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Or take the man who opened fire in suburban Milwaukee last August: Are we to believe that a white supremacist targeted the Sikh temple there not because it was filled with members of a religious minority he despised, but because it was a place that allegedly* banned firearms?
Proponents of this argument also ignore that the majority of mass shootings are murder-suicides.
With its overtones of fear and heroism, the argument makes for slick sound bites.
But here’s the problem: Both its underlying assumptions are contradicted by data.
Ever since the massacres in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, it’s been repeated like some surreal requiem: The reason mass gun violence keeps happening is because the United States is full of places that ban guns.
Similar tragedies unfolded at a beer distributor in Connecticut in 2010 and at a plastics factory in Kentucky in 2008.
Law enforcement agents train rigorously for stopping active shooters, they say, a task that requires extraordinary skills honed under acute duress.
In cases in Washington and Texas in 2005, would-be heroes who tried to take action with licensed firearms were gravely wounded and killed.
In the last four years, nearly 100 state laws have loosened restrictions on them.
To varying degrees, every state except Illinois now allows guns to be carried in public.