The Inconvenient Gun Deaths

By Erick Erickson Published on April 2, 2023

The Armalite 15, or AR-15, is not a military weapon that was ported to civilian use. It is a civilian rifle that later the military modified for itself. To say it is a military weapon is to repeat a talking point but reject a truth.

For those who do not know, the AR-15 is actually not as powerful as a hunting rifle and, in a number of states, cannot be used to hunt because it lacks power. You’d never know that from media coverage.

The AR-15 came out in the late 1950s and was not the first semi-automatic rifle. It was only a few years later the military used it as the basis for the M-16. In the 1970s, the patents on the AR-15 expired and it could be mass produced by multiple manufacturers. Congress made it the absolute best-selling rifle by temporarily banning its purchase in the 1990’s, then letting that ban expire.

Shortly after the ban expired, which it should be noted could be gotten around by making the black rifle a pink rifle with minimal other cosmetic changes, buyers began buying them as quickly as possible. The most popular rifle in America, which is not the most powerful civilian rifle in America, became popular because of Congress.

Gang Violence v. School Shootings

What you also would not know if you just listened to the press’s ignorant coverage of firearms and guns is that more kids died from gun violence in 2021 due to street violence, usually from gangs, than from all school shootings combined from Columbine to now.

One hundred seventy-five children have died since the massacre at Columbine, Colorado, a school shooting that happened during the assault weapons ban. In 2021, 465 children died on the streets of just nine American cities. You should really pay attention to this. In one year in just nine cities, more children died from street shootings than all school shootings in the last 24 years.

I understand the people calling for “assault weapons” bans. But many of them are also the same people who lecture the rest of us on white privilege. And in their own white privilege, they ignore the hundreds of nonwhite kids per year who die in gang violence on the streets of America and focus, instead, on the few kids who die in schools. No one cries out about the daily violence on the south side of Chicago or in St. Louis. The president does not hold press conferences about those.

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If you want to begin to solve gun violence meaningfully, you could actually simply enforce existing gun laws and arrest existing violators of those laws without banning guns. Seriously.

More than 1,400 people were shot in Philadelphia from January to August of 2022, but the district attorney decided not to prosecute many gun possession crimes because that would mostly target young black men. Reason magazine quoted Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner in 2022 saying, “People of color are disproportionately stopped in Philadelphia and arrested for illegal gun possession in Philadelphia and statewide.” So, he does not prosecute those crimes.

‘Every Child Should be Safe’

Every child should be safe. No child should go to school wondering if they will die that day. But we must ask ourselves why Democrats use the dead bodies in school shootings to demand gun control and totally ignore all the kids who die annually in urban areas and choose not to enforce existing laws that would have kept those kids alive.

We may not be able to agree on new laws banning so-called assault weapons. But it is mind-boggling that the party demanding gun bans is also the party that supports defunding police and refusing to prosecute existing gun laws due to alleged racial discrimination.

Laws Can Save Lives

The sad truth is that the kids who will die across America this year on its streets will disproportionately be killed by nonwhite young men in gangs. But too many people on the Left will excuse the data as the ramifications of a systemically racist society and choose not to enforce the very laws that would save lives while demanding new laws instead.

To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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