Mass Shootings and Shark Attacks

One of the favorite Democratic accusations is that conservatives have no policy prescriptions for preventing dramatic crimes such as the mass murder that was just committed in Las Vegas. That’s mostly true: Better mental-health care might have prevented the massacre in Sandy Hook, and better surveillance of jihadists might have prevented the one in Orlando, but the killer in Las Vegas had no known history of mental illness and no criminal record.

The instruments of crime change, but the crimes themselves do not. The worst school massacre in American history wasn’t a Columbine or Sandy Hook and it did not involve any firearms at all: It happened in 1927 in Bath, Mich., when a bankrupt, failed politician bombed the local school. The worst mass shooting in U.S. history was not, contrary to the news, the one that just happened in Las Vegas. That happened in — depending on who is doing the counting — 1917 in East St. Louis, or in 1873 in Colfax, La., or in 1921 in Tulsa, Okla., or in 1919 in Arkansas. All of those were mob-violence episodes in which white terrorists, often working under the leadership of Democratic politicians, massacred African Americans, hundreds at a time. Some were shot, some were hanged, some were burned alive.

But episodes like the one in Las Vegas are pretty rare. It’s a sharks-vs.-cows thing: We worry about shark attacks, which are terrifying but which do not actually happen very often. The animals that are most likely to kill you are either tiny (mosquitos, bees) or herbivores: very territorial moose, and cows and deer standing in the roadway.

It may be that there simply aren’t any good ideas on that front, meaning policies that would be effective and consistent with our constitutional order. But those are the shark attacks, and 99 percent of the homicides in this country are nothing like that: They are ordinary crimes, many of them involving no firearms at all. The ones that do involve firearms overwhelmingly involve ordinary, common handguns, not exotic long guns.

read more:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *