Scaring the American public is one of President Obama’s favorite political tactics to get gun control. Just hours after the terrible shooting at the Navy Yard on Monday, Mr. Obama said that, even though he didn’t have the facts, “We’re confronting — yet another — mass shooting. And today it happened on a military installation in our nation’s capital.”
The last mass shooting was over nine months ago at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. While we mourn every one of those children and educators lost that day — and today in Washington, D.C. — these events are not a cause for increased alarm.
A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) released in April showed there have been 78 public mass shootings in the last 30 years that claimed 547 lives. That averages to 18 victims a year.
To put that number in context, there were 8,583 murders by firearm in the U.S. in 2011, the most recent year for which we have figures from the FBI. And, there were 851 people accidentally killed by firearms in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The congressional report concluded that, “While tragic and shocking, public mass shootings account for few of the murders related to firearms that occur annually in the United States.”
The president also added about the horrific crime at the naval building that law enforcement will be “investigating thoroughly what happened, as we do so many of these shootings sadly that have happened, and do everything we can to try to prevent them.”
As I wrote in my new book, “Emily Gets Her Gun,” every life is precious. But Mr. Obama never has much to say about the thousands of people murdered every year in individual shootings. You never hear Mr. Obama talk about investigating those killed every day in our cities.
(Well, except for Trayvon Martin, who the president said looked like the son he never had — before the trial of George Zimmerman even started.)
Instead, Mr. Obama focuses on the rare mass shootings because the uncontrollable and random nature of them are more frightening to the public, which is politically helpful for him to push for more gun-control laws.
We don’t yet know know how the shooter or shooters got into the military installation, but if it was a random mass shooting and not terrorism, Mr. Obama is off base talking about prevention.
The CRS reported that because of the rarity of the events, “potential perpetrators cannot be identified accurately, and no systematic means of intervening are known to be effective.”
Mass shootings are extremely rare and should not be described by the president as if they are a common occurrence. He does this to frighten people into believing that they are in more danger in order to get support for restricting Second Amendment rights.
The reality is gun crimes have decreased steadily for 20 years. We cannot stop every single evil person from using a firearm to murder, but we can use facts when talking about these crimes.
The president of the United States should be reassuring the public of their safety, not blatantly trying to scare them to further his political goals.