Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Bogus? I'll Show You Bogus
As both sides in the gun-control debate mobilize for a possible second act on Capitol Hill, could we please retire the argument that taking step X on guns wouldn’t have prevented tragedy Y?Smith bypassed a background check by going to an "unlicensed dealer" whatever that is. We are to believe, according to the logic of Ms. Lawrence, that had the unlicensed dealer refused the sale, that an actual criminal with a gun to sell would have done the same. The "might" she uses is therefore stretched to unbelievability because a person intent on getting a weapon can get one from criminals who won't follow the law or by another crime, namely theft or burglary, with or without accompanying murder (as the Connecticut evil psychopath did to obtain his weapons).
Yet arguments like that ignore the fact that step X—whether it’s expanded background checks or other proposals before Congress—might well have helped prevent or mitigate some horrendous past incident, and could spare us future tragedies.
For instance, expanded background checks might have saved the life of Ricky Byrdsong, the former Northwestern University basketball coach killed by white supremacist Benjamin Nathan Smith in 1999. Smith tried to buy a gun from a licensed dealer in June 1999 but was blocked because of a domestic-violence restraining order against him. The next month he bought one from an unlicensed dealer and used it to target blacks, Asians, and Orthodox Jews in a three-day, multicity rampage. Nine were wounded and two died, among them Byrdsong, who was shot multiple times while walking with two of his children.
And, yes, expanded background checks might have kept Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from killing 13 people and themselves in the 1999 Columbine massacre. Three of the four guns the two 17-year-olds used in the shootings were purchased for them at a gun show by Robyn Anderson, then 18. “I would not have bought a gun for Eric and Dylan if I had had to give any personal information or submit to any kind of check at all,” Anderson said in a statement in 2000. “I wish a law requiring background checks had been in effect at the time.”
Robyn Anderson surely is contrite for her arming the Columbine evil psychopaths not the least because she could have been charged and jailed for her actions, which were and are today illegal (although she copped a deal to avoid prosecution). The illegality of her actions didn't stop her, but another law would have? Who's kidding whom? Two others who supplied the weapons to the Columbine killers were prosecuted, so the then extant law they violated failed to stop the purchase, but of course another law clearly will in the future. The so-called gunshow loophole that existed here in Colorado in 1999 has supposedly been closed by legislation which makes every purchase at a gunshow, or a purchase later from a person the buyer met at a gunshow, subject to a background check. I say supposedly because before they closed the gunshow loophole with legislation, I underwent the normal background check, required for all sales from federally licensed dealers, for the few guns I bought at gunshows. Since it became mandatory I have not undergone any checks for the three purchases I've made (because the weapons I bought were Curios & Relics-- the purchase of which never needs a background check according to federal and state law). No doubt Ms. Lawrence would advocate background checks for C & Rs, because her belief in the efficacy of laws to prevent bad acts is apparently absolute.
She then tackles normal sized box magazines.
Some pundits, lawmakers, and advocates, topped by the NRA, have argued it would be pointless to limit the size of ammunition magazines. Yet past incidents suggest such limits could make a difference. In 1998, Kip Kinkel emptied a 50-round clip at Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore., killing two students and injuring 25. When he stopped to reload, several students wrestled him to the ground.
Adam Lanza brought 10 magazines of 30 rounds each into Sandy Hook Elementary School last December. Parents there say 11 children may have escaped when he had to stop to reload. In Tucson in 2011, shooter Jared Loughner was tackled and his gun wrested from him as he tried to reload after firing 31 bullets in a matter of seconds. If his clip had been limited to 10 rounds, Christina Taylor Green might be alive today. She was killed at age 9 by Loughner's 13th bullet.
Kinkel used a Ruger 10/22 with an extended magazine. I cannot get details of the subduing except that it involved 7 people and one was wounded by a pistol he was carrying. Brave people there. No one knows what Lanza was doing when some children ran away, least of all the children themselves. Was it a jam, was it merely reloading? Unknown. We do know that Loughner dropped his replacement magazine, someone grabbed it off the ground and he was rushed when his empty weapon could not be reloaded. So based on the end of these three shootings, does the government have a compelling state interest in making shooters change out empty magazines more often? There are an awful lot of 'mights' and 'mays' in Lawrence's paragraphs. She proposes infringing on an enumerated right because not very often people may avoid being shot by evil psychopaths? How about not infringing on the rights of millions of law abiding gun owners and concentrating on the shooters? How about involuntarily committing evil psychopaths? Wouldn't that be far more likely to prevent gun violence by them than making them reload more often the gun they bought on the black market? Who is pushing a bogus argument about the real world efficacy of gun control laws here?
She ends the piece mentioning the parents of the murdered children at Newtown and quotes a Brady Campaign mouthpiece about their desires:
“They don’t want what happened to them to happen to somebody else,” says Malte. “That’s the overriding factor.”
OK, then do something that would actually help prevent evil psychopaths shooting up students at schools, as Lanza and Kinkel did. Maybe an armed guard at the gun free zone would be more effective than laws the evil psychopaths, about to murder children (and having just murdered a parent or parents), most likely would not obey. If you want to prevent the tragedy of school shootings, do something effective. Prohibition laws have never been effective, they just punish the law abiding.
And in a broader sense, do we want to curtail freedom here in America on the slight possibility that it might curtail a slaughter of innocents? The price of freedom is that some people are free to disobey the law. I'd still rather have the freedom.