Four More, Part 2: Q&A

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This is the second installment of questions and answers, meant to show you one approach to advocating for gun rights in a constructive way when interacting with people who are skeptical of gun rights but open to discussion.

But the shooter was able to murder all those people … why was he allowed to have a gun that can shoot so many rounds per second?

Illustration By: Brian Fairrington

There is an intuitive connection in public consciousness between a gun’s potential rate of fire and the number of casualties in a rampage murder, but the reality is a lot more complicated than that. When we see attacks such as the Orlando Night Club and Las Vegas Concert, we should expect questions about how a person can own a gun that can deliver so much carnage so quickly. In many cases though, the environment actually exacerbates the carnage.

A crowded, contained venue with limited exits is really what drives the casualties up. That count rises further if responders are unable to enter the site quickly. Regardless of the weapon, if you have a lot of people packed into a small space with no escape — a dance club, a concert or even some schools — a rampage murder is going to turn into mass murder quickly.

The Ozone Disco Fire in 1996 killed almost three times as many victims as the Las Vegas Route 66 Concert shooting. A quick internet search of disco fires and stadium stampedes will show you that the mechanism is a small factor compared to the venue.

Since all rights have limits, why can’t ‘assault weapons’ be off-limits?

We have about as many limits on guns as people like me find tolerable. You have to be specially licensed to sell guns commercially. You have to pass a background check to buy a gun from a commercial dealer. You have to go through a special process to own a suppressor, short-barreled shotgun, short-barreled rifle or exotic firearm. In many states, you have to be specially licensed to carry a loaded, concealed handgun out in public.

With that in mind, someone wishing to restrict guns further needs to make a convincing argument that the restriction is worthwhile. In a free country, the burden should always be on the group wanting to make a restriction. And we already know whether an “assault weapons” ban will be effective because we had one in place from 1994-2004.

No one can show any compelling evidence that the ban made a measurable difference in violent crime or mass murder. So, the best the pro-restriction camp can say is: “Well, maybe it might help; we have to do something!” That isn’t good enough. We would never accept that logic to justify any other restriction.

Although proponents of enhanced gun control point to countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia as success stories, they are overlooking that those two countries have very broad, sweeping gun bans. They are also missing that the U.K. and Australia are islands with greater ability to control the flow of contraband than we will ever have. Our numbers are bad compared to any single European Union country, but we as a country are more comparable to the entire E.U. In that regard, our stats aren’t much worse.

One also has to sort through the B.S. in the stats. It doesn’t matter if a country has fewer “mass shootings;” what matters is if a country has fewer “mass murders” — getting stabbed or bombed to death is just as bad as getting shot to death, and it is deceptive to qualify stats like that.

Anything involving ‘muskets,’ ‘compensating for manhood’ or ‘deer.’

Come back when you are ready to have a real conversation.

Why won’t they let the Centers for Disease Control even research gun violence?

The U.S. government does all kinds of gun-violence research and, in fact, has an entire government agency almost exclusively dedicated to researching this very topic: the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. The FBI also does substantial research on it, and even the CDC researches and publishes morbidity and mortality data related to gun violence. What the CDC isn’t allowed to engage in is advocacy on gun policy.

The anti-gun crowd realized they could influence public opinion more substantially if they could portray gun violence through a public-health lens. In essence, they saw the impact of warnings on cigarettes and had a strategic “ah-ha!” moment. If gun-control advocates were serious about research, the BJS research would be plenty for them. And the funny thing about that research? A lot of it shows either no value in gun-control initiatives or too-small-to-be-measured value in those initiatives.

It’s not the answer they want to hear, so they want to fund a different agency that might give them answers they DO want to hear. Let the CDC focus on AIDS, Zika, Ebola, heart disease and cancers. But leave the crime research to the Department of Justice.

Doyle is a concerned citizen and gun rights advocate. His opinions are his alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of this or any other agency. References and links to other gun advocacy sites do not imply endorsement of those organizations. He can be reached at Jim@tacticaltangents.com.

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