Meanwhile: It’s time to inject a little perspective into the discussions around mass shootings. Notes on Liberty‘s
How to count victims of mass shootings has become – strangely enough- controversial. Nevertheless, I am quite certain that shootings, specifically, of strangers for other than greed, or jealousy, or disappointed love have not caused 10,000 deaths in any of the past few years, not even close.
Do you agree; do you see where I am going?
So drunk drivers kill many more people – about 10,000 annually – than mass shooters. The victims of the ones are just as dead as the victims of the others; the loss and grief associated with the ones must be similar to those associated with the others. The deaths from one cause seem to me to be as meaningless as the deaths from the other. (That’s by contrast with the death of a firefighter in the line of duty, for example.)
A rational collective response should give priority to the avoidance of the many deaths from drunk driving over the much fewer deaths caused by mass assassins. Yet, the public reactions of the left are exactly the reverse of those rational expectations. In part, this inversion of priorities is due to the magnification the media affords mass shootings but not the slow massacre on the roads. In part, it may be due to the sometimes concentrated nature of the death tolls by mass shooting. This explanation, however, has only limited value because the small death toll at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, for example, was given much more publicity than is conceivable for any drunk driving accident with three lethal casualties.
The problem with having policy discussions around mass shootings is simply this: These are high-profile, highly-publicized events, often carried out with a type of firearm that the majority of the population has no familiarity with. To make matters worse, would-be gun-banners and much of the mass media have been successfully characterizing these firearms as “assault weapons,” a term which is loosely based on cosmetic features and is, essentially, meaningless.
A little perspective is in order. You are more likely to be killed by lightning than to die in a mass shooting. While every incident is horrible and every death resulting from these is a tragedy, it’s very likely that it is precisely this sensationalizing of the issue that leads to more nutbars thinking of a mass shooting as a way to gain undying infamy.
There are a few things being proposed that make sense: Improving, for example, how mental illness diagnoses feed into the FBI’s background checks database. But Congress spending days and weeks arguing how to fiddle with regulations on rifles (that are almost never used in crimes) that look nasty? That’s a waste of their time and our money.
But then, Congress has always been good at wasting their time and our money.