Does the Giffords shooting highlight a need for gun control?
The shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords provided an opportunity for Brady Campaign president Paul Helmke to promote more gun control. “[W]e can and should do more,” he said, “to address the easy access to high-powered guns that make it too easy for dangerous and irresponsible people to disrupt and destroy the lives of innocent Americans [...].”
But the full story is somewhat broader.
The Washington Post noted the shooter “listed Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s The Communist Manifesto and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf among his favorite books.” Giffords is Jewish.
Here’s how the Marxists measure up on gun control:
- The Soviet Union enforced strict gun control, which enabled leaders to murder about 62 million of their own people.
- The People’s Republic of China enforces strict gun control, enabling leaders to murder about 80 million.
By comparison, Hitler, another gun control proponent, murdered “only” 21 million civilians. But perhaps had the Nazis had as many years as the Marxists, they would have been more “successful.”
If one deranged murderer killed six people a day, as happened in Tucson, it would take mass murderers 74,441 years to match what the acolytes of Marx and Hitler did in decades.
The FBI reported 15,241 murders for 2009. The murder rate has declined 46.8% since 1990, and the number of murders declined by 35%. Ignoring this and assuming that murders stabilize, it would still take over 10,696 years to match the socialists. (Remember that “Nazi” stands for “National Socialist German Workers’ Party.”)
The argument is made that if only we had banned guns like Britain and Australia, this wouldn’t have happened.
In 2009, 12 years after their gun ban, Australia experienced its worst mass murder in history, and no guns were involved:
The Australian prime minister accused arsonists of “mass murder” …. Officials in Victoria believe some of the 400 fires that reduced towns to blackened ruins may have been deliberately set, or have been helped to jump containment lines. The incinerated towns have been officially declared as crime scenes.
The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission concluded that 173 people were murdered and some communities were “physically destroyed.” Property damage was estimated to be $1.2 billion; the government valued the deaths and injuries at another $645 million.
British doctor and serial killer Harold Shipman used no firearms in murdering what police estimate may be “between 215 and 260 people over a 23-year period.” Officials believe Shipman “enjoyed viewing the process of dying and enjoyed the feeling of control over life and death.” He treated the criminal investigation “as some sort of game, a competition, pitting his, what he considered to be his superior intellect, to those of the officers who were interviewing him.”
In 2002 — five years after enacting its gun ban — the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) acknowledged there was no correlation between gun control and the use of firearms in murder, but that “the percentage of homicides committed with a firearm continued its declining trend since 1969.”
Another AIC publication shows that rape, robbery, and assault increased after Australia’s 1997 gun ban. While Australia’s murder rate decreased 31.9% between 1995 and 2007, America’s dropped similarly at 30.5%.
During the same time period, Australian assault and robbery rates rose 49.2% and 6.2%, respectively. Sexual assault — Australia’s equivalent term for rape — increased 29.9%. Overall, Australia’s violent crime rate rose 42.2%. At the same time, U.S. violent crime decreased 31%: rape dropped 17.8%; robbery decreased 32.8%; aggravated assault dropped 31.3%.
Between 1995 — just before Britain’s ban — to 2005, Britain’s assault rates climbed 36.5%, sexual assaults increased 63%, and robbery increased 25.5%.
By 2007, Australian women were raped over three times as often as American women, and British women twice as often. (All UK and Australian rates above are taken from earlier studies by this author.)
Last year, a taxi driver murdered 12 people in northern England, using a shotgun. Apparently, he was upset over “an ongoing tax inquiry.”
Also in 2010, a man who had served 26 years for a 1971 murder was convicted again for killing somebody using a shotgun.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that all types of firearms are “cheap” and “easy to get” on the streets of London. There is a thriving gun-smuggling operation from eastern European countries. Locals are converting replicas into functioning firearms to sell on the black market.
In sum? Australian and British gun control appear to have had no impact upon those wanting guns, or desiring to commit violence.
Meanwhile, as National Public Radio (NPR) and the Telegraph reported, Giffords supports gun rights. In 2006 and 2008, the NRA gave Giffords a D+. She improved to a C in 2008, but remains below the congressional average of a C+. For its part, the NRA considers “C” to be “Not necessarily a passing grade.”
Although political disagreement appears not to be a primary motive in the attack on Giffords, plenty of commentary now revolves around questions like “how could a gun rights advocate support the Second Amendment now?” This in turn provides a rationale to promote gun control by media and anti-rights politicians, silencing dissenters through guilt by association: if you don’t support gun control, you support murdering public officials.
NPR also implies that “vitriol” is to blame, since “some are questioning whether divisive political rhetoric may have played a role.” The Washington Post quoted Arizona’s Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik, who “denounced the nation’s vitriolic political climate.”
The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous, and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
Brady’s Helmke played the “vitriol” card, too, remarking: “We also are deeply concerned about the heated political rhetoric that escalates debates and controversies, and sometimes makes it seem as if violence is an acceptable response to honest disagreements.”
And Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) attempted to equate small-government advocacy and gun ownership with terrorism:
Moran said Giffords explained that, unlike in his Northern Virginia district, “a substantial percentage” of her district was “anti-government and pro-gun” — a potentially dangerous mix.
Curiously, Moran is graded F by the NRA and a Brady Campaign endorsee.
This rhetoric shows how the First and Second Amendments are closely interrelated. To have officials blaming speech as the cause of violence indicates that they don’t believe Americans have the maturity and responsibility to handle free speech, nor the discernment to differentiate between political disagreement and violence. This same thought process is used to justify gun control: we are not trustworthy enough to own guns, because sometimes, bad things happen.
The gist of this so-called logic is that our government doesn’t trust us and therefore needs to control us. This brings us to the original intent behind the Founders’ including the Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights: England didn’t trust the colonists and sought to control them through taxation, oppression, and disarmament, leading to the Revolutionary War.
Perhaps we’re coming full circle. Do those desiring control know this — and wish to halter us before American history repeats itself?