Gun control's failures not in the lack of new laws

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

Gun control has been a mainstay of the Democratic Party for years. Even when they don’t actively pursue it, it’s not because they’ve somehow come to appreciate the right to keep and bear arms, it’s just that they don’t figure it has a hope in hell of passing.

So, they bide their time.

Now, in the wake of Buffalo, the subject has come up yet again. While Democrats have tried pushing an anti-gun agenda in recent years, not much is happening right now. They know there’s no hope of passing anything, so why waste the time?

However, over at the Washington Post, they have to lament the “ten years of failure” on gun control.

The gun bill had emerged in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., just four months prior — a massacre that left 20 children and six adults dead. Now it was clear that not even 20 slaughtered first-graders would move the nation to change its gun laws.

Biden empathized with Giffords, telling her he understood how painful it was to see the defeat of the background check measure negotiated by Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), said Peter Ambler, who had joined Giffords’s congressional staff just five days before she was shot and now is the executive director of Giffords, a group devoted to fighting gun violence.

But Biden also offered an encouraging note, telling Giffords the failed vote would infuriate the American people and spur them to take action to prevent gun violence: “This is actually going to help you build a movement,” Ambler recalled Biden saying.

Biden’s optimism was misplaced. Since Sandy Hook, the nation has experienced more than 3,500 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks gun violence and defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are killed or injured.

The shootings have touched nearly every imaginable slice of American life: A Black church in Charleston, S.C. (2015). A government-funded nonprofit center in San Bernardino, Calif. (2015). A gay nightclub in Orlando (2016). A country music festival in Las Vegas (2017). A high school in Parkland, Fla. (2018). A synagogue in Pittsburgh (2018). A Walmart in majority-Hispanic El Paso, followed just hours later by a shooting in a popular nightlife corridor in Dayton, Ohio (2019). Asian American massage businesses in Atlanta (2021).

And just a week ago, a racist attack at a supermarket in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo left 10 dead and thrust mass shootings back into the news.

In the nearly decade-long stretch between Sandy Hook and Buffalo, congressional efforts to change gun policies in any significant way have repeatedly failed, despite lawmakers occasionally commencing gun-control discussions anew in the wake of particularly harrowing gun tragedies. And Biden has played a central role in many of those unsuccessful efforts, first as vice president under Barack Obama and now as president.

It’s a very long piece, and there’s a lot to unpack in it–we could devote a whole lot of posts to ripping apart some of the arguments contained within that single piece–but I want to focus on the idea that the big failure here is that new gun control regulations haven’t actually passed.

You see, that bothers me because the truth of the matter is quite different.

Buffalo does represent a failure, but not in some stubborn refusal to accept restrictions on our right to keep and bear arms. While many have interpreted it as such, they ignore key parts of the story.

For one thing, New York has heavy gun control regulations. None of those laws prevented the horrific tragedy of Buffalo.

Further, based on the alleged killer’s own words, part of the reason he chose that particular store was that he figured there was less of a chance of meeting armed resistance. He was afraid that if he went somewhere with fewer gun control laws, he might get shot and killed before he could inflict a lot of casualties.

Plus, he said he wanted to spark more gun control debate.

Giving him what he wanted isn’t exactly doing the world any favors.

At the end of the day, the only gun control failures were the passage of laws that enticed the killer to pick that particular target.

Yet the media isn’t giving any attention to any of that. Why would they? They’re too busy pretending the issue with gun control here is that there wasn’t enough of it.