You’d think David Frum would want to carry a concealed firearm.

The former Bush speechwriter has become one of the most reliable paranoids on the subject of whether the Russians infiltrated the federal government, and he’s got to keep himself safe from those FSB agents hiding in his hedge rows somehow. Yet mere minutes after the horrific mass shooting in Alexandria that injured Congressman Steve Scalise, Frum was already blaming Virginia’s lack of unilateral disarmament:

This is roughly as accurate as Frum’s prior assertion that the New York Times published fake photos of bleeding Palestinians. Virginia does have background checks — my friend had to pass one — and federal law requires them on all purchases from licensed firearms dealers anyway. Also, as even Omar from “The Wire” will tell you, the notion that long guns — note that first word — are regularly concealed and carried is so fatuous as to make you wonder whether Frum has ever looked at a picture of a firearm before. I’m fairly certain I saw a guy walking around my Northern Virginia neighborhood last week concealing an M1 Abrams tank in his pants, and I’ll bet you he doesn’t even have it registered. What goes on in these Southern states?

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This is why so many like me are forever scolding so many like Frum who insist on ramming news stories through the Ideology-o-Matic before even cursory research is done. Looking like a sloppy fool is the eternal result. Enter the latest development, that the suspect in the Alexandria shooting is from Illinois and might very well have bought his gun there. The Land of Lincoln scores a respectable B+ from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, with licenses, detailed background checks, waiting periods and more.

So strike up “Flight of the Valkyries” as the narrative collapses into rubble. But this is political Twitter: There has to be an anti-gun narrative, though what it is remains elusive as of press time. Background checks? Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard killer, passed one, as have the vast majority of mass shooters. A broader ban on “assault weapons”? Almost all crimes with high casualty counts are carried out with handguns and not rifles.

So what then? The only theoretically effective solution, as demonstrated by other nations, is confiscation of certain or all types of firearms, which would put the United States in the position of risking a civil war in order to prevent violence. Yes, Australia in particular had a successful gun buyback program, but the Land Down Under at the time had only 3 to 4 million firearms, compared to more than 300 million in the United States today, all of them undergirded by a deep-seated gun culture. How would you even begin collecting them all? And if you think I’m guilty of appealing to extremes, name me another policy that might have stopped these killings.

Frum continued his sneering late into the morning with a follow-up piece in The Atlantic that accused those who resist post-tragedy politicking of being primitives. “Like ancient villagers,” he smirks, “Americans accept periodic plagues as a visitation from the gods, about which nothing can or should be done. The only permitted response is ‘thoughts and prayers’ — certainly never rational action to reduce casualties in future.” It’s a bit difficult to defend your home with plague virus, which makes that comparison moot, and I’m still waiting to hear what that “rational action” should be exactly. But in the meantime, it’s important to note that Frum is wrong again.

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It isn’t the prayerful who are behaving like Paleolithic villagers; it’s those who insist after every tragedy that deeper faith in government might have prevented wickedness from being visited upon us. If hooded technocrats can just find that precise incantation of “background checks” and “concealed carry permits” and various other twaddle, they can banish the demon of 300 million guns back into the woods where it belongs — just as the sorcerers at the Department of Education were able to levitate those test scores, and Frum and the neocons managed to “end evil” in the Middle East.

There is no more magical thinking in the world today than from those who believe that government can turn a historically violent and gun-laden country into something otherwise. Thus do we return to Frum’s question at hand: how to stop the Russians from walking around D.C. suburbs with Apache helicopters concealed in their pants. I don’t know the answer, but I may pray on it.

David Frum, anti-gun alchemist Amanda Edwards/ Images
Matt Purple About the author:
Matt Purple is the Deputy Editor for Rare Politics. Follow him on Twitter @MattPurple
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