Jay Ambrose: How Trump’s stance against gun control controls guns
In the wake of the horrible, unbelievably sad and insane shooting massacre of 59 people in Las Vegas, on top of more than 500 wounded, it’s time to blame human evil on guns again. The misled, uninformed and, in some cases, ideologically twisted, don’t get it that the evidence of gun laws doing any good is leaky at best and that it’s antics like theirs that boost sales. A calm, cool reluctance, meanwhile, reduces them.
Here’s a demonstration of that proposition — the record-setting purchases of guns during the Obama administration and the drop during President Donald Trump’s time in the Oval Office. If you want studies and numbers, you will get them, starting with a study by the New York Times, hardly a fan of gun possession.
It concluded that “fear of gunbuying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks alone.” The analysis, a story said, was based on federal data showing how President Barack Obama’s varied calls for stifling sales were springboards for encouraging them.
“President Obama was the best gun salesman the world has ever seen,” a gun shop owner is quoted as saying in another news outlet, the Daily Mail. A story noted that a rising 10-year market up to 2015 had led to three times as many gun manufacturers as there had been. Still another media source has cited a gun and ammunition trade association as being oh, so thankful to Obama for increasing gun jobs from 166,000 to 288,000 from 2008 to 2015 and income from $19.1 billion to $49.3 billion.
A great fear, of course, has been a confiscatory ban on at least some guns, and, given how both Obama and erstwhile presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have praised Australia’s gun laws, that’s more than a conspiracy theory. In Australia, the government banned semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and then gave people a year to sell any they already had to the government before they became criminals for owning them.
Clinton, in her 2016 campaign, helped instigate further gun purchases through such tactics as wanting to overturn a Supreme Court decision that she thought scuttled a Washington, D.C., law that people should lock up handguns that could lead to toddler deaths. The D.C. law actually banned ownership of all handguns. Right now she wants to ban silencers because they could lead to more mass shootings when they only silence enough to save the ears of shooters.
Trump is a Second Amendment champ, and, the day after he won the election, gun sales started a downward trot. This past July, even with price discounts all over the place, federal gun checks were reportedly down 25 percent from what they had been in 2016. As CNN has said, gun stores are wondering what in the world to do with their inventory, but there are fiercely angry politicians, pundits and others running to the rescue with their cries for sweeping gun measures that Republicans have thwarted.
One of the most vitriolic of these critics was a CBS legal executive quickly fired after speaking out on Facebook. She said she was not sympathetic with the victims of one of the worst mass shootings in history because those at this country music festival in Las Vegas were likely Republican “gun toters” who prevent good laws. What we know is that a great many were heroes helping to save lives, and what she did not understand is the conclusion of a 2013 federal study that gun ownership makes citizens safer and that it’s uncertain whether gun laws reduce violence.
A small enough law that might make sense would ban a device that enabled the killer to make a semiautomatic rifle shoot as rapidly as an automatic that is already practically illegal. But the unifying speech Trump made after the attack did far more for the American good than divisive cries for futile measures, and his stance against more gun control has done more to control guns.
Whatever and whoever is behind the so-called sonic attacks targeting Americans in Havana, one party — the government of Cuba — is responsible for getting to the bottom of it. The growing scandal threatens Cuba’s image, and it has all the reason in the world to solve the mystery.
The attacks first were reported in August as having targeted members of America’s diplomatic community. But more recent reporting specifies that U.S. intelligence officers (operating under diplomatic cover) were the first and biggest group affected.
In all, at least 21 Americans have experienced hearing or cognitive problems because of the 50 or so attacks, which began in November, days after the U.S. presidential election of Donald Trump. They occurred at the victims’ homes and hotels where they were staying. Some of the victims are spouses of U.S. government employees; a Canadian diplomat was also among those injured. Some victims have reported hearing cricket-like noises before symptoms appeared while others recall nothing out of the ordinary before hearing loss or other damage manifested itself. In a few cases, the injuries appear to be permanent.
It is tempting to view the attacks as simply another plot twist in U.S.Cuban relations, which warmed under President Barack Obama and quickly cooled again under President Donald Trump. However, it has the look of something more complicated than postCold War spy games pitting one old foe against another. Times have changed. It would be shortsighted of Cuba to attack U.S. personnel in retaliation for Trump’s hard-line stance.
The Cubans should be smart enough to understand that any mischief would erode relations further — and earn them the enmity of would-be tourists, business people and other Americans who long wanted improved bilateral ties. Beyond that, attacking another nation’s diplomats is bad form, something that wins a country few friends in the international arena. More than ever these days, Cuba likes to portray itself as a victim of U.S. policies, none more than the trade embargo dating to 1960.
Going on the offensive now seems unlikely for Cuba. President Raul Castro’s response also was telling. He denied responsibility for the attacks but seemed sincerely perplexed by them — and invited U.S. officials to send FBI agents to Havana to investigate. That was a big move for the old Cold Warrior.
But Castro was acting with enlightened self-interest. Cuban authorities have as much reason as Washington does to identify and punish whoever is responsible. “They want more open interaction with the United States,” stressed Kathleen Hower, executive director of Global Links, a Pittsburgh-based organization that has supplied Cuba with surplus medical equipment for more than 20 years.
America already had ordered nonessential diplomatic personnel out of Cuba and warned other Americans to stay away, saying their safety cannot be guaranteed. That will scare off some tourists no doubt, but Hower said it’s unlikely to affect the growing number of cultural and humanitarian crossborder partnerships. She said she has “no qualms” about going to Cuba or suggesting others do so, noting no ordinary Americans have been hurt. She still considers Cuba “the safest country I’ve ever traveled to.”
An independent party’s involvement in the attacks — a rogue nation such as North Korea comes to mind — seems possible. FBI agents may do what they can to help, but Cuban authorities are better positioned than anyone else to investigate crimes on their sovereign territory. Cold War veterans like Castro ought to know who is capable of such deeds and why. Dealing quickly and efficiently with the problem will do much to improve bilateral relations in the way Cuba desires.