Why gun control won’t stop mass shootings


To start to do something about the horror of mass-murder terrorism in the United States, it would help if we focused more on real fixes instead of gun control. President Obama advocates laws that would likely accomplish zip as his rhetoric puts record numbers of guns on the streets.

The New York Times, in a data-driven story, quoted one financial analyst as echoing the sort of thing dozens of others have underlined – that Obama is the best gun salesman the country has ever seen.

Whenever Obama speaks of guns, people rush to retailers before new laws get in the way. Look at monthly tallies of firearm purchases and it’s easy to believe an estimate that 100 million guns have been sold during his administration. He is not the only factor, but he has helped, and even if his gun-control proposals became law and were as effective as he dreams, they would not undo what he has done.

In fact, they would do next to nothing. For instance, he wants more and better background checks, and like most Americans, I am willing to go along. But there are 300 million guns in America and getting hold of one is not taxing despite many existing laws.

He would also like to forbid gun purchases by people whose names are on a list. They, too, could get guns easily and the last thing we need is a precedent of denying rights because of a government list.

Obama wants a ban on assault weapons. Assault weapons are used in mass murders, but other rifles have the same capacities. The number of killings by all rifles and shotguns, including assault weapons, are no more than the annual killings by swinging fists and kicking feet.

Guns obviously facilitate killing, but the issue in gun homicides is culture; Russia, with far fewer guns per capita than the United States, has four times the murder rate.

Gun limits ordinarily have little if any effect. Some say Australia is proof to the contrary without noting a big part of its program was reimbursed confiscation. We’re going to try that? England banned handguns and saw homicides go up for five years. Finally it improved police protection, things got better, and here is where Obama should look.

Since 1993, gun homicides in America have dropped by half. A major cause was almost certainly more cops on the beat and more sophisticated policing. Obama does not seem to have learned from that, repeatedly castigating cops as racist. As shown by analysts such as Heather Mac Donald of Manhattan Institute, cops appear more worried about the consequences of proactive law enforcement, with the consequence of violent crime going up.

The Orlando shooting was horrific, and much can and should be done to fight radical Islam, and to combat violent crime generally. But there are also ways of making things worse while achieving little.