Green Room

“It doesn’t matter if gun violence is down”

posted at 4:35 pm on December 17, 2012 by

Katie flags this quote from CNN anchor Don Lemon, who won’t allow facts to complicate his righteous public emoting about US gun laws (expanded transcript via Breitbart):

Listen, for the past three days, I have been on the verge of tears every second, and most of the people here have been crying 24 hours straight. Yes, we need to address mental health, but mental health in this particular issue — let’s not get it twisted — is a secondary issue. If someone who has a mental issue did not  have access to guns that should only be available in war zones, we would not be dealing with this. Who needs a bullet piercing, armor piercing bullet to go hunting? Who needs an assault rifle to go hunting? You can’t even use the prey that you kill with an assault rifle if you indeed do it. no one needs an assault rifle to go out and shoot a deer. … That’s the issue that we need to deal with. So to say that gun violence is down does not make sense. To me, it’s insulting to everyone who lost a loved one here and who was dealing with that. It doesn’t matter if gun violence is down. 20 children are dead here and 6 adults are dead, and the mother of a person who was not mentally — who is mentally challenged in some way is dead. so to say that gun violence is down — we need to talk about mental health, yes. mental health is a secondary issue. We need to get guns and bullets and automatic weapons off the streets. They should only be available to police officers and to hunt al Qaeda and the Taliban and not hunt children.

Let’s set aside Lemon’s purported role as a newsman, and ignore the callow and manipulative implication that anguish alone somehow bolsters the legitimacy of an argument.  Truth be told, I am among those Americans who are conflicted over guns and gun policy.  In the immediate wake of Friday’s nightmarish slaughter, I tweeted some of the complex thoughts I’ve harbored on the subject for some time, drawing heated responses from both sides.  On one hand, it seems indisputable that firearms — high-powered, high-capacity ones in particular — make these sorts of horrors significantly easier to perpetrate.  Yes, other weapons have been used in acts of mass violence, but guns are an especially efficient tool to wreak human carnage.  The body counts in Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown would almost certainly have been substantially lower if those deranged individuals were wielding knives, to pick one example (click the previous link and look for the death toll).  On the other hand, there’s considerable evidence that higher gun ownership actually diminishes violent crime in the aggregate.  I’ve also internalized the truth that malevolent actors will often find a way to get their hands on firearms one way or another, so disarming the overwhelmingly law-abiding public would amount to a unilateral disarmament — rendering innocents virtually defenseless in the face of in-progress gun violence.  Waiting for the police to arrive mid-rampage isn’t much of a solution for imminent targets.  It’s also a fact that strict gun laws do not magically solve the problem of gun violence.  See, for instance, the horrific Chicago bloodletting.  Indeed, the Newtown shooter reportedly used weapons that were purchased legally and dutifully registered by someone else (his mother), who lived in a state with restrictive laws.  Should Congress pass the ‘Don’t-Let-Your-Psychotic-Son-Steal-Your-Guns-To-Kill-You-And-Others’ Act of 2012?  What would that accomplish, exactly?  And beyond these legitimate practical concerns, there’s also that pesky detail called the United States Constitution, and the individual liberties it enshrines.

Unlike many conservatives, I don’t reflexively bristle at the term “common-sense gun control.”  The mere notion of placing some limits on the types of guns average people can purchase does not offend.  Calls for legislative action to keep certain weapons out of the hands of mentally unstable people strike me as reasonable.  I also recognize that myriad regulations along these lines already exist, and I’m skeptical that proposing more grief-fueled laws is a meaningful solution.  And even if one could accurately project that passing Gun Law X would save Y number of lives, where do Constitutional rights come into play, and who gets to weigh those factors?  If curtailing the First Amendment could also be scientifically proven to save some quantifiable number of lives, would we tolerate additional government limits on those core, specifically-enumerated freedoms?  These are extraordinarily difficult questions.  In fact, even the mental health discussions that crop up after these tragedies can lead down some worrisome paths regarding civil liberties and the public good.  I’m heartbroken over Newtown, I’ve been grappling with these quandaries for days, and I admittedly have no clean answers.  But as one of those citizens who does not hold especially dogmatic views on guns, I’m repulsed by Lemon’s emotionally-charged diatribe, which explicitly rejects empirical evidence.  It’s dishonest and exploitive.  It is troubling that many of the voices clamoring loudest for a “national conversation” about gun policy already seem to have their minds made up about what sorts of guns should be available, and to whom.  If that’s how one feels, one should at least be intellectually honest and make open calls for sweeping bans and “confiscation.”   Let’s see how that “conversation” goes.

