This column by ACRU Senior Fellow and Policy Board member J. Kenneth Blackwell was published October 10, 2017 by The Hill.
Words are inadequate to describe the horror of the Las Vegas shooting. There is evil in the world.
What is most shocking, however, is that for liberals, evil realized is merely another opportunity to score political points.
The reaction is to immediately, indeed, instantaneously, politicize the most hideous crime without pausing to learn the facts. (Unless, of course, if the murderer appears to be Muslim, when we must not to jump to conclusions!)
The dead were still being identified when liberal politicians, celebrities, pundits and activists began blaming the carnage on anyone who did not endorse the standard left-wing agenda. Even though none of the panaceas advanced by Democratic politicians would have stopped Stephen Paddock — who exhibited no signs of mental illness, radical political sentiments or criminal intent — from committing mass murder.
Television host Jimmy Kimmel said GOP leaders should pray for forgiveness for “letting the gun lobby run this country.” If he meant the NRA, it barely breaks into the top 500 political contributors nationally. And the NRA is actually tens of millions of peaceful, law-abiding people across the nation.
South African “comedian” Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show” went even further. He said he’d “never been to a country where people are as afraid to speak about guns.” He said that … on national TV, to every American who tuned in.
Leftie columnists Nicholas Kristof and Richard Cohen regurgitated their usual proposals for restricting gun ownership, even though those proposals would not have impeded Paddock.
Their objective is not just to win votes for Democrats. It is to write out of polite society anyone who doesn’t share their views.
To liberals, Paddock wasn’t responsible for the atrocity in Las Vegas. It was those who don’t believe in taking away guns from everyone else in America. Liberals believe every gun owner to be complicit in the Las Vegas murders.
If the left were serious, it would try to understand the facts of the crime: Paddock gave off no obvious warning signals; the only way to prevent him from owning a weapon would have been to stop every American from owning a weapon.
Anyone seriously concerned about violence knows that none of the usual panaceas would do much to reduce gun deaths. Gun restrictions in countries such as Australia and Great Britain didn’t end gun-related crimes.
“Assault weapons” is a fake category, cooked up for political purposes. Most guns are “semi-automatics.” Silencers do not enable James Bond wannabes to silently kill; they only modestly reduce the noise.
Purchase limits won’t stop a criminal from planning ahead. Any competent person can quickly swap out gun magazines. Gun shows account for only a small percentage of sales, and dealers still must follow the usual rules. Machine guns are extremely hard to obtain, and the legally owned ones have been used in a crime only three times since 1934.
There also are many other ways to kill. European terrorists have perfected the use of the common truck against pedestrian crowds.
Moreover, the left refuses to acknowledge the benefits of gun ownership to millions of Americans. Guns provide protection, especially for poorer Americans who live in neighborhoods which receive less police attention. They also are widely used for sport, from hunting to target shooting.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems that we should address. One is crime. Gun control would ensure that only criminals had guns. We need to do better at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals instead of harassing the law-abiding.
We also should focus on protecting people from criminals, whatever their weapon of choice. Unfortunately, all too often the left views killers as victims.
Gangs are an incubator of crime, including gun violence; the problem has been exacerbated by the illegal entry of violent gang members from Central America. “Gun control” for the law-abiding won’t disarm these killers.
Women need improved protection from domestic violence. A knife, or even a fist, can kill.
Two-thirds of gun-related deaths are from suicide; someone determined to end his or her life won’t stop, even if no guns are available. We need to better help people, especially members of vulnerable groups, such as veterans.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to learn lessons from this tragedy. Paddock discovered a particularly effective way to murder — choose a hotel overlooking a large open public space. What can we do to protect against a terrorist band using the same technique?
Las Vegas was a horrendous example of the persistence and power of evil. Some things just can’t be explained.
Even so, they shouldn’t be politicized.
Conservatives and gun owners are not responsible for Stephen Paddock’s crimes. He is.