Rich Lowry: Questions for gun-controllers
In the wake of the Newtown horror, a call has gone up for a conversation about our gun laws.
To that end, here are questions for advocates of gun control pushing for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, among other new restrictions, to address school shootings.
What’s the functional difference between an assault weapon and a semiautomatic rifle? You do understand that the answer is “nothing”? An assault weapon is not an automatic weapon. It is semiautomatic, like most guns now sold in the United States, i.e., it fires every time the trigger is pulled. What sets it apart is its scary-looking features.
What’s more powerful, the Bushmaster .223 used by Adam Lanza in his slaughter or the average deer-hunting rifle? If the answer is the average deer-hunting rifle — indeed, many states ban the Bushmaster .223 for deer hunting because it is too weak — will you attempt to ban it, too?
What gun law would have stopped Newtown? Please be specific. Adam Lanza’s mother didn’t have a criminal record. Neither did he. If the Bushmaster .223 had been banned, he could have done the same with a semiautomatic rifle. If all semiautomatic rifles were banned — something that would never pass Congress — he could have done the same with a semiautomatic handgun. If high-capacity magazines had been banned, he could have reloaded with smaller magazines.
How many guns are in the United States? The answer is 280 million. In a country with that many guns, how is gun control possibly going to succeed? If you ban a small subset of new guns for sale, what are you going to do about the rest? Let’s say you succeed beyond anything that is remotely possible. Let’s say you somehow stop the new sale of guns altogether and somehow decommission half of existing guns. What are you going to do with the other 140 million guns?
Does the Virginia Tech massacre affect your view of the efficacy of an assault-weapons ban? In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho perpetrated the deadliest shooting in the country’s history. He killed 32 people using two semiautomatic handguns.
Why has violent crime declined in the United States during the past 20 years even as gun ownership has ticked up? According to Gallup, nearly half of adults have a gun on their property, the highest number since 1993. Why has crime declined even as gun-control laws have been liberalized?
The assault-weapons ban passed in 1994 and was in effect for 10 years. The paradigmatic school shooting took place at Columbine High School in 1999. Why didn’t the assault-weapons ban prevent it?
There have been hundreds of murders with guns this year in Chicago, where gun laws are restrictive. What new gun laws does the city need to stop the tide of mayhem? There have been hundreds more in New York City, where the mayor is the foremost anti-gun scold in the country. What new gun laws does New York need?
Why aren’t violent crimes routinely committed at gun ranges teeming with people who own multiple weapons, some of them quite dangerous-looking, and who enjoy shooting them?
Why do gun-free school laws never succeed in stopping lunatics bent on murder from taking guns to schools?
NRA President Wayne LaPierre proposed posting armed police officers at schools in his widely derided press conference the other day. Would you feel at least a little bit better if an armed officer were guarding your child’s school? Please be honest.
In places where guns are the tightest, why do so many people own guns anyway? In your zeal against guns, do you favor stop-and-frisk policies to catch people carrying illegal guns in those major urban areas?
In your view, should a public policy have a discernible connection to its stated goal to make it worth pursuing? Or is it enough that it be well-intentioned and opposed by the NRA? Actually, there’s no need to answer that. It’s obvious enough already.
Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.