In the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, many politicians, celebrities and activists are calling for a variety of gun-control measures to be enacted to prevent such carnage again, but leading gun scholar Dr. John Lott says the proposals either already failed to stop killers or would do little more than serve as a political win that doesn’t make anyone safer.
Lott is president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and is the author of multiple books on guns, including “More Guns, Less Crime.” He told WND and Radio America an irresponsible media started parroting the talking points of gun-control advocates long before anyone had any idea of how the alleged shooter obtained his firearms. Lott said the press has no intention of being impartial on this issue.
“The politicians say things like, ‘We need universal background checks.’ No one in the media would say, ‘We don’t know whether it would have stopped this one yet, but can you point to one of the past mass public shootings it would have stopped? Just one. Can you point to one?’ But the media don’t ask questions like that,” Lott explained.
Not only will most television reporters and anchors refuse to ask challenging questions, but Lott said all of their guests think in lockstep as well.
“I’d love to be on CNN or MSNBC,” he said. “Instead, they have panels of four people that all agree with each other.”
In the days since the atrocities in Las Vegas, several consistent proposals have been raised, ranging from universal background checks to blocking anyone on the No Fly List from buying a gun, and from reinstating the “assault weapons ban” to banning bump stock, which is used to convert a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one.
Lott responded to each of these demands, starting with a push for universal background checks that he says restricts freedom.
“Universal background checks would have background checks on the private transfer of guns,” Lott said. “It wouldn’t have stopped this attack. It wouldn’t have stopped any attacks in the Obama administration and wouldn’t have stopped attacks for years before that.”
He also said the cost of background checks, which start at $55 in Oregon and get progressively higher in other states, could be a barrier to poor and minority Americans affording a firearm, and those individuals often need that protection more than anyone.
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with John Lott:
Both President Obama and Hillary Clinton urge gun rights to be tied to the No Fly List, arguing that anyone suspicious enough to be kept off airplanes ought to be prevented from owning a gun.
Lott said that would be a bureaucratic nightmare and would be far more complicated than most people think.
“The No Fly List under the Obama administration didn’t have anything to do with whether the person is trusted or not. The Obama administration increased the number of people on the No Fly List by tenfold over what it was before,” he said. “They have lots of people who are people of interest to talk to because the people might know something that might be useful in their investigation.”
Nonetheless, he said Republicans have offered to meet Democrats half way on the No Fly List approach to gun rights, but the Democrats won’t play ball.
“The Republicans have said, ‘Fine, you can put people on the No Fly List and you can ban them from buying a gun, but you have to give the person an option to be able to go to court and go and get his name removed from the list.’
“The Democrats think that’s horrible,” Lott said. “They think once some unnamed bureaucrat puts you on a list there, you should be stuck on it and there shouldn’t be judicial oversight of that. That’s been the whole crux of the difference.”
Another frequent Democratic allegation is that President Trump and congressional Republicans made it easier for mentally ill people to obtain firearms earlier this year. Lott said that is a gross distortion of the truth.
“At the end of the Obama administration, they pushed through a rule that for Social Security recipients, that if you receive help on your finances – such as [in cases where] you had somebody given power of attorney to handle them for you – you would be declared mentally incompetent and banned from owning a gun,” he said.
Lott used his own mother as an example of someone losing their constitutional rights in this scenario, since she has given her daughter power of attorney in financial matters. He said the Obama rule effectively disarmed 4.2 million Americans.
“My research shows that it’s basically people who are relatively weaker physically, women and the elderly, who benefit disproportionately from having the option to go and defend themselves,” Lott said.
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From 1994-2004, the so-called assault weapons ban was in effect. It was passed into law during the Clinton administration, but the George W. Bush administration allowed it to expire. Senators like Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., are once again demanding that the ban be reinstated.
Lott said the assault weapons ban was entirely about appearances.
“They picked a lot of guns (to ban) based on how they look rather than how they function,” he said. “Assault weapons were semi-automatic guns that looked like military weapons, although the inside guts of the guns were the same as any small caliber hunting rifle.
“I don’t know why anyone would expect any impact on crime rates by banning guns based on how they look.”
Lott said there are three types of guns.
“There’s manually loaded guns. Pull the trigger, a bullet fires, and then you physically have to put another bullet in the chamber of the gun,” he explained. “You have semi-automatics. One pull of the trigger, one bullet comes out. The gun reloads itself. Then you have fully automatic or machine guns, where, as long as the trigger is depressed, you’ll see lots of bullets coming out.”
He said the attempt to ban semi-automatic firearms puts the law-abiding gun owner at a major disadvantage in a crisis.
“If you have two criminals attacking you and you fire a warning shot or you miss, you may not have luxury of time to go and manually reload your gun to be able to go and shoot it a second time,” Lott said. “I don’t think most civilians who want to defend themselves want to be there. The vast majority of guns sold in the United States are semi-automatic guns. So that would be a ban on most guns.”
The idea getting favorable bipartisan reviews as well as a thumbs up from the National Rifle Association is greater regulation or outright banning of bump stocks. Lott has no problem with that move, but he warns it won’t accomplish much.
“People shouldn’t be led to believe that somehow some guy like this guy (in Las Vegas) isn’t going to be able to easily make these types of things on his own,” he said. “Maybe not easily, but he’ll be able to figure out how to do it. And he’ll do it.”
So is there any gun policy that Lott would change to help eliminate mass shootings to at least limit the carnage?
“In 98-plus percent of these mass public shootings since 1970, these attackers have gone in places where they knew victims weren’t able to defend themselves, so-called gun-free zones where general citizens weren’t allowed to have guns for protection,” Lott explained.
“The reason why they go and do that is because they may be crazy in some sense, but they’re not stupid. They want to kill as many people as possible. And they know if they go to a place where people can’t protect themselves, they’re going to be able to go and kill more people.”