Something about the gun debate brings out the worst in politicians. On both sides.
Last week, President Obama, exuding his usual certainty, put forth this definitive declaration: "We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths."
No, Mr. President we do not know that at all. Some states with almost no gun restrictions, places like New Hampshire and Utah, have very few gun murders. Meanwhile, Maryland and the District of Columbia, with ultra-tough gun laws, are killing fields.
The same is true with nations as a whole. In Switzerland, where guns are plentiful, killings are rare. There is essentially no correlation between gun laws and violence. Statisticians have tried mightily to find correlation and causation, but simply can not.
Of course, there is one undeniable correlation: Demanding 'common sense' gun legislation leads directly to a corresponding increase in self-righteousness. Or is it the other way around?
Anyway, there are also fibs on the pro-gun side, where 'gun nuts' contend that more weaponry leads directly to less crime. They overlook states like Louisiana and Mississippi, which have few gun laws but an abundance of gun murders.
Politicians try to pettifog this issue with all sorts of mumbo-jumbo about 'gun show loopholes' and 'automatic weapons' and 'universal background checks.' The result, perhaps the intent, is not to enlighten, but to confuse.
But while advocates and fanatics deceptively trot out their favorite stats, there is a simple truth that every clear-thinking person acknowledges. It was expressed pithily last week by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani: 'People who are insane and want to go ahead and murder don't follow the gun control laws.'
No amount of legislation is going to prevent a determined madman from killing. Not in Colorado, not in Connecticut, not in South Carolina, not in Oregon. And, for that matter, not in Scandinavia, either.
Would-be gun controllers prefer to forget about the subhuman cretin who slaughtered 77 people, most of them children, in that gun-free zone known as Norway. That's more than the death toll at Aurora, Newtown, Charleston, and Roseburg. Combined.
But politicians, especially in the wake of a tragedy, just can't help themselves. Hillary Clinton made this claim a few days ago: 'The gun industry and gun sellers are the only business in America that is totally free of liability for their behavior.'
Absolutely false! Gun makers can be sued if their product is defective and malfunctions. But Clinton and some others on the left want gun companies to be held responsible for the actions of a person using a gun, even if that gun works precisely as intended.
It is true that Congress has granted gun makers some protection from lawsuits, precisely so that cities and states can not bankrupt companies that manufacture firearms.
And interestingly enough, when gun manufacturers pushed for that protection against frivolous lawsuits, Bernie Sanders voted with the NRA. The Democratic presidential candidate also voted against the Brady Bill, arguing that the feds shouldn't impose mandatory waiting periods for gun purchases. Sanders even voted for a law allowing Amtrak passengers to transport weapons. Bernie's adoring fans on the left, if and when they find out about their guy's mixed record on gun control, may be in for a surprise.
In one sense, the Senator from Vermont is one of the more honest politicians in this entire debate. He favors stricter background checks and more emphasis on mental health issues, both of which are eminently sensible positions.
Bernie Sanders may be a socialist living in an economic dream world, but he is entirely realistic when it comes to gun control, saying this: 'Some people think it's going to solve all of our problems, and it's not." He may want to have a word with his friends on the left who have demagogued this issue for decades.
Better tracking and record keeping are good things; they may help at the margins. Convicts and the insane should not be allowed to buy or own lethal weapons. Pretty much everyone this side of Charles Bronson agrees with that.
But let's also agree that no proposed legislation would have stopped the killings in Oregon. If a nut wants a gun, he'll find a way to get one. Rudy Giuliani understands that. Bernie Sanders also understands it. Why can't so many other pinheads grasp this one very simple fact: Laws cannot stop madness.