by Bob Barr
We defenders of the Second Amendment are no stranger to disinformation and ignorance by the Left when it comes to issues regarding firearms in America. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Everytown for Gun Safety” routinely manipulates gun violence statistics to fit its narrative. The mainstream media still appears willfully ignorant about what is an “assault weapon,” even though they use the term amply in their reporting. And, who can forget Virginia state Delegate Joe Morrissey’s inane rant against gun violence while holding an AK47-style rifle as fellow members pleaded with him to remove his finger from the trigger (a basic rule of gun safety).
Yet, an editorial from the Washington Post last weekend sets a new standard for mind-boggling superficiality when it comes to the Left’s lack of understanding about firearms. The editorial itself is a laughably weak criticism of sound suppressors like the one used in last week’s tragic mass murder in Virginia Beach; but one paragraph in particular truly catches the knowledgeable reader’s eye. The author is Juliette Kayyem, a faculty chair of the homeland security program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government; and she writes, “In terms of death-to-time ratio, single-shot weapons are preferable to multi-round handguns and handguns are preferable to the semiautomatic, and the favorite of mass shooters, the AR-15.”
Say what? In no way whatsoever does this text make any sense; not mechanically, not factually, and not even grammatically. Still, Kayyem doubles-down on her polemic by boasting on Twitter that her critics were simply “mansplaining” firearms to her because she “know[s] something about guns.” Her editorial suggests otherwise.
However, the incoherence of Kayyem’s screed and the smugness with which it is delivered, are par for the course when it comes to the manner in which the gun-control movement frames the “national conversation” it calls for in the wake of any mass murder involving a firearm. The difficulty faced by those who actually do understand firearms in attempting to debate those who adhere to the mush delivered by gun-control proponents like Kayyem, is akin to arguing with the Jabberwock in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass.”
When pressed to demonstrate even rudimentary awareness of firearms, many liberals tend to cite the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) as the gold standard for “gun control.” However, few on the Left recognize that the AWB did nothing to make the firearms it targeted less lethal or less able to be used in mass shootings. That legislation’s prominence in gun control lore is pure fiction yet holds a mystique on the Left simply because it purported to be, “gun control.” As former Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter declared when attempting to define pornography, “I know it when I see it.”
Unfortunately, as illustrated by Kayyem’s editorial, the only thing the Left sees when demanding a “national conversation” on mass shootings, is the firearms. This is the classic “failure to see the forest for the trees” approach that nets no true understanding.
By continuing to focus exclusively on the instruments used in mass shootings (the “how”), we fail to explore the far more pressing issue of why these events occur in the first place. In her most recent writing, Kayyem decided to make the Virginia Beach tragedy about sound suppressors and how they supposedly present a new danger to potential victims of a mass murderer. Here again, she displays a lack of basic understanding of firearms.
The first responders in Virginia Beach – knowing that a sound suppressor does not silence the report of a firearm -- were able to locate the shooter immediately due to very obvious sounds of gun fire. More to the point, the issue thus framed fails to address the far more important question of why this man decided to resign his job and return mere hours later to murder co-workers with whom he worked for years.
It is, however, much more difficult to raise and debate questions about deficiencies and defects in our society that appear to be birthing far too many of these evildoers, than it is to earn a pat on the back by the Left for raising the alarm about firearms suppressors, or positing that by deciphering the “death-to-time ratio” we will come to understand the mind of a mass murderer and thereby prevent a recurrence.