President Obama Appeals to Newtown Tragedy to Push for Stricter Gun Laws

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President Obama gave his weekly address and revisited the Newtown tragedy in an appeal to Congress to pass universal background checks, restrictions on private gun sales, and the assault weapons ban.

In a country of over 300 million people, there are going to be tragedies. But latching onto the rare worst-case scenarios and basing all policy for a nation on them is a sign of extremist thinking. It would be like banning certain cars because drunk drivers have gotten into accidents with them and killed more people in 20 car pile-ups. The causes of the accidents: the stupid people who drank and got behind the wheel, not the cars themselves.

There were 10,228 drunk driving fatalities in 2010, so why don’t we ban alcohol? Oh, we already tried that. In any event, fatal car crashes kill ten times as many each year as those killed by all rifles combined, which was 323 total in 2011. In that same year, most of the gun-related deaths were from suicide (19,766 — about half of all suicides), while homicide was 11,101, and accidentals/undetermined was about 1073. Again, we’re talking in a nation of 300,000,000 people with about 52,000,000 households owning around 260,000,000 guns.

Adam Lanza planned his grisly murders for years, and if it weren’t a ‘military-style’ rifle, it would have been something else, like fire or explosives. Are we going to ban fire too? Because in 2009 there were over 58,000 arsons, costing an average of $17,411 each in damage. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are an average of 375 deaths each year from arson, which is also more than those killed by all rifles.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans can monopolize the grief of Newtown and use sorrow as a sole claim to policy effectiveness. So let’s quit the argumentum ad misericordiam arguments and be rational about reducing crime.

Homicide Rate
The data for the above chart are based on FBI statistics and U.S. Crime Rates.

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