Radical anti-gun politicians, such as Colorado Senate President John Morse, do more to grow the gun culture than the National Rifle Association could dream of.
The slaughter of 20 children and six school faculty, on the heels of mass murder at Aurora’s Century 16 theater, should not be used for political expedience. These tragedies should not pose opportunity for liberals to ban guns or conservatives to suggest that more guns for all Americans will bring about world peace.
Enough with the crass political grandstanding in the wake of senseless human destruction. Politicians who propose solutions to these crises should be held accountable and asked to explain exactly how their new laws would save lives.
Gun control advocates, exploiting the Sandy Hook massacre for political expedience, have sent Americans rushing to gun stores and gun shows to buy whatever they fear government will forbid. Visit any gun store or expo, anywhere in the country, and customers will be waiting in lines. Sellers will be low on ammunition and military-style rifles the media refer to as “assault weapons.” The FBI reports that background checks for gun purchases have reached an unprecedented high in the two months since Sandy Hook.
“We have never seen anything like this,” said North Carolina gun store owner Larry Hyatt, in a recent interview with ABC News. “We have the Christmas business, the hunting season business, and now we have the political business. We have seen a lot of things, but we have never seen anything like this. This is probably four times bigger than the last time we saw a big rush.”
Media organizations have interviewed customers in gun stores who never considered buying weapons before politicians reacted to Sandy Hook with gun control ideas.
The mere talk of gun control has put more guns into private hands than any anti-gun legislation will ever remove. Americans from all walks of life, representing a variety of political persuasions, have made clear they will not be deprived of whatever guns they want.
The last major federal attempt at gun control was the “assault weapons” ban of 1994, which also banned magazines that held more than 10 rounds. It created a pre-ban run on military-style rifles and magazines. After the ban took effect, Americans bought record numbers of “assault weapons” and large magazines from other countries. The black market of banned guns and magazines flourished like never before. Government allowed the bans to expire in 2004. A post-ban study by the University of Pennsylvania, financed by the Justice Department, found no meaningful gun-crime reduction associated with the ban.
FBI background checks tell us that legal gun purchases have surged in recent years, by about 30 percent overall from one year to the next and by 40 percent in retail stores. Yet FBI data also show that gun murders in the United States have been on a steady decline, dropping a full 14 percent between 2010 and 2011.
It is reasonable to react with alarm and outrage after a massacre, but it is fallacy to suspect that gun violence has been on the rise in recent years.
Morse, a Colorado Springs Democrat, wants a law that would hold makers and sellers of “assault weapons” financially liable for murders committed with those weapons. It sounds good, until one learns that some common hunting rifles deliver more firepower than most of the weapons Morse wants to demonize. The largest school massacre in our country’s history killed 45 people, mostly children, in Bath, Mich., in 1927. The killer, a man angry about losing his race for township clerk, used a homemade bomb — not a gun, much less an “assault” rifle. The Virginia Tech killer used no “assault” rifle. An honest review of history’s most tragic massacres reveals that most proposed gun-control measures would have done nothing to stop them if the laws had been enacted in advance and successfully enforced.
Though most of the post-tragedy grandstanding has come from the anti-gun political left, politicians on the right also pretend they have solutions. Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, introduced a now-defunct bill that would have facilitated lawsuits against business that ban guns and fail to provide armed on-site security.
We cannot condone conservative politicians telling owners of private businesses, or their customers, how to remain safe. Gun rights are grounded in a belief that law-abiding individuals make the best decisions when government leaves them alone.
Most Americans dread the next mass killing and would do almost anything to stop it. Politicians who pander to this fear, with empty platitudes and proposals that do more harm than good, need to examine their consciences.