Before the dead were buried from the cowardly murders of nine black people by a white supremacist in South Carolina, President Barack Obama politicized the tragedy to advocate for gun control. The president claimed in remarks to the press that Americans “will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”
Economist and researcher Dr. John Lott took issue with that claim in a recent New York Daily News article. He wrote:
Obama overlooks Norway, where Anders Behring Breivik used a gun to kill 67 people and wound 110 others. Still others were killed by bombs that Breivik detonated. Three of the six worst K-12 school shootings ever have occurred in Europe. Germany saw two of these — one in 2002 at Erfurt and another in 2009 at Winnenden. The combined death toll was 34. France and Belgium have both faced multiple terrorist attacks over the past year.
After adjusting for America’s much larger population, we see that many European countries actually have higher rates of death in mass public shootings.
Lott provides more statistics to prove his point. He disputes the notion that stronger gun controls would somehow reduce mass public shootings.
Obama advocates expanded background checks. But background checks clearly would not have stopped either the Newtown or Charleston killings. In one case, the killer got his weapon from a relative; in the other, he appears to have passed a background check . Besides, such mass shootings are also almost always planned long in advance, giving the attacker plenty of time to figure out how to obtain a gun.
Lott thus acknowledges the role humans play in their actions. If someone wants to kill, they will find the means. Legal restrictions on weapons only disarm those who obey the law.
How difficult is it to keep weapons out of the hands of would-be attackers? The terrorists who attacked in France this January were armed with handguns, Kalashnikov rifles, an M42 rocket launcher, 10 Molotov cocktails, 10 smoke grenades, a hand grenade and 15 sticks of dynamite. So much for the laws prohibiting all of these items.
The drive to ban guns only emboldens and enables those who would harm the innocent.
There is a common thread: Many of these attacks occur in places where general citizens can’t carry guns. According to one of his friends, the Charleston killer initially considered targeting the College of Charleston but decided against it because it had security personnel.
This logical behavior on the part of attackers is common. It is abundantly clear from diary entries and Facebook posts that the shooters last year in Santa Barbara, Calif., and New Brunswick, Canada, passed on potential targets where people with guns could stop them.
Obama’s stance on gun control, shared by many including the presumed Democrat frontrunner to replace him Hillary Clinton, places law-abiding citizen in jeopardy. The real answer to mass public shootings is stated simply in the title of John Lott’s book – More Guns, Less Crime.