I haven’t written anything about the murders in Charleston, mostly because I haven’t had time. I expect to talk about the murders tomorrow on the Laura Ingraham show, where I will be guest hosting. I would encourage you to tune in for that. In the meantime, one obvious point can be made: Barack Obama has disgraced himself, once again, by trying to make political hay out of the murders:
“I have had to make statement like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times,” Obama said. “We don’t have all the facts. But we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”
Murder is a terrible thing, but thankfully, the homicide rate in the United States is dropping. It was lower in 2014 than in 2013, and lower in 2013 than in 2012. Today, it is only about half what it was during the Clinton administration. In the intervening years, private handgun ownership has exploded. Many argue, and statistics support the claim, that broader gun ownership has contributed to this stunning reduction in the homicide rate.
In this particular case, an uncle of the murderer, Dylann Roof, has said that he got the gun–a .45 handgun, apparently–from his father as a birthday present. Is Obama proposing legislation that would make it illegal for a family member to give another family member a firearm? If so, that proposal would be brand new. The Democrats have never had such a law on their wish list.
The facts as reported are sketchy and may prove to be entirely wrong, but if the father bought the gun to give to Dylann as a present, I think it would be an illegal straw purchase. On the other hand, if the father had owned the gun for a while, it would be legal to give it to his son. So if Obama is proposing legislation, what is it, and how does it differ from existing law?
“Let’s be clear. At some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” Obama said. “It doesn’t happen in other places with this type of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it . . . At some point, it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it and for us to be able to shift how we think about gun violence collectively,” he said.
Charlie Hebdo, as some wag noted, was unavailable for comment. “Mass violence” happens in lots of countries; more important, the homicide rate in the U.S. is about average, ranking higher than some western countries that have less demographic diversity, but much lower than Russia, most of Africa, the Caribbean, and most of Latin America. The assertion that we have a unique problem with “gun violence” is simply false.
Obama does not specify, naturally, how we should “shift how we think about gun violence collectively.” He is just trying to fire up his base, not to achieve anything constructive. But here is an idea: news reports indicate that South Carolina law prohibits carrying concealed firearms in churches. The one thing that undoubtedly could have stopped the deranged and reportedly drug-addled Dylann Roof is a couple of parishioners with guns. Somehow, though, I don’t suppose that is the “shift” that Obama had in mind.