There was a collage of Republican presidential candidates telling us there is nothing we can do about guns and gun violence. Basically “stuff happens”, learn to live with it. Roughly 86 people a day die a day from gun violence, 31 are murdered and 55 commit suicide. 46 are shoot or killed in an accident with a gun, and 151 propel are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room every day. (Brady Campaign). Now the only thing the Republicans have right is that the violence we are seeing is part and parcel of the easy access to guns and the reading of the 2nd Amendment that it is our basic right, like free speech, to have a gun. So first I want to give you sampling of what each said, and take it apart. I want to respond to each with data. Then I want to take on their favorite argument that none of the gun regulations that are proposed would have stopped the Oregon massacre. So first here are the Republican candidates:
Jeb Bush: We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everyone else. It’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion—and I had this challenge as governor—because we had—look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
Response: See Washington Post link below for “stuff happens”. It is true that without a thought out response, there can be unintended consequences. If you assume as these guys do, that access to guns is an absolute right, there are no laws that will help. I don’t think that is what the Constitution says and neither does earlier Supreme Courts. But if you don’t buy that, then there are lots of examples, Australia being one of the best, about how we can establish guns laws that do reduce this carnage. The answers are out there, they just don’t want to look and they certainly don’t want data that shows they are effective.
Donald Trump: “You are going to have these things happen and it is a horrible thing to behold, horrible.” …”Well the gun laws have nothing to do with this. This isn’t guns this is about really mental illness. And I feel very strongly about it. And again politically correct, ‘Oh we’re gonna solve the problem, there’ll be no problem, etc., etc,”
Response: This is pretty much the Jeb Bush response. See discussion and link below for whether gun laws will have an impact on gun violence. Short answer, of course it does and the Donald is a fact free zone and full of shit.
Marco Rubio: “I always find it interesting that the reflexive action of left is that we need more gun laws. Criminals don’t follow guns laws, only law biding people follow gun laws. ”
Response: This is one of their favorites. Again the data does not support this. Where we reduce access to guns, gun violence goes down. In addition, while we have strict laws in one state, people simply go to other states that don’t have these tough laws to get and bring back their guns into tough gun law states. The argument we can’t do anything about this is stupid. Tough gun laws reduce access by criminals too if they were national laws.
Mike Huckabee: “We always have this discussion about the particular weapons. We got a human behavior problem. We got a problem with uncivilized savages.”
Response: Well this one is crazy. I guess this is an attempt to head off a ban military style assault rifles or limit clip size, with be afraid the crazy and get yourself your own gun. See Response to Ben Carson.
John Kasich: I don’t believe gun control will stop this. I think they have very tough gun laws in that state.”
Response: This is basically a very honest statement that Republicans don’t believe in gun control so don’t try to confuse me with facts (see Washington Post link below). Tough gun laws are relative. Tough for the everyone should have a gun and be born with one crowd, or tough in that it limits guns to those who have a need for them and can demonstrate responsible use? See Marco Rubio response about trafficking guns from other states.
Ben Carson: “You are not going to handle it with more gun control because gun control only works for normal law biding citizens. Doesn’t work for crazies.”
Response: This is the law biding citizen argument dealt with in the Marco Rubio response. On the issue of crazies, then why do we have more gun violence by them than any other country? Because we have more guns and easy access to them. And note Republicans resist any new funding for treating crazies or increasing our ability to enter them into the system for background checks. Note also that Republicans have prevented any federal money spent for collecting data on gun violence, because they don’t want answers that will tell them that fewer guns means less violence (See link below).
Carly Fiorina: “Before we start calling for more laws, I think we ought to consider why we don’t enforce the laws we have.”
Response: What is she talking about? Are these the laws that don’t exist on background checks for gun shows? Are these the laws that don’t exist to limit magazine size. Are these the laws that don’t exist to remove military style weapons from civilian use? Are these the laws like background checks we do not have adequate funding for? She is a fruitcake.
Okay boys and girls, let’s think about this. All the above have one thing in common. Do nothing. There is nothing we can do to fix this. But we have some glaring examples that counter this thinking:
- Other countries with just as many crazy people per capita as we have don’t have these kinds of mass killing incidents anywhere near the frequency we do. This logic does not consider the non-mass killing incidents with guns for which we grossly exceed all other nations. What those other nations have are tough gun laws. (11 essential facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States, Item 5) (Washington Post)
- Studies have shown that if we just look at our country, states with tougher gun laws have less gun violence. States with fewer guns have less gun violence. (11 essential facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States, Items 6, 7, & 8) (Washington Post)
So the do nothing option says the status quo is fine, well stuff happens. Note the same source above (Washington Post) shows that mass killings are growing. This is okay?
Now Republicans will argue that limiting guns would be unconstitutional. Maybe that is true under the Roberts court, but has not been true throughout most of our history and other Supreme Court rulings. I might argue that our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not consistent with unregulated gun access. So we can continue down this road and do nothing, and accept it as stuff happens, or contrary to claims by Republicans, there are things we can do to reduce this kind of violence.
There is always the argument that most of the recommended gun control laws would not have stopped this nut in Oregon. First you have to say, why do other countries have fewer of these incidents? Second if we limited magazine size and restricted assault rifles, fire power would have been greatly reduced. Third who is to say some of these folks would not have fallen out with background checks? Finely, if we implemented a system like Australia where you need a permit/license to own a gun, many of these people would have been shifted out.
So there is a lot we can do and the arguments against doing anything simply accepts the slaughter, because it does not impact them. I guess it’s okay to kill people so we can fondle our guns and feel secure*, until one of those nuts kills your loved one and you get it. If you like this stuff keep voting Republican because they have shown that nothing is their game plan.
Footnote: Here is Rolling Stones rebuttal of other arguments.
*At Roseburg on ex-veteran was interview and he was carrying a concealed weapon. When asked why he did not rush to the shooting scene he responded with what was very smart thinking. “The police responded very quickly and one more guy with a gun might have really confused the situation.” Maybe a guy with a gun could have slowed him down, but he had an assault rifle and body armor, so get real.