I wanted to give enough time after Sandy Hook to address this in a respectful manner and allow some time for healing before jumping into the debate. What happened there is obviously a very emotional issue and I wanted to handle it with care. I hope I've given enough time.
Unfortunately one side of the debate is predictably using this tragedy to stir up support for their cause -- to heat up the rhetoric to a fever pitch -- with little consideration of the truth and the truth is as important here as ever. The problem comes if people allow the mob to bully them into a position, if they allow emotion to get in the way of reason, if they blindly accept the hijackers erroneous premises as truth, then people will never know the facts and sadly absolutely nothing will be gained. However, plenty will be lost. Even more peoples' rights will be stolen by an ever more intrusive government.
To be fair, I will say that I am a gun owner. I own one shotgun and one pistol. However, it would be hard for anybody to misconstrue me as a gun "enthusiast". No NRA. No Guns & Ammo. Just one 12 gauge for infrequent hunting and one 9mm because sometimes I have to carry amounts of cash. While I do understand the instinct to be fascinated by mechanical things that are loud -- I am male of course -- I see guns primarily as tools. They are tools that I learned to use safely and became comfortable with when I was in combat arms in the military.
I will say this about real gun enthusiasts, I would feel safer with them handling a gun around me than any other person. I know they respect the power of a gun and understand the potential consequences of irresponsibly handling them. They are not "nuts" or "freaks". They are merely collectors, much like those that collect figurines, Hello Kitty memorabilia, neon signs, dolls, etc.. They just collect these tools. They use these tools to hunt and just like a golfer who tries to perfect his stroke with every club in his bag, they use these tools to challenge their skills. They are not monsters.
I make a point of saying this because this is how many in the Left and in the media are painting them. At the risk of sounding crass, the Left smells blood and are more than happy to alert others to its presence. What did Rahm Emanuel say? "Never let a good crisis go to waste." Well that's what this is to the Left. It's not a tragedy for us to evaluate objectively. They've turned the tragedy into a "crisis" and aren't about to let it go to waste without blindly enacting their long held policies. They use this self-declared crisis to fan peoples' emotions having them buy into rhetoric that is baseless and couldn't be less well reasoned.
So how about we clear some of that rhetoric up. How about we drop the demagoguery and demonizing and talk FACT -- you know those things that are notably absent from the Left's argument. I know it will be hard for them to accept since they so obviously want to ignore the facts and will readily contort truth to avoid them, but for those not on the extreme Left, a fact-based discussion needs to happen. You see what's shameful and revolting is the Left's complete and purposeful ignorance of the facts while running a campaign of insinuation and misinformation in an attempt to take away Constitutionally guaranteed rights. What's also shameful and revolting is that by using this horrible tragedy to advance this misinformation and directing the discourse towards focusing on the Left's lies in an agenda driven frenzy, they are causing us to waste precious time in finding real solutions. Case in point, while the NRA's solution of having armed guards at schools will obviously work, the Left -- and the media -- ridicules it solely because it is not part of their misguided agenda. So let's go ahead and give the rhetoric...but then follow up with fact.
Rhetoric: We are having more and more mass shootings...more now than ever. They have become an epidemic. It's obvious that we need to enact strict gun controls immediately to turn this tide.
Fact: The reality is -- inconveniently to liberals -- that mass shootings are no more prevalent now than before. To insinuate otherwise is a complete untruth. In the decade of the '80s there were 36 mass shootings in the US. In the decade of the '90s there were 42 mass shootings. In the decade of the '00s? Only 26. So again...less mass shootings now than before. Of course the Left ignores that fact because it contradicts the rhetoric that drives their misguided agenda.
Rhetoric: The reason we are having all these mass shootings is that assault weapons are so readily available now. Any reasonable person can see that if we banned assault weapons, our schools and our society would be much safer. For that matter we should ban handguns too.
Fact: During the decade long "assault weapon" ban in the U.S. between Sept. '94 and Sept. '04, there were 21 mass-casualty, school-related shootings (counting only the shootings AT SCHOOLS in which there were multiple casualties NOT including the shooter -- no murder/suicides). That's nearly the same number of mass shootings at ALL LOCATIONS in decade of the '00s. The ban did NOTHING to slow the violence. In fact MASS SHOOTINGS WERE MORE PREVALENT DURING THE ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN than both before the ban was enacted and since the ban was lifted.
In 1996 the UK enacted a assault weapon and handgun ban which is still in place today. In the 5 years after the ban was put in place, murders in the UK spiked by upwards of 50%. While the rate has slowly waned, 16 years after the ban, the annual number of murders is still much higher than when the ban was put in place. With gun crimes doubling in the UK between 1998 and 2008, the UK is a much more dangerous place to live now than before the ban and in fact is much more dangerous than the US.