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Can we drop the premise that the purpose of owning a gun in America is to allow you to go hunting and target shooting? That’s not what the second amendment is about. It specifically states that its purpose is to ensure “the security of a free State.” Hunting, sport shooting, etc. are all secondary.

Shump on December 17, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Don Lemon: No one is using assault rifles to hunt deer. No one wants to. It is already against the law to do so. Please use facts.

juliesa on December 17, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Facts doesn’t matter! /CNN Lib

Norwegian on December 17, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Tell you what — when everyone who knew about F&F is fired, we can start talking about gun control. Now one moment earlier.

Go ahead, Don — show that you love your country and mean what you say. Agitate to get everyone involved in that travesty fired, and actually succeed at it. Then we’ll take you seriously.

Dirty Creature on December 17, 2012 at 5:02 PM

If someone who has a mental issue did not have access to guns

I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but here mom failed to secure the guns from someone who apparently was descending into some sort of mental illness.

rbj on December 17, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Guy, you’re not conflicted, you’re confused. Confused by the anti-gun lobby. I see their tricks are working on you. What are common sense laws? Would those be like the common sense laws regarding health care? Should the pass the reasonable gun control law so we have to wait and pass the bill to see whats in the bill?

Also:

Calls for legislative action to keep certain weapons out of the hands of mentally unstable people strike me as reasonable.

There are laws already on the books for this. That is why when he went to buy a gun it was denied. That is why he stole the guns he used.

Deets on December 17, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Ok, let’s play this game.

Folks say stuff like “if even one of those children could’ve been saved by passing law X, we should do it.”

Here ya go:
– the statistics prove that conceal carry saves lives.
– the statistics prove that ‘gun free zones’ are target rich environments, and with the Tuscon shooting as an exception, *all* of the mass shootings in memory have occurred in ‘gun free zones’.

We should therefore push to eliminate all ‘gun free zones’ in the country, require every state to immediately pass ‘shall issue/CCW’ legislation that will allow their citizens to carry if they wish, and require every school to ensure that no fewer than 5 of their staff/administration/teachers will be carrying a weapon during school hours, and put up signs to that effect at every school entrance including parking areas.

At least one of those children, if not a great many of them, maybe all, and a few of the adults in the office as well could’ve been saved if there had been a few trained adults carrying that day.

Require schools to have multiple unidentified CCW folk on staff so that perps never know who it is, but at least 5 of them in that school building will be packing, and you will never see another incident like we saw on Friday. Doesn’t mean some nutter won’t try it, but it means they’ll face resistance if they do, but more than likely, they’ll either not do it, or pick somewhere else to try. But our schoolkids and teachers won’t be sitting-ducks-by-law anymore.

Midas on December 17, 2012 at 5:27 PM

The body counts in Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown would almost certainly have been substantially lower if those deranged individuals were wielding knives

911 hijackers were wielding box cutters. just sayin’.

Your argument does not hold water. Evil will occur. Why would you take away my right to defend myself from it?

Lost in Jersey on December 17, 2012 at 5:44 PM

I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but here mom failed to secure the guns from someone who apparently was descending into some sort of mental illness.

We don’t know that. They very well could have been in a safe and he beat her until she handed over the keys.

JohnBrown on December 17, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Let emotion and the griefs of the moment sweep aside facts and reason?

Is that your reasoned response, Mr. Benson?

Then by all means, please set forth your path forward based on the hundreds of dead Mexican civilians resulting from the Obama Administration’s “Operation Fast & Furious”.
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Hmmmm, i hear only the crickets.
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Please take your “Me too!” emotional distress over to MSNBC. They will welcome you with open arms.

But don’t pretend to be a conservative or anything but another media pundit playing to the mob.

PolAgnostic on December 17, 2012 at 6:04 PM

I don’t remember where I read it, but

Banning semi-automatic weapons is just like banning gasoline-powered cars.

That’s how generic the term is.

Washington Nearsider on December 17, 2012 at 6:06 PM

When you read some of the concerns and thoughts of people who are against guns it becomes quite evident why they are so concerned about guns. Guns are evil. Guns are evil incarnate, when any sane or normally nice person touches a gun, the gun will immediately transform that person into an evil person that will shoot anyone and everyone on sight. Seriously.

