While no one but James Hodgkinson expected the shooting in Alexandria, Virginia Wednesday morning, the almost immediate response was inevitable. Leftist publications and progressive Twitter trolls across the nation chimed in immediately to call for stricter gun control. The Hill’s opinion piece, submitted by none other than Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt, is a prime example. Feinblatt’s article is a thinly veiled attempt to push the anti-gun agenda by capitalizing on the raw emotions left in the wake of the shooting. He presents the usual misleading arguments, but even shock over this and other similar events can’t change the truth. This isn’t a gun problem. This is a people problem.
The very first paragraph links the Alexandria shooting to the UPS shooting in San Francisco in which an employee went to work and attacked some of his coworkers before killing himself. Not much is currently known about UPS gunman Jimmy Lam, other than he was a thirty-eight-year-old Asian male who kept mostly to himself and worked for UPS. He had some issues with management and apparently was estranged from his wife. Just as with James Hodgkinson, more details are sure to surface as time goes on. When this happens, perhaps we’ll be able to understand better what happened there.
The second through fourth paragraphs set the scene with descriptions of the shooting in Alexandria, stories of members of Congress shielding children, and praise for the police officers from both sides of the aisle. It is the fifth paragraph that begins the decline of this article into a call for increased regulation, and paragraph six gives a preemptive deflection of any argument against his points to come:
Over the coming days and weeks, people will point fingers and try to figure out how to prevent such tragedies in the future.
The time for that discussion will come. For now, we should remember the lasting image of the House Democratic baseball team Wednesday morning, praying, together, for their colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
Immediately after this, the gun control argument comes out in full force. Mr. Feinblatt invokes the name of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords – he even calls her an American hero – and presents the following set of numbers:
We know that gun violence kills more than 90 Americans each day. No other developed nation suffers from so much gun violence, and our gun homicide rate is more than 25 times the average of other developed nations.
While the U.S. does see more violent crimes – gun related and otherwise – than most of the developed world, using the average is misleading. By comparing one item to the mean of a group, the highest and lowest values for the group are essentially ignored. There isn’t any explanation of where Feinblatt gets his numbers, but according to a nationmaster.com report – which cites the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as the source – both Russia and China had more intentional homicides than the U.S. in 2010.
Regardless of how these numbers were calculated or what nations were included in Feinblatt’s “developed nations,” the United States does have a ridiculously high number of violent crimes each year – and more of them occur in the large cities of states with stricter gun control laws than anywhere else.
According to the FBI, there were approximately 14,249 murders in the U.S. in 2014. 4649 – 32.6% of them – happened in the states with the strictest gun control – those states receiving an A or B rating by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. That’s a third of all murders taking place in just under a quarter of the states. Naturally, New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago were the top three cities when ranked by total homicides.
Gun control advocates and residents of these places like to argue for the use of per capita values rather than raw numbers, but the reason for its use is itself the flaw. As populations approach either very high or low numbers, the results get increasingly misleading. For example, a single murder in a town of 2,500 would result in a per capita murder rate of (1 murder per 100,000 people/2,500 actual pop.) 40. The per capita rate of the entire country’s 14,249 homicides is only 4.5! This does not make Los Angeles a safer place to call home than Lake Village, Arkansas.
There is a real violence problem in the United States, but the problem isn’t guns. It’s the murderous people who use them irresponsibly. Several years ago, the Independent Review Journal used 2011 statistical data to show that 99.995% of all guns in the U.S. are never employed in a homicide – and errs on the side of caution by assuming that no single gun is used in multiple killings and then rounding up a little. As the author states, “if guns actually caused murders, nearly 90% of the U.S. population would have been killed last year.”
And that pretty much says it all.