Sorry, gun guys, but President Obama didn’t say that

21Jun15

america-__continues-to-be-a-racist-country__-in-wake-of-sc-shooting-__-political-scientist.si

Almost before the sound of gunshots finished echoing from the walls of a South Carolina church, President Obama said America suffers more mass shootings than other advanced nations. And almost before President Obama finished his statement, gun rights supporters accused him of being wrong.

“This kind of violence doesn’t happen in the rest of the world,” President Obama allegedly said, to much scoffing and derisive laughter.

I’m extremely interested in this case, for many reasons. I’m a passionate 2nd Amendment advocate who understands why the founding fathers believed an armed citizenry is crucial to freedom. I’m a longtime police officer who trained on the mechanics of responding to mass shooting attacks, studied the dynamics of mass shootings, and spent years helping train other officers on active shooter response. As a combat veteran, I’ve faced private citizens armed with rifles who successfully resisted a large, organized military force. As a political independent who’s not a fan of President Obama’s policies, I’m always on watch for evidence he doesn’t understand the realities I’ve faced and trained for.

Like many other gun rights supporters, I read reports of President Obama’s “this doesn’t happen elsewhere” quote with a mixture of revulsion and amazement. But I was also skeptical; passionate conservatives are just as willing to lie and distort as passionate liberals, and before I believed someone else’s version of President Obama’s words I decided to look into it myself. So I read several articles, and watched video of his statement.

The conservative website The Federalist, which I have contributed an article to in the past, quoted him as saying, “Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. … We as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” The Federalist then provided a laundry list of mass shootings in other countries, showing that of COURSE this kind of violence happens in the rest of the world. The Federalist‘s conclusion seemed to be that if President Obama said massacres don’t happen in other countries, he can’t be taken seriously.

The problem is, that’s not what he said. And it’s obvious that’s not what he said. Or, I should say, that’s not all he said.

Here’s the actual quote:

“Now is the time for mourning and healing, but let’s be clear. At some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this type of frequency.”

Watch the video to hear it for yourself. The relevant part begins at 3:10.

Now that we’ve heard the President’s actual words, and before we debate them, let’s set some foundations.

First: mature, intelligent, rational discussion requires us to respond to what our ideological opponents actually say, rather than what we want them to say, or expect them to say, or what a likeminded echo chamber tells us they said.

Second: we should judge the merits of our opponents’ (or allies’) arguments rather than their tone or our perception of their overall message.

Third: if we ignore crucial points in a statement (i.e. It doesn’t happen in other places with this type of frequency) and instead focus on a snippet of what was said because it suits our purposes (i.e. this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries), we’re not being honest.

Fourth: a dishonest argument is inherently weak.

Fair enough?

President Obama didn’t say mass shootings never happen in other advanced countries, he said they don’t happen with the same frequency as they do here. That’s the objective reality about his claim. The furor from my fellow gun rights supporters, sparked by narrow focus on a small part of the President’s statement – “This type of mass violence doesn’t happen in other advanced countries” – is unfair, dishonest and only manages to make our side look weak. Intentionally trying to mislead the public about the President’s claim doesn’t help further gun rights.

 This meme is a deliberate misrepresentation of the President's statement.


This meme is a deliberate misrepresentation of the President’s statement.

Unfortunately for my fellow gun rights supporters who are knee-jerk reactionaries, President Obama didn’t say what they claim he said. He did say we have more mass shootings than other countries. Is that true?

Yes, it is.

In response to the President’s statement, the website IJReview published an article about mass killings in the US compared to other countries. They cited a chart from another, no longer functioning site listing mass shootings which occurred between 2009 and 2013 in several advanced nations.

http://www.ijreview.com/2015/06/348197-obama-said-mass-shootings-dont-happen-in-advanced-countries-like-in-us-one-chart-proves-him-wrong/

Screenshot-6_18_2015-9_43_12-PM

The chart clearly shows America in the lead on mass shootings, with 38 during the reporting period. No other nation on the chart had more than two. This certainly suggests the US experiences more mass shootings than the other countries listed. IJReview, however, reached a different conclusion.

“The bottom line: The United States falls from number one due to its frequency of 38 mass shootings from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2013 (which would be number one without correcting for population) to number seven.” IJR seems to be referring to per capita mass shootings deaths rather than total incidents. While our per-capita mass shooting deaths may be lower, President Obama didn’t claim we had the highest number of mass shooting deaths. He said we had more mass shootings.

Of course the next objection is “You can’t compare a country with a huge population like America against countries with tiny populations like Slovakia.” Fair enough. So let’s add all the other countries’ populations together, and compare the total to the US population.

Population of Norway, Finland, Slovakia, Israel, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Canada and France combined: approximately 304 million.

Population of America: 314 million.

Since those populations are so close in number, they should have a similar number of mass shootings, right?

Total number of mass shootings in Norway, Finland, Slovakia, Israel, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Canada and France combined between 2009 and 2013: 17.

Total number of mass shootings in America 2009-2013: 38.

With a roughly 4% population difference between America and all eleven other countries combined, we had more than 50% more mass shootings.

No, not all our massacres have been as horrible as their massacres. The nine dead in South Carolina “aren’t as bad” as the 77 murdered during Norway’s Utoya Island massacre and the associated bombing in Oslo. But again, President Obama didn’t claim we had the worst massacres. He didn’t claim the mass shooting results are worse here than elsewhere. He simply – and clearly – stated “this type of violence” occurs more frequently here than in other advanced nations. And he was right.

