Another gunman targeted innocent victims in another mass public shooting this week, this time in Jacksonville, Florida. The resulting political outcry from gun control activists is as predictable as it is pointless.
They'll demand red flag laws, waiting periods, and a minimum purchase age for firearms.
Never mind that Florida has had these laws on the books for years—they'll demand them anyway.
They'll insist this is why we need so-called universal background checks, either not understanding or not caring that the problem with mass public shooters isn't that they evade existing background check laws, but that they (with very few exceptions) can and do pass background checks despite clear warning signs. They don't care, of course, if they further burden common, low-risk gun transfers without in any way addressing the real problem. They just have to “do something.”
They'll blame the so-called “Charleston Loophole,” the greatly maligned three-day limit on the government's power to delay a gun transfer while it conducts a background check. It won't matter in the slightest that Florida “closed” that alleged loophole.
They'll allege that the shooting is the fault of Florida's supposedly lax public carry laws. Of course, they'll forget to mention that mass public shooters don't care about laws prohibiting murder, much less laws telling them not to carry guns in public. They'll gloss right over the fact that many shooters even target “no gun zones” precisely because they know law-abiding victims won't be armed. And they'll conveniently ignore that the Jacksonville gunman appeared to have the same idea, initially targeting a college campus, where the carrying of firearms is prohibited.
They'll insist that fewer people will die if we limit mass killers to 10-round magazines. It doesn't matter that these shooters simply don't fire at fast enough rates for magazine capacity to matter, that most of them bring multiple firearms and extra loaded magazines, or that for more than 100 years mass killers have caused equally significant carnage with far more rudimentary guns. They'll never bother explaining how we should go about removing potentially hundreds of millions of these standard-capacity magazines from the streets, or why law enforcement officers should be permitted to use them to defend themselves against criminals while law-abiding citizens can pound sand.
They'll demand that we ban the possession of commonly owned and constitutionally protected semi-automatic rifles, not because they're objectively more dangerous than “non-assault” versions of the same gun, but merely because Gun Control, Inc., took advantage of national ignorance about firearm mechanics.
It doesn't matter in the slightest that perpetrators of mass violence can and often do kill a lot of innocent people with “non-assault” weapons. They won't consider that gunmen in Charleston and at Virginia Tech killed far more people with handguns, or that gunmen in Buffalo and Monterey Park caused significant devastation despite statewide bans on “assault weapon" possession. It's far easier to focus on red herrings like pistol grips than on the much more complicated reality: people who present high risks of violence toward themselves or others need to be deprived of all lethal means, without restricting any mechanisms of self-defense for those who aren't dangerous.
Gun control advocates will do all of this and more, after every single mass public shooting, knowing that most Americans won't bother to dig beneath the surface of their claims. They'll continue promoting their tired, simplistic, bumper-sticker slogan approach to this very nuanced and complex issue. They will feign caring deeply about gun violence victims while pursuing the policy equivalent of putting band-aids on a cancer patient.
We have a very real national crisis of disillusioned young men who are increasingly alienated from society, overly connected to the internet, and full of anger. They are too easily pulled into extremism and too often turn to violence as an outlet.
We have a local, state, and national mental health infrastructure that is, to put it nicely, failing and falling apart. While many public shooters do not necessarily have a diagnosable mental illness, they're rarely the epitome of mental stability. But it turns out that addressing this complicated, decades-long problem and ensuring people get help before they're in crisis is difficult. It's far easier, and more profitable, to lobby against a specific type of scary-looking gun.
We have too many states that make it difficult and expensive for peaceful citizens to exercise their unalienable right to self-defense, both in public and in their own homes. At the same time, government officials undermine the same police departments they ask us to wait on for assistance when confronted with imminent violent threats.
In Jacksonville, lives were saved by an armed campus security officer who approached and deterred the gunman before he could fire a single shot on university grounds. Meanwhile, Gun Control, Inc., rakes in money for mocking the idea of a “good guy with a gun” while failing to acknowledge the obvious: the faster a violent threat is confronted by armed resistance, the faster that threat ends and the fewer people die.
We deserve better than the current list of bumper-sticker solutions to the most surface-level and fringe aspects of violence.
Until we force ourselves to change the way we collectively approach mass public shootings, we will keep spinning in circles while people die.
This piece originally appeared in Newsweek