Deaths fail to trigger gun-law debate

June 22, 2009


Three deaths in widely separated parts of the country: Each the work of a single person, each stemming from a different grievance.

They did have one thing in common: All three victims were killed by a gun (although each by a different type).

In Wichita, Kan., a single bullet from a handgun took the life of Dr. George Tiller, who ran a clinic that performed late-term abortions. The man charged with Tiller’s murder was an anti-abortion activist who called his act “a victory for all the unborn children.”

In Little Rock, Ark., bullets fired from an SKS assault rifle killed a 23-year-old private at an Army recruiting booth and critically wounded a second private. The gunman, a Muslim convert, told The Associated Press that U.S. military action in the Middle East justified his action.

In Washington, bullets from an ancient .22-caliber rifle killed a security guard at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Authorities identified the gunman as an 88-year-old white supremacist whose car contained a notebook calling the holocaust “a lie” and that “Obama was created by Jews.”

The three gunmen face murder charges, but investigations are continuing, including whether weapons laws were violated. A federal ban on sales of some assault weapons expired in 2004.

We’ve heard some concern whether the nation’s economic problems or the election of the first black president might inspire increased acts of political extremism. But there has been virtually no discussion of whether the incidents indicate a need for stricter laws to limit access to such weapons — or at least keep better records of who buys or owns them.

Indeed, every sign is that opponents of gun-control laws, like the National Rifle Association, essentially have won the longstanding public battle over the efficacy of legal restrictions to curb potential violence by individuals with access to firearms.

In the recent Virginia gubernatorial primary, Democrats nominated a candidate endorsed by the NRA when he ran for attorney general in 2005 and who did not suffer for opposing legislation to ban buying more than one handgun a month and carrying firearms in bars.

And when Republicans pushed a proposal curbing the District of Columbia’s power to regulate gun ownership as a “poison pill” designed to kill a measure giving Washingtonians a voting member of Congress, 22 Democrats joined them, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

The nation’s first urban Democratic president in a generation, busy with the economy and health care, shows no sign of wanting to press the matter. Asked this spring if Barack Obama might be willing to reinstate the assault weapons ban, spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president believes “there are other strategies that we can take to enforce the laws that are already on the books.”

Earlier, Attorney General Eric Holder told CBS News’ Katie Couric that the administration would work with the NRA on “common-sense approaches to reduce the level of violence” on the streets. Obama, Holder said, sought policies “that are politically saleable and things that will be ultimately effective.”

The key phrase is “politically saleable,” given that enactment of the assault weapons ban during the Clinton administration cost Democrats a number of congressional seats in 1994. Democrats don’t want a repeat.

Besides, it’s unclear if stricter gun laws would have prevented the three recent slayings, as well as other even deadlier incidents this year. A recent Supreme Court decision makes it harder for states and localities to limit sales and ownership.

Still, it’s hard to argue that the easy availability of handguns and assault weapons is good for crime prevention or what the Founding Fathers had in mind in the Second Amendment.

And it’s surely a sign of the times that there’s so little effort to do anything about it.

Carl P. Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News.


Robert Marble 8 years, 12 months ago

part of the reason is that this debate is finally beginning to approach resolution in some areas since statistics continually show that excessive anti gun actions have zero impact, and in some cases increase crime. This was once strictly a party line issue, but increased awareness & education have swayed many members of the previously staunch anti gun left. The exaggerated and often completely fictional claims of the anti 2nd Amendment zealots have been proven wrong state by state. This has resulted in a more realistic viewpoint beginning to permeate discussion on the matter. It's a pleasant change from the tired 'ban all the evil guns' rhetoric the bedwetters typically regurgitate.

gogoplata 8 years, 12 months ago

Pro gun people have small penises.

This is a standard discussion point for those calling for more gun laws and I just wanted to get it out there early in the comment section.

jaywalker 8 years, 12 months ago

Anyone else actually get anything out of that article? Clunky, poor writing that went.....nowhere.

beatrice 8 years, 12 months ago

gogo, nice comment about penises. Such comments have no place in a real discussion about guns. Likewise, have you ever noticed that every time a gun story comes up, Robert Marble must chime in and use the term "bedwetters"? Not sure what not being interested in owning a gun has to do with wetting the bed, but it sure is of interest to Robert. I wonder what Freud would have to say about this?