Now, what does that mean?

President Obama made a reference to the availability of guns and the difficulty of enacting gun control legislation: “The politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now…At some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.” His belief, expressed verbally and through his attempts to pass new gun control measures, is that restricting access to guns will help stop mass shootings.

President Obama is wrong.

His statement about America having more mass shootings than other advanced nations is correct. His conclusion that further restricting guns is the solution isn’t. As we’ve seen over and over for decades, banning guns from private hands doesn’t actually remove them from private hands. Legislation doesn’t change the laws of physics, or human nature. Legislation isn’t a physical barrier that prevents criminals or the criminally insane from obtaining guns, and it’s not a physical barrier to the bullets they fire at innocent people. Legislation without a means of enforcement is simply a wish; if a law alone was enough to stop crime, murders would never happen to begin with. To actually stop mass shootings, a law would have to 1) physically stop criminals from obtaining weapons, and 2) physically stop them once they try to murder innocent people.

The United States has a culture of private gun ownership that’s centuries old, with an estimated 310 million privately-owned weapons throughout the country in 2009 (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32842.pdf). Without question, that number rose significantly during the post-Sandy Hook gun-buying craze; I highly doubt the hundreds of thousands who rushed to buy AR-15s in anticipation of a ban wanted to be the first in line to turn them back in. Those hundreds of millions of weapons are out there, and even if police confiscated a million guns a year, a total confiscation plan would take centuries to implement.

Police in Boston, a major city, confiscated only 500 illegal or illegally possessed guns in 2012 (http://patch.com/massachusetts/northend/police-confiscated-500-illegal-guns-from-boston-streee26dd834bb). Even if an aggressive campaign were launched to remove all guns, even if Boston managed to find 50,000 illegal guns a year, even if police nationwide managed to find an astounding and unbelievable five million guns per year, total confiscation would still take over sixty years. And it still wouldn’t work, because we’d never find them all, and we’d never stop new ones coming in to replace confiscated ones.

I’ve been a cop for over twenty years, and military for longer than that. One thing I’m sure of: there’s no way, ever, that police could find and confiscate all the guns in America. Most cops I know wouldn’t even try it. My point 1 above, that a gun law would have to physically stop criminals from obtaining guns, isn’t possible in this country.

And all gun laws become useless and ineffective once someone reaches the point of committing a mass murder. When a dedicated murderer pulls his pistol in a church and aims in on innocent people, all that matters is who and what can physically stop him from pulling the trigger. Police, even police a block away, won’t stop him from shooting. “Gun Free Zone” signs are pathetically worthless; if they had any effect at all, we’d simply place “No Mass Murder” signs at all public venues. And someone who wants to slaughter innocent people and die or go to prison afterward won’t worry too much about breaking a relatively minor gun law.

On point 2 above, even Vice President Joe Biden agrees: new laws won’t stop mass shootings.

The ONLY way to stop mass shootings is to give the intended victims the means to effectively resist. In South Carolina a 21 year old coward was able to murder defenseless people at will, but not because he was such a highly-trained gunfighter. He wasn’t a fighter at all. Like almost every mass shooter, he was great at murdering unarmed people but had no desire to face anyone who could actually fight back. His “bravery” was limited to shooting defenseless people (mostly women). Just one armed person, trained and willing to resist, would likely have ended the South Carolina church massacre long before it became a massacre. That one armed person likely couldn’t have saved everyone, but he could have saved most.

Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but I would have preferred for police officers to arrive at the church and find one or two dead innocent victims, and a brave armed parishioner standing with a smoking weapon over a dead racist coward. Instead we had allowed, once again, a pathetic, pitiful loser to take complete control of a killing field he chose, to mow down human beings far more valuable than he, with total impunity. How many more times will we let this happen before we finally realize that only armed citizens – not police and not empty, unenforceable laws – will stop violent cowards from murdering the defenseless?

President Obama didn’t claim mass shootings never happen in other countries, he claimed they happen more often in America. He was right. As gun owners and 2nd Amendment supporters, we should argue facts and logic rather than appealing to untruths and hysteria. President Obama thinks new gun laws will stop mass shootings. He’s wrong. Facts and logic tell us new gun laws do nothing but harm those who willingly follow those laws.

Please, fellow gun owners. Don’t twist the President’s words to make him look worse and us look better. Deliberate distortions work against us. Just tell the truth. It really is on our side.

RIP to the victims in South Carolina, strength to their loved ones, and swift retribution to the murderer.

4452_1084593231917_5914735_n (2)
Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

http://www.amazon.com/Proof-Our-Resolve-Chris-Hernandez-ebook/dp/B0099XMR1E/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1434904408
http://www.amazon.com/Line-Valley-Chris-Hernandez-ebook/dp/B00HW1MA2G/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0VE4FEPMPPFPE8H1FVTM

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57 Responses to “Sorry, gun guys, but President Obama didn’t say that”

  1. 1 fknauss

    Once again, a great analysis – both of the speech, and of the problem.

    An acquaintance said that these events are an opportunity for both sides to get out their usual talking points, in order to drown out discussion of the problems (such as racism and disempowerment) that lead to actions like this. Thank you for being a voice that doesn’t have to read from those playbooks.

    • fk,

      Being politically independent helps. I don’t give either side a pass on irrational stupidity. I used to see more irrational stupidity on the liberal side, but since Gov Abbott jumped into the Jade Helm conspiracy camp I’m pretty much done with both political parties.

