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Guns & Guitars, a gun shop, where Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock allegedly purchased firearms in Mesquite, Nevada. | Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

CUPP: Democrats want no guns at all, but lack the courage to say so

SHARE CUPP: Democrats want no guns at all, but lack the courage to say so
SHARE CUPP: Democrats want no guns at all, but lack the courage to say so

In the wake of yet another horrific mass shooting, the debate over guns is back at the forefront.

You’ll hear a lot of passion and pleading over the coming days and weeks — and it is well intentioned. It’s impossible to fathom that we are simply unable to prevent such atrocities, and so we make bargains — with each other, ourselves, God — that if we just do this or that, it will codify some cosmic agreement to stop terrible people from doing terrible things.

OPINION

Gun control is one of these bargains. And we are so overcome with emotion and desperate for the bargain that we often fool ourselves into believing in fiction, in illusions, in downright magic, the way children believe nothing will happen to their parents if they jump over the cracks in the sidewalk.

One of the fictions we want to believe is that making certain guns illegal would prevent mass shootings. They can’t tell you exactly which kinds, because each state actually defines them differently. But the bad ones, they’ll say. The ones mass shooters use.

But mass shooters use all kinds of guns, from so-called “assault rifles” to shotguns and handguns. In Charleston, Dylan Roof killed nine people with a .45 Glock pistol. Aaron Alexis killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard with a shotgun. Jared Loughner killed six in Arizona with a handgun, and Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 and wounded 43 others at Fort Hood with just a pistol.

The truth is, the scary-looking guns many Democrats want to ban account for just 2 percent of gun deaths in the U.S. The vast majority of gun deaths are actually suicides. And most homicides are committed with handguns. Banning semi-automatic rifles is not only arbitrary, it would have negligible impact on gun violence in America.

So, there must be something else we can do, you’ll hear. We need to make it harder to buy guns, they’ll say. Universal background checks and national gun registries are popular “fixes” that the gun control lobby says everyone supports. And they do sound sensible. But they also didn’t prevent the massacre in Las Vegas or countless others.

The Las Vegas shooter reportedly bought his guns legally and passed a background check, as did the shooters in Orlando, San Bernardino, Oregon, Lafayette, La., Charleston, Fort Hood, the Navy Yard, Aurora, Oakland and Tucson. Background checks are useful, but they can’t predict the future.

There are other silver bullets, as it were, that gun control groups believe will magically put an end to mass shootings and gun violence, like a ban on high-capacity magazines in order to limit the amount of rounds a gun can fire. This is the equivalent of banning Big Gulps. There are fairly easy ways to get around these limits.

Perhaps because the legislation is looming, some have even suggested that suppressors – what some people call “silencers” – must be regulated in order to prevent mass shootings. Hillary Clinton tweeted, “The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.”

Of course, silencers don’t make guns silent, not even close. And trying to put one on a semi-automatic rifle would likely just result in decreased accuracy and a melted silencer. But that’s how desperate we are for solutions – we will literally invent them out of thin air, based on nothing.

You will also hear that, just because gun owners and those who defend them know all of these ideas won’t actually solve gun violence, it means we must lack courage. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy tweeted out, presumably to Republicans, “To my colleagues: your cowardice to act cannot be whitewashed by thoughts and prayers.”

This is odd and disingenuous.

It’s Republicans, the NRA and the law-abiding gun owners they represent who take the principled stand to support the Second Amendment, and at the hardest time to do it.

It’s Democrats and the gun control lobby that lack the courage. Because the only intellectually honest and consistent proposal for curbing gun violence is a ban on all guns. If Democrats are serious about putting an end to mass shootings, or gun deaths in Chicago, or gang violence, they should fight to take every last gun off the street. They should stand up and say they want to repeal the Second Amendment. Anything short is either a shortsighted fallacy or political window dressing.

But will they? It’s unlikely, because they want to get reelected, and they remember all too well what happens to Democrats in the wake of significant gun control efforts: a rout of the kind seen in 1994 following a now-expired assault weapons ban.

We’ll see if they’re willing to put their own elections on the line, or continue to talk about fantastic new laws that won’t actually solve our problem.

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.

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