Mass shootings comprise a tiny percent of gun crime and are peculiar both in motivation and execution. The weapons used, called assault weapons by those seeking to ban them, account for three percent of gun crime. Mass shooters don’t seek to rob you of your possessions or exact revenge on a particular person; instead, they indiscriminately kill many, almost all of whom have no real connection to the killer and no means to defend themselves.
As mass shootings are materially different from shootings of other kinds, the argument for policy to prevent mass shootings must be separated from the argument for policy tailored to stopping gun crime in general. Unfortunately, those on the left are unwilling to recognize this distinction in their current campaigns.
It’s important to note the context of this moment in our national debate about guns. What has been the recent approach to gun policy in general? States have eased rules, especially regarding concealed carry licenses and the failed assault rifle ban. Juxtaposed to those developments is a declaration that nearly all places with large amounts of people must be gun-free, an approach which contradicts the direction of gun policy more broadly. While other categories of gun crime have seen dramatic decreases in incidents for decades, mass shootings have increased. While there is a debate regarding cultural explanations for this phenomenon, there is also a far simpler legal explanation.
The introduction of schools as safe zones was intuitively reasonable only at the most cursory level of analysis. As data on concealed carry licenses show, criminals are less likely to use a weapon when they know others are armed as well.
States and the federal government ought to have a serious debate regarding the need for armed security in schools. While this should be one of those “common sense gun measures” we hear about so often, another admittedly controversial proposal—allowing teachers with concealed carry licenses to carry at work—deserves consideration. It’s important to think of what teachers usually do in the awful circumstance of an ongoing school shooting; they barricade the doors, gather the students in a corner or otherwise hide them, and hope the shooter doesn’t make it in. The logic that argues a teacher standing in front of his students during this ordeal would be less safe with a gun is so bizarre as to strain credulity.
Why are these options never discussed? The answer is simple, but not encouraging—one side isn’t daring enough, and the other has ulterior motives.
The often untimely incompetence of Republicans in Congress is so well-documented that it does not merit any discussion. What is far more interesting is the approach of Democrats and the left. They pushed through the failed assault weapons ban and various attempts at unconstitutional gun control. Their representatives issued borderline histrionic calls for banning everything from silencers—a Hillary Clinton classic—to requiring the police to check the homes of gun owners. After decades and decades of failure on this issue, Democrats refuse to budge for the one situation, a mass shooting, in which only another armed person can quickly stop the attack. It’s the sole circumstance in which even the most anti-gun of leftists can concede without embarrassment that a gun is truly the only credible option.
The reality is leftists do want to stop violence, but their secondary motivation is limiting guns, regardless of whether doing so fits legal precedent, American history and culture, and the hard evidence. They are no less ideologically motivated to ban so-called assault weapons than they originally were in 1994—Sen. Chris Murphy tried in 2012. Likewise, it is clear that their ambitions have not been moderated if one observes their rhetoric. President Obama, while he was in office, repeatedly referred to countries like Australia in his argument for gun control, never mentioning that those other nations the left admires have nearly universal gun bans.
If it feels like the Democrats are desperate when they churn up yet another failed or ineffective gun control idea, it’s because they are so subsumed by an anti-gun movement within their ranks that they render their entire political party immune to evidence and the plainly demonstrable will of the People. This is, indeed, a pattern that conservatives like me greatly enjoy. When Americans make clear in poll after poll that they respect the national anthem, Democrats support those kneeling and even refuse to stand when Trump repeats that popular sentiment at the State of the Union. When voters of all races support voter ID laws, Democrats use it as a wedge issue on race. In case another example is needed, Democrats have managed to make themselves the anti-police and anti-statue party, when the majority of America yet again takes a different view.
Ultimately, when Obama condescended to those inferior people—one might even call them “deplorables”—who cling to their “guns and bibles,” he was not just expressing his personal view. He was expressing the product of a cultural and political phenomenon on the left that has ensconced it in its own vacuous condescension. It’s the sort of attitude that leads Justin Trudeau to tell a woman to use “humankind” instead of “mankind,” one that provides the moral superiority complex necessary to paint those who think Christians shouldn’t be forced to provide for gay weddings and those who are pro-life as bigots unworthy of consideration or even basic tolerance. Notably, this is all occurring as Democrats are praising the sister of Kim Jong Un, purposefully releasing terrorists, and ignoring the conflict in Syria to ingratiate themselves with Iran.
Moral condescension of this repetitive and spectacular scale is the left’s preferred version of politics at the moment, in spite of the fairly abysmal moral record it currently holds.
Though when your condescension gets in the way of the view of the body politic and often American culture itself, it might just lead you to lose 900 seats in State houses, both chambers of Congress, and a presidency. If I must guess, I predict the Democrats will continue unperturbed by their failures, commiserating over how Hollywood and the college campus aren’t quite enough anymore.