      Thanks for the compliment, and glad to see you again. 🙂

      • 3 thefoolserrand

        Political parties create an excuse to be intellectually lazy and wear blinders. I too call’em like I see’em as I can do my own critical thinking and don’t need a party or media commentator to do it for me.

  2. 4 Sally M

    Thank you for presenting this. And we wonder why you can’t believe anything published today. I’m with you – there’s enough facts out there to have reason to support gun rights etc. And for me personally to not like our current “leader” (in quotes only because he does not meet my definition of leader). Whether a publication is liberal or conservative, I would rather just have the issues presented and allow me to make my personal decision using the intelligence I have. Sadly though, as human beings, this isn’t the way it is anywhere…so we continue to slog through all this. No wonder so many stop paying attention to anything going on.

    Date: Sun, 21 Jun 2015 17:06:33 +0000 To: sallym7187@hotmail.com

    • Yeah, it does seem to have gotten harder and harder to decipher actual facts hidden within the deliberately misleading narratives pushed by both sides. Thanks for commenting, Sally.

  3. 6 RandyGC

    Good analysis Chris. Blood dancing from either side is disgusting.

    We have reality on the side of individual rights. No need to make stuff up.

    • Bam. Exactly. When someone lies about something they don’t need to lie about, all they do is weaken what would have been a strong argument.

      By the way, I really like the term “blood dancing”.

  4. 8 Ramon from Texas

    Sound analytical approach; talking points hit the mark.
    But none of it matters when the Left, led by the Administration, decide to come after the guns yet again. Reason and analysis are not to be found. Do I think they will be successful? Not in my lifetime and not in my (Lone Star) State. So dig in and keep your range card up-to-date.

  5. 10 Don Davis

    Chris: Truly well thought out analytical piece of writing. Thank you.

  6. Chris –

    As so often has been the case, I admire your integrity here in striving to look at an issue closely & honestly. I have no quarrel with your analysis of the Obama quote.

    I also find it admirable that you went & gathered the country comparison data. And here is where I think you could do better than your current stance about gun control. Not to find a solution – but to see that there might be solutions other than the tired out, stalemated dead-ends we’re familiar with.

    Too many people have bought into the myopic notion that there are only 2 means to consider for reducing violent crime that involves guns: gun control laws, which you say don’t and won’t work in this country, and increasing the amount of armed citizens, which you say will work.

    To me this is akin to the old anecdote about a guy losing a set of car keys at night and looking for them under a streetlight. Someone asks him if he lost the keys under the streetlight. No, he says, he lost them somewhere down the street where it’s dark. “Then why are you looking here?” “Well, because there’s a light here.”

    When we think like this, we are looking too narrowly at the issue to come up with interesting useful solutions. What I would say is, if we are really interested in this issue, we could find out who is doing country comparisons as you did, but in vastly more detail. You yourself nod toward saying that U.S. culture regarding gun ownership is very different from, say, Northern European culture on this point. But you make your nod out of logic only. And logic alone is an ineffective way to find solutions to a problem. Data is a good way out – data plus analysis plus an open mind.

    There may be many interesting & useful reasons why certain other countries have lower rates of gun violence – reasons that don’t necessarily have to do with guns themselves but rather with other aspects of a culture. Some of these aspects might be worth experimenting with here in the U.S. to see if they help.

    Sure it takes effort to look. And it takes an open mind to get beyond holding onto a rigid belief that “we’re too different” or “we can’t change our ways” etc. If we don’t look, we’ll never find – and if we do look, we might find. If you look only under the streetlight, you’ll never find the keys you lost somewhere else. And if we assume from the get-go that there are two and only two potential solutions to violent crime in a society, and that these are mutually exclusive, w’ll never discover other possible solutions that might work better and wouldn’t just continue the current stalemate.

    Neither you nor I are the persons to do such research & analysis. But I sure hope someone is doing it somewhere.

    – Randy

    • I have to clarify: I was referring to how to respond to the mass shooting problem specifically. I don’t believe more armed citizens are the answer to all gun crime. For example, domestic violence won’t be stopped by more citizens being armed. An armed domestic violence victim will be able to defend themselves in some situations, but the dynamic involved with most domestic violence situations usually involves a somewhat passive victim who won’t use force against their abuser (that’s what I’ve seen, anyway). Likewise, neighborhoods overrun with gangsters who are mainly targeting each other won’t be helped by more armed citizens, since any citizen with sense would stay out of a pure gang-on-gang gunfight. Armed citizens, however, would go far toward deterring mass shootings and random street crime.

      I agree with you that this problem can’t be solved by something as simple as allowing more citizens to carry, but I also don’t claim to know the answer to all of society’s ills. Yes, we need a cultural change which (as you noted) I have no idea how to implement. However, I do have an idea of what the response needs to be once the mass shooter begins his attack. We’d all like to know how to stop people from getting to that point, but the fact is nobody knows how to prevent it.

      Changing the culture is out of my lane. Being ready to immediately respond to a mass shooter with my own controlled gunfire, and urging others to be ready to do the same, is in my lane. I wish I had more answers, but I don’t.

      • Well said.

