In an exchange on ABC’s This Week this morning with Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) was outraged that lawmakers reacted to the mass murder of school children by an armed gunman by trying to prevent similarly disturbed individuals from obtaining guns. The Congressman claimed that limiting firearms will have as much impact on reducing gun violence as banning spoons will on preventing obesity:
BARLETTA: This is a perfect example why people believe Washington is broke. This horrific incident in Newtown, and here what is our debate? It’s focusing on guns when there is not one person at this table who really believes that that’s the root of what happened there and — when we have people that get into the mind-set that they want to harm people, as a former mayor, I know people will get guns no matter what laws we pass, just like the illegal drug —
KRUGMAN: I caught you on a false statement there because at least I do believe that guns are the root. There are crazy people everywhere, but mass murderers are a lot more common here than —
BARLETTA: You believe guns are more important than dealing with mental health and our culture. Is our culture lending itself that we’re raising children that are desensitized to murder, to killing people.
KRUGMAN: I look at the international differences — countries that have effective gun control have a lot fewer —
BARLETTA: Would banning spoons stop obesity?
Krugman is correct that America gun violence dwarfs that in most other developed nations. Indeed, among the 34 nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, only Mexico — which is currently caught in a drug war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives — has a higher rate of gun homicides. Indeed, no other OECD nation even approaches the level of gun violence present in Mexico with its vicious drug gangs or in the United States with its permissive gun laws:
The simple truth is that spoons don’t kill people. Guns do.