Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – Caricature by DonkeyHotey, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original

A few days ago, New Zealand announced they are banning “military style” semi-automatic weapons. According to their PM, that translates into anything with more than five rounds, which means basically all handguns and most rifles that aren’t bolt action. There are very few semi-automatic guns that hold only 3-5 rounds.

This was, of course, an emotional, but largely nonsensical reaction to the Christchurch shooting that took place last week.

American politicians, sensing a chance to push their political agendas, are now latching onto this and demanding we take the same actions. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got in on the action last night with a snarky response to an active shooter drill in Indiana.

This is dumb on so many levels.

Given that the vast majority of guns used in mass shootings are either legally obtained before a background check would even flag them or stolen in some capacity, the idea that universal background checks would prevent evil people from doing these evil things doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. It’s simply a way to establish a national gun registry and holds no tangible value past that. Never mind that FBI background checks are already required for the vast majority of gun sales.

Bump stocks can be 3D printed or easily improvised. Is a mass shooter going to decide not to use one just because AOC says they are banned? Of course not. They are also not something that’s been widely used in these tragedies anyway. It’s another do-nothing approach just to make people feel better.

The real meat here is her call to ban all “semiautos,” though. Given that almost all handguns are semi-automatic, this means the government attempting to confiscate tens of millions of guns from law-abiding U.S. citizens. How exactly would that be accomplished? AOC doesn’t say because she never actually thinks through anything she proposes. Her proposal would also clearly be a violation of the 2nd Amendment and cause major rifts in the country that could lead to far worse issues than the relatively rare mass shooting.

In the end, common sense needs to prevail here. As a matter of actual data, mass shootings are a tiny, tiny fraction of gun violence. More people are killed on the streets of Chicago in a single week than are typically killed in mass shootings over an entire year. Are these events tragic and worthy of our concern? Yes, but making bad laws that will have no actual effect just to appease the emotional appeals of some is terrible governance.

The very thing AOC is disparaging here (training to react to an active shooter) is the most effective way to save lives in this situation, along with armed security. You can ban anything you like. You can have whatever background checks you want. Those wanting to take lives will still find a way to do it. Being prepared to respond if you are caught in the middle is extremely valuable. Instead of playing politics, AOC should be focused on doing things that are 1) legally doable and 2) actually effective.

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