A couple of weeks ago, a tragic shooting occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada, that shook the entire nation. At least 58 people were killed and over 500 were injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
The cries of grief and sorrow spread throughout the entire country as the realization of the innocent lives lost at the hands of evil became evident. With emotions running high, some politicians and celebrities predictably chose to use the tragedy to promulgate their political agenda in an exploitative manner that ought to be universally condemned as morally reprehensible. Nevertheless, the pandering was ubiquitous from failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to former comedian Jimmy Kimmel, among countless other relentless opportunists.
Clinton responded to the news of the shooting with a series of tweets attacking – you guessed it – the National Rifle Association (NRA).
She is one of many to vilify the NRA as part of a broad political push to fulfill the Left’s dream of “common sense gun control.” The accusations of the NRA “buying off” politicians flew in at a breakneck pace, but the influence of the NRA doesn’t stem from its campaign donations, which pale in comparison to those of unions. The organization actually contributed significantly less money during the 2016 election cycle than Planned Parenthood. The reality is that the NRA doesn’t need to spend heavily to persuade politicians to defend gun rights since a huge number of the politicians’ constituents care immensely about gun rights. In fact, a Pew Research Center survey found that 42 percent of Americans have a gun in their home, and a Gallup poll found that 73 percent of Americans believe that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of private citizens to bear arms.
This is clearly a losing issue for those pushing for severe limitations on gun ownership. So why are these people intent on incessantly calling for gun control in the wake of a tragic shooting? The answer can be found by observing the words of former President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, who said:
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that, it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
The calls for gun control following mass shootings, such as those in Newtown and Aurora, are merely attempts to capitalize on a tragedy, which is utterly vile. Jimmy Kimmel made a point to highlight these incidents on his show, and made the claim that we respond very differently when an Islamic jihadist carries out a mass shooting:
“Because when someone with a beard attacks us, we tap phones, we invoke travel bans, we build walls, we take every possible precaution to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
I’m old enough to remember the Orlando Nightclub Massacre, which was carried out by Islamic jihadist Omar Mateen. Conservatives surely did not push for gun control after that tragedy, despite Kimmel’s scapegoating.
However, many on the Left use these tragedies to propagandize their own agenda. A common reaction is the vociferating of “Do Something™!” from people like Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). Needless to say, this is not a policy solution and contributes absolutely nothing to the conversation. We can certainly discuss potential policy proposals and balance rights with the risks and rewards, but shouting out into the ether for Congress to “Do Something™!” solves nothing. There are some proposals that are slightly more substantive, but the vast majority of these ideas are either wildly ineffective or inherently violate the Second Amendment, or both.
Shockingly, a number of people claim that the Second Amendment only applies to militias and not to private citizens. Well, the Founding Fathers would certainly scoff at this absurd insinuation. Thomas Jefferson wrote in his draft to the Virginia Constitution:
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
Samuel Adams boldly stated:
“The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
The Supreme Court has also upheld the constitutional right of American citizens to keep and bear arms, as the landmark D.C. v. Heller case clearly shows.
The pleading for background checks from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is also absurd given that we already have comprehensive background checks. The Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, passed every single one of the administered background checks, so the notion that expanding these checks would’ve prevented him from acquiring his stockpile of guns is ludicrous.
The infamous “gun show loophole” is also consistently mentioned as a reason for stricter gun control, but those who promulgate this idea haven’t taken the time to find out that it’s a complete myth. The purchasing process of a gun is essentially the exact same whether at a gun show or retail store. A dealer must be licensed to sell firearms and verify that the customer is legally allowed to purchase the gun by completing a – wait for it – background check.
There have also been those calling for a ban on machine guns, meaning fully automatic firearms, despite the fact that they’ve been illegal to privately own since the Firearms Owner’s Protection Act was passed in 1986.
Some even take it a step further and insist that since the Founders couldn’t comprehend contemporary weaponry, semi-automatic guns should also be banned. It’s indisputable that the Founders protected the right of American citizens to possess weapons in order to give them far greater military parity with the government than Americans have now. For example, the musket was the principal weapon of armed conflict at the time of America’s inception. An American leaving his home with a musket was on par with a member of the United States Continental Army. The modern gap between civilians and the military is vast and quickly increasing.
Furthermore, if the Second Amendment is no longer applicable since the Founders couldn’t imagine the available weaponry of today, then where does that put the First Amendment? The Founders certainly couldn’t have envisioned social media, so should it be banned as a medium for freedom of speech and the press? Of course not.
Another worthwhile factor to consider is the propensity for mass shootings to occur in gun-free zones. According to the Crime Research Prevention Center, over 98 percent of mass public shootings between 1950 and 2016 happened in gun-free zones. It turns out that it’s far easier for criminals to carry out mass shootings in places where there are no guns.
It’s also important to understand the rarity of rifles being used in homicides relative to other types of weapons. FBI data from 2014 shows that only 248 homicides were committed with a rifle, compared to 5,562 with handguns and 2,662 with either knives, blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.), or personal weapons (hands, feet, etc.). Statistically speaking, about 2 percent of all homicides were committed with rifles.
The assertion that more guns means more crime is also patently false. Gun ownership has increased markedly since 1993, while the gun homicide rate has been cut in half, as shown by the graph below courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute.
The primary reasoning for the Second Amendment, according to the Founders, wasn’t for hunting or even home defense, but rather as a hedge against a potentially tyrannical government. During the 20th century alone, over 56 million innocent people were murdered by their own governments after being disarmed. The Founders were very wary of government becoming overbearing and infringing on the rights of the people, since they witnessed it firsthand as colonists oppressed by the rule of the British empire.
George Mason identified that disarming the people is the easiest way to enslave them: “I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”
Alexander Hamilton also recognized the necessity of overthrowing an abusive government, as he wrote in Federalist Paper 28: “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense.”
It’s important to ardently defend the Second Amendment, especially when far too many people seek to manipulate Americans into supporting their deceptive agenda in the face of tragedy. However, it’s also crucial that we commemorate the bravery and heroism that takes place during these tragedies.
Taylor Winston, a Marine Corps veteran, drove 30 people in need of urgent care to the hospital.
Jonathan Smith rushed about 30 people to safety, taking a bullet to the neck in the process.
Sonny Melton died shielding his wife Heather from the gun fire.
The countless stories of parents using their bodies to cover their children, strangers taking bullets for people they had just met, police officers and first responders putting themselves in harm’s way to save lives, the millions of dollars that was donated within a few days of the shooting, the long lines of people waiting to donate blood, etc., depicts the true oneness that our countrymen share. While the evil and horror that took place can’t be understated, neither can the courageous actions of the heroes who risked their lives for others.
I wrote several months ago that freedom has always united Americans, and I think that’s true. I also believe that tragedy brings Americans together. As long as we reject the evil seeking to divide us, we will continue to show the light of the American spirit that shines through any darkness that tries to come between us.