Guns, Profiling, and White Males: Explaining the Left’s Obsession with Gun Control
The tragic mass shooting of innocent children in Newtown, Connecticut has prompted a renewed zeal for gun and magazine bans by gun control advocates.
The nation’s liberal elites, from pundits to politicians, have seized on this heartbreaking slaughter and depicted it as—first and foremost—a gun control crisis. Members of the NRA and other defenders of gun ownership are portrayed as cold, senseless, uncivilized oddballs who value their guns at the expense of human lives. The unstable nature of the young shooter in Newtown has been largely obscured by the emotional emphasis placed on “assault weapons” and high-capacity “magazines,” which are often mislabeled as “clips.” One columnist for the Huffington Post described the “craziness of millions of gun owners” as “deep crazy.”
In case anyone doubts the Mainstream Media’s (MSM) central focus in the wake of the Newtown shooting consider the tracking results from a recent Nexis search. In a search of the “news” database (all news outlets, including newspapers, wire stories, weekly news accounts, etc. since the date of the shooting), using “Newtown” and “mental health” as search terms in the lead (first paragraph) and headline, retrieves 583 articles. A comparable search using the terms “Newtown” and “gun control” in the same search strategy of the same “news” database retrieves 2,415 articles. (The three searches were conducted on the same day close together to utilize and compare the same level of coverage in Nexis.) The emphasis on guns in the Newtown story is more than four times greater than the emphasis on the mental health of the shooter in the two-week news cycle that followed the mass shooting.
The prevailing media-driven, anti-gun hysteria is based on an irrational phobia of firearms. The clamor for gun control is occurring at a time when homicide rates are at a 50-year low. Far fewer people die from homicide than die in motor vehicle accidents. However, no one would conclude that we should ban cars because automobiles are deadly. For most of us, the convenience of mobility, individual preference, and attentiveness to avoiding high-risk situations (preventive measures against fatal vehicle crashes) trumps the risk factors of death by automobile.
The fact that firearms protect against and repel violent crimes year after year is rarely mentioned in the MSM’s sensational coverage. Consider the recent New York Daily News coverage citing a study that claims that in three years more people will die from guns that car crashes. The article claims that in 2010, “31,328 people died by killer weapons.” This total includes suicides and accidental deaths in addition to homicides. How many “killer weapons” prevented the death of a crime victim? There is no mention of the “tens of thousands of crimes” that legally armed citizens prevent each year according to a 2012 Cato Institute study.
It is endemic among the cosmopolitan literati, who loathe Middle America, to dwell on the risks associated with firearms while disregarding or minimizing the benefits of firearm ownership. Journalists, editors, and media executives who are responsible for informing the public, on average, have very little experience with or knowledge of firearms. Guns are viewed as the property of assorted nuts and kooks, or in the words of Henry Allen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for the Washington Post, “armed rednecks” and “gun-toting trailer trash.”
Criminologist Gary Kleck, a leading expert on gun control, notes in Point Blank:
The most fundamental flaw in advocacy of gun control as violence reduction is not that gun laws could not disarm anyone, but rather that doing so would not necessarily produce any net violence-reducing impact.
The rationale for gun control on which supporters have relied for over 20 years is based on an unduly simplified conception of the role of weaponry in human violence. The ownership and use of guns, even just among violent-prone people, have a complex mixture both of positive and negative effects on the rate of violent incidents and the seriousness of their outcomes, effects that often largely cancel each other out. The picture is complicated even further by the fact that the use of guns by crime victims to defend themselves is effective both in preventing completion of the crime and in preventing injury to the victim. Mass ownership and the frequent defensive use of guns by crime victims make criminal behavior more risky and may have a deterrent effect on criminals, especially on those who would assault inmates, rob retail stores, or commit residential burglaries.
Kleck’s point supports John Lott’s research, which shows that disarming law-abiding citizens will only elevate violent crime levels. In the wake of the latest mass shooting, some public officials are calling for a renewed ban on “assault weapons.” The problem with such a ban is the impractical impact of such a law given the so-called definition of an “assault weapon,” which is largely based on cosmetic characteristics of civilian versions of military-style rifles and handguns. The rate of firing, accuracy, caliber, velocity, and loading of rounds are comparable to many garden-variety semi-automatic weapons. In fact, the 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban” exempted 900 types of firearms from the ban. The distinction is essentially superficial. Laws should not be based on false premises of public safety. Just as many innocent children would have died if Adam Lanza had used a semi-automatic pistol.
