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Archive for Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Opinion: Gun laws won’t conquer evil

April 10, 2013

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In 1983, when President Reagan ordered the deployment of missiles in Europe as part of his “peace through strength” strategy to counter the Soviet Union, the very liberal town of Takoma Park, Md., declared itself a “nuclear free zone.” City officials passed an ordinance known as The Takoma Park Nuclear Free Zone Act, which said, “work on nuclear weapons is prohibited within the city limits...”

If North Korea follows through on its threat to nuke the United States (or had Russia in the ‘80s launched a nuclear attack), Takoma Park would not be “nuclear free” for long, but the ordinance made some people feel as though they were doing something constructive, something meaningful, about the nuclear threat, and wasn’t that their point?

Today, the Democratic governors of Connecticut and Maryland, who must be seen to be doing something important about gun violence, are congratulating themselves for passing some of the “toughest” gun laws in the nation. These states already have tough gun laws, which in the case of the Newtown shooting last December did not deter Adam Lanza from grabbing his mother’s legal weapons, murdering her and then killing 26 people, most of them children. Tough gun laws in Maryland have not deterred the mentally ill or criminally minded intent on getting guns, especially in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, where reports of gun crimes often lead each night’s local newscast.

Downplayed in this national debate and in efforts by the Obama administration to get Congress to pass “tougher” federal gun restrictions is a conversation about human nature, including better laws that allow for involuntary commitment or mandatory treatment of the mentally ill and tougher sentencing for criminals. But if laws alone were effective in regulating criminal behavior, prisons would be empty.

Life has become cheap and things are now expensive, but I remember when the reverse was true. Today, we seem to value stuff more than human life, which is why public storage units are full. Many began losing their moral compass years ago when “anything goes” began to replace a respect for the law and other people.

Authorities in Connecticut have revealed that Lanza spent a lot of time researching potential targets before his murderous rampage. He picked Sandy Hook Elementary, we’re told, because it appeared to him to be an undefended soft target. The question that should suggest itself is this: Suppose Lanza knew Sandy Hook had an armed guard and other security measures? If that were the case, he might well have gone elsewhere, or not committed his evil acts at all.

The new “tougher” gun laws in Maryland and Connecticut appear to be the result of high emotion, not logic and clear thinking. We all ache for the parents and loved ones of the Sandy Hook victims, but the Newtown tragedy shouldn’t be used as a prop for anti-gun proponents, the most extreme of which want to register or ban all weapons, except those for police and certain security people. What will more gun laws really accomplish? Will they keep one criminal bent on carnage from a single school door?

In 1995, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a leading force in the failed 1994 assaults weapon ban, told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that: “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States, for an outright ban, picking up (every gun) ... Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in. I would have done it.” Then what? Do we ban knives next? No law, no ban, no restriction will ever stop evil.

What will happen in Connecticut and Maryland when there is another shooting at an undefended target? Will politicians call for even “tougher” gun laws? There is much debate and anecdotal evidence about whether concealed carry laws deter criminals, but logic would seem to suggest they do. Isn’t that why many homes have burglar alarms and security systems, as well as guns? If a burglar knows a home is defended doesn’t logic suggest he might try a house that is unprotected?

Guns can never be completely outlawed, and human nature can’t be changed by politicians. More laws aren’t the answer. Perhaps, as the old saying goes, “The best defense is a good offense.”

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.

Comments

jayhawklawrence 1 year, 7 months ago

There is something that is seldom mentioned and I think it needs to sometimes be said as a reminder to each generation of Americans. We have a solemn responsibility to protect our freedoms. This responsibility has been handed down to each American and it needs to be said that this is something we should never take for granted.

As you can see by the statement by Feinstein, there are those who do not value that freedom in the same way as perhaps you and I and do not appreciate American history in the same way.

When politicians (who are professional liars) work to convince Americans that disarming ourselves and completely relying on law enforcement to defend us is the new and better American way, then we need to get rid of those politicians and do it quickly.

