“Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15!”

Wasn’t that what you said when you were trying to ignite your lackluster campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination?

Then you made a big deal about a threat when Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain merely challenged you to come and take his rifle? As I recall, Cain tweeted “My Ar-15 is ready for you” and that was a threat worthy of investigation by the FBI? Have the agents quit laughing yet?

What was never mentioned was specifically why you would be coming to take our AR-15s.

It can’t be because they pose a serious threat to public safety. The Colt Ar-15 Sporter went on sale in early 1964; the first semi-automatic AK-47s appeared in about 1976. The National Shooting Sport Foundation, the gun industry’s trade group) recently estimated that Americans owned about 17 million of this type of rifle. As best I can figure, 68 of them have been used in mass shootings over the past 55 years. That’s including the 22 Stephen Paddock had in his Las Vegas hotel room and a couple of incidents where the killer brought one of these rifles but didn’t use it.

Here’s a big number: in the past ten years 3,210 people have been murdered by killers using rifles. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it. Right up until you learn that during the same period, 7,054 people were murdered by killers using their bare hands. In case your math is as rusty as your thinking, bare hands are used 2.2 times as often as rifles. In addition, over the past ten years the use of rifles in homicides has dropped nearly 15%.

Sorry, Beto: that just doesn’t sound like a compelling reason for you or anybody else to take anyone’s AR-15.

Now here’s another, slightly less inflammatory, look at the Texas gun laws that went into effect last year.

One recent benefit of the new Texas laws was demonstrated in the shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement. It became legal for churches to have armed security teams composed of church members with carry permits. So Jack Wilson was able to stop a shooter in six seconds instead of having to wait minutes for the police to arrive.

What was it you said about the new law? Oh, yeah! You said, “This reduces the penalty for the unauthorized carrying of a handgun into a place of worship by a license holder from a class A to a class C misdemeanor. This change could send a message that guns are welcome in churches, inappropriately addressing incidents of gun violence by potentially encouraging license holders to carry handguns on the premises of churches or other places of worship rather than emphasizing gun safety.”

Beto, Beto, Beto. What are we going to do with you?

You are promoting laws that have all been enacted at the federal or state level but have never produced anything but excuses for why they didn’t work.

You cite all the scary numbers but you seem to have an aversion to supplying any context. According to the FBI, Texas’ 2018 homicide rate was only slightly higher than California’s and both were below the national average.

In 1991, California enacted a universal background check law. From then to 2018, the homicide rate in California plunged 65.3% as the state passed every gun control law it could hold down long enough to clear the Assembly. Texas didn’t pass any of those laws. In fact, Texas created the first concealed handgun permit program in the state’s history, allowed the concealed carry of a handgun in a motor vehicle without a permit, and permitted open carry of a handgun for the first time since 1871. From 1991 to 2018, the homicide rate in Texas dropped 69.9%.

Amazing, huh? It’s almost like all those gun control laws didn’t make a difference.

Now let’s take a look at your statistics. It’s true that there were 352 firearm-related deaths with victims ages 10 to 19. But those aren’t all children. Perhaps you forgot, but a child turns into an adult at the age of 18 in Texas.

Looking at the deaths among actual minors, the total is 208. Of those 104 were homicides; 87 were suicides; and 17 were due to other causes including gun accidents.

So 40% of the total gun deaths were among teenagers 18 and 19 years of age. Gosh, what do you suppose the reason for that might be?

Not only that, there was a huge difference in the rate of homicides with black victims and the rates for white and Hispanics. The homicide rate for blacks was 6.35 per 100,000, 3.5 times the rate for Hispanics and nearly 4.3 times the rate for non-Hispanic whites.

Perhaps there’s something besides gun laws going on here.

The number of firearm related suicides among actual children was 87. But 108 young people chose to end their lives by another method. Guess they don’t count, huh?

And let’s look at the number of revoked Texas License to Carry. In terms of legal troubles, holders of Texas LTCs are less likely to be charged with a crime than the average citizen. In fact, according to the Department of Public Safety, they are no more likely to be charged with a criminal offense than a police officer. Don’t forget, Texas permits can be revoked for a variety of reasons other than criminal charges. Fall behind on child support or become delinquent on taxes and you lose your license. Guess you forgot to mention that.

And how about “ghost guns?” I love that term, it’s like “assault weapon” in that it doesn’t actually exist.

News Flash, Beto: It is perfectly legal for a person who is not prohibited from possessing a firearm to make a firearm for themselves. There is no federal requirement for it to ever have a serial number. If you get tired of it, you can even sell it or give it to someone and you still don’t need to have a serial number.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has very strict rules on homemade firearms. You have to make it yourself and you can’t just assemble parts. For example, to make a legal unregistered AR-15, you have to machine a receiver. You can’t pay someone else to do it for you and you can’t use a commercial machine shop: you have to do all the work yourself using your own tools. Any deviation from that is a federal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines as high as $250,000.

Those 3-D printed receivers? Well, unless you have a very expensive 3-D printer capable of using metal filament, they don’t hold up.

How many of these “ghost guns” have been used in mass shootings? Three and two of the incidents were in California.

Speaking of mass shootings, in the past 10 years there have been seven mass shootings in Texas, according to the list maintained by Mother Jones. There have been twelve in gun-law-happy California.

But let’s look at the statistics that are so often quoted by politicians and gun control advocates who talk about a mass shooting occurring every day. Joe Biden mentioned this in a campaign stop just the other day,

Those stats come from the Gun Violence Archive, which has a much more relaxed definition of a mass shooting.

Looking at the GVA’s data from 2019, there were 417 mass shooting incidents reported for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. California had the highest number of incidents with 49; Illinois was the runner-up with 43. Texas was third with a total of 31.

Of course, California is the state with the largest population, so it’s not surprising that it has the most. So it’s only fair to look at those numbers adjusted for population, right?

By that standard, California drops to №19 on the list; Texas, with the second-largest population, comes in at №25 and Florida, with the third-largest population is all the way down in the №30 spot.

Texas not only has a lower rate of mass shootings that California, it has a lower rate than Maryland, Illinois, and New Jersey, too. All of those states get high marks from the Giffords folks, who gave California and New Jersey “A” in their most recent evaluation and gave high “B” grades to Illinois and Maryland.

You noted that you got some of your data from the Giffords Law Center, I’m surprised those facts weren’t included. Might keep you from being embarrassed when somebody calls you on your statements.

This wasn’t a fluke: California tied with Illinois in 2018 but has had the most mass shootings over the past five years.

Beto, your numbers just don’t work. Your statements don’t bear close scrutiny and it looks like our legislators in Austin actually did a pretty damn good job in the last session, saving us from being saddled with worthless gun regulations.

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of onewordtexas.org

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