NY Times columnist revives gun control wish list after Las Vegas

Columnist Nicholas Kristof has dredged up the gun control agenda as a response to Las Vegas-type attacks. (Screen capture, YouTube, Aspen Institute)

Update: Writing in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof has offered up a tired, and not even re-packaged, version of the traditional gun prohibition lobby’s agenda as a “solution” to mass shootings and gun-related violence in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre.

Kristof’s regurgitation of the gun control wish list was headlined “Preventing Mass Shootings Like the Las Vegas Strip Attack.” But would any of these recommendations actually have prevented killer Stephen Paddock from launching his murderous rampage on the night of Oct. 1?

Not according to perennial anti-gunner Dianne Feinstein, the senior U.S. Senator from California. Appearing Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Feinstein acknowledged that there could not have been any law passed that would have stopped Paddock.

Among the suggestions touted by Kristof:

  • Impose universal background checks before buying a gun. Not relevant, because Paddock passed background checks to purchase his firearms. Even Feinstein admitted that.
  • Impose an age limit of 21 on gun purchases. Not relevant, because Paddock was 64 years old.
  • Enforce a ban on possession of guns by anyone subject to a domestic violence protection order. Again, not relevant because Paddock was not under any such order.
  • Invest in “smart gun” purchases by police departments or the U.S. military, to promote their use. No relevance here, either, since Paddock owned the guns he used and even with “smart gun” technology, he could have used them.
  • Adopt microstamping of cartridges so that they can be traced to the gun that fired them. Seriously? Paddock was found dead in a room surrounded by guns and spent shell casings. That circumstance eliminates the need to trace empty cartridge cases to any mystery guns, and since Paddock took his own life, there’s not going to be a trial.

Kristof’s other recommendations include safe storage requirements, limits on gun purchases and research into effective interventions to reduce gun-related deaths. In his column, he alluded to preventing suicides and other crimes as well, and he acknowledged that, “It might be that nothing could have prevented the slaughter in Las Vegas, but mass shootings are anomalies: Most gun deaths occur in ones or twos, usually with handguns (which kill far more people than assault rifles), and suicides outnumber murders. And we can chip away at gun violence as a whole.”

As to the latter, the firearms community, with Second Amendment Foundation CEO Alan Gottlieb in the lead, has championed a suicide prevention effort in Washington State. Kristof didn’t mention that particular effort.

In fairness to Kristof, Washington’s suicide prevention effort does mention preventing firearms access, even temporary removal from home where there might be a danger of suicide.

But the New York Times headline put the focus on preventing “mass shootings like the Las Vegas Strip attack.”

The gun prohibition lobby invariably tries to push its agenda as a solution to spectacular crimes despite overwhelming evidence that none of these measures would have made any difference. By resurrecting it, Kristof hasn’t done anyone any favors. But it gives the anti-gunners one more opportunity to complain that Second Amendment advocates have once again blocked their “progress.”

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