Gun Laws: One Tragedy Doesn’t Justify Another

untitledThe tragedy in Connecticut is unbearable.  I cannot begin to describe it.  Even attempting to do so seems disrespectful to the parents and families who have lost children and cherished loved ones.  Emotionally troubled, Adam Lanza of Newtown killed his own mother, stole her weapons, and perpetrated a horrendous and evil act of cruelest proportions.  Then he turned a weapon on himself and took his own life.

Hoping to turn tragedy into a political opportunity, gun-control advocates immediately increased their assaults on the constitutional right of a citizen to bear arms.  One group chanted outside the White House.  Politicians are taking the opportunity to make points with their more liberal constituencies.  President Obama has promised “meaningful action,” terminology so vague that it means little in reality except for the fact that his adoration of government regulation makes it clear what he hopes to accomplish if given his way.  With his tyrannical tendencies and his distaste for genuine democratic debate, one can imagine the executive orders he would like to implement.  As former Obama advisor (now Chicago mayor) Rahm Emmanuel once said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”  

Yes, we do have a serious crisis.  But let’s not go off track by imagining that taking away the rights of peaceful citizens is going to stop the perpetration of violence.  Law-abiding citizens aren’t the problem.  Limiting their rights won’t repair what’s wrong with the nation.  Norway has some of the toughest gun laws in the world, but last summer at least 17 people were killed in two related events that included guns and bombs.  As one writer has pointed out regarding Norwegian gun regulations, those regulations are easy to ignore. Yep.  That’s the problem with laws.  Those intent upon illegal activities won’t be deterred by laws.

Need more proof?  Prostitution is illegal in most states, yet one legal resource estimates that 80,000 Americans are arrested annually for soliciting paid sexual activity.  All across the United States, thousands of people every day use illegal drugs despite some of the most outrageous consequences (including government confiscation of property).

In addition, those who can’t get guns can use other weapons instead.  On the same terrible day that Adam Lanza attacked a school in Newtown, Connecticut, Min Yingjun stabbed 22 children in a school in central China.

The problem is violence.  The solution is self-defense.  Perhaps you remember the 1992 Los Angeles riots, four days of senseless violence and theft that erupted after the acquittal of police officers involved in the beating of suspect Rodney King.  As he stopped for a traffic light at the corner of Florence and Normandie, truck driver Reginald Denny was pulled from his cab and beaten senseless by rioters.  As helicopters circled helplessly above, Denny’s tormentors pounded his skull with pieces of concrete and even a cinder block.

Paramedics later said that Denny nearly died.  His skull was cracked in nearly 20 places and was pushed into his brain.  Shortly afterward, at the same intersection, Guatemalan immigrant Fidel Lopez was dragged from his truck.  His head was sliced open when a rioter beat him with a stolen car stereo.  Another rioter nearly cut off his ear.  As he lay unconscious in the street his torso and genitals were sprayed black with cans of paint probably stolen from local retail establishments that had been looted.  Both attacks can be seen on video by clicking HERE.

Although these victims survived, there was no guarantee that this would be the case when they were violently attacked.  If they had access to a loaded weapon at the time of their attack, one can easily imagine that these two innocent men would not have suffered as they did.

There are all sorts of urgent questions we should be asking in light of yesterday’s ugly events in Connecticut.  How to diminish the rights of law-abiding citizens, however, is not an appropriate topic for debate–especially when those rights are guaranteed plainly and clearly by the Constitution.

If you’d like to know what questions are appropriate, I encourage you to visit the site of my fellow political blogger, Prof. William Jacobson of Cornell Law School.  His blog is known as Legal Insurrection, and I believe you’ll find his comments on the tragedy to be insightful.  Those comments will arm you with reasonable responses to those who are making unreasonable demands upon the rights of peaceful citizens.  The article can be read HERE.


5 thoughts on “Gun Laws: One Tragedy Doesn’t Justify Another

  1. Tragedy. I knew sadness and loss before I was formally introduced to the concept of tragedy in my Literature courses. Tragedy, it seems, has been around for many millenia … well before Aristotle’s Poetics. Murder, the taking of innocent life with aforethought, is not the only form of tragedy. As we’ve recently seen with several high profile incidents involving athletes, the existence of homeless in well-to-do nations, the loss and slack response in the wake of natural disasters and more come to mind. However, recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary and the grief we experience as a nation give us pause to reflect on the history of murder in an attempt to understand cause and effect … to make sense of the senseless.
    Rules against murder have been around since codes of conduct/law were first recorded. One of the oldest known prohibitions against murder appears in the Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu written sometime between 2100 and 2050 BC. The Laws of Eshnunna (ca. 1930 BC) and the codex of Lipit-Ishtar of Isin (ca. 1870 BC), and the more widely known code of Hammurabi (ca. 1750 BC). The Hittite laws, Assyrian laws, Ten Commandments and Qur’an all followed with similar prohibitions. The term “Assassin” was “coined” around the eighth century. Why is this important to keep in mind? Simply because all of these prohibitions indicate that killing, even killing innocents, occurred a few thousand years before gunpowder was even invented.
    If memory serves, the Chinese formulated gunpowder somewhere around 1040 – 1050 AD. It was imported to Western Europe around the mid-thirteenth century and the concept of killing from a distance has taken us from the flintlock musket invented in the 17th century through today’s rapid fire weaponry.
    As the debate will resume on the second amendment and our right to bear arms versus a limitation on where the line should be drawn on type and quantity, the debate will be colored by the complications of breaking the issue down. While I don’t believe there is an exact count of guns in existence, much less where they are, I’ve seen estimates of about 500 million worldwide. A working gun is supposedly not even very difficult to make. Ubiquity renders discussions on banning, outlawing, etc. impractical and unenforceable at best. Add in complicating factors like the fact that by definition, only law abiding citizens would even comply with a mandate to surrender all guns and this concept would seem impossible to enact and enforce. So then where do we go?
    Laws accounting for and limiting access to ammunitions already exist. Laws against illegal killing … already covered. Therefore, I think it is important to separate the symptoms from cause and effect. All of the laws on gun control, ammunition control, knife blades over 4″ in length, etc. only manage the symptoms of this problem much the same way fever reducers and cough supressants don’t make the underlying cause for the illness go away.
    Gun, knife, rope, glass, cyanide poison, etc. ownership by the general population simply does not cause crime. So what causes crime? What causes one to use any tool (gun, knife, rope, glass, cyanide poison, etc.) to commit a crime? end a life? end many lives?
    The debate over how to go forward in the wake of this tragedy has to occur if we dare continue to call ourselves a civil society … much less a model for all to emulate. After reflecting on history though, we must all realize that an issue at least 4,000 years old is incredibly complex and maybe not even solvable. If I may be so bold as to make a suggestion, one place to start would be to limit resources spent managing symptoms and start in earnest, real conversations to determine and mitigate root causes. While we need to immediately take steps to protect our children at school and people wherever they are, we must recognize that even these measures are simply managing symptoms and though critical, urge us all to recognize that every dollar spent treating symptoms is not available to make the problem go away for good.

  2. I am not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic.
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