      • 16 thefoolserrand

        There are those that submit to just laws and are not the problem and those that don’t. Regarding threats, the primary accountability of every man and woman is to defend their household and themselves when outside of the home. Limiting or removing a law abiding citizens ability to do this is immoral. I operate in the world of reality. I appreciate knowing that the police will be arriving to assist while I take immediate action to stop the threat IF I CANNOT SAFELY RETREAT. The last thing I want to do is shoot someone and have never sought to add a notch to the butt of my gun. Guns are a tool. I love the hell out of my high quality chop saw, router, chain saw…..and guns. I look forward to using them! Shooting sports and IDPA or building a new deck chair.

        “He teaches my hands to make war, so that a bow of bronze is bent by my arms.”

        “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:”

        It is not evil to train and be ready to confront evil nor is a gun evil because it has the potential to be employed to do evil.

        I learned this lesson the hard way when my wife was assaulted while I was deployed. Like a good little citizen, I complied with the laws of California that stripped me of my ability to sufficiently defend myself and family against an armed threat. Stupid me.

        Years later, my brother, who does not believe in gun ownership, received a call from the San Bernardino police that his wife was carjacked and beaten so severely, she ultimately succumbed to the devastating injuries.

        I can neither confirm nor deny that I am still a good little defenseless law abiding citizen.

        Chris, you speak of our obligation to follow the law. I used to believe as you, but no longer have that luxury.

  7. 17 OK S.

    Your point is well taken. And I don’t believe there is a way to get any real meaningful figures in this area, anyway.

    For one thing, comparing a federation of states like the U.S. with a single state, such as Israel, or a loose confederation of states like the European Union, or even the tightly controlled Russian Federation of states, wouldn’t tell you anything useful. And that doesn’t even consider how to analyze all the differnt ways to kill multiple people if guns aren’t readily available..

    • OK,

      Just yesterday I read an article about a man in Graz, Austria, who deliberately rammed a crowd of shoppers, then got out of his vehicle and began stabbing people. He killed a man, a woman, and a child. Car attacks happened frequently in Israel, and China has mass stabbing attacks. Agreed that mass murders can be carried out by other means, but to pretend it’s not easier with an AR-15 is dishonest. There’s a reason the phrase “I carry a gun because beating a man to death is hard work” became so popular.

      • 19 OK S.

        Yesterday I did a quick and dirty statistical analysis trying to see if the data told anything. Using the disreputable and always wrong Wikipedia, I was unable to replicate the chart you posted. Multiple murders are so rare that they’re are always outliers, so you can read the data anyway you want. For instance, multiple firearm murders occurred in only 33.3% of the states (+D.C) in the U.S. (17) but in 35.7% of the states in the European Union (10).

        You’ll probably have to copy the table to a simple text editor to get it to display properly (DISCLAIMER: dirty data plus any mistakes of my own):

        No.   Date        Location       State     Killed    Wounded
         1   27 Jan 2009   Los Angeles    CA          6        0
         2   10 Mar 2009   Kinston ...    AL         10        6
         3   29 Mar 2009   Carthage       NC          8        2
         4    3 Apr 2009   Binghamton     NY         13        4
         5    4 Aug 2009   Bridgeville    PA          3        9
         6    5 Nov 2009   Fort Hood      TX         13       32
         7   17 Jan 2010   Appomattox     VA          8        0
         8    3 Aug 2010   Manchester     CT          8        2
         9    8 Jan 2011   Tucson         AZ          6       13
        10   12 Oct 2011   Seal Beach     CA          8        1
        11   25 Dec 2011   Grapevine      TX          6        0
        12   27 Feb 2012   Chardon        OH          3        3
        13   20 Jul 2012   Aurora         CO         12       62
        14    5 Aug 2012   Oak Creek      WI          6        3
        15   27 Sep 2012   Minneapolis    MN          6        2
        16   14 Dec 2012   Newtown        CT         27        2
        17   15 Jan 2013   Hazard         KY          3        0
        18   19 Jan 2013   South Valley   NM          5        0
        19   24 Apr 2013   Manchester     IL          5        1
        20    7 Jun 2013   Santa Monica   CA          5        2
        21   16 Sep 2013   Washington     D.C.       12        3
        
                                                    173      147
        
        Europe
        No.   Date        Location       State     Killed    Wounded
         1   16 Jan 2009   Vrasene ...    Belgium     4       12
         2   11 Mar 2009   Winnenden ...  Germany    15        9
         3   14 May 2010   Hlapcevici     Bosnia      3        7
         4    2 Jun 2010   Copeland ...   U.K.       12       11
         5   30 Aug 2010   Devínska ...   Slovakia    7       15
         6    1 Sep 2010   Lörrach        Germany     3       18
         7    9 Apr 2011   Alphen ...     Netherlands 6       17
         8   22 Jul 2011   Oslo ...       Norway     75      241
         9   13 Dec 2011   Liège          Belgium     6      125
        10   11 Mar 2012   Toulouse ...   France      7        5
        11   19 Mar 2012   Toulouse       France      4        1
        12   19 Oct 2012   Cardiff        U.K         1       16
        13    9 Apr 2013   Velika Ivanca  Serbia     13        1
        
                                                    156      478
        
        • OK,

          Understanding that data collection is difficult, based on what you posted I still see more mass shootings in the US than in most of the rest of the developed world. Granted, many shootings in the countries you cited had worse massacres, but as far as raw numbers of incidents we still seem to have more. Based on the numbers I’ve seen recently we certainly seem to have a lower per capita mass murder rate, but that’s not the same thing as saying we don’t have a mass shooting problem (which isn’t what I think you’re claiming).

