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Media offers "helpful" suggestions for next gun-control actions


And by "helpful," I mostly mean insane. The ephemeral nature of Barack Obama's "actions" this week on gun control seems to have belatedly sunk into the national-media psyche, but common sense still appears in short supply. For instance, the Baltimore Sun's Tricia Bishop wants the government to create a searchable online database so that parents can know which homes have firearms, in case their kids want to go play (via Twitchy):

Well, here's a thought that seems to have eluded this Responsible Parent: Why not ask? Or does Helicopter Mom just let her kids play in other people's houses without at least first engaging with the parents? Our house is past the age of play dates, except for our granddaughters, and their parents are already well aware of my status and the care I take in maintaining it. Just asking the parents first might put Bishop's mind at ease, or at the very least will warn the others about Bishop's priorities.

That would certainly work better than forcing thousands of law-abiding gun owners in her community to make their status public along with their address, turning the website into a targeting system for criminals who want to steal firearms. Oh, didn't Bishop think of that? She probably also doesn't realize that it will allow criminals to ascertain which homes do not have the means for effective self-defense, as Ed Driscoll points out. I wonder what that would do to her "luxury of being white and middle class" neighborhood. One thing's for sure: it would bring that Foxtrot police helicopter closer more often than she likes.

At least former Consumer Product Safety Commission chair Ann Brown doesn't want to expose the personal data of gun owners to anyone who might wish them harm. Instead, the former bureaucrat wants more regulation on bullets. Brown laments that Congress stopped the CPSC from arrogating that power in the 1970s, and wants Congress to reverse itself now:

Was Congress "frightened" in 1974? Doubtful. They were probably more annoyed that bureaucrats would attempt an end-around an explicit constitutional liberty by attempting to expand their jurisdiction without a clear mandate from the legislative branch.

So how would an "ammunition control" work? Brown explains:

If that sounds familiar, it should. It's exactly what we do with firearms now. Clearly that has solved the problem of humans using tools for violent ends, yes? No? You don't say. Besides, the CPSC most certainly does ban certain kinds of cribs, toasters, and paint, but it doesn't regulate how much of an approved product people can buy. The FDA and DEA actually does do that with cold medicines like Sudafed to prevent the operation of meth labs. How well has that worked out? You don't say.

Finally, my colleague Damon Linker at The Week wants to concentrate only on mass shootings with his policy recommendation. Unlike many on the Left, Linker thinks an "assault weapons" ban is pointless, but he wants to do something else with those weapons - force them to be stored at approved ranges at all times:

Or maybe they would have just kept reloading and shooting anyway. That's what happened in the Virginia Tech and Fort Hood shootings, in which the perpetrators used handguns rather than long-barrel firearms. Nidal Hasan managed to shoot 214 rounds from a single pistol in his rampage. What Linker and others who focus on those miss is that magazines are relatively cheap, and the demented few who plan mass shootings would simply buy a couple of extra "standard" magazines for their insanity.

Besides, as FBI records on homicides show, long-barrel firearm homicides are a very small percentage of that type of crime. In 2014, rifles of all kinds (semiautomatic or not) accounted for 2% of all homicides, and just 3% of firearms homicides. Shotguns actually have a slight edge over rifles. More than twice as many homicides take place with "personal" weapons, meaning arms and legs, hands and feet. This proportion has been consistent for at least the last ten years since the expiration of the assault weapons ban. In fact, homicides by rifles of all kind have declined since the 2005 expiration from 435 in that year to 248 in 2014, almost cut in half. For that matter, firearms homicides of all kinds have dropped 25% in the ten years since the ban expired - from over 10,000 to 8,124 in 2014.

Linker responded to that criticism yesterday by saying he's specifically targeting spree shooters. As noted above, though, not all spree shooters use rifles of any kind. More importantly, not all owners of so-called "assault weapons" are risks for spree shooting. On just the much-maligned AR-15 .223 semiautomatic rifle alone, the US had 3.3 million in homes before Newtown, before the threat of another ban led to a sales boom. Even if every rifle homicide in 2014 was the result of an AR-15 and the AR-15 was the only semiautomatic rifle in existence, those homicides would represent 0.0075% of all AR-15s. Why should 99.9925% of owners of the AR-15 be forced to have their property stored outside of their home on the off chance that 0.0075% of people might use one in a crime? And what exactly would Linker suggest doing to ensure that any owners of AR-15s are in compliance? House raids?

These are deeply unserious proposals, based mostly on hysteria in an environment where gun violence is trending downward anyway. Gun ownership during the same period has trended upward, which should tell rational people that ownership of firearms (and bullets) in general is not correlative to gun violence. If any correlative conclusions are to be drawn, it's that responsible gun ownership might actually discourage gun violence. Solutions to mass shootings involve dealing with the pathology of the shooters, not disarming law-abiding citizens.

Update: The math was off on the calculations for rifle homicides compared to total AR-15s. It's 0.0075%, not 0.75%. I've fixed it - it makes the argument much stronger anyway - and thanks to Nemo in the comments for the correction. .