The Imagined Cure-All: Gun Control


The Imagined Cure-All: Gun Control

Ryan McMaken

Predictably, in the wake of the shooting, gun control advocates have already seized on the tragedy to push for preferred legislation. They like to portray the US as an exceptionally violent place, and claim the reason is too little gun control.

Forgotten, of course, is the French Bataclan Theater shooting, which resulted in 130 deaths. Forgetten, of course, is the 2016 Brussels airport bombing which took 35 lives. Forgotten is the spate of car-rammings, including the Nice, France, massacre which alone took the lives of 86 innocent people.

Indeed, if we look at mass-murder events such as these public rammings and shootings in 2016 and 2017 — and thus excluding the 2015 Bataclan Theater shooting — we end up with a total of approximately 140 victims in Western Europe, and around 120 victims in the US (this includes the Orlando shooting.) This alleged juxtaposition between chaotic America and serene Europe appears to be rather misplaced.2

Moreover, as total gun sales in the US climbed repeatedly in the 1990s and the 2000s, homicide rates fell. Stringent gun control laws are common in Latin America, yet homicide rates are much higher in that region than in the more laissez-faire United States. Clearly, gun control does not explain away differing levels of violence absent consideration of other factors.

Government Won’t Protect Us

Shootings in night clubs and theaters simply are not matters requiring national policy. Nor is the challenge of stopping terrorists from driving trucks through crowds of revelers, as has happened repeatedly in Europe in recent years. Prevention in these cases require that security personnel on the scene employ competent security to control what goes on inside their own buildings and venues.

The knee-jerk appeal to national policy such as nationwide gun control, however, highlights what happens when the private sector blithely relies on a disinterested government to provide security instead. In the US, the Supreme Court has ruled (in Castle Rock vs. Gonzalez) that police are not obligated to provide protection to citizens. As a result, de facto policy is that the lives of police officers receive priority over that of members of the public. It also means that government police are protected from any liability should they be AWOL or incompetent when homicidal maniacs unleash themselves on the public. Thus, there is absolutely no reason to expect public-sector police agencies to provide security at night clubs, movie theaters, or large public events.

Nor is there any reason to simply sit back and assume that gun control will protect us. Experience in high-gun-control zones like Latin AmericaRussia, and Europe suggests otherwise.

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