The Sinking Of The Atlantic

posted on July 6, 2015

Something smells fishy in The Atlantic.

It started with a June 23 post titled “Mass Shootings Are Preventable,” in which senior editor David Frum claims, among other things, to have found the answer to the question that vexes Americans after every mass murder: What laws can we pass to stop this from happening?

Frum observes that a “cacophony” of pro-gun voices pick apart legislative options until, “In the end, the political system shrugs its collective shoulders.” (That is the anti-gun side’s code for “We lost.”) He even concedes the point that pro-gun advocates have made over and over again: No law could have prevented such a tragedy. 

But Frum claims to have hit upon a winning strategy: If one meaningless law can’t stop mass murdering madmen, then perhaps we can pass lots of smaller meaningless laws.Frum claims to have hit upon a winning strategy: If one meaningless law can’t stop mass murdering madmen, then perhaps we can pass lots of smaller meaningless laws.

Frum’s strategy starts out promisingly: Enforce the laws on the books against prohibited gun buyers. NRA has long advocated for enforcement of existing law before the enactment of any new law. It’s frustrating that, of the hundreds of thousands of people who fail the federal background check when attempting to buy a firearm, less than one percent are prosecuted.

But Frum quickly veers into uncharted waters. For him, even if buyers pass a federal background check, that just isn’t enough anymore; gun sellers should still be held liable for criminal misdeeds. Frum cites laws that bar liquor sellers from serving drunks. Does he know a way to smell criminal intent on someone’s breath? 

Along the way, Frum takes the usual misleading sideswipes at gun shows, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and the mythical ban against sharing firearms trace data. For the record: 1) All gun shows operate in accordance with federal law requiring background checks; 2) Federal law only protects gun sellers from frivolous lawsuits meant to bankrupt them; and 3) Law enforcement has all the access to firearms trace data they want. Only people like Mr. Frum are barred from that data, because they abuse it.

If we could smell anti-gun on someone’s breath, we’d already be reeling. But Frum has another brilliant idea to protect us—mandatory liability insurance for gun owners. Frum can’t be bothered to explain why Americans should have to buy insurance to exercise a constitutional right. (Would he also support a “tongue tax” on free speech?) Neither does he explain how an insurance requirement would be an impediment to a deranged killer intent on mayhem. Perhaps he means that victims of criminals (in the form of the families of the slain) should be able to collect on the insurance of fellow victims of those same criminals (in the form of burgled gun owners). It seems that in his blame game, Frum would like to cut out the middleman. 

But in any conceivable scenario, Frum’s insurance scam won’t stop an attacker hell-bent on unleashing hell.

Frum’s last stroke of genius would be to “require meaningful training for Carry-Permit Holders.” Does Frum actually mean to imply that concealed-carry permit holders are committing mass murder because they haven’t had enough training?Frum’s logic is so easy to assail because his entire argument is based on a false premise: He parrots President Barack Obama’s claim that mass murder doesn’t happen elsewhere.

On the contrary, every study of permit holders shows them to be far more law abiding than the general population … even more so than cops. But the truth is irrelevant to Frum, who reveals his true opinion of permit holders when he advocates for his insurance scheme: “The potential victims of a concealed-carry permit holder’s inaccuracy, incompetence, senility, arrogance, racism or lack of impulse control are entitled to better assurance than this.”

Where has Frum been for the two-decade-long march of concealed carry across all 50 states? Who are these incompetent, racist gun owners of which he speaks, and why aren’t they filling the nightly newscasts with tales of their terror? It would appear the only one firing wildly here is Frum.

Frum’s logic is so easy to assail because his entire argument is based on a false premise: He parrots President Barack Obama’s claim that mass murder doesn’t happen elsewhere—that it is a uniquely American phenomenon that condemns the Second Amendment as a dangerous anachronism from an earlier, ignorant time. 

But the ignorance is Frum’s, and it is willful. Aside from breaking news of the 39 killed in Tunisia, the top three mass public shootings of all time—and nine of the worst 13—happened outside the United States. Compared to Europe, the U.S. ranks eighth in mass public shootings per million people, behind Norway, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia, Finland, Belgium and the Czech Republic. ( But apparently that news is inconvenient to Frum, who would rather quote the inflated statistics of Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety—outrageous figures that even The Washington Post, no friend to gun rights, awarded four Pinocchios.

All four of whom were presumably holding their noses.


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