Does the heinous nature of the Newtown mass shooting entirely explain the zealous intensity of the mass media’s recent focus on guns and gun control? The Left’s irrational obsession with gun control goes beyond the latest mass shooting. Anyone monitoring the national scene since Newtown is witnessing an emotional antipathy toward the last trace of political leverage among an identifiable demographic: an overwhelmingly White male gun culture. What the MSM and gun control advocates ultimately detest is the gun culture in America, which is too White, too male, and too conservative.
The tradition of gun ownership is as old as the Republic. It reflects the pre-1965 demographic of America as an overwhelmingly White—and more civilized—nation. As a native Midwesterner, guns were rampant in our neighborhoods where few homes didn’t have some sort of firearm. We came of age hunting with our fathers, uncles and cousins, acquiring rifles and shotguns in our mid-teens. We learned to safety shoot guns and would never think of pointing one at an individual or otherwise improperly handling one. We knew the damage that various guns were capable of and we respected their appropriate use under safe conditions. We shared the same interests, respected one another, and valued our Second Amendment rights. And we were all sane!
This bastion of White political clout, as exercised vis-à-vis the pro-gun lobby, is the real source of irritation for Nina Totenberg, Bob Costas, Don Lemon, and other liberal media celebrities who attempt to sway viewers with gun-phobic rhetoric. In their minds, the gun culture represents a throwback to the sinister era of a more homogeneous nation, united in folkways, customs and traditions, where gun laws were minimal, bank tellers weren’t shielded by bullet-proof glass, doors and windows were routinely left unlocked, store owners experienced very few crimes, and downtown areas were largely safe and free of violent criminals. America’s White male gun culture, and all that it represents, is a nightmare for the quintessential pundit of the Fourth Estate—those cosmopolitan advocates of “diversity” and “equality.” It is a throwback to Mayberry, R.F.D. (The Washington Post cites a new Gallup poll [12/27/2012] that shows an “unprecedented number of Americans support the right to own a handgun [74 percent], while just 24 percent would support a ban.”)
Although violent crime has declined over the years (weapon related violence dropped 63 percent from 1993–2001), mass shootings with multiple victims have increased. Recent incidents in Newtown, Connecticut, the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, Tucson, Arizona, which injured Rep. Gabby Giffords, as well as Colombine High School, and University of Texas in Austin (1966), involving Charles Whitman (who killed his mom and wife prior to a shooting rampage that slaughtered 14 others), often involve deranged White male perpetrators. Major exceptions to this are the massacres at Ft. Hood (2009), Binghamton, New York (2009), Virginia Tech (2007), and the Long Island subway (1993), which involved non-White assailants.
A recent CNN “Newsroom” broadcast with Black, gay host Don Lemon, featured on the Daily Caller, probed the topic: “Searching for blame, after Newtown” and raised the question: “Should White men be profiled?” Here’s the Daily Caller coverage of the observations of CNN guest David Sirota on Salon.com,
“Should White men be profiled?” The discussion, which aired on “CNN Newsroom” hosted by Don Lemon, was based on a Salon.com column by David Sirota published just days after the Newtown shooting. Sirota explained his reasoning and suggested there was a double standard.
“I think we should ask the question, ‘Why is America, 30 percent White guys and 70 percent of the shootings in the last many decades have been at the hands of White guys?’” Sirota said. “I’m not saying we should racially profile White guys, but I do think it’s interesting to note that had the shooters, had 70 percent of mass shooters been, let’s say, Arabs or African-American men, I think the conversation right now would be a very different conversation where we’d be talking—we’d be having a much less nuanced, a much uglier conversation.”
Sirota argued that when Blacks or Muslims are arrested for violent crimes, the Black suspect is portrayed as a “thug” and the Muslim is viewed as a “terrorist” while White males are considered as “individuals.” One wonders if Sirota listens to local nightly news broadcasts, where Black perpetrators are deliberately described in vague unassuming terms as “young teens” or “youths” when newscasters refer to young Black assailants or Black flash mobs.
The other aspect of Sirota’s argument is that the reason this mass shooting isn’t viewed as just another violent crime—what makes it so tragic—is that anyone with commonsense understands the nature of ordinary violent thugs and the differences between your average thug and the profile of a deranged White mass shooter. The assailants reflect differences in personality, ethnicity, and race. Plus the former is far more common than the latter. What is different in such mass shootings from, say, the daily urban homicides in the “no-go zones” in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Chicago is the expectation and normalcy of violence and disrespect for human life in largely Black areas. Most people who reside in townships like Newtown expect to drop their kids off at school and see them alive again at the end of the day—that some deranged White kid would shoot up the school is completely unanticipated. It is the one thing that makes any parent numb who has watched this story unfold. It will remain an enigma to Sirota and the other media pundits in the MSM.
