The is not one single proposed gun law on the table that would prevent a mass shooting or even impede a killer.
Let’s take Adam Lanza, for example. Background checks? Nope. Lanza didn’t want to wait two weeks for the Connecticut State Police to issue him a permit to buy a rifle. So he murdered his mother and took their guns to Sandy Hook. How about assault weapons bans? Nope again. Their Bushmaster XM-15 would have been grandfathered in to either the original ban or the one currently in a House subcommittee. High-capacity magazine bans? Three strikes and you’re out! Lanza not only had spare magazines, he reloaded his magazines during his killing spree. Registration? The rifle was registered when it was purchased. Made tracing it easy, but didn’t stop anything.
How about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold? When they began planning the Columbine attack, they were too young to buy any firearm. So they got a friend to make straw purchases for them at a gun show. That’s been a federal offense since October 1968, by the way. Then got got a guy to sell them a Tec-9 pistol in a back-alley deal. He’s the only one that ever did any time in connection with Columbine. He got two years in prison for selling a handgun to a minor.
Nikolas Cruz? He had a long history of violent behavior. Broward County officials had responded to more than three dozen incidents. But since the school district and sheriff’s office had a diversion agreement, none of those incidents were ever turned into criminal charges that might have prevented him from buying that Smith & Wesson M&P-15 at Sunrise Tactical. Or from buying seven more firearms, including an AK-47 copy. Of course, the FBI could have forwarded the tips it received to its field office and then to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, but that didn’t happen. To cap things off, Deputy Scott Peterson could have honored his oath, adhered to department policy and engaged Cruz but he remained outside. And you want to blame the gun.
Sure. That makes sense — in some alternate reality.
I have no worries about you taking our guns. I don’t need your reassurances because I know you can’t. You can make them illegal; you can ban the heck out of them; you can require registration. All you’ll do is make a lot more criminals. How do I know this? In 2013, New York state passed the SAFE Act. It required citizens to register a laundry list of firearms with the state police by 2014. At the time, it was estimated there were about a million guns that fell under the purview of the act. In 2016, after losing a court decision, the New York State Police issued compliance statistics showing that about 44,000 guns, or 4.4% of the estimated total, had been registered. That’s in New York, which has a long history of gun control. How’s it going to work in Idaho? Montana? Georgia?
I would probably count as a gun nut in your book. I have been fascinated with firearms all of my life. How they work, their history, the technology behind them and the variety of them. I bought my first gun 48 years ago. I have owned more than 100 of them at one time or another and I have been in the gun business. Although I am physically unable to engage in hunting anymore, I do enjoy target shooting. I am a gun owner; my wife is a gun owner; three of our four adult children are gun owners; her three sisters are gun owners; my sister was a gun owner until an automobile accident made it difficult for her to shoot. I first joined the NRA in 1971.
Here’s the kicker: On most issues, I am progressive. I supported Bernie Sanders in 2016. I am in favor of women having the freedom to make their own decisions about reproductive health. I have never opposed gay marriage; I have long supported LGBT rights. I think national healthcare is a really good idea. I am in favor of workers receiving a living wage, whatever that wage might be. I am not bothered by those of different religions and I firmly believe in the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution apply to all Americans.
I love my children. Yes, I love my children even more than guns. When they were small, my wife and I agreed to have a gun-free household until the youngest was old enough to learn and understand gun safety. Now, my youngest child has a couple of .22 -caliber rifles, including one that looks like the gun that Nikolas Cruz used in Parkland. We don’t own a real military-style rifle but the .22s are fun and inexpensive to shoot.
What makes me angry is people who tell me I “own” the criminal acts of others. What makes me even angrier is when people tell me I don’t love my children because I won’t support a bunch of warmed-over garbage laws that won’t deliver on the promises so glibly made by the snake-oil salesmen (and women) who advance them. I know they won’t work because we have proof they don’t work.
Why on earth would I support Sen. Blumenthal’s background check legislation when he trotted it out just a few days after a man who may have passed as many as two dozen background checks gunned down 600 people in Las Vegas? I can admire his chutzpah, but not his position.
How can I support a joke like the proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2018 when I can read the list of guns to be banned and the list of guns that are exempted and it includes the exact same gun on both lists? The only difference is the appearance and that has nothing to do with the function or “lethality” of the gun because both use the same action, shoot the same bullet and accept the same magazines. How can I accept a ban that completely omits a rifle that is far more lethal than an AR-15?
In short, why would I support a gun control law based solely on cosmetic features?
My support for gun laws to prevent school killings is also shaped by the worst massacre of schoolchildren in modern history. 38 children, aged 7 to 14 and two teachers were killed by a man who didn’t use a gun. In some cases, all of a family’s children died at the schoolhouse in Bath, Michigan on May 18, 1927 after Andrew Kehoe wired explosives into the roof of the building. The death toll would have been higher except that only one of his bombs worked; the other wing of the schoolhouse survived.
The Columbine killers never planned to shoot up the school. Their idea was to build propane bombs, place them at strategic points and collapse the roof over the cafeteria at lunchtime. The guns were to be used to pick off survivors. Harris and Klebold wanted to kill hundreds of people.
Dimitri Pagourtzis had built pipe bombs. James Holmes had booby-trapped his apartment with 20 different explosives and incendiaries and experts testified at his trial that they would have worked.
You have created a boogeyman out of a medium-caliber, semi-automatic rifle that is used in fewer homicides each year than bare hands. Yet you seem to be unaware of the real boogeyman in the room.
You vent your spleen at people who have never been a threat to anyone. They are the only ones that would be affected by your “commonsense” laws. You accuse them of being callous about the deaths of children.
But who is more callous? The person who says these laws won’t work? Or the people who push them anyway?
I have no illusions that my response will receive a “billion” views. I have no illusions that it will make anyone happy. But I have no illusions that not confronting the real challenges is a viable solution.
And I have grandkids in public schools.