Posted by Curt on 15 November, 2017 at 3:46 pm. 6 comments already!


David French:

The Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooting presents a serious problem for those who claim that the government offers the answer for gun violence. After all, the government failed at every turn, and it was up to a private citizen to stop one of the worst mass shootings in American history. The shooter was disqualified on multiple grounds from legally owning a gun, yet he obtained his weapons anyway. The police were apparently nowhere near the church (they can’t be everywhere in rural America) and couldn’t intervene for many long, agonizing minutes. It took a brave citizen with an AR-15 to match the shooter’s firepower and bring his rampage to an end.

So, what’s a gun-controlling politician to say here?

Yesterday the Internet lit up with claims that former vice president (and possible 2020 Democratic front-runner) Joe Biden told a young questioner that the Texas hero who stopped the Sutherland Springs shooting never should have owned the gun he used to engage the killer. I think the better description of his remarks was that he gave an utterly incoherent response about gun control, a response that tells us a great deal about the inadequacy of Democratic talking points about mass shootings. You can watch the clip for yourself below:

First, a young woman asks Biden, “With the tragedy that just happened in Texas, how do you justify the Democratic view on gun control, when the shooter was stopped by a man who was legally licensed to carry a gun?” Biden’s first words in response are generating headlines. He immediately said, “Well first of all, the kind of gun being carried, he shouldn’t be carrying,” and then he went on to boast about his role in authoring the now-lapsed “assault-weapons ban.”

Watching it charitably, I believe the “he” Biden is referring to is the shooter, not the man who stopped him (after all, it’s barely been reported that the Texas hero used an AR-15), but it’s obvious that if we reinstituted an “assault-weapons ban,” law-abiding citizens wouldn’t have access to the weapons while criminals would have no qualms disregarding the bans or imitating the San Bernardino killers by modifying legal weapons to violate the law. Moreover, even if the shooter complied with a so-called assault-weapons ban, he’d still have access to pistols that can inflict equivalent carnage — just as they did at places like Virginia Tech or a Luby’s Cafateria in Killeen, Texas.

But that’s not all Biden said. His next words were puzzling:

It’s just rational to say certain people shouldn’t have guns. The fact that some people with guns are legally able to acquire a gun and they turn out to be crazy after the fact, that’s life. There’s nothing you can do about that, but we can save a lot of lives, and we’ve stopped tens of thousands of people from getting guns who shouldn’t have guns.

Well, yes. Certain people shouldn’t have guns. That’s why we have laws banning people exactly like the Texas shooter from owning his gun. And yes, we have stopped “tens of thousands of people” from purchasing weapons. But it has also become clear that the government is less competent than we thought at enforcing existing law. Is the right response to a shooting like the Sutherland Springs massacre to implement new laws that wouldn’t have stopped the shooter? Or should the government more effectively enforce the laws that banned his gun ownership entirely while also protecting the civil liberties of the man who saved so many lives?

While Biden can be famously incoherent, it’s telling that one of the Democratic party’s most charismatic standard-bearers doesn’t have a better answer on gun control. For all the Twitter heat and rage after each shooting, it’s clear that we’re reaching a point of political futility. It’s all culture war now.

Would so-called common-sense gun control make a difference? As Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post outlined in painstaking detail, none of them would have stopped any recent mass shooting. In fact, all of the proposals would serve mainly to inconvenience law-abiding citizens, and none would imposing any material obstacle to determined criminals. It’s nibble-around-the-edges stuff that’s meaningless in addressing actual gun crime in the United States.

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