In terms of gun use by Black males in violent crimes, a Northeastern University report in 2008 found that although homicide rates were relatively stable in recent years, homicides by Black male juveniles “rose by 31 percent between 2002 and 2007” and that “guns were the weapon of choice in most of the killings.” According to “black youth project.com,” a study by the Children’s Defense Fund found that in 2008 and 2009, “gun homicide was the leading cause of death among black teens…. Young black males die from gun violence at a rate 2.5 times higher than Latino males, and eight times higher than white males. Gun injuries are suffered by black teens at a rate ten times higher than white teens.” The National Crime Victimization Survey by the U.S. Department of Justice (September 2003) found, “Firearm violence rates for blacks age 12 or older (8.4 per 1,000 blacks) were 40 percent higher than rates for Hispanics (6.0). Blacks were 9 times more likely than Whites to be victims of gun-related homicides.” Figures compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics show that Blacks commit 56.4 percent of all gun-related homicides despite constituting around 13% of the population (Black males around half that, and young Black males much less); 41.9 percent were committed by “whites” (presumably Hispanics are included in the “white” category of offenders since 1.7 percent constitute the remaining category of “other”).
A June 2, 2011 symposium, “Black Male Gun Violence,” hosted by the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work, discussed the phenomenon of Pennsylvania having “the highest percentage of Black homicides in the nation.” Pittsburgh Chief of Police Nathan Harper, referring to Pittsburgh police’s 2010 crime report, noted, “Our data over a 10-year span shows that we can expect, on average, around 52 homicides a year. Philadelphia has about 300 a year, which is why Pennsylvania was number one in Black homicides,” he said. “If not for Black-on-Black violence, we’d only have about 10 homicides a year.” (New Pittsburgh Courier, June 8, 2001, “city edition, A1.) All in all, public perceptions of “safe” areas—largely White suburbs, exurbs, or rural areas—still reflect the corresponding data for gun-related violence even when considering the recent spate of mass shootings. Even Obama, in the second presidential debate, when asked about what his administration had done to ban “assault weapons,” conceded, “frankly, in my hometown of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re using cheap handguns.” Obama didn’t elaborate on the race of the perpetrators in the explosion of gun violence in Chicago, but he really didn’t have to. It doesn’t take a Nobel Prize to understand that most of Chicago’s rash of gun violence is committed by young black males.
The administration’s response to the Newtown shooting is Obama’s call for a taskforce on gun violence. One wonders if this will be another government-sponsored taskforce with recommendations that are never acted upon. In 1993, the National Research Council issued a report Understanding and Preventing Violence, a 480-page comprehensive analysis by a distinguished panel of experts that offered numerous recommendations. On the topic of “firearms and violence,” the report noted, “Our review of available evidence revealed several promising preventive strategies, none requiring new laws, which are ripe for rigorous evaluation. We also concluded that like ‘drug-related violence,’ ‘gun violence’ may be best understood in terms of illegal markets and reduced through tactics that police already apply in illegal drug markets.” In terms of “assault weapons,” the NRC report concluded,
Given the imprecision of the term assault weapon, it should not be surprising that there are no generally accepted estimates of the number of such weapons in the United States, of ownership patterns, of their lethality compared with other weapons, or of their uses in crimes (Zimring, 1991). Therefore, legislative efforts to restrict their availability are proceeding with very little basis in knowledge.
What is the point of having another “taskforce” issuing another report that politicians either ignore or excuse-away the findings and recommendations?
One final consideration with this illogical gun control obsession is that these same advocates who expect to round up and confiscate millions of guns in some mandatory gun buy-back program are the same Leftists who claim that it would be impossible and impractical to round up and deport millions of illegal aliens or entice millions of illegal aliens to self deport. Anyone with eyes to see the obvious will grasp the fact that “progressives” will stop at nothing in seeking to destroy the bonds of a White male gun culture and gaining another amnesty for non-White illegal aliens in the name of making America “safe,” “diverse,” and “equal.” It’s crystal clear why our elites promote the mandatory rounding up of millions of firearms while opposing the mandatory deportation of millions of illegal aliens—both accomplish the same radical ends!
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