Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gun Hysteria

Something bad happened and guns were involved! We have to prevent this from ever happening again! We must pass gun legislation while people are still outraged!

Why the urgency? Because few of the measures being proposed in the wake of the Newtown shootings would have made a difference. A few of the suggestions include:

Renewing the ban on assault guns.
While the military has assault rifles, there is no such thing as an assault gun. Attempts to create a definition simply ended up with manufacturers making small changes and continuing to sell essentially the same gun. The rifle used at the Newtown shootings did not count as an assault weapon under the Clinton-era legislation.

In general, the assault weapons ban was a total failure. Gun deaths were declining before the ban and continued to decline during and after the ban. If you look at a chart of gun deaths you cannot tell when the ban was in effect.

Closing the Gun Show Loophole
This "loophole" is the ability for one private citizen to sell a gun to another private citizen. While it happens at gun shows, it happens other times also. "Closing the loophole" means that the federal government would be involved anytime a gun changed hands.

Remember that the shooter used his mother's guns and that she bought them through licensed gun dealers.

Outlawing large-capacity clips
This might make a difference. It would require a shooter to carry more clips and change more often. That might give potential victims more time to run. But, the Clinton-era ban was only on new clips. Before the law went into effect, production ramped up on clips so that high-capacity clips were available during the entire period of the ban.

Part of the rush to pass new legislation is that they want it passed before people have time to wonder if the new laws would make any difference. They also in a hurry to get legislation passed before people can put the shooting in perspective. Yes, shooting young children is horrible but only a very tiny percentage of gun owners go on a rampage. On average, around 87 people are killed by cars each day but there is no sense of urgency since the deaths are scattered.

By endorsing a list of ineffective measures, the anti-gun people are proving that this is not about a specific incident, it is about advancing an ideological agenda. They are using a tragedy to shout down the opposition. They did the same thing after the Giffords shooting when they insisted that a man with psychological must have been taking coded orders from Sarah Palin.

Gun rights advocates long suspected that Obama had been silent on gun control so that he would be reelected. There is a good chance that he would not have been reelected if he had supported this legislation prior to the election. While it is possible that a tragic event caused him to reevaluate his priorities, it is also possible that the tragedy simply allowed him to advance policies that he was planning on pushing during his second term, anyway.

It should also be noted that Obama is trying to exploit the tragedy in the Fiscal Cliff negotiations. That makes everything he does suspect.

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