Commentary

The Gun Debate Is Divorced From Reality

on

The moment news broke about the shooting in Orlando — now the nation’s most deadly mass shooting — it was only a matter of time until Americans everywhere called for a “national conversation” about guns.

It took even less time for that national conversation to devolve into, predictably, an absurd farce.

This was by no means simply a matter of liberals being ridiculous. Conservatives are not immune, either, to using tragedy to make completely invalid points based entirely on political ideology.

Any time you hear about some hypothetical parallel universe where people at the nightclub were armed to the teeth and would turn full Rambo on the gunman, if only they were armed, you know the conversation is already beyond saving.

But it was the left that went almost immediately insane, using dead bodies in an attempt to prey on the sorrow and guilt felt by all Americans, to make it more likely their meaningless, platitude-filled gun confiscation agenda is passed.

It didn’t matter that the shooter passed multiple background checks, had a Florida license to carry and survived two FBI terrorism investigations. No, the solution we should grope for in the aftermath of this tragedy is…more background checks?

This is the universe we inhabit after gun violence. We aren’t systematically attacking the core reasons the gun violence happens — in this case a radical Islamic ideology toxically mixed with a sad, violent, homophobic and clearly disturbed human being.

Rather, in our intense and understandable desire to “do something” — we end up proposing ideas that had basically nothing to do with the incident that just happened.

Background checks, even though he passed background checks. Removing a constitutional right for something as simple as being investigated by the FBI, even though the FBI investigated this man and dropped that investigation. Banning the AR-15, even though that weapon wasn’t used in this attack. And of course, banning “assault weapons,” when that term is a meaningless political invention that really means “guns that I think are scary.”

The rhetoric being used around the issue of guns is almost incomprehensibly divorced from reality. It is driven by hatred and fear of firearms, a lack of understanding of them, and a desire to eliminate guns entirely.

That combination produces “solutions” that would never produce results, but succeed in attacking gun ownership in general.

Take the unquantifiably large number of people who used this tragedy to call for a ban on “automatic weapons.” Yet automatic weapons have been effectively restricted from the public for decades. The weapon used in this shooting was a semi-automatic rifle, not an automatic.

The public’s perceptions of the types of weapon used in this attack are built largely on movies and television, where heroes and villains alike grab “assault weapons” and fire hundreds of rounds, indiscriminately at their enemies, mowing them down in no time flat.

But that didn’t happen here. Many automatic weapons can fire 900 to 1,000 rounds per minute of continuous fire. The weapon used in this attack can fire between 45 to 60 rounds per minute, because the operator has to pull the trigger for each shot. That is the same rate of fire as a semi-automatic pistol can achieve.

So why the outrage for this gun, but not a pistol that can do the same amount of damage? Magazine size, you say? Yes, that is also a popular solution to gun violence, but it is just as meaningless.

At Columbine in 1999, the shooters used a Hi-Point 995, which used small, ten-round magazines. The shooter, Eric Harris, got around this problem by — wait for it — simply bringing more magazines, 13 of which were found at the scene. Despite the small magazine size, Harris was able to fire 96 rounds before killing himself. So yes, pistols can do as much damage as “assault rifles” (sometimes more depending on the type of ammunition) and limits on magazine size do not decrease the amount of damage anyone can do.

So why then? Because it looks scary? The pistol grip? The flash hiders? The collapsable stocks? None of those things makes the scary-looking rifle any more lethal than a traditional rifle that looks far less scary.

And ultimately that is the point in this gun debate. Nearly every solution — short of forcible government confiscation of firearms — pushed by the left is based in emotional non-solutions that won’t change anything.

Yet round and round we go. We all want solutions, but you can’t craft real solutions when you are so divorced from reality.

*This article originally appeared in the BDN.

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center. Prior to his tenure at MHPC, Matt spent eight years working in national politics in Washington, D.C., most recently as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association. A Hampden native, Matt is a nationally recognized political strategist and communicator.

Recommended for you

Comments