Some notes on the flood of discussions about gun control after the Navy Yard Shooting

David Frum almost instantly had an op-ed about the need for gun control after the shooting.  David sets up straw men: implying that those who oppose government regulation of guns are unwilling to do simple cost-benefit analysis.  But David's big point here is we must act immediately:
I write on the day of the killing. Gun enthusiasts say it is inappropriate to talk about gun violence at the time it occurs. Better to wait ... and wait ... and wait ... until time has passed, and the weeping next of kin have vanished from TV, and it’s safe to return to business as usual. . . .
Some such as Senator Diane Feinstein was already pushing for regulations that were quickly shown to be based on a misunderstanding about what had happened on Monday.
The fatal shootings at the Washington Navy Yard are evidence that Congress is “shirking its responsibility” on the gun debate, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Monday. 
The California Democrat said the type of guns allegedly used by the shooter, including an AR-15, were evidence that Congress needs to do more. Earlier this year, a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks failed in the Senate by a narrow margin, while an assault weapons ban from Feinstein was also defeated. . . . .
Feinstein doesn't seem to have made a follow up statement correcting her original inaccurate statement about an AR-15 being used.  House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer claimed:
“I’m sure that it will renew the discussions about access to weapons that can be used to kill a lot of people quickly,” he said.
He went on to claim that people really support more gun control, even though they don't show up at the polls.
“Public opinion does not manifest itself at the polls,” he told reporters. “What manifests itself at the polls is the hardline groups that energize their voters, their single-issue voters to vote.” 
He added, “The people who show up at the polls are the people who are motivated by their, in my opinion, unfounded fear that their guns are going to be taken away from them.” . . .
As I have noted previously, I think that these poll claims are quite misleading.

Some publications such as the New York Daily News also quickly jumped into the debate with a front page picture of an AR-15.

Of course, they weren't alone in their calls for more regulations.  From Politico:
Monday’s events left advocates calling for more action from the White House and Congress, with some arguing that the series of shootings was having a cumulative effect on the public even if the latest spree seemed unlikely to be as nationally searing as Sandy Hook. 
“I think the country and indeed the president have reached the tipping point not because of one mass shooting but because of an aggregate drip, drip, drip of more and more mass shootings,” said Mark Glaze of Mayors Against Illegal Guns — a group New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg formed to do battle with the National Rifle Association over the issue. “Every time this happens, it throws additional fuel on a fire already blazing pretty high.” . . .
One of the reasons for waiting a little big is that those pushing gun control really just want to reduce gun ownership.  In particular, the push has been to tax and impose fees to reduce gun ownership.  There is also little discussion of whether the benefits actually exceed the costs.  Possibly the reason that the laws aren't passed when an extended discussion is allowed to occur is that the costs are greater than the benefits.

All that said, Harry Reid said that he would like to push for a vote, but he doesn't yet have the votes.
“We’re going to move this up as quickly as we can, but we’ve got to have the votes first,” Reid told reporters. “We don’t have the votes. I hope we get them, but we don’t have them now.” . . .
But it hasn't stopped Obama from continuing to push for gun control on Saturday.  From Fox News:

Days after mass shootings in both of his hometowns, President Barack Obama urged his most ardent supporters Saturday "to get back up and go back at it" and help push stalled legislation out of Congress so dangerous people won't get their hands on guns. 
"We can't rest until all of our children can go to school or walk down the street free from the fear that they will be struck down by a stray bullet," Obama said in a keynote speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual awards dinner. 
Legislation calling for expanded background checks failed to clear the Senate earlier this year despite a strong push by Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, people whose loved ones had been killed by gunfire and other gun-control advocates. 
The bill was part of a package of measures Obama promised to put the full weight of his office behind after 20 first-graders and six educators were killed last December in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. . . .

Finally, take a specific claim in David Frum's piece.
Most gun casualties occur in the course of quarrels and accidents between people who would be described as “law-abiding, responsible gun owners” up until the moment when they lost their temper or left a weapon where a 4-year-old could find it and kill himself or his sister. . . .
-- Actually, as I showed in More Guns, Less Crime, about 90 percent of adult murderers have a violent criminal record.  About 89 percent of juvenile murderers have a criminal record for serious crimes.

-- In 2010, there were 36 accidental deaths involving kids under age 10.  Most of those children were also shot by adults with criminal records.  Accidental deaths are very small portion of total gun deaths.  You can look up the data for other ages or all ages here (http://webappa.cdc.gov/cgi-bin/broker.exe).  Note that "unintentional" means "accidental."  If you want to look up other issues there, please note that the CDC measures homicides differently than the FBI.



Blogger Unknown said...

Dr. Lott, I am hoping that you will update your book, "More Guns, Less Crime". I purchased a copy at a "Friends of the NRA" dinner in Westminster and you autographed it. Thank you for your good work. E David Silverberg towsonlawyer@yahoo.com

9/22/2013 7:42 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

These liberal bastards wouldn't know the truth if it bit them in the backside! It is so terribly irritating that the press lets them get away with their drivel.

9/23/2013 2:25 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Thanks, David, but the last update was in 2010. You are looking for something updated already from the third edition? Thanks.

9/23/2013 9:24 PM  

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