Another terrorist attack, another refusal by President Barack Obama to tell the truth. Instead of admitting that Islamic terrorists had staged another murderous assault on innocent people, he turned the victims into a political prop. Instead of explaining how he intended to stop terrorists from killing Americans, he launched another campaign to stop Americans from owning guns.
As Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., pointed out, America’s best defense against violence is law-abiding folks arming themselves. The tragedy of San Bernardino did not happen because good people owned guns. Yet the effect of gun control is to ensure that only bad guys have guns.
Does anyone really believe that a determined terrorist won’t be able to get a firearm to kill someone whatever the law says? Tough restrictions haven’t stopped gun-toting terrorists in Russia and Europe, including, most recently, Paris. Other killers, too, typically flouted existing laws to get guns.
The argument for gun control is largely built on lies. For instance, the latest claim is that there is a “mass shooting” every day — 355 cases in 336 days, to be exact. The number is a fraud. It even includes people injured running away from a gunman!
Using a more normal definition, author Grant Duwe found 116 “mass shootings” in the entire 20th Century. The Congressional Research Service reported 66 from 1999 to 2013. Even these numbers tell us little, since they include gang shoot-outs, crimes that deteriorate into gun battles, and violent disputes among acquaintances.
The best way to stop the remaining cases is to allow potential victims to be armed. The San Bernardino terrorists could assume that they would be the only people in the room with guns. No matter how good the police, cops are only able to respond after being called. If people at the party had been armed, the result would have been far different.
Some firearm critics believe gun ownership inevitably leads to crime. Yet Switzerland has stayed free through near universal military service, reserve duty, and gun ownership. Police states like Cuba and Russia restrict gun ownership but have higher homicide rates than America. Australia, the United Kingdom, and other nations found no reduction in crime after restricting or banning gun ownership. Europe has many “mass shootings” despite its tough gun control laws.
Perhaps more telling is the fact noted by Charles Cooke of National Review: crime rates and gun killings in the U.S. have dropped even as Americans have purchased an extra 100 million firearms over the last quarter century. The gun homicide rate has dropped almost in half.
Too many people still die of gun violence in the U.S., but that really means too many people die of violence. The problem is not gun ownership.
Another claim is that no honest person needs an “assault weapon.” But despite the fearsome name, these firearms just shoot one bullet at a time like rifles and pistols. The term simply applies to guns with detachable magazines and pistol grips. “Assault weapons” are not automatic weapons, which remain strictly controlled.
California even bans assault weapons, which did not stop the San Bernardino duo. Anyway, rifles of all sorts account for only a few percent of gun deaths, and fewer killings even than from knives or weaponless brawls.
Gun control fans also argue that there’s no justification for a big clip with 20 or 30 bullets. Sure, no celebrity—or important politician—with a couple of bodyguards needs one. Nor does a liberal professional living in a gated community with private security. But someone of modest means stuck in a dangerous neighborhood facing a home invasion by two or three thugs might think differently.
A few basic facts remain. There is no correlation between state gun laws and murder rates. States which have a lot of gun killings have a lot of killings by other means too.
The majority of gun deaths are suicides, which tragically are difficult to prevent by any means. Most guns used by criminals are gained through friends and acquaintances; more than enough are available to ensure that criminals will have access to them irrespective of the law.
In short, the facts tell us that additional gun control measures only would penalize the honest. But there remains a more basic point. Law-abiding Americans have a constitutional right to own firearms not only for sport, but also self-defense.
The atrocity in San Bernardino proved once again that even the best police department can’t protect you when someone starts shooting. A legal firearm can.
Terrorism and violent crime remain threats to all Americans. Let’s punish terrorists and criminals rather than the rest of us.
Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow and member of the policy board of the American Civil Rights Union.