Happens every time. All you need is one good shooting, Barack says a few words about how we need to do something to end gun violence, and we are treated to the nonsense about how there is no gun violence. That they happen to use a gun to kill either themselves or someone else 31,000 times a year, oh well, it’s a small price to pay for the fact that all those armed citizens are walking around and protecting us from millions of crimes each year.
And what’s the response from people who sincerely want to see gun violence brought under control? Please don’t misunderstand us – we’re not against the 2nd Amendment, we’re just for some sensible gun laws. And I’d be the first one to sit down with the NRA or one of their sycophantic mouthpieces like John Lott to come up with some reasonable solutions to the problem. But the other side isn’t interested in reasonable solutions because there’s no problem. And if you want proof that gun violence in America isn’t a problem, all you have to do is compare our gun violence rate to rates in other countries, particularly gun violence that takes the form of mass shootings, and you’ll quickly understand that we are, in fact, a very non-violent country after all.
The CDC first listed gun violence as a public health issue in 1981, and it has made the yearly CDC list ever since. Remember who was President in 1981? A guy named Reagan who remains the most iconic figure for the Conservative movement, which also happens to be the pro-gun movement, notwithstanding the fact that Reagan signed a major piece of gun-control legislation while he was Governor of California, and also later came out explicitly against hi-cap magazines in the run-up to the assault rifle ban in 1994. But in those days you could be a Conservative and still be in favor of sensible gun controls. That was then and this is now.
And now means that when the President says something, anything about guns, the media immediately goes out to solicit a response from the other side, meaning the self-appointed guardians of American exceptionalism as exemplified by the 2nd Amendment and the Confederate flag. Not that a single, Republican presidential candidate is willing to say what the residents of South Carolina should do about the stars and bars, but they’re sure willing to tell everyone what we should do about guns, which is that we should do nothing at all. So what do we end up with? Not an informed and intelligent debate about gun violence, but a spectacle that is so stupid and senseless that we really shouldn’t be having a debate at all.
Here’s how dumb it gets. John Lott goes on a conservative radio show and immediately labels Barack’s comment about our ‘unique’ propensity for mass shootings to be “bizarre.” And what’s his proof that the President got it all wrong? He pulls the 2011 Norway shooting which killed 67 people out of his hat. But there’s only one problem which neither he nor his talk-show host bothered to mention, namely, that the attack at a summer camp on Utoya Island was the only mass shooting that occurred in Norway between 2000 and 2014, while over the same period the U.S. experienced at least more than 130 mass shootings that claimed nearly 500 lives.
I think it’s time for my friends in the gun-sense movement, or the gun-safety movement, or whatever they are calling themselves these days to declare a moratorium on debates over whether we have a gun violence problem after all. Because as long as we continue to be seduced by the notion that both sides deserve ‘equal time,’ what we are going to get is not an argument against reasonable gun controls, but an argument against any kind of gun controls. And since that argument has nothing to do with facts, it’s an argument that you just can’t win.