Guns Don’t Kill People. Terrorists Kill People.


People are upset that the Senate has tabled a bill to ban AR-15s, even though they were the weapon of choice at Highland Park, Uvalde, and Buffalo.

That doesn’t disappoint me; it doesn’t even surprise me. What does is that so very many people continue to miss the most obvious point of all.

I get it: Even though the ban would have no chance at all of passing in the Senate, they want people to go on record one way or the other. That way there’s something concrete to use in campaign ads for the midterm elections this November. That’s fair; politics is politics, and you play to win or you go home.

And there’s nothing sacred about gun violence or school shootings. If people honestly believe that banning a specific model of firearm will drastically reduce the number of gun deaths… well, they’re wrong, but they’ve got a perfect right to be, same as I do, same as you. Policy is meant to deal with important issues, and there’s very little more important than the safety of our children. It’s entirely appropriate for people to leverage these horrific events in order to create the changes that they believe to be necessary.


First, it’s not about the AR-15, semiautomatic rifles, body armor, or any of the other accoutrements carried by the shooters. Dylann Roof did an obscene amount of damage with a handgun in the Charleston church shooting (he wanted an AR but couldn’t afford one). The Greenwood Park Mall shooter was spotted and neutralized rapidly because he carried a long rifle. More often than not, these weapons handicap the perpetrators rather than aid them; gun death statistics bear this out.

Second, it’s not even about guns in general. Study gun deaths in any detail and you’ll see that there are several easily isolated patterns into which they fall; the most common are suicides, and you’re not going to prevent suicides by eliminating guns.* Many of the homicides are street crimes, or gang- or drug-related; again, it’s clearly not the guns that are the issue here: end the War On Drugs if you want to save lives. “Death By Cop” suicides, police shooting suspects, people defending their homes from invasion, even accidents: All of these have clear root causes, and in none of the categories are those guns.

What we’re really talking about here, for the most part, is not gun deaths in general but rather the specific events that make the evening news and trend on Twitter. It’s the guy that shoots up a Fourth of July parade, or the one that kills kids in an elementary school. These events force themselves on our attention; unlike the thornier problems of drugs and poverty, we cannot ignore them. Statistically, this is a third of one percent of gun deaths — but they’re important even so, and we’ll discuss them.

These events generally fall into three patterns. The first, and least common, is mental illness leading to a fixation on mass killings; the Austin bell tower sniper falls into this category, as does Kehoe the bomber. The second is the bullied teen seeking revenge against schools — Roslyakov in Kerch, Williams in Santee, and so on. The third, which is becoming far more common, is the terror attack, into which category most of the recent rampage attacks fall. We’ve begun the process of improving access to mental health care, and we’ve campaigned against school bullying, but this last deserves close attention.

Killers including McVeigh, Roof, the Christchurch shooter, and most recently the Highland Park, Buffalo, and Greenwood Park Mall shooters all shared a motivation: to disrupt society through random violence, incurring a draconian law enforcement response, thereby increasing the chances of popular revolt, which they consider inevitable. Terror organizations such as The Base, Atomwaffen, and the like recruit and train armed cadres designed to fight in such a conflict, and regularly send provocateurs to the front lines of legitimate protests of all types, including BLM and the January 6th event at the Capitol. Collectively, they are known as Accelerationists.

To be clear: It is the goal of Accelerationists to provoke an excessive law enforcement response. Their belief is that voluntary disarmament of a segment of the populace merely makes for easier targets, whereas any attempt to forcibly disarm the American public as a whole would provoke significant unrest. What they truly want is for either governmental inaction or overreaction to force civil war.**

The bottom line is, these people are terrorists. Most of them aren’t treated as such by major media, which is probably responsible journalism; terrorists feed off their press. However, when we’re talking about crafting policy in order to defeat them, it’s vital to consider that no targeted weapons ban (AR-15s, for example) would have any meaningful impact whatsoever, and any broad bans (all handguns and semiauto rifles) would actually play into their hands.

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* It is arguable that banning handguns would decrease the number of suicides; see our earlier piece on the topic for statistics:
However, for the purposes of this article, our intent is to express that removing the weapon hardly deals with the root cause of the problem.

** Sites such as the Daily Stormer (apparently in open defiance of their top-page anti-violence disclaimer) host doctrinal documents which make this clear. The Christchurch, Buffalo, and El Paso shooters all had manifestos trumpeting their cause.

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