President Obama politicized the Oregon mass shooting yesterday. He made it difficult for his hackish supporters to deny he was doing so, telling assembled reporters that gun violence is “something we should politicize.”
Obama did not explain how any particular law would have prevented the shooting yesterday, since basic facts were not known when he spoke — such as whether the gun had been obtained legally, or whether it had been a so-called “assault weapon.” No matter. His was a simplistic argument for a simple-minded audience: it was a shooting, so we need more gun laws. The details of whether any new laws would have actually mattered were irrelevant details, as they always are.
Notably, the fact that the shooting happened in a “gun-free zone” — as these mass shootings almost always do — was not mentioned.
The closest Obama came to making an argument about the efficacy of gun control was to refer to the case of Britain. But as economist Thomas Sowell has noted, gun control laws have never made America safer — even when New York had them and London didn’t:
The few counter-examples offered by gun control zealots do not stand up under scrutiny. Perhaps their strongest talking point is that Britain has stronger gun control laws than the United States and lower murder rates.
But, if you look back through history, you will find that Britain has had a lower murder rate than the United States for more than two centuries – and, for most of that time, the British had no more stringent gun control laws than the United States. Indeed, neither country had stringent gun control for most of that time.
In the middle of the 20th century, you could buy a shotgun in London with no questions asked. New York, which at that time had had the stringent Sullivan Law restricting gun ownership since 1911, still had several times the gun murder rate of London, as well as several times the London murder rate with other weapons.
Neither guns nor gun control was not the reason for the difference in murder rates. People were the difference.
Sometimes it helps to look at trend lines. Truths emerge that you might otherwise have missed.
Meanwhile, early reports said the shooter was singling out Christians:
“[He started] asking people one by one what their religion was. ‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian, stand up. And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them,” Stacy Boylen, whose daughter was wounded at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., told CNN.
Does that sound like a guy who was going to be stopped by a law? Or only by a bullet?