Own it, Ms. Haldeman. You climb on the bodies of dead children to demand things that wouldn’t have saved a single one. Let me repeat that: Not. A. Single. One.
How many mass shooters have to pass background checks for you to admit they don’t prevent mass shootings? Out of 88 mass shooting events (four or more fatalities, not including the shooter) since background checks became required in February 1994, 76 included reports detailing the sources of the guns used. In three-quarters of those incidents, the guns came from a licensed retailer that performed the required NICS check. The next-largest group obtained their weapons by theft, including three cases that involved the murders of the legal owners.
American citizens own an estimated 18 to 20 million firearms of the type described in the Assault Weapons Ban of 2018. How many of them would be affected by the ban? None. Nor would a number of firearms specifically exempted by the ban even though they are every bit as lethal as the banned weapons. That’s the downside of making a fake boogeyman without knowing anything about it.
Your strident appeals to motherhood ring false. What would your agenda have done to prevent Sandy Hook? Not. One. Damn. Thing.
What would your agenda have done to stop Nikolas Cruz? Zip. Nada. Zilch. Had the Parkland school administration not had a diversion agreement with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Cruz could have been arrested and charged, allowing disqualifying information to be sent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System so his purchase at Sunrise Tactical could have been denied. Or maybe the FBI could have at least forwarded the tips it received about Cruz to its field office or to the sheriff and somebody could have checked up on Cruz and his arsenal.
Gee, thanks, mom! If our children are being murdered in our schools, it has a lot more to do with your intransigence and addiction to ideas that flopped 10 or 20 years ago than it does with the NRA.
Just for a moment, take a quick trip into reality. We have laws against murder, we have laws against using a weapon to commit murder, we have laws prohibiting the possession of firearms by felons, drug users, persons under indictment, persons convicted of domestic abuse, persons determined to be mentally incompetent or a danger to themselves or others and persons dishonorably discharged from the military. Not just purchase; possession, even temporarily, of any firearm. Come October of this year, most of those prohibitions will be fifty years old. Any public school receiving federal funding has been a gun-free zone since 1990. Penalties for violating just the gun laws can range up to 10 years in prison.
How have those laws worked out so far? Who have they stopped? Mostly people who had no interest in violating them, including millions of owners of AR-15s, AK-47s and tens of thousands of owners of surplus M1 carbines sold to American citizens by the U.S. Army.
You want to see the age to purchase a firearm raised to 21. The Colt AR-15 went on sale in 1964. Do you know how many people under 21 have used a personally purchased AR-15 in a mass shooting since then? One. Nikolas Cruz. Out of about 12.7 million young adults aged 18, 19 and 20, exactly one. If you count any military-style rifle, the total goes up to two. Dean Mellburg was 20 when used a copy of an AK-47 in a mass shooting at Fairchild AFB in 1994.
When it comes to deaths, children are much safer in schools than private swimming pools. Sadly, they’re also far more likely to end their own lives than be the victim of an Adam Lanza, Nikolas Cruz or Dimitri Pagourtzis. And they don’t even use guns in the majority of suicides. But that doesn’t come off as scary as shrieking about school shootings from the rooftops, does it? For some reason, it’s hard to drum up motherly angst over something that is intensely more personal.
Do I sound as if I am not sympathetic? Good; I’m not. If you were really interested in doing something about childhood dangers from firearms, you’d being doing like I do and support Project Childsafe, which has distributed more than 37 million gun safety kits, including a gun lock, through 15,000 participating law enforcement agencies. The rate of deaths and injuries from accidental gunshots has fallen nearly 43% since 2001. The Justice Department even gave Project ChildSafe a multi-million-dollar grant to expand the program. Of course, Project ChildSafe was created by the firearms industry and is run by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is the industry trade and lobbying organization, so it must be evil. The press certainly treated it that way.
Funny thing is, that despite its name, Everytown for Gun Safety doesn’t have a program like that. In fact, Everytown for Gun Safety doesn’t do much about gun safety at all. Neither does the Giffords Law Center for Gun Violence, the Brady Campaign, the Violence Policy Center or any of the similar groups.
Why is that, mom? Don’t those programs make sense to Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America? They save more young lives each year than are lost to school shootings. Don’t those lives count?
Oh sure, you can demand laws that require guns to be locked up. But how do you plan to enforce those laws? I am pretty sure that every state already has a parental responsibility law. Massachusetts requires storage and demands that access be given to police to check, but how’s that going to play out in states that aren’t Massachusetts — which means most of them.
It’s time to be a grown-up, mom. It’s time to realize this is a complex problem and there aren’t any quick-fix answers. Solutions might even take a generation to bear fruit and chances are anything worthwhile isn’t going to come from politicians.
We return you now to your regularly scheduled hysteria.