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Mayor Daley Blames Fort Hood on Guns, Not Islam

If this wasn’t such a dreadfully serious matter, it would almost be funny watching Democrats insist that there’s no elephant in the bathtub.

by
Clayton E. Cramer

Bio

November 12, 2009 - 7:37 am

As a number of others have already pointed out, the mainstream media are doing their best to turn a mass murder committed by someone who worshipped at the same mosque as two of the 9/11 hijackers, made repeated attempts to contact al-Qaeda-supportive clergy, and shouted “Allahu Akbar” at the start of the attack into something other than an Islamic terrorist attack.

If this wasn’t such a dreadfully serious matter, it would almost be funny watching Democrats insist that there’s no elephant in the bathtub. Perhaps the most bizarre of these claims is that of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who insists that the core problem behind Fort Hood is that “America loves guns.”

Now, as much as I think the gun control crowd is wrong to blame gun ownership, I concede that gun availability plays some part in some crimes. There are people who should not have access to guns based on past behavior and the likelihood that they will be dangerous to others. Some examples are violent felons and psychotics (those mentally ill persons who have lost touch with reality). Once upon a time, violent felons were kept behind bars for a long time so as not to be a danger to others. Until the 1960s, mentally ill people were far more likely to be hospitalized than today — and it is no coincidence that mass murders by insane people have become depressingly common even though they used to be nearly unknown.

There’s something of a choice here. We can confine people who can’t be trusted with guns (or much of anything else deadly) to prisons or mental hospitals, where they won’t be too terribly dangerous to the larger society. Alternatively, we can make all of American society into a low-grade version of a prison, where we don’t trust anyone (except the government) with guns. Both prisons and mental hospitals have some hope of preventing the smuggling of guns to inmates, but this just isn’t practical for an entire nation — even if it were desirable. (Anne Applebaum’s Gulag: A History (2003) describes how prisoners in the Soviet work camp system did not refer to the society outside the barbed wire as “freedom.” They called it bolshaya zona, or “the big prison zone”: “larger and less deadly” than the camps, but not fundamentally different.)

Gun control advocates have long claimed that the problem of gun violence in America is due to ordinary people losing their temper and killing someone in a fit of rage. They claim that most gun murderers are not strongly motivated and that even a little bit of an obstacle to getting a gun would dramatically reduce the problem of gun violence. Gun advocates, by comparison, usually insist the opposite. They claim that gun murderers are highly motivated and that even severely restrictive gun control laws would not disarm them, but would disarm law-abiding citizens.

Neither extreme accurately describes the real world, although one extreme is closer to the truth than the other.

There are people who should not have guns, and even just a few obstacles will probably prevent some crimes. If Hasan were mentally ill (as have been the vast majority of recent mass murderers) or if he were some Chicago teenager trying to show everyone what a man he was by running around “strapped,” Mayor Daley might have at least an arguable point. But all the evidence so far shows, quite persuasively, that what drove the Fort Hood massacre was not mental illness or a tantrum. This was a carefully planned terrorist attack by a highly motivated and intelligent person. If Dr. Hasan had run into any significant obstacles to purchasing handguns legally, does anyone seriously doubt that he would have used his al-Qaeda contacts to obtain weapons?

If Mayor Daley wants to argue about the inner city gang violence problem, let’s have a serious discussion about why liberal-controlled cities have become cesspools of violence, while many other parts of America have few gun control laws — and little violent crime. Pretending that the Fort Hood massacre wasn’t a terrorist attack — and more outrageously, pretending that the Fort Hood massacre is typical of civilian gun crime — is dishonest pandering to both the multicultural crowd and the rapidly shrinking gun control movement.

Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His most recent book is My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012). He is raising capital for a feature film about the Oberlin Rescue of 1858.
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