NRA News Guest: Don't Seek Answers After Mass Shootings

Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

During an appearance on the August 22 edition of Cam & Company on NRA News, guest Anthony Gregory, a research fellow for the Independent Institute, said he finds "it troubling that right after" mass shootings, people would want "an explanation as to why it happened, or how it could be stopped." According to Gregory, mass shootings only constitute only an "occasional tragedy" that cannot be prevented in "an open society." 

CAMERON GRAY: You wrote an article in the Washington Times, "Gun control and the security illusion: Laws don't prevent crimes." Of course NRA News we talk about this subject, you know, on a nightly basis. You made points about the Sikh temple shooting, the Aurora, Colorado shooting, and of course every time mass shootings like that come up there is the gun control policy debate that rises up in this country. Tell us about the thesis of your article first of all. And tell us about, you know, what you say to people every time this national debate comes up, whether we need to be banning guns after a mass shooting like this.

ANTHONY GREGORY: Well first of all I tend to find it troubling that right after a massacre like this everyone wants to have an explanation as to why it happened, or how it could be stopped. There is always this big public policy discussion that begins right away. It's not even a few days that people wait before they delve into this.And of course guns are a target in this discussion.  Although I was careful in my article to point out that even many pro-gun people can sometimes overstate the case and overstate how much of a panacea ownership might be to prevent these massacres. Because, unfortunately, in an open society you're going to have an occasional tragedy like this, and I don't think there is any way to eliminate them 100 percent. But surely gun control doesn't stop them either. And there are many other problems with gun control. I think gun control exacerbates these types of tragedies. But they have all these other costs to society that I think are very horrible. The biggest one of course being the cost to individual liberty.

After arguing that mass shootings are a necessary cost of liberty, Gregory suggested that gun violence prevention, which he claimed involves "jailing people for owning guns, putting them in prison [and] prosecuting them," is "itself a form of gun violence." 

GREGORY: But merely having a gun isn't a violent act. Whereas jailing people for owning guns, putting them in prison, prosecuting them, these are violent acts. I find it kind of ironic that people don't see that gun control is itself a form of gun violence. The violence is being enforced by the state. But gun control is violent. Whereas I would think any pacifist should oppose gun control because gun ownership isn't violent. Gun control is.

What Gregory is espousing is essentially a philosophy of anarchy and lawlessness where freedom can only be secured through force. This type of thinking is an anathema to the concepts of rule of law and ordered society that play a key role in our democracy.

High levels of gun violence are not a necessary component of a free society. Other democracies worldwide typically have much lower rates of gun violence than the United States. In fact the United States is tragically unique for its pairing of epidemic levels of gun violence with a representative form of government. Compared to other high-income nations, the United States experiences a gun homicide rate that is 19.5 times higher than the average.   

Furthermore, mass shootings are not just "occasional" events as Gregory suggests. During a one month period this summer, five high-profile mass shootings occurred in the United States.

  • On July 17 a man entered a Tuscaloosa, Alabama bar, uttered a racial slur, and opened fire wounding 17.
  • A gunman fired on moviegoers during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20 killing 12 and injuring scores.
  • On August 5 a white supremacist entered a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and began shooting, killing six and wounding four.
  • A police officer was among two killed on August 13 when a College Station, Texas man opened fire after being served an eviction notice. Several other individuals were wounded.
  • A group of seven people have been charged in the fatal shooting of two police officers near New Orleans, Louisiana on August 16. Two other officers were wounded. 
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