Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller mischaracterized President Obama's remarks at a September 22 memorial for victims of the Washington Navy Yard mass shooting to claim that the president “outright trashed our nation” during his speech.
In a September 25 opinion piece, Miller claimed that Obama used his speech to “drive support to restrict Second Amendment rights” and falsely stated that the president “said that the United States is not as good as other developed nations because of our crime rates.”
Just as he did at the prayer vigil two days after the horrific Newtown, Conn., school shootings last December, the president used the memorial service for the victims of the Washington Navy Yard tragedy to drive support to restrict Second Amendment rights.
Mr. Obama railed about politics for more than half of his remarks at the Sunday service for the 12 innocent people killed last week. He said the mass shooting by an apparently psychotic schizophrenic who claimed to hear alien voices should “obsess us” and “lead to some sort of transformation.”
Mr. Obama has never believed in American exceptionalism, but he outright trashed our nation. He said that the United States is not as good as other developed nations because of our crime rates. He claimed that after the total bans on firearms in the United Kingdom and Australia, “mass shootings became a great rarity.”
As his remarks demonstrate, Obama didn't trash America. In fact, he said that the 12 victims who lost their lives in the rampage did “the unheralded work that keeps our country strong.” While Obama referenced the fact that the United Kingdom and Australia took legislative action after mass shootings, he did not say that the United States was “not as good” as those countries:
OBAMA: So these families have endured a shattering tragedy. It ought to be a shock to us all as a nation and as a people. It ought to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation. That's what happened in other countries when they experienced similar tragedies. In the United Kingdom, in Australia, when just a single mass shooting occurred in those countries, they understood that there was nothing ordinary about this kind of carnage. They endured great heartbreak, but they also mobilized and they changed, and mass shootings became a great rarity.
No other advanced nation endures this kind of violence -- none. Here in America, the murder rate is three times what it is in other developed nations. The murder rate with guns is ten times what it is in other developed nations. And there is nothing inevitable about it. It comes about because of decisions we make or fail to make. And it falls upon us to make it different.
Miller's claims about Australia and the United Kingdom are also incorrect. After mass shootings in those countries, “total bans on firearms” were not enacted. Instead, both nations placed restrictions on semi-automatic rifles and handguns. Since Australia's gun laws were enacted in 1996, there have been no mass shootings in that country. The gun homicide rates in Australia and the United Kingdom are astronomically lower than the rate in the United States:
While Obama did not endorse the regulations put into place by Australia and the United Kingdom in his speech, he did praise those countries for examining their gun policies in the wake of a tragedy. The president did not mention specific measures in his memorial speech, but since the Navy Yard shooting he has again advocated for improving the background check system for gun purchases.
Miller also downplayed the danger of mass shootings in America, claiming that Obama's discussions of these “rare” shootings are “scare tactics” to attack the Second Amendment. She then advanced the false claim that "[t]hese events have neither increased nor decreased in the past 30 years." In fact, recent research by criminology professor Pete Blair has found that the number of shootings where mass murder is the primary motive is on the rise:
A comprehensive analysis by Mayors Against Illegal Guns that used the FBI's definition of a mass shooting -- where at least four people are killed with a gun -- found that 56 such incidents occurred between January 2009 and January 2013. Furthermore, half of the deadliest mass shootings in United States history -- where 12 or more people were killed -- occurred during the last six years:
[The Maddow Blog, accessed 9/25/13]
Miller has used the Navy Yard mass shooting to attack Obama and even to sell her book. The day after the shooting, Miller authored a Washington Times column that distorted Obama's immediate reaction to the tragedy. Miller suggested that by referring to “yet another mass shooting” and “so many of these shootings,” Obama exaggerated the incidence of mass shootings for the purpose of "[s]caring the American public" into supporting restrictions on firearms. In that same September 16 opinion piece, Miller promoted her new book and link to its Amazon.com purchase page.