The Trouble With Do-Somethingism on Guns

Before we even knew how the killer of 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, had obtained his guns, Sen. Chris Murphy was engaging in his customary performative emotionalism on the Senate floor, literally begging Republicans to “compromise.”

What compromise? Murphy has never offered any proposal that would have stopped these mass shooters. Murphy was asked about the mental illness that is most common among these shooters just minutes after his routine. “Spare me the bulls— about mental illness,” the Connecticut senator responded, “ripping” the GOP. “We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world.” That’s how serious he is about compromise.

These incidents, regardless of whether America is more susceptible to mental illness or not are almost exclusively committed by young men who have displayed serious antisocial behavior. They all violate a variety of laws. All of them have illegally acquired guns or obtained them legally before they have any criminal records. In many, if not most, cases, the shooter is already on the cops’ radar because he has threatened others or written insane, violent manifestos.

In a study of mass shootings from 2008 to 2017, the Secret Service found that “100 percent of perpetrators showed concerning behaviors, and in 77 percent of shootings, at least one person—most often a peer—knew about their plan.”

Rather than focusing on these tangible entry points for potentially useful legislation, instead of proposing ideas on better identifying shooters before they act, instead of thinking about how schools could be structurally safer, instead of debating the efficacy of putting more cops in schools—and none of these are panaceas, mind you—Senate Democrats were busy dunking on Republicans for failing to support bills that have absolutely zero to do with mass shootings.

Sen. Chuck Schumer had planned to introduce H.R. H.R. 8, an expanded background checking bill, and H.R. 1446, a bill that would close the alleged “Charleston Loophole” (before he realized it wouldn’t be politically expedient). “Alleged” because Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, got a clean background check, not because of any “loophole,” but because local prosecutors had failed to respond to the FBI’s request for information. It was either human error, or negligence.

So maybe Democrats should be promoting a “law-enforcement-should-do-its-job” bill. Because all “universal” background checks do is stop friends and families from gifting guns. As Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Murphy know, straw purchases are already illegal. It is not the same as requiring stricter drivers’ tests after a hit & run, but passing an expanded background check after a school shooting.

Democrats, obsessed with largely irrelevant issues like AR-15s and “universal background checks,” are largely living in the early 1990s. President Joe Biden’s address to the nation consisted of a litany of hackneyed talking points he’s been regurgitating for decades now—including that transcendently stupid joke about deer in Kevlar. “As a nation, we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Biden said—again.

Democrats love to hammer the strawman “gun lobby” because they don’t want to openly attack tens of millions of gun owners. The National Rifle Association, whose power has significantly diminished over the past decades, could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn’t alter gun policy one bit. Either another organization would emerge—probably a more rigid one—or gun owners and Second Amendment advocates (we’re in the midst of the largest expansion of gun ownership in American history) would continue voting for politicians who oppose restrictions aimed at peaceful gun ownership.

Republicans will be confronted with a slew of absurd smears. “There is no such thing as being ‘pro-life’ while supporting laws that let children be shot in their schools, elders in grocery stores, worshippers in their houses of faith, survivors by abusers, or anyone in a crowded place,” Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

This was indicative the demented accusations being made these days. One suspects liberals who take to the internet to accuse Republicans of abetting infanticide aren’t really interested in compromise. Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, who champions laws that empower people to terminate the lives of the viable unborn, I don’t know of a single Republican who supports the gunning down of elementary school children.

Indeed, law-abiding Americans have no obligation to take ownership of a madman’s actions. They are not required to give up their right to self defense in order to limit gun ownership. Chris Murphy has made many comments that show this. That’s his right, of course. He should try to repeal Second Amendment.

However, Democrats who are interested in genuine compromise will want to offer real, productive, and relevant ideas until then.


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