          Thanks for the intelligent comments and effort you went to in order to contribute to this debate. 🙂

  8. He said, “…that this type of mass violence doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this type of frequency.”

    That’s two statements/declarations in two separate sentences. It’s not one continuous run-on sentence or thought, and both are lies. Sorry, but Obama did say that.

    • When you make a statement, does every single sentence you say have to stand on its own, or do previous and following sentences contain important parts of the message?

      The president made a lengthy statement about the incident. His entire statement matters, not just the one sentence (further elaborated on literally seconds later) that you can exploit to support your argument.

      And as far as “not with this frequency” being a lie, please cite some evidence.

      • I am impressed with your critical thinking and clear headed response to this subject. Unexpected from a second amendment advocate. It is appreciated in an age where the president can never please the right wing, even after adding 280,000 jobs last month and giving the order to get Bin Laden. Is he perfect? Fck no. Is he succeeding, yes. Data shows it is so.
        This sums it up pretty clearly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl–YVnni0I

        • I’m sure we’d disagree on many things, but I appreciate your compliment. Thanks and please come back anytime.

        • 25 Michmike

          Wow, that was a bit of a backhanded compliment with your statement! Just because I am a 2nd amendment person does not mean I have checked my common sense at the door. Obviously you have cornered the market on ration clear headed thinking but it is nice to throw a compliment to us uneducated Mericans. I actually fall in the middle on a great many things and am college educated and ex-military and cannot stand right wing talk radio!

          Saying someone is a 2nd amendment person is filled with all kinds of preconceived ideas and then adding to it the bit about being impressed with the critical thinking skills of Chris is well…. Condescending. Not all of us are nuckle dragging shit kickers who go around in dirty beaters on our way to the Piggly Wiggly to get a case of PBR and a case of pork rinds.

          Give up your sanctimonious, look at me I am so evolved attitude and please and give us poor uneducated and unguided gun people a break. Lol

        • 26 NjGunGuy

          Way to paint with a broad brush there kiddo.

          If anyone else were president, they wouldn’t have authorized the raid on Bin Laden’s compound? Also, the president added 280,000 jobs? You mean that 280,000 jobs were created while the current president happened to be in office. The president, nor any politician, does not say “make it so” and new jobs appear, unless of course they are having people dig ditches and build bridges to nowhere in the name of “doing something” or “full employment”.

  9. “His belief, expressed verbally and through his attempts to pass new gun control measures, is that restricting access to guns will help stop mass shootings.

    President Obama is wrong.”

    I imagine Australia would disagree: http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/19/world/us-australia-gun-control/index.html?sr=cnnifb

    • Australia doesn’ t have the same culture of gun ownership we have, or the numbers of weapons already in circulation. Australia also hasn’t completely banned guns, they’ve just become harder to obtain. I get your point, but there are significant differences that make drastic gun control measures feasible there but not here.

      • Australia also never had the violent crime problem that we have and had here in the states.

        Saying that gun confiscation is what is keeping Australia’s already low violent crime rate low is logically weak, especially given that violent crime in both countries has been dropping at the same time. One in concert with a gun ban, and one in spite of no such ban occuring.

        Something else is happening. To attribute it to Australia’s gun laws is pretty weak sauce given the information available.

      • 30 Phil

        Australia also has a fundamental difference that it is categorically illegal to possess or carry *any* weapons specifically for the purposes of self defense – not even a kubotan. Been this way since I think the mid 80s.

    • 31 Alpheus

      I’ve looked closely at Australia’s mass murder rate, and I’ve noticed that they have a mass murder (not necessarily mass *shooting*) event about once every ten to twelve years.

      Granted, Australia hasn’t had a mass *shooting* event since their gun ban, but they *have* had a mass *murder* event since the ban, which happened almost on schedule, sort of.

      So I’m not convinced that Australia’s gun ban has helped prevent mass shootings. It’s way too early to tell.

    • 32 NjGunGuy

      The gun ban/registration had no effect on violent crime committed with firearms (http://www.gunfacts.info/gun-control-myths/guns-in-other-countries/ ,there is a section for Aus.) and mass killings of the sort we are discussing are already so rare they could be be considered anomalous.

  10. 33 mva1985

    One of the things we should look at is what doesn’t happen here – Genocide (abortion aside). Many other countries have had this happen and millions upon millions have died.

    To many politicians won’t answer a straight question. They dance around the truth with carefully worded statements. Makes me want to retch.

    First time reader. Thanks for the article.

    • mva,

      Agreed on your genocide point, but again, the president didn’t claim other nations have no violence problems His claim was pretty straightforward: other advanced nations don’t have mass shootings as often as the US does. I agree that many other nations have had worse problems than we’ve had here, and we need the 2A to prevent those kind of problems.

      • 35 TM

        Many would claim, I do claim, based on demonstrable facts, that the 400 plus years of the American slave trade constitutes genocide. Very few, if any, other acts of genocide endured such longevity, brutality, or scope.

        • I would disagree, mainly based on the fact that the slaves were a commodity the slave sellers and owners wished not to kill en masse. Slaves were an investment, and nobody involved in the slave trade wanted to wipe them out.

      • 37 thefoolserrand

        I hate UN peacekeeping missions. These idiots go into a village or town and disarm all the citizens while the well-armed enemy waits in the hills for them to leave then swoops in and wipes them out to the last person, leaving only the farm animals that have value as food.

