Fair and Unbalanced

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Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: The NRA quietly gives us something to talk about

Littwin: The NRA quietly gives us something to talk about

Now that the White House, Congress and NRA are talking about guns and the Las Vegas massacre, I guess that means it’s officially no longer too soon for the rest of us to talk about them.

So, let’s talk bump stocks.

Before Stephen Paddock took 12 bump stocks to his Las Vegas hotel room, along with his legally purchased 23 guns, I had never heard of them. I’m guessing you hadn’t either. Most descriptions I see of bump stocks include the word “obscure.” They’re sold at places like the website stackingbodies.com (h/t Grand Junction Daily Sentinel).

They’re used in order to make semiautomatic rifles work more like automatic rifles. Paddock used them, of course, to make it easier to kill more people more quickly. Sadly, it seems they worked. As you know, he killed 58 and wounded nearly 500 before the cops got to his room and he killed himself.

In the wake of the massacre, Republican politicians are lining up in possible support of a ban — Cory Gardner is open to the idea, but, of course, first needs more information. Even the NRA, which never wants to ban anything related to guns, has said it might be time for closer regulation — although, as Wayne LaPierre has stressed, not for a ban — for the bump stocks.

So, should we ban them? Of course. It’s hard enough to justify them in any case, and the last thing anyone wants is a Las Vegas copycat. But the fact that the NRA is basically willing to dump bump stocks shows just how obscure they are and how minor a role they play in the greater gun-violence debate. But it shows something else, too — the NRA wants to ban bump stocks without, you know, making a big deal of it.

Here’s my guess. Donald Trump will follow the NRA’s advice and regulate the bump stocks out of commission — after all, machine guns are already illegal — and Republicans will move on, saying they have taken care of the problem.

But there’s at least one problem with that scenario as the NRA and its congressional allies know. Once you concede that you can pass a law, or change a regulation, to make the nation safer from gun violence, you have conceded that, yes, you can pass a law or change a regulation that will make the nation safer from gun violence. It’s the NRA’s long-feared slippery slope. It’s the reason the group never agrees to even the most sensible gun restrictions.

That’s why the NRA is ready to give bump stocks up without a fight, just so long as Congress doesn’t get in the way and start, well, debating the issue. Because, as the polls repeatedly tell us, people overwhelmingly support what gun-control people like to call “commonsense” gun laws. The fewer the facts, the fewer the questions, the better. That’s why there’s such a thing as the “Dickey Amendment,” which has prevented the Centers for Disease Control from even studying gun violence for fear of losing funding.

I mean, the dumbest thing you hear people say about guns — other than that we need them to prevent government tyranny, as if reducing magazine size reduces your chances in a brush-up with the U.S. Army — is that laws don’t work. Look at Chicago, they say. If gun laws worked, Chicago wouldn’t have such horrific gun violence. You could just as easily say the same about laws against murder. Look at Chicago, if laws against murder worked, it wouldn’t have such a horrific murder rate.

Of course laws work. That’s the NRA fear. If it’s shown that laws could reduce gun violence and gun deaths — according to the Gun Violence Archive, it takes 28 days in Chicago to match those 58 gun deaths; those victims, by the way, are overwhelmingly poor, black and male — people might insist that politicians try to do something about the issue.

If we start talking about guns, we then have to address the 11,815 gun deaths (not including suicides) so far this year. The New York Times has compiled a list of potential gun laws, their usefulness as seen by experts and their support in the general public. For example, 89 percent support universal background checks and the experts give it a 6.5 effectiveness rate on a 10-point scale. Seventy-three percent support checks for ammo buyers. Experts give that a 6.5 rating, too. The list is long and worth reading.

The NRA knows every one of these numbers. The Pew Research Center has polled gun owners, of whom, gulp, 54 percent support creating a federal database for tracking gun sales. Nearly half of gun owners want to ban assault rifles. The NRA knows these numbers, too.

I’m not naive. I wrote the other day that nothing would change after the Las Vegas massacre. Getting rid of bump stocks is a good idea, should it happen, but it’s hardly fundamental.

But the talking, that’s something different. If the NRA is now worried simply by having the conversation, that gives anyone concerned by the issue a way to contribute. Just by opening your mouth.

Photo by Johnny Silvercloud via Flickr:Creative Commons

 

But they never get a hearing. These  are laws, like the proposed banning of bump stocks, that don’t violate anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

 

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

6 Comments

  1. Phil Helms on said:

    Maybe there’s hope after all, that we’ll finally get off dead center in how we manage guns.

  2. Jeorge on said:

    I guess there is some hope. Given that these are the same lawmakers that regularly approve massive weapon sales to countries like Saudi Arabia I’m doubtful. The whole political system is so awash in cash from industry interests that regularly harm the citizenry that any deviation from the unspoken Capitalists First policy seems out of character.

  3. Don Lopez on said:

    Elections have consequences.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “(Mr. Trump) won’t be president. He was sliding in the polls before the video, and the video now means that he has no way to climb back. Which independent voter, which suburban woman, which Main Street Republican on the fence is going to vote for Trump now?” – Mike Littwin

    Magical thinking: The belief that one’s own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. It is common in very young children. – GoodTherapy.org

    }{

    Horrific tragedies, such as what happened in Las Vegas, can be transformative, changing ordinary people into inspirational, life-saving heroes. Tragedy can also attract the worst type of bottom-feeding, sub-human species who are willing to crawl over 600 dead and wounded bodies to push a political agenda like those who want to “do something” about guns even if that something would have had no affect on the tragedy in Las Vegas.