We don't need "more" gun laws. Instead, we need gun laws that work the most effectively to keep guns out of the hands of the most criminals without stripping the Constitution of the 2nd Amendment. Mandatory training and registration (similar to what we have now with C&C) with severe, mandatory penalties for violators is what I always say, and I always get attacked for it. Oh well, I'll say it again. It still doesn't make me wet the bed.

think_about_it 8 years, 12 months ago

In all three instances cited the gunman was not legally authorized to own a gun.

Laws meant to curb such violence are already in place and were ignored by the shooters.

More gun laws will not change this fact. PERIOD

think_about_it 8 years, 12 months ago


How would "mandatory training and registration" helped in any of these instances?

KansasVoter 8 years, 12 months ago

The Democrats need to just abandon the issue of gun control. The gun lobby is too powerful, gun nuts are too passionate about their guns, and there are too many guns already out there for any new gun control laws to do any good. Maybe they could work out a deal with republicans where they would drop the abortion issue if Democrats dropped gun control. If those two issues were completely off the table maybe Congress could get around to issues that are actually important to average Americans.

RoeDapple 8 years, 12 months ago

Well, It just makes sense now! Mandatory training and registration for people who possess guns illegally!

bea, you go tell them they have to get training and registration or you will confiscate their weapons. I'll be your back up. (Top of the building, off to your left. You'll see the glint off my scope) We will work out the secret signal later, just in the unlikely event they refuse.

There ya go, problem solved!

beatrice 8 years, 12 months ago

t-a-i, I honestly don't know for certain how it could have helped in these instances, and I don't think it would work in all cases. It wouldn't. I certainly don't have all the facts on each case here -- despite their past criminal or medical records that should have prevented them from having guns, were any of the killers using guns they legally owned? That is something in which registration might be of a benefit -- recognizing through legal means of tracking information about individuals determined incapable to own safely. Would making mandatory jail terms for possession of unregistered guns have taken the guns used in these instances out of circulation in the first place and out of possible ownership by the criminals? Possibly, but I couldn't say for sure. If mandatory training and registration were ever come to pass, it is something that would take considerable time before we saw real change, in my opinion.

That is a bit jumbled, I know, but hopefully clear enough to describe what I'm thinking. Not "more" laws, just better laws.

On the flip side, can you tell me how training and registration could have hurt in any of these instances?

Honestly, I think KV is correct. It probably is a lost cause for anti-gun activists, and I do think a lot of Democrats are recognizing this fact. We will only ever see more band-aid type laws -- guns okay in this town, but not in the town next to it type laws -- rather than seeing laws that really do take the guns out of the criminals' hands. (Mandatory finger-print recognition to release the safety on guns, anyone?)

sfjayhawk 8 years, 12 months ago

Why not just let state and local governments decide the gun issue for themselves? Shouldn't local governments be able to enact common sense regulations?

notajayhawk 8 years, 12 months ago

"Deaths fail to trigger gun-law debate"

So let the press stir the pot a little instead, see if they can get a heated exchange going, have people at each other's throats...

RoeDapple 8 years, 12 months ago

(Mandatory finger-print recognition to release the safety on guns, anyone?)

That would be great! Someone breaks into my home, I fire one shot then am wounded/killed. My fingerprint recognition weapon drops to the floor and Mrs Roe scoops it up, points and click..................click.................

sorry bea, now Mrs Roe is guaranteed early demise due to one of your less than thought out ideas...............

RoeDapple 8 years, 12 months ago

not to mention, police officers unable to use each others weapons.

beatrice 8 years, 12 months ago

RoeD, you aren't springing for the Mrs to be armed too? Cheap skate. ; )

Like multiple users of a bank account, can't you have more than one "print" identified on one gun? Also, don't make it mandatory on weapons for the police.

(Honestly, it was a throw-away line I tossed in, something I saw in a movie. I wasn't being serious. Sorry if you thought I was.)

