Doing something worse than nothing
Doing something worse than nothing
Proposed gun laws will not stop evil
Waukesha Freeman, Opinion, page 8, 12/20/12
It did not take long after the horrible massacre of the children at a school in Connecticut for pundits to start offering opinions, many of them misinformed or illadvised.
Commentator David Frum, a former presidential speech writer who should know better, was one of the first to say something completely tasteless. Before the bodies had even been counted, he wrote on Twitter, “Shooting at CT elementary school. Obviously, we need to lower the age limit for concealed carry so toddlers can defend themselves.”
Locally, the leftist organization One Wisconsin Now actually tried to link Gov. Scott Walker to the murders in Connecticut. They posted on their Facebook page, “This has been NRA-stoolie Scott Walker’s response to gun violence – not ending gun show loopholes, backing down on proper training for owners and signing concealed carry despite strong opposition from law enforcement.”
It was too much to ask that people hold off until the facts were known, especially on a day when the mainstream media got so much wrong reporting on the mass shooting. They reported the killer’s mother was a teacher there. They indicated the wrong brother was the killer, and even showed the wrong Facebook photo on the air.
But then the calls came for more gun control, because something must be done. The Associated Press quotes Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, “How many times are we going to have elected officials say how sorry they are after a mass shooting and then do absolutely nothing about it?”
It’s worth looking at Connecticut’s laws regarding gun ownership, and just how many of them failed. Connecticut has closed “the gun show loophole” by requiring all private sales to go through a background check. Purchasers of guns must also go through a background check to get a permit to buy a gun. Connecticut has an “assault weapons” ban and requires a twoweek waiting period before buying a rifle. Connecticut’s schools are “gun-free zones,” no guns allowed.
All of those laws had the same effect as the law against murder. None of those laws prevented the killer from taking his mother’s guns, killing her, taking the guns to the school, and killing the children. The only thing that would have prevented the killer from acquiring his mother’s guns was if she had made the decision not to have firearms in her home, which she shared with a mentally unstable person.
That has not stopped the calls for more gun laws. Nationally, Democrats are talking about reviving the federal “assault weapons” ban, even though it was completely ineffective. Perhaps the National Rifle Association might want to reconsider its endorsement of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid when he was last up for election.
“Assault weapons” under the ban was a cosmetic description, not a functional description. But “assault weapons” sound scary even if there is no functional difference between them and other semiautomatic rifles.
In Wisconsin, some Democratic legislators are proposing a ban on “assault weapons,” too, although they would allow previously purchased weapons that are banned to be grandfathered as long as they are registered.
Those Democrats are also considering a psychological evaluation for applicants for a concealed carry permit. Some psychiatrists have tried to politicize their profession by declaring conservatism a mental illness. How long would it take them to declare a perceived need to carry a concealed weapon a sign of mental defect?
The legislators are also considering a ban on certain kinds of ammunition.
None of these bans would have had any effect on the Connecticut school shooting. They would not have prevented the attack on the Sikh temple earlier this year. They would not have prevented the shooting at the Azana Salon & Spa in Brookfield. The proposed gun control measures would not have prevented any mass shootings, any more than declaring the schools in Connecticut gun-free zones. The worst school massacre in American history was in Bath Township, Michigan in 1927. The killer used bombs, not guns. Timothy McVeigh used a fertilizer bomb in Oklahoma to kill 168 people. The same day as the school shooting in Connecticut, a man stabbed 23 children at a school in China.
We’re a can-do society, and we believe there’s a solution to every problem. But the problem is that there are evil people in this world intent on doing evil things. “Doing something” that is completely ineffective only gives a false sense of security, and we should expect our leaders to know better.
(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)