Most gun owners support some measures, but at the same time, we are afraid of the fine print and what these politicians will try to do. Feinstein is a reminder of that fact.

msezdsit 1 year, 7 months ago

You gloss over the real fact that no one and I repeat no one is suggesting that we disarm the American people. Yours and the majority of people like you tend to forget this fact. Why don't we just let the private sector have nuclear weapons to protect themselves.

Liberty275 1 year, 7 months ago

" Why don't we just let the private sector have nuclear weapons to protect themselves."

Military secrecy.

FlintlockRifle 1 year, 7 months ago

Cal, great written article and to the point, but to many politicians are in the limelight like the person from California who have a lot of support from the media on her side. Take Chicago it has the one of the strictness gun law in the country, no gun stores anywhere in that town, but gun crime is top of the list, some body said, "if gun control worked, Chicago would be like Mayberry"

jhawkinsf 1 year, 7 months ago

Mayberry can enact all the laws it wants. But as long as guns are easily accessed in nearby Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro, each with gun control laws nowhere near as strict as Mayberry's, then the laws in Mayberry are rendered largely symbolic.

msezdsit 1 year, 7 months ago

You make a compelling case for the neighboring areas to inact similar gun laws.

jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

Actually, the case is for nationally consistent legislation.

gr 1 year, 7 months ago

I think what he was saying is: Why is Mayberry at the top of the list and Raleigh is not?

voevoda 1 year, 7 months ago

Doesn't Cal Thomas realize that he actually made a compelling case for a single national gun control policy?

A town-by-town or state-by-state policy doesn't work because we do not and cannot have border patrols. But if the same sales and registration system--restricting ownership to persons who are competent and responsible ("a well regulated militia, as the 2nd Amendment says)--was in place across the country, then we'd have laws that can be enforced. Very few of the weapons used in crimes are smuggled into the US from abroad. Most are sold or transferred to criminals in deals that are currently legal and/or unscrutinized. Eliminate those situations, and criminals and unbalanced people have many fewer ways to get their hands on guns. Replicate the levels of control with ammunition, and pretty soon a lot of the guns in the hands of the wrong people won't be operational. It won't be 100% effective, but laws don't need to be 100% effective to be worth enacting--and enforcing.

Cal Thomas concludes "The best defense is a good offense." Yes, indeed. Giving more people unfettered access to guns is a pretty weak defense, because it puts more firearms and more dangerous firearms into the hands of more criminals, violently insane, and irresponsible people. Restricting access to firearms to responsible, competent persons is a "good offense"--the proactive course of action. That would simultaneously limit bad guys' access to firearms and permit competent, responsible persons to possess firearms for their own defense and the protection of other people.

Liberty275 1 year, 7 months ago

"but laws don't need to be 100% effective to be worth enacting--and enforcing."

I'd say that is not true when the laws are in opposition to a constitutional right. Rights can be subject to regulation, but all such regulations should be considered with trepidation. No law is perfectly effective,but the laws had better be succinct, absurdly effective and as nonrestrictive as possible when they are applied to a right. Any law will be challenged mercilessly. Be ready.

gr 1 year, 7 months ago

"Very few of the weapons used in crimes are smuggled into the US from abroad. Most are sold or transferred to criminals in deals that are currently legal and/or unscrutinized. "

Well, not in the school shooting cases. That's when a kid uses a gun from their parents which was legally purchased. Stricter gun control laws would not have stopped the shootings. Or thieves, steal a gun from someone who legally purchased it.

You know, thieves don't follow rules. It's against the law to kill people. If they don't follow existing laws, if they kill people, do you really expect us to believe that with more laws, they will say, oh no, I can't shoot up a school now because I can't legally obtain a gun?

voevoda 1 year, 7 months ago

If you make it a lot harder for crazed individuals and criminals to buy guns and ammunition, yes, the level of gun violence will decrease. If gun owners are required (with criminal penalties) to store their weapons safely and secure them from unsupervised minors, yes, there will be fewer cases of family members getting hold of them and using them to kill others, or themselves. If every gun has to have a legal owner who is legally responsible for it--or for reporting it stolen, if that happens--there will be a lot fewer guns in the wrong hands. I'd think that all law-abiding people would be happy to lessen the opportunities for criminals and irresponsible people to get hold of guns, instead of protesting attempts to do so.

