Just as predictable as the question about whether we need stronger gun controls follows after a public shooting spree, there is the predictable response from conservatives that guns don't kill people, evil/crazy/bad people kill people, so stop with gun control. (See John's earlier link to the Onion article on this point). Here's Thomas Sowell, over at National Review Online:
Do countries with strong gun-control laws have lower murder rates? Only if you cherry-pick the data…. Britain is a country with stronger gun-control laws and lower murder rates than the United States. But Mexico, Russia, and Brazil are also countries with stronger gun-control laws than the United States — and their murder rates are much higher than ours….
This is the old bait-and-switch, isn't it? (Otherwise known as red herring) The question about gun control laws, at least under these circumstances, is whether it's a good idea to have assault weapons available, as with them, public shooting sprees are very, very destructive. It's not about whether the murder rate will go down. If you want to murder someone, you'll likely do it with a gun or without. But if you want to go on a spree of violence, you'll do that with a gun or without, too. The point of the question is that with the latter, the with the gun option, the public spree of violence kills more people. Sowell's point about homicide is just beside the point. Well, at least he's not running the if there were more people with guns, this wouldn't happen line (see, John Lott for that one).