John R. Lott, Jr. and Andrew Pollack: Dems and gun control -- they want it whether it works or not

The two Democratic presidential debates last week in Miami were marked by calls to remember Florida’s Parkland High School shooting, which occurred only 50 miles away from where the debate took place. The Democrats agreed on two solutions to stop these attacks: impose background checks on private transfers of guns, and ban “military-style” “weapons of war.”

Even when the questions weren’t about gun control, candidates still found ways to bring up the topic.

Many Democrats have a hard time believing that their opponents want to save lives. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., claimed during the debate, “It’s the greed of the NRA and the gun manufacturers that make any progress impossible.” Congressman Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., argued, “The NRA is taking orders from the gun manufacturers, that’s the problem.”

WHO WERE THE WINNERS, LOSERS OF THE SECOND DEMOCRATIC DEBATE?

But it isn’t a question of who is getting paid off by gun makers. Some people think that banning guns makes people safer, just as others sincerely believe that such bans will disarm and endanger law-abiding citizens.

Many terrorist types want to kill as many people as possible, and are drawn to gun-free zones where regular citizens are prohibited from being able to protect themselves.

One of the authors here, Andrew Pollack, experienced first-hand the disastrous consequences of gun-free zones. His daughter died in the Parkland massacre.

While all the candidates endorsed full health care coverage for illegal immigrants, none talked about providing funds to help cover mental illness for Americans. Gun control was their only solution.

Despite focusing on Parkland, none of the candidates addressed the issue of school safety, aside from pushing gun control. No one mentioned the unsafe environment created by leniency, given by both liberal educators and the police, to troubled youth.  While all the candidates endorsed full health care coverage for illegal immigrants, none talked about providing funds to help cover mental illness for Americans. Gun control was their only solution.

It would have been great if one of the debate moderators had asked a tough question on guns. For example, could background checks on private gun transfers have stopped Parkland or any other mass public shooting? The answer, unfortunately, is that such a law wouldn’t have prevented a single attack in this century.

As to assault weapon bans, banning “military-style” guns won’t come close to stopping these attacks. Apparently, all of the Democrats in Thursday’s debate want to buy back and destroy every gun that they consider to be an assault weapon.

Killers fired handguns in 80 percent of the mass public shootings since 1998. In 54 percent of attacks, handguns were the only weapons used. By contrast, semi-automatic rifles were used exclusively in just 13 percent of cases. And given the various definitions of what constitutes an assault weapon, not all of these rifles would qualify.

Here was Bernie Sanders’, I-Vt., definition on Thursday night: “Assault weapons are weapons from the military.” But many rifles bear only a superficial resemblance to military weapons. The oft-maligned AR-15 looks like the M-16, which began being used by the U.S. military in the Vietnam War, but as a semi-automatic, it only fires one bullet per pull of the trigger. It isn’t a machine gun.

No self-respecting military in the world uses semi-automatic weapons. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg knows that, but he’d rather give people the impression that military weapons are pervasive. “As someone who trained on weapons of war, I can tell you that there are weapons that have absolutely no place in American cities or neighborhoods ever,” he said on Thursday night.

The vast majority of firearms in the United States are semi-automatics, and are very useful for protecting people and saving lives. Single-shot rifles that require reloading may not do people much good when they are facing multiple criminals. Or, for that matter, if the first shot misses or fails to stop an attacker. People trying to protect themselves and their families might not have the luxury of time to reload their guns.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden also pushed “smart guns,” a suggestion not offered by other Democrats. “No gun should be able to be sold unless your biometric measure could pull that trigger,” he told viewers. But this technology is no more reliable than your smartphone’s fingerprint reader. These guns can be jammed if they rely on radio signals, and the technology is limited only to small-caliber handguns because sensitive electronics can be damaged by the gun’s recoil. The technology is also extremely expensive, adding about $900 to the price of a gun. Biden’s proposed measure would ensure that only the wealthy can own guns.

People like us who disagree with gun control advocates aren’t motivated by greed. We have kids, too, and we also want them to be safe. We recognize that the police won’t be there all the time, and that people sometimes have to be able to defend themselves. Democrats would be more effective debaters if they weren’t constantly demonizing half the country.

Andrew Pollack was the father of Meadow Pollack who died at the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and he can be followed on Twitter at @AndrewPollackFL