Here’s the Truth About Gun Control and Crime
Jarrett Stepman /
“The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get,” Hillary Clinton tweeted.
“Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again,” she added.
The horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas began around 10 p.m. local time, or 1 a.m. EST. Eight hours later, Clinton dropped her tweets.
And she wasn’t the only one to quickly promote gun control in light of the terrible news about the shooting, which has left at least 58 dead and another 500 wounded.
While the facts are still entirely unsettled as of this writing, that didn’t stop gun control activists from immediately jumping to conclusions or answers on how to fix everything.
And while too little is known about the Las Vegas shooting to make judgments about what could or could not have prevented it, the reality is that gun ownership does not lead to more crime in the United States.
Yet, in the chaotic wake of the horrific mass shooting, proponents of gun control quickly turned the event to fit their agenda.
For instance, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., accused those who didn’t act on shootings of “cowardice.”
To my colleagues: your cowardice to act cannot be whitewashed by thoughts and prayers.
None of this ends unless we do something to stop it.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 2, 2017
Other lawmakers on the left weighed in as well:
It is long past time for Congress to take action on gun safety to save innocent lives.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 2, 2017
Tragedies like Las Vegas have happened too many times. We need to have the conversation about how to stop gun violence. We need it NOW.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) October 2, 2017
Let’s close the close the gun show loophole.
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) October 2, 2017
And there were numerous other hot takes from nonelected politicos and celebrities that veered into various levels of blaming gun rights supporters for allowing events like Las Vegas to happen.
Shooter is a white, 60+ male, armed to the teeth thanks to the NRA. Not a muslim terrorist or undocumented inmigrant. Who will Trump blame? pic.twitter.com/Er08TypiGK
— Luis Carlos Vélez (@lcvelez) October 2, 2017
The @NRA was one of the largest donors to @realDonaldTrump's campaign. They expect to get what they paid for. This admin will not do anything to prevent further violence. #LasVegas
— Sophie Ellman-Golan (@EgSophie) October 2, 2017
Prayers are important but @SpeakerRyan @realDonaldTrump blood is on the hands of those who have power to legislate. #GunControl act quickly. https://t.co/bXZQ7enuEp
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) October 2, 2017
Durn tootin’, great shootin’. Cool dude sertin’ he’s 2nd Mendment rahts. Hell yeah!
Every country has its psychopaths. In US they have guns
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) October 2, 2017
The NRA stokes fear to achieve political ends, relentlessly works to put weapons of mass destruction in the hands of individuals. Terrorism. https://t.co/zlDNrFmFMY
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) October 2, 2017
And all of this before even the most basic facts have been ascertained. The Associated Press reported that ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting, but the FBI says there is no connection. The details of the case are simply a confusing mess and it is difficult to ascertain the shooter’s motives, how he acquired the firearm(s), or even what firearm(s) he used to conduct the attack.
While it is unwise to draw too many conclusions about what happened in Las Vegas, in the face of the relentless assault on gun rights and misinformation it is important to note some false narratives that have been spread in the last 24 hours.
Take Clinton’s claim about silencers. She was immediately denounced for this statement as being “ignorant” of how suppressors work. Even a Washington Post reporter wrote that the debate over silencers “isn’t really relevant” to what happened in Las Vegas.
And both The Washington Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler and conservative pundit Dana Loesch pushed back on Clinton’s claim:
Actually, even with "a silencer," it's pretty loud. An AR-15 rifle would have a noise equivalent to a jack hammer. https://t.co/rL1YFuAB5b https://t.co/YE9smBZqGG
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) October 2, 2017
Suppressors only reduce by a few decibels, still same decibel level as a jackhammer. https://t.co/aj0AvJMZwv
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) October 2, 2017
A study released earlier this year by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives found that while there were 1.3 million registered suppressors in the country last year, there were only 44 suppressor-related crimes recommended for prosecution.
The details about the weapons the shooter used are still not clear, but some have called for a ban on automatic weapons—basically machine guns—on top of other gun control measures.
However, federal laws dating back to the 1930s already on the books strictly regulate the sale and purchase of these kinds of firearms.
Sean Davis at The Federalist did an excellent job of explaining how tightly controlled automatic weapon sales are in the United States:
Only licensed entities are permitted to manufacture, sell, or own [fully automatic weapons]. Private civilian ownership of machine guns is illegal unless the individual has been explicitly permitted by the federal ATF to own them. All fully automatic weapons must be registered with the federal government in a central registry with no exceptions.
There is also a tax on these items—and they’re not cheap since only weapons produced before 1986 are allowed to be sold.
Of course, with the right tools and skills, it is still possible to create a fully automatic weapon, which some experts say may have been what the Las Vegas shooter did to carry out his murders.
Nevertheless, these weapons are incredibly difficult to obtain.
The events that took place in Las Vegas on Sunday night were an atrocity. But it must be noted that wicked individuals have found ways to conduct mass murder and terrorism through a variety of means both legal and illegal: guns, knives, acid, planes, and trucks.
The list goes on and on.
As numerous studies have shown, gun ownership is not necessarily connected to crime rates, and in fact may make crime go down. A 2016 report from the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action noted that:
As gun ownership has risen to an all-time high, the nation’s total violent crime rate has fallen to a 44-year low and the murder rate has fallen to an all-time low. Since 1991, when violent crime hit an all-time high, the nation’s violent crime rate and its murder rate have decreased by more than half, as Americans have acquired over 170 million new guns, roughly doubling the number of privately owned guns in the United States.
Furthermore, concealed carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding of any demographic group in America.
For these reasons and many others, gun control has fizzled as an issue even as its proponents continue to push the narrative.
The fact is, a majority of Americans just don’t see gun control as the answer to crime, violence, and terrorism.
As Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Ky., put it on Twitter, we live in a fallen world and ultimately can’t regulate evil.
To all those political opportunists who are seizing on the tragedy in Las Vegas to call for more gun regs…You can't regulate evil…
— Governor Matt Bevin (@GovMattBevin) October 2, 2017
Sometimes, in the face of horror, there are no policies or prescriptions that apply besides the courage and sacrifice of those who are good.