The guns the Colorado killer did not use
July 25, 2012 5 Comments
Andrew Sullivan shares the writings of an email correspondent that are about the best thing I’ve yet read on the issue of assault weapons bans:
I’m so sick of arguments like Adam Ozimek’s that basically say “you won’t be able to keep everyone determined to get a gun from getting one, so therefore gun regulations are pointless.” It’s just absurd.
“Strong illegality wouldn’t have stopped [Holmes],” Ozimek says, pointing to the home-made IEDs in his apartment. Let me ask you a question, Adam – why didn’t Holmes use a fully automatic, military-issue M4 instead of the civilian AR-15? Hell, why not full-on light machine gun, like the M249, capable of rattling off around 1000 rounds per minute, complete with canister and a hundreds of rounds of ammunition? Why didn’t he use military-issue hand grenades and booby trap his apartment with claymore mines? Does Ozimek believe that it was some kind of merciful choice that Holmes made, deliberately forgoing the additional lethality he could have brought with him to the theater if he were simply “determined” enough to get it? Or does it seem more likely that the strict regulations in place to prevent dissemination of fully automatic, military-grade assault weapons may have had some impact on his weapons of choice? [emphasis mine]
Even if you can never stop all wars, you still work for peace.
And here’s Mark Kleiman in the wake of the Jared Loughner shooting:
The Tucson assassin managed to kill six people and wound thirteen more, at least one critically, before he ran out of ammunition. When he paused to reload, three heroic unarmed people tackled him. If he’d had a smaller magazine, fewer people would be dead and injured.
I’m not a huge fan of generic gun control. Making it harder for already ineligible people to get guns – by passing tougher laws on gun trafficking and closing down the private-sale loophole that allows sales without background checks – would have some value, but shrinking the number of guns owned by people allowed to own guns under current law wouldn’t do much about violence. States that make it easier to get a concealed-carry permit don’t find that the permit-holders commit many crimes. And “assault weapons” constitute only a tiny part of the gunfire problem.
Still, this is a case where excessively loose controls permitted avoidable violence. The shooter hadn’t been convicted of any crime or been officially judged a risk to others due to his mental-health problems, but there’s no way he could have passed even a cursory training program for concealed carry; he couldn’t even get through a community-college algebra class without being spotted as a dangerous person. [emphases in original] Arizona is one of only three states to allow concealed carry without a special permit.
But even assuming that he would have simply ignored that law, there’s no reason to think that he would have been sufficiently dedicated or knowledgeable to acquire an illegal high-capacity magazine. If he’d had only 10 rounds in his clip rather than 32, some of his victims would be alive and unhurt.
Honestly, I cannot think of another issue in American politics where one side is just so completely irrational. The idea that one has to defend even high capacity military assault rifles to the utmost extreme is just nuts. Can’t gun rights supporters just admit that we can limit these types of weapons and not come and take away their handgun or rifle?! We had an assault weapons ban for 10 years and it was not some totalitarian takeover of American life. Nobody is coming to take your guns away! We’re never going to complete stop psycho mass murders, but if we can limit the harm they do when they go psycho killer, damn-it, that’s something worth doing. Especially when the only harm it causes is somebody’s “suffering” from getting by without an AR-15 or 30 bullet magazine.