. This is what the left wing Mother Jones found out in 2012 [emphasis mine]:
…we set out to track mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years. We identified and analyzed 62 of them—25 in the last seven years alone.
Nearly 80 percent of the perpetrators in these 62 cases obtained their weapons legally. Acute paranoia, delusions, and depression were rampant among them, with at least 36 of the killers committing suicide on or near the scene. Seven others died in police shootouts they had little hope of surviving (a.k.a. “suicide by cop”). And according to additional research we completed recently, at least 38 of them displayed signs of possible mental health problems prior to the killings
We don’t know the mental state of Paddock, but we can assume that he was not right in the head. That’s a given concerning what he did and the planning of it. Normal people don’t act like this, of course. What Kristof proposed is already law, and it would do next to nothing to stop mass shootings. Bad policy and redundant policy are one and the same. Until the Left let’s go of the fiction that expanding background checks will reduce gun violence, we’re not going anywhere on this issue. We all know the battle here, even if some Republicans and gun rights advocates don’t see it with their dabbling into possibly supporting a bump stock ban. It’s about chipping away at our rights. You give into just one of these shoddy ideas, there’s no room to maneuver.
You supported smart gun tech, a bump stock ban, safe storage, raising the age limit for gun purchases, so then why are you against a ban on high-capacity magazines? That’s the question the Left will come back if we decide to play this game with them and go along with some of their half-baked anti-gun agenda. Don’t fall for it because I can assure you enough Republicans will trip up in trying to explain why they, in this scenario, supported a bump stock ban, but oppose a high-capacity magazine limit. To avoid that nightmare, don’t work with Democrats on gun control legislation. We know their end goal is none of this; especially the nine things Kristof thinks will yield dividends on this issue. There is no downside to blocking or opposing the Democrats’ tired and ineffective gun control agenda. None. And we shouldn’t feel compelled to act or pass new laws when we all know that what the Left is proposing on firearms is snake oil.