    There are two items Mr. Littwin failed to mention when discussing the Las Vegas shooting:

    — Mental health. There is no definition of sanity that would include Stephen Paddock’s behavior. It was pure evil. There can be no doubt he was mentally impaired but to what degree no one seems sure. Some have labeled him a psychopath. Whatever the diagnosis he was not mentally healthy.

    — Empathy. Mr. Littwin did not offer even one word of sympathy, empathy or condolence to the victims or families of the victims. Not. One. Any future claims by Mr. Littwin of being a compassionate liberal will be seen for what they really are. Lies.

    Mr. Littwin offers no gun control suggestion that would have prevented the Las Vegas massacre. There are currently over 300 federal gun control laws. Does Mr. Littwin believe one more might have prevented Stephen Paddock from killing 59 and wounding 527 others? If so, what is it? Maybe he’ll answer that question but probably not because what Mr. Littwin really wants is gun confiscation not gun control but he lacks the, well, courage to admit it.

    As Mr. Littwin correctly points out the number of deaths in the horrific Las Vegas massacre equals the number of homicides committed in Chicago in just one month. One month. Or, put another way, it would take 12 Las Vegas massacres in the same year to equal the number of murders committed in Chicago in 2016 (762). That’s one Las Vegas massacre a month for an entire year!

    And, as Mr. Littwin again correctly points out, the victims of that outrageous Chicago murder rate are “overwhelmingly poor, black and male” but he fails to mention that the criminals committing those murders are also “overwhelmingly poor, black and male.”

    But there’s a reason Mr. Littwin never writes about the inexcusable and horrendous murder rate in Chicago: the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, is not only a Democrat he is also the former chief of staff to Barack Obama and Mr. Littwin is extremely reluctant to undermine the carefully crafted but apocryphal image of Democrats as friends of minorities. And if Mr. Littwin’s assertion that “Of course laws work” is true why hasn’t Mayor Emanuel found one that would have saved the 762 “overwhelmingly poor, black and male.” lives that were lost last year to murder?

    Mr. Littwin not only lacks the courage to answer that question he also lacks the courage to read this article from Leah Libresco in the Washington Post. Mrs. Libresco is a statistician and former newswriter at FiveThirtyEight,a data journalism site. The article is well worth reading.

    “As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them. I couldn’t even answer my most desperate question: If I had a friend who had guns in his home and a history of suicide attempts, was there anything I could do that would help?”

    “By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.”

    These two paragraphs are just a portion of an article that should interest everyone except maybe Jimmy Kimmel or Mr. Littwin who, in December, 2015, admitted, “The truth is that mass shootings are only a small part of gun violence in this country.” He’s unlikely to repeat that fact today.

    The Washington Free Beacon’s Matthew Continence’s assessment of today’s journalism describes perfectly what Mr. Littwin’s column has become, “little more than advocacy, wishful thinking and self-fashioning, mindless jabber and affirmations of virtue, removed from objective reality and common sense.”

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” –
    Tina Turner

    Green light a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

  4. Doug Clark on said:

    Enough. Like Lopez most Trumpf supporters won’t get behind sensible gun laws till someone they know is brutality cut down while standing at a concert. But guys like Lopez probably won’t. Shame on you for acting like that slaughter of innocent victims is okay to fill some void in your manhood. All you can do is attack and not see the senseless and dangerous rhetoric… it’s time for people with brains to call out fools like Lopez. Take your talking points (since you can’t think for yourself) and head back to your slimy hole. On thing about Trump – is civility has gone out the door and we can now say what we think. No more kid gloves. So buckle up for more push back from the left. why don’t you get up off your butt and head to Las Vegas and attend some of the many funerals and witness the destruction this has caused families. No you won’t because you are a coward and don’t want to face the reality of your stupid thinking. Scum. Someone please check his papers.

  5. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. Clark,

    Thank you for your comment. Just a few questions:

    ———“Shame on you for acting like that slaughter of innocent victims is okay to fill some void in your manhood”

    Please point out where in my comment I said that the “slaughter of innocent victims is okay” ? Take your time.

    ———“All you can do is attack”

    You’re doing a pretty good job yourself. Mr. Littwin must be proud.

    ———“civility has gone out the door”

    It sure has:

    “scum”

    “fools like Lopez”

    “head back to your slimy hole”

    “you are a coward”

    “your stupid thinking”

    ———“why don’t you get up off your butt and head to Las Vegas and attend some of the many funerals and witness the destruction this has caused families.”

    I’m assuming you’ve either already done or are planning to do it. Right?

    ———”Someone please check his papers”

    What papers? Or was that a racial thing? You don’t have to scratch a leftie too hard to get to the core..

    Just one more thing. What “sensible gun laws” would have prevented the horrific Las Vegas slaughter? Mr. Littwin offered none but maybe he’s outsourcing his recommendations.

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