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The Empty Thinking Following Ft. Lauderdale

The Empty Thinking Following Ft. Lauderdale

Last week’s attack at the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., airport has provided anti-gun activists another ill-advised opportunity to try to advance their cause in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy. Minutes after the first fragmented news from Ft. Lauderdale streamed across our social media feeds, the Twitter accounts of Moms Demand Action, Everytown and folks like Shannon Watts began to try and politicize the unfolding events. 

This is literally part of their playbook. On page 40 of “Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging,” anti-gun activists are instructed on how to respond to a “high profile gun violence incident.” They’re told to get out there and start talking, to push the idea of gun control without getting tied down to any specific policy proposals. The important thing is to engage their audience emotionally, according to the talking points guide, and there’s no better time to make an emotional appeal than in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event. 

Even after the cable news networks broke away from their live coverage in Ft. Lauderdale, the anti-gun activists continued their emotional appeals for “meaningful” gun control, though most of them continued to be pretty vague about how their ideas would be put into practice. Igor Volsky and Mark Glaze of the anti-gun group “Guns Down” took to the pages of USA Today in order to demand “fewer guns that are harder to get.” 

The pair proclaimed, “As Canada, Great Britain, Australia and countless other nations have demonstrated, such reforms will pave the way for a safer, healthier, happier and more stable society. If we’re serious about preserving human life, we in America must build a bolder, broader movement that finally tackles the problem at its core. We need to go after guns themselves.” 

How, exactly, do they propose to do that? They don’t say. If 265 million privately owned firearms are too many, as they claim, what’s the number that’s acceptable to the long time anti-gun campaigners (Volsky came from the Center for American Progress, while Glaze most recently worked for Michael Bloomberg at Everytown for Gun Safety)? Again, they don’t say. They’re still following the anti-gun playbook: making the emotional appeal for gun control, while staying silent on the specifics of how they plan to accomplish their goal.

The pair does cite Canada, Great Britain and Australia as examples of “successful reforms,” so does that mean the Guns Down group is advocating for England’s sweeping gun bans? The Supreme Court has already ruled that banning entire classes of firearms is unconstitutional. Are Volsky and Glaze advocating for the United States to adopt Australia’s compensated firearms confiscation, where law-abiding gun owners were forced to hand over their firearms for minimal financial compensation, or else become criminals and put in prison? If 265 million privately owned firearms are too many, as they claim, what’s the number that’s acceptable to the long time anti-gun campaigners?

And as long as the anti-gun advocates are praising the gun laws of other nations, why aren’t they demanding we be more like Mexico? In that country there is only one gun store in the entire nation, and it’s on a military base in Mexico City. Anybody who wants to be a legal gun owner has to travel there to purchase their rifle (up to .22 caliber) or a handgun (up to .38 caliber). Laws like that ensure that there are fewer guns that are harder to obtain … at least without resorting to the black market. 

The leaders of Guns Down offer up utopian visions of a gun-free world without bothering to show us the road map of how they plan to get there. In the real world, however, violent crime has been declining across the United States for more than two decades, all while the number of privately owned firearms has grown. In Florida, the violent crime rate has been cut in half since the state’s Right-to-Carry law went into effect 30 years ago, and there are now more than 1.2 million Floridians with concealed carry licenses in the state. If the anti-gun hypothesis of “less guns and fewer gun owners equals less crime” were true, then Florida’s violent crime rate should have been spiraling upward for the past three decades. Instead, the violent crime rate has dropped to levels not seen in more than 40 years. 

These are inconvenient truths for anti-gun activists, so it’s no wonder they go to great lengths to avoid acknowledging them. Instead, they exploit tragedy for political purposes, demonize gun owners while insisting their only problem is with “the gun lobby,” and ignore the concrete steps that can be taken in the criminal justice system to remove the most violent offenders from our communities, and in the mental health system to get troubled individuals the help that they need.