When news broke on Oct. 13 that five individuals had been killed in their northeast Raleigh neighborhood by a teenaged gunman, I’m sure we all shared feelings of shock, horror, and concern for the victims’ families, friends, and neighbors. Shortly afterwards, many turned their thoughts from the tragedy itself to its potential implications for politics and public policy — an understandable reaction, yes, but also one fraught with peril.

What responsible people did next was to keep those thoughts to themselves until they knew more about the details of the Raleigh shooting. Alas, Joe Biden wasn’t one of those people.

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John Hood is a John Locke Foundation board member.

(3) comments

PattiG

We're mincing words. Any gun whose sole purpose is to kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time needs to be banned and reserved only for the police and the military. Period.

Branch

When it comes to painting Republicans with a broad brush, is Roy Cooper wrong? As of October 2022, the Brooking’s Institute has been able to identify “345 candidates who will be on the ballot in November who have expressed election denial beliefs—false claims that the presidential election in 2020 was flawed.” As to the party affiliation of these candidates? “All of them are running as Republicans.” (https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2022/10/07/democracy-on-the-ballot-how-many-election-deniers-are-on-the-ballot-in-november-and-what-is-their-likelihood-of-success/) According the the Washington Post, this does in fact constitute a MAJORITY of Republicans running for office in 2022. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/10/06/elections-deniers-midterm-elections-2022/)

Let’s not mince words: A former president who lavishly praises strong man dictators around the world, daydreamed out loud about declaring himself president-for-life, urged his supporters to attempt a coup, and believes that Article 2 of the US constitution gives him absolute power…is an autocrat. Donald Trump is an autocrat. The majority of the Republican Party, clearly beholden to him, is autocratic.

There is no equivalence here with Cooper or the current administration. Being upset that Americans might be emancipated from crushing debt, or be spared the coercion of their employers during a killer viral pandemic does not make Hood an advocate for the people, or for democracy. It makes him a corporativist shill who prizes property and profit over human life.

Branch

It’s much more accurate to talk of “reinstating” a ban on assault weapons, which has effectively reduced gun deaths in the past. From NBC news: “Former President Bill Clinton signed into law a 10-year assault weapons ban in 1994. It expired in 2004. Several studies, including one published in 2019 in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, have shown that mass shooting deaths were reduced during the years the ban was in effect.” (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/house-will-vote-ban-assault-weapons-friday-rcna40644)

When Hood says “it would be practically impossible to confiscate all the rifles already in existence,” it is a straw man. No one is talking about attempting such a thing. The text of the referenced bill that passed in the US House in July (H.R. 1808) states that the ban “shall not apply to the possession, sale, or transfer of any semiautomatic assault weapon otherwise lawfully possessed under Federal law on the date of enactment of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022.” (https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1808/text) There has been some talk of a voluntary buy-back program.

Hood further asserts that “most importantly, such a ban would have had absolutely no effect on the Raleigh shootings. The teenager in question used a shotgun. He also carried a handgun and hunting knife.” But H.R. 1808 does include provisions for banning a variety of semiautomatic weapons, not just assault-style rifles. This includes specific makes and models of semiautomatic shotguns and pistols. Exhaustive definitions may be found in the text of the bill, linked above. As far as I can tell, authorities have not released the granular details on the type of handgun and shotgun found in the Raleigh suspect’s possession, so perhaps John Hood should keep his mouth shut, as per his own advice?

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