At the Washington Times: Insurrectionists and the Bloomberg School of Public Health: Report shows how out of touch left-wing academics are

Feb 13, 2024 | op-ed, Public Health

Dr. John Lott has a new piece at the Washington Times.

According to the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, the threat of an armed insurrection is so pressing that we must quickly enact wide-ranging gun control measures. Its new report “Defending Democracy” proposes restricting concealed carry in public places, banning carrying around legislative buildings and polling places, enacting red flag laws and “openly denouncing violence.”

Concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding. In Florida and Texas, which provide the most detailed data, concealed handgun permit holders are convicted of firearms-related violations at one-twelfth the rate of police officers. In other states, permit holders lose their permits for firearms-related violations at rates of about one in a million. Twenty-three states officially allow people to carry guns in state capitols, and no resulting problems have been reported. 

The Bloomberg School of Public Health report makes much out of the supposed threat from Jan. 6 protesters and rioters. But when Sen. Ron Johnson asked the FBI assistant director for counterterrorism if any guns were confiscated from any of the protesters and rioters on Jan. 6, she answered “none.” When asked if the protesters fired any shots, she said no. She said that the only shots were fired by Capitol Police.

The report cites an Anti-Defamation League study purporting that extremists committed 25 of the nation’s 19,196 homicides in 2022. All of these extremists were supposedly “right-wingers” such as White supremacists or QAnon conspiracy theorists.

Payton Gendron in Buffalo, New York, and Anderson Lee Aldrich in Colorado Springs accounted for 15 of 25 murders. Ten other attackers killed one person each.

Gendron hated blacks because he thought they had too many children and thereby damaged the environment. Aldrich murdered five gay people, but he self-identifies as a nonbinary socialist and asks to be addressed with the pronouns “they” and “them.” These traits and beliefs are hardly characteristic of “right-wingers.”

From 1998 through 2023, only 7% of mass public shooters were clearly racist, anti-immigrant or White supremacist.

The report wants to use red flag laws to confiscate guns from dangerous or crazy people. But all 50 states and the federal government already have civil commitment laws that go by various names such as the Baker Act in Florida and the 5150 code in California.

These laws require evaluations from mental health experts, a hearing where evidence is presented and witnesses are cross-examined, and provide lawyers for those who cannot afford them. Judges have a lot of flexibility and may first give seomeone a chance to pursue voluntary psychiatric treatment. If all else fails, gun confiscation, taking away driver’s licenses, or ultimately involuntary commitment are among the options.

Red flag laws don’t abide by the same due process protections. Based only on a written complaint, a judge decides whether to take away a person’s guns. The complaint could come from a relative, friend, acquaintance, neighbor or police officer. When guns are initially taken away, there is no ability to challenge claims or to offer testimony from a mental health professional.

The notion that we need gun control to keep right-wing extremists in line may sound convincing to the academics at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. But the report shows just how out of touch left-wing academics are these days. At least if we’re going to talk about extremism, let’s present a balanced picture and also mention violence from the left in the 2020 Lafayette Square riot or in the 2017 inauguration riots. Tackling violent extremism ought to be a bipartisan issue.

John R. Lott, Jr., “Insurrectionists and the Bloomberg School of Public Health: Report shows how out of touch left-wing academics are,” Washington Times, February 13, 2024.