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Watching President Biden rattle on last night — the White House has posted the transcript here — I thought it was time to get serious about gum control. Yes, it’s time for Biden to quit flapping his gums with the usual dynamics ranging from a whisper to a shout in the deranged old-man style to which we have become accustomed.
Biden himself appeared to have gum control in the back of his mind as he spoke: “For so many of you at home, I want to be very clear: This is not about taking away anyone’s guns. It’s about vili- — not about vilifying gum [sic] — gun owners.” That [sic] was inserted by the official White House Bracketologist, not by me.
Is there anyone among his minders in the daycare operation at the White House who believe he is an effective advocate of any public policy proposal? I think Biden’s statement requires translation. He’s saying: “This is about taking away your guns.”
Biden rattled on about “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines.” He wants to ban them. That is his first choice. He harks back to the golden age of the “assault weapons ban” that ran from 1994-2004:
We should reinstate the assault weapons ban and high-capacity magazines that we passed in 1994 with bipartisan support in Congress and the support of law enforcement. Nine categories of semi-automatic weapons were included in that ban, like AK-47s and AR-15s.
And in the 10 years it was law, mass shootings went down. But after Republicans let the law expire in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled. Those are the facts.
Are those the facts? I hate to turn to a Washington Post fact-check on this point late last week, but this is too handy not to use. “Despite their notoriety,” Glenn Kessler writes, “mass shootings — as defined by criminologists — generally do not happen often enough for detailed data analysis. Moreover, there are at least eight databases of mass shootings, including one maintained by The Washington Post, with different definitions and parameters.”
Kessler noted that Biden “appears to be relying on a study of mass shooting data from 1981 to 2017, published in 2019 in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery by a team led by Charles DiMaggio, a professor of surgery at New York University’s Langone Medical Center,” and adds that the study has been disputed.
Kessler turned to an upcoming paper for the Justice Department, written by a team led by James Alan Fox of Northeastern University, Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections and Michael Rocque of Bates College. It attempts to craft a common definition: “A mass public shooting is any event in which four or more individuals, not including the assailant(s), were killed by gunfire in a public setting within a 24-hour period. Mass shootings associated with criminal activity are excluded.” According to this study:
The new mass-shooting database shows that there were 31 mass shootings in the decade before the 1994 law, 31 in the 10 years the law was in force (Sept. 13, 1994 to Sept. 12, 2004) and 47 in the 10 years after it expired. As noted, some of that increase stems from population growth.
In short, we may fairly question whether mass shootings decreased during the 10 years of the “assault weapons ban” and whether they tripled after it expired. Determining the efficacy of the “assault weapons ban” is complicated at best.
In lieu of a return to the golden age, Biden wants to raise the age of lawful purchasers from 18 to 21. As Kevin Williamson observes, however, it is probably untenable to have an explicitly guaranteed constitutional right denied to people who are old enough to vote under the 26th Amendment. “Of course,” he adds, “we’ll have to do something about all those child soldiers in our military, with the median age of new Marines hovering around 19.”
Biden cannot be trusted on even the most elementary points that he makes. Should gun manufacturers be liable to suit for flawlessly designed and manufactured products? He thinks that their legal immunity is “outrageous,” which suggests that he wants to put them out of business. This is about taking away your guns.
Well, how about spending more government funds to foster mental health? Listening to Biden is driving me out of my mind, so there is that, and I’m a Support mental health or I’ll kill you kind of a guy.
Others who know more about the vagaries of the definition of “assault weapons,” the pretenses of “gun control,” and the relevant research will weigh in. You are crazy, however, and may well be in need of mental health services yourself if you take anything Biden says at face value.
UPDATE: Kevin Williamson comments on Biden’s speech:
I’d love it if we would start enforcing a few of the gun laws we already have in place. For instance, we could follow through and prosecute people who commit fraud on the ATF forms needed to purchase a firearm. But, I suppose President Biden doesn’t want to send Hunter to the penitentiary. What he does want to do is set the stage for a gigantic wealth transfer from U.S.-based manufacturers to Democrat-aligned interest groups via dishonest litigation. At least the Democrats are consistent: It doesn’t matter how many Americans have to die, they’re going to make sure they get paid.