Boys, Girls, Guns, and Blacks

Ten Republican senators apparently have signed onto a proposal to make it more difficult for people under the age of 21 to buy a gun. Four of the 10 are retiring, and the other six are not up for reelection this year, which suggests they know the legislation will be unpopular with Republicans. If 10 Republicans vote with Democrats, the legislation (which has not been fully drafted yet) would survive an attempt to filibuster it. 

There are at least three obvious points to make: first, if the 18-to-21-year-old group (for convenience they’ll be referred to as “kids”) are not considered to be as wise as people 21 years of age and older, why are they allowed to vote? That’s the kind of query that the kind of Republican who would limit the gun rights of the under-21 crowd tends to shrug off without comment—because there really is no comment that makes sense.

Second, what’s the reason for picking on the kids? Presumably their ages (18-to-21) aren’t random numbers on a roulette wheel or a Ouija board vouchsafed to us. There must be some sort of correlation between something and something else: presumably between the number of murders by kids and the number of murders by . . . a different group. And presumably the number of murders by the kids must be sufficiently higher than the number of murders by any other group you could think of to justify picking on the kids and not also picking on that other group.

Well, almost. If it turned out that the number of murders committed by the 118- to 120-year-old group was significantly higher than the number of murders committed by the kids, it might be fair to conclude that that still wasn’t much of a problem. How many people of that age are there, after all? If there are only 10 of them, and they commit five murders, that means 50 percent of them committed murder, but five murders are hardly a national catastrophe—with inflation going through the roof, baby formula in short supply, hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens streaming over our southern border (bringing disease, crime, and fentanyl with them), crime rising in our cities (mostly run by entrenched Democrats), and a whole lot more. We really haven’t got time to focus on a few trigger-happy centenarians.

Also, how many of the kids who have committed murder, in any given year, were girls? Does that matter to anyone? Does that matter to the aforementioned 10 Republican senators? Can they tell the difference between boys and girls? And if they can, would they admit it in public? As of February 2017, 93.3 percent of federal inmates were men, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. That suggests that whatever the problem is with kids and guns, it’s a problem with boys not with girls. And in that case, whatever rule the Congress is about to produce should apply only to boys, not to girls. Place your bets that the Republicans will make a distinction between boys and girls? Please! And where are the feminists when we need them? 

Here’s a third, two-part problem: part one is that, as Crisis Magazine reports, contrary to popular belief, most mass shooters are black. “Consider that young black men make up less than 6% of the population. Yet, according to an aggregation of news sources, this demographic committed 68% of mass shootings in 2019, 73% of the mass shootings in 2020, and so far [April 2021], 70% of mass shootings in 2021. For those same years, white men committed 14%, 14%, and 14%. Latinos held steady at 14%, 14%, and 16%. Asians committed 4% in 2019, and none in 2020 and 2021.” 

Part two is that blacks commit “regular” murder (i.e., not mass shootings) at about the same rate as the kids (the boy kids), and that rate is higher than the rate at which the rest of the population commits murder. 

If Congress is going to discriminate against kids (by passing special legislation that requires them to jump through certain hoops to buy a gun, hoops that older people don’t have to jump through), shouldn’t it also impose the same rules on “similarly situated” people? If blacks commit murder at the same rate as kids, or if blacks commit more mass shootings than whites, shouldn’t the legislation now supported by the 10 Republicans, as well as by all the Democrats, include, specifically, blacks?

If not, why not?

About Daniel Oliver

Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was executive editor and subsequently chairman of the board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review. Email him at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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