        Guns are not evil. It is the evil idiot behind the gun and the evil idiot that leaves the innocent defenseless that are the problem.

        In rural towns outside Kosovo, the enemy would lay siege to the town allowing nothing in or out, waiting for starvation to set in and the inevitable evil of neighbors killing neighbors to take their food to survive. The last ones standing would then be mopped up by the criminal army without having to expend much energy or firepower.

        Obama is dangerous. Our society is quickly being polarized against each other. A simple economic collapse could bring evil terror to this nation. I suspect it won’t happen, but if it did, needing a firearm to defend and not having it is a sure recipe for horrific disaster.

        If this president had his way, citizens would only have highly regulated muzzle-loaders and blunt knives. His actions and devious words support this in my opinion. His statements of having no desire to disarm hunters and sportsman hint that he may believe the 2nd amendment protects hunters and not it’s original intent that has nothing to do with hunting, although he may wish it so.

  11. Well…I’m not sure I agree with you, on this aspect. Da Prez said what he said, but the subtext was, at least for me, crystal clear.

    Even the lefty PolitiFact is [mostly] calling BS of Da Prez’s claims: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/jun/22/barack-obama/barack-obama-correct-mass-killings-dont-happen-oth/

    The subcontext here is also clear: Da Prez was “Mostly False” and God help us all if a Conservative was even remotely as incorrect.

    • Bartelist,

      That article shows that the US leads in mass shootings by number of incidents, plus leads in per capita mass shootings deaths when compared to all except three advanced countries. Those countries, like Norway, have a much smaller population and had one or two major incidents. To suggest Norway, with one mass shooting, has more mass shootings than America, with over a hundred in the reporting period, doesn’t make sense.

      “The chart does show that the United States has more mass shootings — and more people cumulatively killed or injured — than the other 10 nations combined, partly because it has a much bigger population than all but China… Over the decade and a half studied, the researchers found 23 incidents of mass shootings in the other 10 countries, resulting in 200 dead and 231 wounded. In the United States over the same period, there were 133 incidents that left 487 dead and 505 wounded.”

      Politifact says the first part of the president’s statement isn’t true. Obviously it isn’t, which is why he immediately added “it doesn’t happen with this type of frequency.” He added the second part literally six seconds later. It’s hard for me to see how anyone can claim those two statements, seconds apart, about the same topic, are unrelated.

  12. 40 Phil

    In response to the efficacy of gun control via confiscation of privately owned firearms, Australia is probably an interesting case to look at.

    The 1996 gun buyback and establishment of firearms registries (every single firearm – shotgun, .22lr, even air rifle is registered in a police database) was probably as close to ideal as you could get from a gun control perspective. 1) gun licenses were required previously, so there was data on who had guns, but not how many they had. 2) handguns had always been more tightly controlled and there were less around, 3) we are an island so illegal import is somewhat easier to control than for other countries. 4) post buyback, many types of firearms were essentially unobtainable/illegal (pump action shotguns, semi-auto rifles), so easy to detect if used in a legal setting.

    Of course there is no official data on how many illegal guns are still in circulation in Australia, however it seems to be well accepted that a lot of illegal long guns on the black market are pre-1996 guns (eg shotgun used in Sydney siege).

    So purely from a pragmatic viewpoint, if gun control doesn’t really work that well to keep illegal guns out of criminal hands in the almost ideal case of Australia, it seems fairly likely that any sort of similar gun control in the US would be ineffective.

    Unfortunately it seems when talking about guns, practicality is seen as moral weakness.

  13. 41 Chad in Kentucky

    While you are correct that it can be construed as intellectually dishonest to ignore something the President said and focus on another part in a debate I have to honestly say I don’t care. The fact is that the anti’s aren’t waging a debate against our rights, they are waging a war of sentiment. That sentiment is largely fueled by soundbites and false claims.

    While the President may have said “with such frequency” his anti-gun followers often forget ANY cases of it happening outside of the United States. They want to ignore the fact that it does still happen in other countries with far stricter people control laws than ours.

    If those opponents of liberty want to use soundbites and inaccuracies to try and deprive me of my rights, I have no problem answering in kind with truths that they don’t want to face. Can it be construed as twisting his words? Yes. Is it twisting his or his anti-gun followers intent? Not at all.

    • Then why not avoid their level of dishonesty, and just respond with facts and logic?

      • 43 ssgcmwatson

        Chris –

        I certainly agree that we shouldn’t descend to their level of dishonesty, however I think we need to respond with more than just facts and logic. I think people tend to respond better to stories, so we should find and publicize those that prove our point. For example, Amanda Collins.

        Amanda was a 21-year old student at the Univ. of Nevada. She had a CCW permit, but the University chose to ban all guns on campus. She was raped in the parking garage of the campus police station, and her rapist went on to rape two women and murder one.

        There are plenty of stories out there if we go looking.

        • I see big problems with trying to build a case for anything – whether on this issue or any other – with compelling stories. For your word “story” we could also just say “anecdote.”

          Anecdotes are a good way to illustrate, but they are a terrible way to analyze data and make decisions about issues. The default behavior for human beings is to tell stories, whether to ourselves (we do this constantly) or to others. We’re skewed by cognitive biases we’re not even aware of, and the stories we prefer to tell often reinforce these biases. We cherry-pick our stories and thus cherry-pick our data to support our preferred conclusions. And remember how easily stories can be manipulated!

