Gun Control Advocates May Start Looking Beyond Mass Shootings

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In the wake of a mass shooting, support for gun control seems to soar. That’s likely because the horrors of what just transpired hit people at an emotional level and they’re susceptible to the kind of rhetoric gun control advocates excel at. They’re willing to entertain thoughts about infringing on people’s rights because they’re upset.

As a result, those efforts tend to revolve around mass shootings. Assault weapon bans, red flag laws, and similar measures sound like the appropriate response.

The thing is, mass shootings are actually pretty rare, even with all of what we see in the media. Your odds of getting struck by lightning are better than of being a victim of a mass shooting.

We’ve said as much, too.

Now, though, anti-gunners may be looking beyond mass shootings.

A spate of mass shootings in recent months has once again trained the spotlight on how to prevent those tragedies, which garner national headlines and the attention of lawmakers and activists alike.

But data from the Gun Violence Archive shows that they account for a small fraction of the tens of thousands of deaths from gun violence in the U.S. each year.

Now, some are questioning whether gun control efforts are too focused on mass shootings rather than smaller-scale, but more prevalent, deaths and suicides by gun.

Rob Pincus, the co-founder of the Center for Gun Rights and Responsibility, a group that works with gun owners and advocates for safe gun use, said magazine capacity limits and assault weapon bans “don’t address the issues of suicide, negligence, or specific targeted homicides” and should focus more on homicide and suicide by firearm.

“How many bullets is enough to kill yourself? It’s one. So there is no magazine capacity ban that’s going to have any impact whatsoever on [a majority] of the firearms involved deaths,” Pincus told ABC News.

Now, I know that, to many of you, Pincus is persona non grata after he penned a recent op-ed. I’ve addressed those arguments and I’m not going to rehash them. I will say that he’s right. Magazine restrictions don’t do jack about suicides, which account for the lion’s share of the total number of “gun deaths” in this country, about two-thirds to be exact.

If you’re going to claim to care about suicides, magazine restrictions aren’t likely to work.

There are a lot of issues here, and while it may look like Pincus is outright siding with anti-gunners, I think he’s included to be more of a counter-balance. He’s also likely included because he’s a name that has been linked with being willing to negotiate on guns, even if that doesn’t accurately portray his position.

The question is, will this be a new approach for gun controllers?

Not really. While they’ve been focusing on things tied to mass shootings, they’ve also always been pushing for plenty of other restrictions that would have nothing to do with the next Parkland or Las Vegas. They’ve never turned their back on any of that sort of thing.

The issue is that the American public isn’t nearly as interested in those measures because they don’t address something with the same impact as a mass shooting.

Still, we’d do well to be ready for them anyway.