Some thoughts on shootings

September 22nd, 2013

I am currently working on article for the Connecticut Law Review’s symposium on the Second Amendment, concerning legislative responses to mass shootings, co-authored with Shelby Baird. I’ll have more on that in October. For now, a few thoughts.

First, some sober reactions from Reason:

The fact is that as Northeastern University’s James Alan Fox has firmly established, there’s no upward trend of mass shootings over the past 40 years. And when it comes to violent crime, the trend is clearly down. FBI statistics show the murders committed with firearms dropped between 2008 and 2012. Over the past decade rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault committed with weapons declined by 26 percent. Overall violent crime rates are about half of what they were 20 years ago.

The Navy Yard gunman, Aaron Alexis, somehow managed to get a security clearance to work at a military installation as a sub-contractor despite getting booted from the Navy and a history of gun-related violence, mental instability, and erratic behavior.

The Pentagon is auditing its security-clearance and hiring processes its bases; one assumes that other public and private workplaces will follow suit. Of course, this comes too late to offer any comfort to the families, friends, and co-workers mourning the dead and wounded. But in the end, it is far more likely to be effective than any sort of gun-control legislation rushed through Congress.

Second, facts about a shooting in Chicago last week that many of you probably never heard of.

A mass shooting occurred Thursday night in Chicago. The shooting did not receive around-the-clock coverage on news networks, but two gunmen reportedly left 13 people with non-life threatening wounds, with the youngest victim at age 3 and others ages 15 through 41. In a press conference Friday, police superintendent Garry McCarthy described the gunman’s weapon as a high-capacity, assault-style rifle that belongs on the “battlefield, not on the street or a corner or a park.”

Think why the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard received wall-to-wall coverage, but the shooting in Chicago went ignored.

More on this later.

Update: The President responds to the Navy Yard shooting:

Mass shootings in Washington Monday andChicago Thursday prompted President Obama to revive the drumbeat for gun law reform again this week, urging supporters “to get back up and go back at it” in calling for expanded background checks for gun purchases. But even as Obama spoke Saturday morning, the death roll in Obama’s hometown was rising, as shootings over night Friday into Saturday morning took five more lives and injured six others. At least nine shootings affected individuals from age 14 to 41, between 1:30 p.m. Friday and 5:30 a.m. Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Among the victims were a 41-year-old man shot in what was reported as an argument over a parking space around 4 a.m. Saturday, and a 37-year-old man who was shot in the back several times walking down the street around 11 p.m.

Saturday morning, President Obama addressed the Congressional Black Caucus,referencing the shooting that injured 13 — including a three-year-old — just two days earlier.

“[W]e can’t rest until all of our children can go to school or walk down the street free from the fear that they will be struck down by a stray bullet,” he said.

Update: Remember the Mother’s Day shooting in New Orleans? 19 were killed. Why has no one written about it? I would add race of the victims to that equation. Same for the Chicago shooting mentioned above.