Since nobody knows what caused the Aurora gunman’s rampage, and since everyone seems fine skipping the political debate about how to prevent its recurrence, much of the commentary about the Colorado massacre has been theater criticism about how the media should cover it. Here’s Mike Huckabee, providing a valuable lesson in how not to:
“We don’t have a crime problem, or a gun problem, or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem,” Huckabee said on his Fox News show. “And since we’ve ordered God out of our schools and communities, the military and public conversations, you know, we really shouldn’t act so surprised when all hell breaks loose.”
I’m not qualified to judge whether the U.S. has a “sin problem,” And while chalking up mass murder to the absence of prayer in schools is Robertsonesque wingnuttery, it’s true that nobody seems surprised by this all-too-familiar tragedy. But Huckabee’s assertions about guns and violence are aggressively wrong.
Roughly 30,000 people die from guns every year, from a combination of murder, suicide and accidental killings. The U.S. gun homicide rate is about 15 times that of other wealthy nations. Kids under 15 in this country are about 12 times as likely to die by the gun than their counterparts in the top two-dozen industrialized countries combined. Every day, some 80 Americans are killed by guns. The rate of violent crime has been falling in the U.S. since the early 1990s, but it’s still very high by comparison. This is a problem by any possible measure.
Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, is entitled to use his Fox platform to blame godlessness for a senseless tragedy. He’s entitled to shill for a corporation because its founder opposes gay marriage. He is not entitled to deny indisputable facts because they don’t suit his agenda.