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As Obama Exploits Massacre for Partisan “Fiscal Cliff” Gain, Some Important Gun Facts to Consider

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BY TIMOTHY H. LEE
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19 2012

The reflexive exploitation of the Newtown murders to score ideological points was a predictable one. But that doesn’t make it any less tawdry.

What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut isn’t fairly a “tragedy.”

A deadly auto accident is a tragedy.  A natural disaster is a tragedy.

What happened was evil.  It was murder.  It was depravity of the lowest, most perverse, diabolical, heartbreaking form.

The “tragedy” is the predictable onslaught of unintelligent and opportunistic preening from gun control advocates.  People who obviously lack even a rudimentary knowledge base to recognize that straightforward crime and sociological data across the nation, and even throughout the world, refutes almost every claim they assert.

Sadly and pathetically, that now includes Barack Obama.

This week, he attempted to exploit the massacre for his own partisan political gain.  Appearing before reporters to name Joe Biden – the same man he appointed to ensure that “stimulus” dollars weren’t wasted on things like Solyndra – to lead an effort to impose new federal gun restrictions, Obama used the child victims as political props:

“And when you think about what we’ve gone through over the past couple of months – a devastating hurricane and now one of the worst tragedies in our memory – the country deserves folks to be willing to compromise on behalf of the greater good, and not tangle themselves up in a whole bunch of ideological positions that don’t make much sense.”

For good measure, Obama even used the murders to promote “energy and immigration reform,” of all things:

Right now, what the country needs is for us to compromise, get a deficit reduction deal in place, make sure middle-class taxes don’t go up, make sure that we’ve been laying the foundations for growth, give certainty to businesses large and small, not put ourselves through some sort of self-inflicted crisis every six months, allow ourselves to focus on things like preventing the tragedy in Newtown from happening again, focus on issues like energy and immigration reform and, you know, all the things that will really make a determination as to whether or not our country grows over the next four years, ten years, forty years.”

In reality, Obama is the one refusing to compromise in the “fiscal cliff” discussions.  Nevertheless, some simple realities refute the reflexive, emotion-based, predictable, partisan anti-gun outbursts that Obama and others have exploited Newtown to air.

First of all, crime in America has steadily plummeted in recent decades, during the same period in which gun ownership rates have steadily ascended to record highs and gun restrictions were steadily relaxed.  As David Kopel, author of Firearms Law and the Second Amendment, notes, the domestic murder rate has declined by more than one-half since 1980.  Meanwhile, the number of states that have either unrestricted or “shall issue” carry laws has increased from just 9 to 41 since the 1980s.

By the way, that includes a nationwide decline in crime since 2004, when the so-called “assault weapons” federal ban expired.  Yet now some reflexively reassert its necessity, including Obama.

Here’s another inconvenient reality for gun “control” advocates like Obama or Bob Costas or Piers Morgan.  If “gun culture” causes violent crime, then why do countries with high gun possession rates have low murder rates?  And why do countries that prohibit firearms often have high murder rates?

Here are just a few examples.

Switzerland has the fourth-highest gun possession rate in the world at 46 guns per 100 residents.  Yet its murder rate is almost nonexistent, at 0.7 per 100,000.  Similarly, Finland has the eighth-highest gun possession rate (32 per 100 citizens), Sweden is tenth (31.6) and Norway is 11th (31.3).  But Norway’s murder rate is only 0.6 per 100,000, Sweden’s is 1.0 and Finland’s is 2.2.

By way of comparison, the U.S. has the world’s highest gun possession rate at 87 per 100 citizens, but its murder rate is actually fairly low among nations at 4.2 per 100,000.

In contrast, Brazil effectively prohibits firearms and it stands 75th in gun possession rate at 8 per 100 people.  Yet its murder rate is shockingly high at 21.0 per 100,000 – five times the American rate.  Mexico also severely restricts guns, and is 42nd in world gun possession at 15 per 100 people.  But its murder rate is four times that of the US at 16.9 per 100,000.  Similarly, Russia’s gun possession rate is only 68th, but its murder rate is more than twice as high as America’s at 10.2 per 100,000.

Accordingly, worldwide data alone invalidates the claim that gun prevalence explains elevated violent crime.

In terms of history and logic, it must also be noted that events like the Holocaust, Cambodia’s killing fields or China’s “Cultural Revolution” are inconceivable in America because of the Second Amendment.  Yet supposedly more “enlightened” Europe experienced slaughter on that massive scale, from the tip of France to the toe of Italy to deep Russia, within living memory.

Preventing such state-sponsored atrocities, not hunting or sport shooting, was precisely why the Second Amendment was drafted and included in the Bill of Rights.

The reflexive exploitation of the Newtown murders to score ideological points was a predictable one.  But that doesn’t make it any less tawdry.

And the fact that it is contradicted by hard evidence and historical data the world over demonstrates its illogic.

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