RoeDapple 8 years, 12 months ago

Glad you're back, bea..........

No, at least I haven't heard of multiple print recognition, don't know if it is possible.

Mrs Roe is not anti gun, regardless of her (and daughters) most recent voting records ;-] She is uncomfortable handling them, so pepper spray is her WOC.

Daughters can clear bowling pins from table faster than Roe. Doubt if they would be impressed with gogoplata 2:53 pm post

grimpeur 8 years, 12 months ago

RobertMarble (Anonymous) says…

"part of the reason is that this debate is finally beginning to approach resolution in some areas since statistics continually show that excessive anti gun actions have zero impact, and in some cases increase crime."


"This was once strictly a party line issue, but increased awareness & education have swayed many members of the previously staunch anti gun left. The exaggerated and often completely fictional claims of the anti 2nd Amendment zealots have been proven wrong state by state."


"This has resulted in a more realistic viewpoint beginning to permeate discussion on the matter. It's a pleasant change from the tired 'ban all the evil guns' rhetoric the bedwetters typically regurgitate."


Wow. What a lot of rot in one paragraph. Frightened faux tough guys and cowboy wanna-bees sucking on the NRA teat. You, along with NRA and manufacturers, are responsible for your own fears, for the liberal availability of guns to any criminal who wants one, and for the problem of gun violence in our nation. Nice job.

Monty Amick 8 years, 12 months ago

It doesn't matter if you are pro or anti gun.. the top line explains exactly what is going on here............ "something happened and no-one got uptight about it. I'm going to write an article and try to make people uptight."

wow... what a loser.

Bad stuff happened and no one got the finger pointed at them. (except the people that actually were the perps)

By God Carl point your finger!!!!!!

The plain and simple truth is that bad people are bad and good people are good. Period.. Sorry there wasn't enough press for your agenda. Please spend the rest of your free time shutting your mouth and considering the fact that most of us in this world are normal, well adjusted people. Whether we own guns or not is none of your dang business and the loonies will always be loonies..(guns, torches, pitchforks, or media outlets)


sick and tired of ....... everyone whining and pointing and crying and expecting someone to come and pat them on the back and say everything will be alright if they only support the people that say they will come over and babysit and protect you from every little boo-boo because you're not able to think for yourself or have the guts to actually determine for yourself what is right.. it doesn't matter that everything that is good in this country was made possible by people that had the where-with-all to stand up and say "shut up, you suck" it's now apparently ok to just gripe and moan about every little thing and expect the government to come and wipe your little bum and out-law the things that make you worry because you don't have the nuts to say "Bad guys are Bad guys and they need a whuppin!" .. nope .. nope just write an editorial and try to get everyone stirred up when the fact is.... Good people don't need more laws to affect their lives.. they need the laws we have to be enforced properly to prevent the bad guys from screwing everything up!!!!.......

ps .. get a set or zip it!

Monty Amick 8 years, 12 months ago

oh yeah by the way..

grimpeur .. check the stats again.. your trifecta is actually a swing and a miss. sorry ;(

tunahelper 8 years, 12 months ago

I love the smell of smokeless gun powder in the morning!

Jim Phillips 8 years, 11 months ago

There are those on this forum who believe firearms training could curb gun violence. I feel it is my responsibility as a concealed carry/firearms instructor to test her theory. Pay attention class. 1. Always keep the weapon's muzzle pointed in a safe direction. 2. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. 3. Always keep the action of the firearm open except when preparing to fire. Always wear safety glasses and hearing protection when firing. 4. Always be sure the barrel and action are free from obstruction and that you have the proper ammunition for your firearm. 5. Always be sure of your target and beyond before firing. 6. Avoid all horseplay with a firearm and never point the muzzle at anything you do not plan to shoot. 7. Never climb a fence or a tree or jump a ditch with a loaded firearm. 8. Never shoot at a hard flat surface or at standing water. 9. Firearms and ammunition should be stored and locked separately. 10. Never use alcohol and/or drugs while handling firearms.

I have just covered basic firearms training for concealed carry and Hunter Safety. Let's see how well it works.

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