Erick Erickson is a prominent American blogger who lives in Macon, Georgia. And he's terrified that if he goes to the opening of Star Wars, it will be blown up by terrorists.
I’m really glad I didn’t get tickets on opening day to see Star Wars. Seriously.
I have no confidence in this Administration to keep us all safe, particularly in light of President Obama’s statement today that there’s really no way to stop this stuff.
There are no metal detectors at American theaters.
I think I’ll wait till Star Wars is less a threat scenario.
If you are really worried about a crazy person killing you inside a movie theater, you shouldn't be worried about foreign terrorists, most of whom have no idea where Macon, Georgia, is. You should be worried about garden-variety crazy people, like the guy who murdered 12 people in a Colorado movie theater in 2012, or the other guy who shot 11 people in a Louisiana movie theater in 2015. Between 2000 and 2010, gun violence killed more than 100,000 people, while terrorist attacks killed around 3,000.
Yet when it comes to gun violence, the political debate goes in exactly the opposite direction. Conservatives tend to be the ones arguing that, to quote Erickson paraphrasing President Obama, "there's really no way to stop this stuff."
"The President cannot name any gun laws, other than curtailing gun ownership, that would have stopped the shooting," Erickson wrote last month after Obama called for gun control laws in the wake of yet another mass shooting. Or, as presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush put it last month, "I don't think more government is necessarily the answer to this. Stuff happens and the impulse is always to do something and it's not necessarily the right thing to do."
Conservatives argue that most gun owners are law-abiding citizens, and it would be wrong to use the misdeeds of a small minority of gun owners as an excuse to curtail the gun rights of the law-abiding majority.
Personally, I think conservatives have a point here. And their argument applies with equal force in the debate over refugees and terrorism. The overwhelming majority of Syrian refugees are not terrorists or members of ISIS. It would be unfair to exclude them from the US and other rich countries because a tiny minority of them might have violent intentions.
To be fair to Erickson, he's been less hostile toward Syrian refugees than some of his fellow conservatives. The attacks in Paris — and unsubstantiated rumors that some of the attackers were Syrian (the evidence so far suggests they weren't, though some may have visited the country) — prompted Erickson to call for stricter standards for admitting Syrian refugees: "The government must exercise serious discretion and discernment and give preference to women and children over single men or should not admit any of them at all."
Other conservatives have gone much further. Yesterday presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) offered a bill to ban Syrian refugees altogether. Frontrunner Donald Trump has said that "we cannot let them into this country, period," a sentiment shared by his leading rival, Ben Carson.
But if it's an overreaction to ban guns in response to the dozens and dozens of mass shootings we've seen in recent years, it's an even bigger overreaction to ban Syrian refugees based on a single deadly terrorist attack.