The same result could be seen in Washington D.C. when they effectively banned hand-guns. Their ban went into place in early 1977 as the gun murder rate for the city was trending downwards. Gun murders skyrocketed almost immediately afterwards, at one point reaching 400% the pre-ban murder rate before settling to a rate when the ban was ended (in 2008) that was still 20% higher than in 1976. At the same time the U.S. murder rate was down 11%. In 31 of the 32 years the ban was in effect the murder rate was higher than the year before the ban was put in place. Almost immediately after the ban was struck down by the courts, the murder rate plummeted to 30% below pre-ban rates.
BTW, you can't talk epidemic without some comparison. Here is where gun violence ranks as a cause of death compared to other "selected" causes. The word "selected" is important here because there are several that rank above gun violence that are not listed.
Again, the Left ignores these facts because it contradicts the rhetoric that drives their misguided agenda.
Rhetoric: It's only logical that more guns equal more crime. Those who don't see that have obviously checked their brain at the door.
Fact: One look at FBI statistics show the exact opposite. While the fact that 40 million guns made their way into owners' hands between 2001 and 2010 while the murder rate went down by 14% should disprove this liberal claim impressively enough, what may be even more convincing is that between 2005 and 2010 more than 4.5 million of those guns were sold annually while the murder rate fell 15% during that period.
In fact some of the most cited studies show gun ownership has a positive effect on crime rate. Highly regarded studies by Dr. Gary Kleck (cited in The New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Criminal Law and many other academic journals) show that nearly 2.5 MILLION crimes each year in the U.S. are thwarted by guns. And yes, that means there are more crimes thwarted by guns each year than there are felonies committed with guns.
Rhetoric: High capacity magazines are the cause of the high casualty count. Any reasonable person can see we need to ban large capacity magazines.
Fact: Large capacity magazines can be effectively replicated by using small capacity magazines and duct tape creating "flipper" magazines. Two 30 round magazines properly taped together will allow for 60 rounds to be accurately fired in about 75 seconds, while six 10 round magazines will allow for 60 rounds to be fired in about 85 seconds. So, the question is...you're going to outlaw duct tape too??? The ban will effectively do nothing to slow people determined to kill. Yet again the Left ignores that fact because it contradicts the rhetoric that drives their misguided agenda. BTW, this I learned from my time in the military. It is, however, a well known trick even outside the military though.
Rhetoric: The gun show loophole needs to be closed immediately. It obviously impacts our safety by allowing any of these mass shooters to get guns indiscriminately.
Fact: Only a minute percentage of the guns used in any of the mass shootings were purchased at gun shows and none of the guns used in any of the shootings -- and that were legally purchased, gun shows or not -- would have been restricted by a gun shop using background checks. There is absolutely no evidence that the "gun show loophole" had any effect on any of these mass shootings. In fact if it shows anything, it's that guns purchased at gun shows and legally possessed by the shooters (not stolen) are FAR LESS LIKELY to be used in mass shootings. Yet again the Left ignores that fact because it contradicts the rhetoric that drives their misguided agenda.
Rhetoric: Of course enacting "common sense" laws that "everybody" can agree on will make us all a lot safer.
Fact: "Common sense" laws don't do anything because the people doing all of the shooting ignore the laws with impunity. In fact they revel in flaunting their disregard for the law. For example, "common sense" laws dictate that we should have gun-free zones. However, four of the five highest casualty shootings over the past 20 years (Newton, Aurora, Blacksburg, Littleton) were in gun-free zones..."shockingly" proving that outlaws will disregard the law, no matter what it says. It also shows that those laws make us less safe because most shooters will choose targets of least resistance where they will encounter no real defensive measure. The idea that a criminal who blatantly defies the law will somehow magically respect the law regarding the gun he/she is pointing at you is just idiotic. Yet again the Left ignores that fact because it contradicts the rhetoric that drives their misguided agenda.
So there it is...the rhetoric and the facts. However, the unfortunate truth is that the Left and the Obama administration will happily continue to distort this truth and ignore the facts in their endless march to taking away peoples' guaranteed rights. They will gladly use this tragedy at Sandy Hook to hijack peoples' better judgement in their quest to control others. After all, they believe that rights are not firmly established as unalienable in the Constitution but rather granted to us at the whimsy of the ruling elite of the day. And tomorrow, this President takes another giant step to establish just that Leftist ideal.
So be thoughtful. Don't be fooled by these snake-oil salesmen. Consider the facts. Don't let them make you feel guilty for stating the facts. Don't be bullied by their disingenuous rhetoric. Stand firm. Make your voice heard.