Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"If the concern is radical Islamist terrorism, gun control appears more ineffective than usual."

The cognitive dissonance is astounding.  Has Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Forgotten About Paris or Kenya or the Second Amendment? - Hit & Run : "...countries with stricter gun control laws than in the U.S. are struggling to find something to do to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists too. In Europe, while it may be far harder for law-abiding residents to acquire legal firearms, terrorists are able to acquire actual "weapons of war," automatic weapons, that have are largely banned in the U.S. despite the misleading rhetoric used by the anti-gun left. Neither were tough gun laws able to stop the 2013 radical Islamist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya or the 2015 attack on Garissa University in Kenya or numerous other terrorist attacks around the world. 

If the concern is radical Islamist terrorism, gun control appears more ineffective than usual. It would also be interesting to know why the Obama administration didn't deploy this argument after the 2009 Fort Hood shooting or the 2015 San Bernardino shooting. The Fort Hood shooter was a member of the U.S. military, so could access legal firearms even if guns were otherwise banned in the U.S., while the San Bernardino shooter, also a government employee, acquired his weapons legally in a state, California, with some of the strictest anti-gun laws in the country. They make imperfect pretexts.

This too cute by half approach to categorizations of shootings for the purpose of specific agendas is fairly popular, and so the political arguments surrounding gun control can be frustrating. Definitions are constantly changing to fit narratives. The term "assault rifle," for example, which according to the U.S. Army and Oxford's English Dictionary is a rifle that has an automatic and semi-automatic setting, is used to refer to semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, itself a brand that's become a metonym for a wide range of rifles. Automatic weapons have largely been banned in the U.S. since the 1930s. That doesn't stop even members of Congress with military backgrounds from lying about what kind of weapons are available legally in the U.S. There's also the rush to identify the shooter in order to deploy an appropriate narrative...

The definition of mass shootings also depends on the political agenda. If the target is rifles, then a narrower definition is used so that the rifle is overrepresented as the weapon of choice. If the target is guns generally, a broader definition is used to juice the mass shootings number...

As J.D. Tuccille noted in his column yesterday, law enforcement officials are starting to acknowledge the usefulness of gun rights in fighting terrorism aimed at "soft targets." Interpol's secretary general at the time the Nairobi terrorist attack happened, for example, said such attacks made "police around the world question their views on gun control." "You have to ask yourself, 'Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?' This is something that has to be discussed," he continued. That's the exact opposite tack the Homeland Security secretary is taking. The U.S. destabilized Iraq, helping to form ISIS, it has demanded more and more power for the federal government to snoop on us and people around the world, has dropped bombs in countless countries, helping to radicalize people abroad and at home. Now, after aggravating the terror threat they want to disarm the population they've put at risk."

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