Gun control, terrorism, and President Obama

Just out, and could hardly be more timely: new David Kopel monograph for Cato, “The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control.” From Kopel’s summary at Volokh Conspiracy:

The policy analysis examines several gun control proposals which have been promoted by the Obama administration and the gun control lobby: bans on so-called assault weapons; bans on standard magazines; confiscation; and the prohibition of all private sales, loans and returns, except when processed by a gun store [and explains] why each of these proposals is likely to do little good and much harm….

Also at Cato, Trevor Burrus responds to an otherwise predictable editorial on gun control that the New York Times elected to print on its front page:

Not only do victims of mass shootings constitute one percent or fewer of gun deaths (depending on how “mass shooting” is defined), but the perpetrators of mass shootings are the hardest to affect with public policy changes…. Mass shooters are the quintessence of an over-motivated criminal, and in a country with over 300 million guns, there are very few (if any) realistic gun control laws that could stop mass shooters. Policy proposals that focus on identifying would-be mass shooters and protecting would-be victims of mass shooters have a much better chance of succeeding than any proposal that focuses on guns.

Jonah Goldberg at National Review reacts to the same editorial, while James Taranto has this on Twitter: “The New York Times today published the newspaper’s opinion in the front page. The last time it did that was yesterday.”

Since last week’s slaughter by a radicalized Islamist couple of 14 employees at a gathering of county health employees in San Bernardino, you’ve almost certainly seen people claim that the U.S. has had 355 mass shootings this year. A Mother Jones editor (of all people) in the NYT (of all places) explains why a more accurate number would be 4. And the Washington Post “Fact Checker,” after awarding Two Pinocchios to President Obama for his claim that “this [kind of mass shooting] just doesn’t happen in other countries” has gone on to examine his claim that “We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths” and finds the evidence “not as clear cut as the president claims”: “We wavered between Two and Three Pinocchios, but in the end settled on Two.”


  • (In 2013, a mandate from President Obama for further study of the problem lowered that threshold to three victims killed.)

    The old change the definition to make the problem look worse trick.

    Sounds like the NHTSA changing the definition of car accidents from “caused by alcohol” to “alcohol related”.

  • “The New York Times today published the newspaper’s opinion in the front page. The last time it did that was yesterday.”

    I was in a typical high-school journalism class in the 60s, managing editor or our school paper. We were taught that opinion did not belong in the news pages, especially the front page and headlines – that’s what the editorial page is for.

    Ironically perhaps, that was about the time I stopped reading The NY Times. Not a coincidence.

    Somehow, my world keeps on spinning around,

  • NYT wasted their front-page precedent on a totally predictable editorial.

    America’s anti-gun people have sealed themselves into a social-democrat greenhouse that is impervious to facts and reasoned arguments on the other side. They are working themselves into such a self-righteous frenzy (A Congress that fails to do our bidding is obviously broken…) that it seems only a matter of time before they lunge for illegitimate power.

  • The press widely misreported that all the guns used in the “San Bernardino” attack were “purchased legally”.

    At least some of the guns were bought by his neighbor. And you can’t legally transfer guns in California without having a licensed gun dealer broker it.

  • The “423” mass shooting figure covers all sorts of gang shooting in Chicago, etc. And Progressives like to ignore that the bulk of the “mass shootings” are by disadvantaged people in urban areas, not white extremists clutching their bibles.

    4 is a more accurate number. Thanks, Mother Jones!