          So we need more careful, thoughtful efforts like Chris’s – yes some people on the “other side” won’t listen but there will be a few who do. And meanwhile will always be plenty of story-telling done by both sides, and it always will just go round and round with opposing stories without bringing any resolution.

          • 45 ssgcmwatson

            Perhaps I should have been more clear: we need to respond with *more* than just facts and data. Use the story as a lead-in to grab people’s attention and then transition to the data to show that these stories aren’t just isolated incidents. Put a human face on the data so that we get the attention of more than “a few” of “other side” (and the people just not paying attention).

  14. 46 Daniel Ortiz

    Politifact did a similar analysis here:

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/jun/22/barack-obama/barack-obama-correct-mass-killings-dont-happen-oth/

    No solutions are given, just numbers and direct conclusions. I like the direct and honest approach you always espouse in your articles Chris. I also believe we need to stay on the straight and narrow in our arguments (otherwise I start to feel slimey).

    One thing that Obama’s comments bring to mind in addition to all this is why “mass violence of this kind”, is more important or worse than mass violence of another kind, say with bombs, cars or airplanes. Furthermore, Politifact admits their data leave out other terroristic mass killings, when the motive was traditional terroristic motives.

    But regardless, I’m glad you stick to your guns. =)

  15. 47 Alpheus

    “…that this type of mass violence doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this type of frequency.”

    I would have to disagree with your analysis. The more I think about it, the more I think that the statement is contradictory, or squirrelish at best.

    The claim that this type of mass violence doesn’t happen in other advanced countries is patently false: it’s easy to find examples where it happens. You could squirrel your way out of it, though, by saying “but I meant race-tinged mass violence” or “mid-level violence” (as opposed to 69 dead in Norway, for example), or even to point out that he never said “all other advanced countries” (which is probably true, at least for now).

    And the follow-up statement–that it doesn’t happen in other places with this type of frequency–simply taken, contradicts the first…unless you’re talking about the advanced countries where this does happen, or the countries that aren’t advanced, or what not. Once we get to that point, we’d better be prepared to look at statistics all around the world, and who knows what we’ll find at this point?

    Overall, I don’t think Obama is on firm ground for two reasons: First, I doubt that Obama had statistical analysis in mind when he made it–he just uttered something that he expected to be comforting, and he evidently felt was true in his bones; and second, he’s making the claim to push his gun control agenda, and it’s likely he’s doing it disingenuously.

    Whether it was deliberate or not (and perhaps even deliberately devisive), I don’t know. I *do* know, however, that anti-gun types are taking the first sentence and running with it, which completely takes any truthiness that Obama’s original statement had, and demolishes it.

    • 48 priscilla

      Exactly, as if the controllers ever engage in honest argument. Why belabor such a fine point and parse and parse the man’s words? His meaning and intent are clear and even the left-leaning Politifact rates his statement as mostly false. The winning argument is constitutional but sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Chris, you focus on the “embarrassing” “stupidity” of conservatives, while the progressives advance their agenda with pure propaganda.

      • 49 Alpheus

        I wouldn’t say we should fight fire with fire–in this case, it’s a bad idea to put out bad data–but Obama’s statement is rather ambiguous, and feel-good-ish, at best.

        I haven’t tried to analyze Obama’s statement in light of his follow-up tweet that contained statistics to emphasize his point (how do you even do statistics in a tweet, when the issues are so complex?) but it’s difficult to see where Obama is getting his numbers, so it’s hard to see how they justify his statements…

  16. 50 Jeff Fisher

    Facts and logic don’t work.
    They call for “discussion” but require our total surrender as a condition of beginning any debate.
    They call us “heartless, soulless bastards”.
    They demand our imprisonment and “re-education”
    They impugn our hygiene, genetics, sexual endowment and parentage,
    They want us to suffer violent death, along with our children and loves ones.
    They desire the unlawful seizure of our property.
    They then proceed to demand “civil political discourse” before again stating that we have no soul and are not worth saving.
    These people want us and our families dead. How else can these statements be interpreted?
    Most of what I just typed would be perfectly at home on an ISIS mission statement, or in a 1940s-era “Final Solution” document.
    I’m not disagreeing with you, Mr. Williamson. I’m simply stating that our “facts and logic” will not work. These people don’t exist in reality.
    What do you think our next move is?

  17. 51 David

    Great analysis, it’s rare to see intellectually honest commentary nowadays.

  18. Chris: I know this was addressed up-thread, but I want to focus on it. It seems that America has a higher rate of violence (of any type) then the rest of the industrialized world. So, although the only thing that will stop a mass shooting in-progress is to stop the shooter (usually with a gun), that doesn’t address how we prevent the mass shooting from beginning.

    As a gun owner, I think it’s imperative that when we talk about gun violence we address the “real” issue which is a higher rate of violence. Otherwise, we’re seen (accurately) as dodging the issue.