Professor in Colorado, no guns in my classroom! Why? Well an argument might break out and they will shoot people who disagree with them! Auroroa cineplex, if people had guns they would instantly start shooting random people. No way they just would have targeted the initial shooter and at the least knocked him on his a** with big bruises on his chest. Nope a crazy gunfight would have started.

If people in schools carried guns, they could go nuts one day and start shooting anyone.

Guns are magic totems, that transform people.

I know only crazy people would believe that, but think about who we are dealing with.

odannyboy on December 17, 2012 at 6:06 PM

The left doesn’t seem to understand the repercussions of it’s histrionics. I had no interest in an AR-15/M4 style rifle in the past, but now I’m seriously considering picking up one or more now that the prospect of unavailability lingers. I also just picked up 3 25 round magazines for my Ruger 10-22 for the same reason. And I just heard that Colorado set a record for the number of background checks on Saturday, up from even the aftermath of the Aurora movie theater shooting.

Dead Hand Control on December 17, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Evil exists. Period.

We can wish all we want and legislate all we want, but evil will continue existing and finding ways to destroy lives.

That’s what evil does. You can’t ban it. You can’t legislate it.

ButterflyDragon on December 17, 2012 at 6:08 PM

My response, from the other thread:

The only thing that will be accomplished by any of the gun control measures being proposed is that it will give even more of an advantage to bad actors who have no regard for the law to begin with. More laws will not stop criminals from being criminals — nor will they stop the deranged from being deranged.

Measures limiting gun capacity, certain types of weapons, and restricting access to responsible, law-abiding citizens will certainly make it far easier for another massacre such as this to occur. Someone bent on destruction will find ways to circumvent the law, and the fact that these proposals make it more likely that a bad actor will meet little or no effective resistance is obvious to anyone looking past their knee-jerk emotions.

This response is understandable, given the ability of human emotions to overcome rational thought processes, but it is not the right response.

If our culture didn’t devalue life and responsibility, there would be far fewer of these incidents. Gun control is a cop-out.

hillbillyjim on December 17, 2012 at 6:15 PM

And I just heard that Colorado set a record for the number of background checks on Saturday, up from even the aftermath of the Aurora movie theater shooting.

Dead Hand Control on December 17, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Yes – from first hand experience. Gun show and Sportsmen’s Warehouse were packed this weekend. People 3 deep, multiple lines, at the gun counter at Sportsmen’s. Lots of AR types and handguns going out the door. Background checks ranging from 40 minutes to 2 hours because of the volume – usually just a few minutes.

I didn’t buy anything at the gun show because frankly the prices were no better, some higher, than at Sportsmen’s or mail order from Cabela’s.

This not DESPITE the shooting – it is BECAUSE of the Dems calling for gun bans.

dentarthurdent on December 17, 2012 at 6:32 PM

On one hand, it seems indisputable that firearms — high-powered, high-capacity ones in particular — make these sorts of horrors significantly easier to perpetrate.

Indisputable, except that it’s completely, demonstrably false. A “high-powered” rifle wouldn’t have made the recent school shooting any easier at all, but more difficult as the power went up; and “high-capacity” in this terrible context would mean a three-second pause every thirty victims instead of every ten.

Backing completely out, yes, it’s indisputable that having a gun makes shooting someone with a gun physically easier. But we haven’t said anything.

Axe on December 17, 2012 at 6:39 PM

Backing completely out, yes, it’s indisputable that having a gun makes shooting someone with a gun physically easier. But we haven’t said anything.

Axe on December 17, 2012 at 6:39 PM

Having a car makes it easier to run down people on the sidewalks also. Having a knife made it easier for that Japanese guy to slash and stab a bunch of school kids. Having sarin gas made it easier to gas a bunch of people in the subways. Having box cutters made it easier for the peace loving islamic terrorists to slit some flight crew throats and hijack planes.
So really, what is the libtard’s point? (rhetorical)

dentarthurdent on December 17, 2012 at 6:47 PM

I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but here mom failed to secure the guns from someone who apparently was descending into some sort of mental illness.
rbj on December 17, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Actually the mom encouraged the killer re:weapons – she bought at least one for him personally. A parent would have to be a little dingy herself to arm a kid who is nuts.

whatcat on December 17, 2012 at 7:00 PM

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Allahpundit on December 18, 2012 at 12:21 AM