After a shooter attacked a Republican congressional baseball practice earlier today, many people were left wondering how the event will affect the gun control debate.
National security expert Juliette Kayyem joined BPR today to talk about this issue, saying the shooter’s relatively clear background will steer the conversation, possibly into the ground.
“I am not sure that this case would have been one in which gun control would have stopped it,” she said. “This is not to say that I don’t believe that every one of these mass shootings should be an opportunity to talk about gun control.”
Kayyem talked about how the shooter, James T. Hodgkinson III, was likely politically motivated; despite a fervent letter-writing habit, nothing would have flagged him to authorities as a real danger.
“It’s not clear anything that Hodgkinson did before would have been captured, even if Virginia had more stringent gun laws,” she said. “He was a bit of a political crank writing letters and stuff, but as is sometimes the case, there’s really no clue.”
Despite Hodgkinson not displaying many signs that might have flagged him for law enforcement, Kayyem still sees gun control as a means and not an ideology, and says she doesn’t understand why some politicians don’t want to talk about it.
“The idea that more guns breed greater security is completely refuted by the data right now, which is that we’re the most armed nation in the world and one of the least [safe] nations in the world in terms of gun control,” she said. “This idea that more guns is better from the perspective of either deterrents or ending the active shooter situation is just — there’s no data to prove it.”
Kayyem said the country won’t be able to stop mass shootings, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. doesn’t need better gun control.
“The more layers and barriers you can put between 'bad guy A' succeeding at [a] bad thing, the safer we will be,” she said.
She faulted the NRA for perpetuating a “fantasy” about more guns meaning more safety, and again called on data to reveal the truth.
“We’ve got more guns, and look at us,” she said. “Look at us.”
Juliette Kayyem is a national security expert, host of the SCIF podcast, and a contributor on CNN and WGBH news. To hear her interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.