It is a unique feature of mass shooting scenarios where there is a near-rush in reporting to be wrong. Wrong on the facts, wrong on almost every element of the story, proven over time, as the story comes out. The politics then follows.
On December 6 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, alleged gunman Anthony Polito launched an attack on campus. Armed with some 150 rounds of ammunition and a list of names, Polito prepared to administer terror to the university. At 11:44 a.m. shots rang out at UNLV’s Beam Hall and the Student Union in an incident that would claim the lives of three and injure one.
University police officers were on-scene in 78 seconds. Bravo.
Unlike Uvalde, and so many other mass shootings, we can commend campus police officers for ending the shooting swiftly and with appropriate force. The rapid response of the officers was nothing short of amazing. I should know. My mother was in the building when it happened.
My mother, a professor at UNLV, relayed the alarming story of what it was like to hear the shots and the screaming. Bravely, she led hundreds of students to safety behind police barricades while SWAT teams rushed into the building to secure those huddling for safety inside.
My deepest thanks go to those courageous officers who stood in the face of danger and neutralized the threat. And I join with those across the country who pray for the families of the victims.
The national response to the incident, however, followed the political pattern we have all seen before. Like clockwork, President Biden called for Congress to ban high-capacity magazines and assault weapons. Bans that simply Do. Not. Work.
Polito’s weapon of choice was a legally obtained handgun, not an assault weapon. That’s right. Polito’s shooting spree was conducted without the use of an assault weapon.
In a speech in Las Vegas following the shooting, President Biden spoke of the more than 600 mass shootings that have occurred in America in 2023 using inflamed statistics from the Gun Violence Archive database. The archive defines mass shooting as one in which four or more have been shot or killed, not including the shooter.
To be clear, the shooting of innocents is morally reprehensible—a sentence that should not even need writing. But, President Biden cites statistics which also include murder/suicides, hate crimes, domestic violence, gang and drug involvement, police action, robbery, defensive use, accidents, and nearly 120 other possible variables.
With over half of all mass shootings, using Biden’s definition, conducted using handguns, as was the case at UNLV, then the call for banning assault weapons is the wrong answer to gun crime in America.
In 2019, Biden wrote “Assault weapons — are a threat to our national security, “ and “…as president, I will push to ban them again.”
In his speech Biden called for national red flag laws; which allow for confiscation of an individual’s firearms based on an outside evaluation of that person’s risk to themselves or others.
Polito’s employment records included no such flags and provided no indication of his homicidal notions. Polito obtained his firearm legally, and in doing so would have filled out a federal background check established by the Brady Law.
Let us recall some history. The 1999 Columbine massacre, the deadliest school shooting ever at the time, occurred while the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was in effect. The weapons used in that massacre were obtained illegally. Does the president assume returning to the days of an assault weapons ban would also prevent nefarious actors from resorting to extralegal means to commit heinous crimes?
In fact, in 2004, when lawmakers were considering the renewal of the 1994 Ban, the Justice Department concluded that assault weapons were “rarely used” in gun crimes.
Even using the most progressive of sources, Mother Jones, during the ten-year period before the bill’s enactment America experienced 16 mass shootings, this during a time when military-style assault weapons, as defined by the bill, were readily-available and trafficked across the country.
The Biden Administration is categorically wrong in its attempt to wrestle firearms from law-abiding owners while failing to address high rates of mental health problemsthat account for the rise in mass shootings.
The standard reactions are nostrums from an administration all-too-eager to limit constitutional firearm ownership. Recent studies show there is no significant association between homicide rates and assault weapons bans. In calling for a new ban, President Biden is not concerned with rising mass shootings. For all his talk of being the only person who could reach bilateral consensus on further gun legislation, the president is misleading the American people.
The American mass shooting epidemic does not stem from our constitutionally guaranteed access to firearms, and President Biden’s attempts to revert the national argument to the 1990’s is nothing more than another attempt to infringe on constitutional rights, and to rehash the same arguments we’ve been having in this country for the past 30 years.
- OPINION: Banning Assault Weapons is Not the Answer - December 20, 2023