by Bob Barr
From 2017 to 2019, America averaged 11 mass shootings per year; nearly double the rate of the three prior years. Although still a statistical rarity when it comes to crime, the uptick in mass shootings was cause for concern and attention by those on the right and the left. Yet, in 2020 America has endured only one such tragedy, not only running counter to the supposedly grim “new normal” painted by Democrats as a way to shame Second Amendment supporters, but shattering the data trends altogether.
For the self-proclaimed “Party of Science,” the facts this year – a record number of gun sales and a historically low number of mass shootings — should prompt at least a brief reflection on the party’s anti-gun platform, which holds that guns are always and inherently dangerous. Democrats’ take on “science,” however, is just as bad as their understanding of the Second Amendment. When it comes to actual facts about firearms, they cannot close their eyes and ears fast enough.
The simple, obvious truth is that if gun ownership rose to an all-time high and mass shooting incidents fell dramatically during the same period, gun ownership is not the cause of mass shootings. This should have been obvious long before 2020, but for all of their histrionics about conservatives not wanting to talk about gun violence in the wake of mass shootings, Democrats continue their refusal to talk about anything other than banning guns as the solution to violent crime (including shootings in cities with the most stringent gun control laws already on the books).
For real scientists, the effects of 2020, and in particular that of COVID-19 on mass shootings, is an instructive reveal of the complexities behind such events, which Democrats have long ignored or refused to consider. An FBI study of mass shootings from 2000 to 2018 showed 44 percent occurred in “commerce” locations such as businesses and malls, and another 21 percent in education settings. These also happen to be areas impacted heavily by COVID-19, resulting in mass closures across the nation.
It is no coincidence that the removal of the favored soft targets for these killers has resulted in a dramatic drop-off of mass shootings. Nor is it a coincidence that psychopaths who murder pick such targets; they offer plenty of victims who are almost completely unprotected.
The vulnerability of soft targets to these attacks has for decades been a concern of Second Amendment activists. In fact, the FBI confirmed these fears in a 2018 report on mass shootings, noting “the swiftness with which active shooter incidents unfold support the importance of preparation by law enforcement officers and citizens alike.” Even so, calls for restoring or buttressing citizens’ natural rights to self-defense outside the home as a solution to reducing mass shooting casualties are routinely mocked by Democrats. Even calls for armed guards or police protecting schools are met with derision.
All of this presents an uncomfortable reality for Democrats heading into the 2020 elections. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, millions of the record number of gun purchases this year were by first-time buyers, motivated by concerns about the economy and social unrest. Included in this cadre of new firearm owners are many who consider themselves politically liberal, and who until now might even have counted themselves among those who viewed the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right “to keep and bear arms” as one that applied collectively rather than individually.
The problem for Joe Biden, if he is elected, is that these new firearms owners are unlikely just to roll over once he begins implementing the stringent gun control measures for which he has advocated as a candidate.
None of this, of course, is likely to stop Biden from doubling-down on gun control, which is why every gun owner, whether new or long-time, must see their vote next month as one that will directly impact the future of their gun rights, more so than in any election since Bill Clinton’s in 1992.
For all their blustering about “science,” Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats want nothing to do with facts when it comes to guns and their plan to limit or strip citizens of their lawfully owned firearms. The consequences for the Second Amendment this election cycle could not be starker — an assessment confirmed by the science of research.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7 District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 and was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986 to 1990. He now serves as President of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation based in Atlanta, Georgia.