Obama to oppose assault weapon legislation?
So we can stop talking about “assault rifles” then?
President Obama wasted no time after the recent school shooting in Oregon to seize the moment for a political jab at gun control opponents, and to celebrate the cause of more gun controls. While his remarks are full of platitudes and downright falsehoods buoying his position and demonizing his opponents, there is perhaps, one area where common ground might be found.
The president said in part, “I would ask news organizations — because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me; it will be coming from you.”
Now, I don’t think the common ground will be in putting those numbers side by side, but perhaps, in agreeing to treat relative risk appropriately. I know the NRA would like gun control proponents to do so, especially regarding assault weapons, or more appropriately “assault weapons”. The scare quotes are there because these firearms are simply rifles that look more menacing than other rifles of the same type. They literally fire the same bullets in the same way with the same results as other firearms. It’s the optics. They look cool/menacing/mean/frightening. Those looks are a principal part of their appeal and denigration depending on which side of the debate you choose.
No matter your aesthetic judgements in rifles, the facts show that these firearms are not statistically significant in violent incidents in the United States. Since the classification “assault weapon” is a cosmetic one, there can be no accurate information about how many were used in crimes – the statistic would be akin to asking how many houses in “nice neighborhoods” are burglarized. We do however know how many murders were committed by all rifles. 248.
According to the FBI’s latest crime report from 2014, there were 248 homicides in the U.S. attributable to all rifles. Surely those killed are a tragedy, but much like the relative risk and attention the president would like us to apply with some proportion, let’s take a look at another number revealed in the report – 660. No, that’s not the number of murders on a typical Chicago weekend, that’s the number of people murdered by hands and feet in 2014.
Now these are the president’s own numbers – his FBI has published the statistic. The president’s own numbers say these firearms are not really used to kill americans – do you think he’ll stop trying to take them away from law abiding citizens?
If not, why? Are American’s right to be skeptical of a president who demands they surrender their arms – arms that have been demonized falsely? One of the points in defense of private gun ownership made in the Democrat presidential primary debate by Jim Webb, is that many on that stage exist in a security bubble protected at all times by armed guards. What about the rest of us? Would you live in a South Side Chicago neighborhood unarmed?