  19. 53 Steve

    Chris, A question that is not related to the mass-shooting issue, more about robberies, guns and self-protection.
    When I was in high school, I applied for a job at a convenience store. A friend of mine tried to convince me that I wasn’t cut out for the job, asking me what I’d do if somebody tried to rob the store. “You’d probably just give him the money,” he said, implying that I was too weak-minded or cowardly to fight off the robber. He then said it it were him, he’d take out a gun or use some sort of martial arts
    My answer was “Damned right I would. First, that’s probably company policy (probably for liability reasons in the event I get hurt or killed or a stray bullet from my gun hits a bystander. In fact, a few years ago, around here a store clerk was fired for brandishing a gun on a robber. I also remember many years ago hearing about a Domino’s driver being fired after successfully fighting off a robber). Second, the guy just wants the money and my life is worth more than the $50 or so that’s in the register. I may be a coward, but at least I’d get to go home at the end of my shift. I see no point in trying to be a hero protecting $50.”
    Protecting other people’s lives is a different story, I’m sure.
    I also remember the story of former world champion boxer Vernon Forrest who was killed in an attempted carjacking. He went after the carjacker with a gun and the other guy got off his shot first and killed Forrest. If he just let the guy have his wallet and his car, maybe he’d still be alive today. A car can be replaced. A wallet can be replaced but once you’re gone, you’re gone.
    Is cooperating with a robber a bad idea? Should store polices change to encourage clerks to carry guns and try to fight back? If a clerk does cooperate with the robber should he be fired for not fighting back?
    I know this isn’t totally related to the topic but should people be encouraged to be a hero in these situations or at least not punished for it?

    • 54 Alpheus

      Every situation is different, but it should be kept in mind that sometimes a robber will shoot you because they don’t want witnesses, and sometimes they’ll shoot you for kicks and giggles. It’s a bit dangerous to assume that a robber only wants your car or your money.

      While it’s true that company policy often precludes the carrying of a gun, there are situations where having a gun *could* save your life. It should be kept in mind, though, that not all of those times where you use a gun, you are *going* to save your life: after all, once someone starts a robbery, your life is in danger, period. Having a gun merely gives you a fighting chance in the event of a robbery, in cases where the perpetrators want more than just your money.

  20. A little late with this – probably this thread is dying down – but FYI, I just got asked by an Australian friend on Facebook about what she called “the gun thing.” She asked whether it was fear of home invasion, high crime rate, or something other reason. She concluded, “I just don’t get it. Is America really that dangerous a place?”

    I did explain to her that gun ownership is part of our general distrust of, and rebellion against, big government – starting with rebelling against the extremely big and oppressive government of King George, proceeding on to the debate of the Founding Fathers over a strong vs. weak federal government, then the rebellion of the South against said federal government, etc. etc.

    But I also tried to clue her in as to the present conundrum about violent crime, which she had asked about. Chris put it much more accurately in his blog piece than I could: “Even if an aggressive campaign were launched to remove all guns, even if Boston managed to find 50,000 illegal guns a year, even if police nationwide managed to find an astounding and unbelievable five million guns per year, total confiscation would still take over sixty years. And it still wouldn’t work, because we’d never find them all, and we’d never stop new ones coming in to replace confiscated ones.” Meaning basically that our “culture of private gun ownership that’s centuries old” has generated so much accrual of guns, supported by such a deeply entrenched infrastructure of distributing them both legally and extra-legally, that really, truthfully, there is nothing we could do about banning guns even if all of us wanted to. We are stuck with these millions of guns the way a hamburger patty sitting too long on a warm counter is stuck with millions of bacteria. You can’t suck the guns out of America to make it a safer place to live in any more than you could suck the bacteria out of that hamburger patty to make it safe to eat.

    I tried to express this idea in more compact form to my Australian friend – i.e. that we have a proud heritage, that unfortunately this heritage ended up guaranteeing criminals here can be armed just as well as we can; but that fortunately this paradox also ensures that we can defend ourselves in the event of a firefight when we’re out buying some beer or chips or in church or wherever. well, I mean, at least those of us as realize the nature of this paradox and are sensible about it.

    I put it to her as succinctly as I could: “We have to have guns to kill the criminals who have guns because we have to have guns. Follow?”

    I’m not sure she did. But I’m going to send her the link to Chris’s piece, which is well-reasoned & thoughtful and has many interesting comments. Maybe that will her understand.

  21. 56 Vendetta

    I commend you for your intellectual integrity. We need more people out there who are raising the bar and not lowering it when it comes to these political debates. I’m getting sick of those meme graphics everyone shares on Facebook no matter whose side they’re taking.

    Found this link I thought you might find interesting. Was surprised to find it from a blogger I follow who’s otherwise a radical left-winger on foreign policy. Kind of amusing to see some of the shocked responses from his usual commenters – but also heartening to see some of them speaking up in agreement.

    Gun rights make sense from more than just a conservative or a libertarian perspective. From a traditional liberal point of view (as opposed to the new generation of SJW fanatics), personal security and self-defense should not just be the privilege of those wealthy enough to live within a gated community or the safe neighborhood of the city; they are things that all people should have as part of a decent standard of living.

    More people out there breaking the mould like this will help draw away those followers of the anti-gun lobby who are there only because they’re liberal on other issues and think that means they should be ‘liberal’ on this one. And more people out there who embrace a position of reason and civility like yours rather than ideological zealotry will help those who’ve left the anti-gun side feel welcome among gun rights defenders even if they remain liberal on other issues.

    Articles like these help to recapture the respectability of gun rights defenders that anti-gun media and pro-gun morons have largely destroyed. We need more of these and less of those stupid memes.

    http://thesaker.is/saker-rant-gun-control-should-only-mean-hitting-your-target/

    • 57 priscilla

      Avoid Facebook if you are tired of stupid memes. The medium is the message and Facebook users will give a post only a couple of seconds to make its point. On social media, brevity is the soul of wit.


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