The excuse, "criminals don't follow rules" isn't a cogent argument against having rules. Instead, it's a cogent argument in favor of having rules. That way, lawful and unlawful behavior is separated, making it possible to identify, prosecute and punish criminals. Well-crafted and well-enforced laws do lead to fewer violations.

gr 1 year, 7 months ago

Were the criminals in the school shooting cases easy to identify, and were they "punished"?

What is your point here?

1029 1 year, 7 months ago

Great article as usual, Cal. But I beg to differ. Gun laws could conquer evil if the law was that everyone had to carry a gun. Then all the armed citizens could conquer evil one bullet at a time.

As a concealed-carry holder, I wish everyday that I would happen to see a purse get snatched or a convenience store robbed. I'd bust out my gun and become an instant American Hero like Steven Segal or Charles Bronson.

voevoda 1 year, 7 months ago

You are all too eager to play the hero, 1029, which makes it all too likely that you will mistake a situation and use your weapon inappropriately. It's only in the movies that any ordinary joe with a gun actually saves the day. People with this sort of attitude do not make the public safer, but rather less safe.

kawrivercrow 1 year, 7 months ago

"I wish everyday...I'd bust out my gun and become an instant American Hero like Steven Segal or Charles Bronson. "

What? Somehow I think you may be a sockpuppet intent on misrepresenting legitimate CCWs as trigger-happy lunatics living in a fantasy world.

If you are serious, you are borderline dangerous, at the very least. I suggest you seek therapy before your latent hostilities injure or kill innocent people.

jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

You do know that those are actors, right?

Steve Jacob 1 year, 7 months ago

Gun laws still can't protect us from stupidity. Two different four year olds shot people to death this week.

kawrivercrow 1 year, 7 months ago

Recently divulged additional information about the Lanza family and the shooting. 1. The kid had been bullied at the school and the school was apparently selected based on motives of revenge. 2. The mother found drawings of him shooting people and didn't know how to respond, so she did nothing at all.

Both situations allow for ample opportunities to learn from and decrease the likelihood of similar events in the future.

jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

It is the oddest thing to see conservatives, generally very pro "law and order" type stuff, argue against laws.

If the argument is "laws don't work 100%, so we shouldn't have them", then why isn't that applied to other issues? I can't recall that being used anywhere else.

In all other cases, laws are praised, and in fact arguments are made for more stringent ones, and more draconian punishment.

Of course, laws aren't 100% effective, but so what? It's not a good argument for doing away with them, or not introducing new ones as necessary.

jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

Obviously, we need consistent national legislation, since state to state variation isn't effective.

Since people can obviously buy guns elsewhere, and then use them in Chicago, city laws in Chicago are likely to be even less effective than an IL statewide law.

Why do conservatives argue for laws in all other situations, given they're not 100% effective, and only use that argument to argue against legislation regarding guns?

I'll ignore your other odd comments for the moment - but, if you want to discuss things with me, I'd suggest keeping those out of our conversations.

jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

Why?

You don't hear the argument that other laws aren't 100% effective, so we shouldn't have them.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 1 year, 7 months ago

Guns and bullets are married. You cannot separate one from the other, no matter how much you would like to end the marriage. I think this is a thing that gun owners correctly despise, that you would gladly make them criminals, when they are innocent and only wishing to defend themselves from criminals...knowing that the government cannot and will not do so.

Our own government cannot be trusted. They are the makers of war. They protect only government. They protect the interest of their supply side, incorporating evil "stewardship" that despises their clients so completely that they willingly treat them as lab rats and slaughter them like animals in a toxic stew.

We will not win this war. We have already lost our freedom...BUT we should remain free as long as we can. We should not be cowed into submission and servitude. We should not protect our "guards". We should protect ourselves and our neighbors. The government is NOT doing it. Corporations are the only "people" being protected. Believing otherwise is believing a dream, today. I have a dream. I have a nightmare. It is that we are not letting freedom ring. It is that freedom that has become ONLY a dream, and the dreamy tale of supply side economics is our only real (and false) dictum and governmental law. The demands of our dreams and freedom will not now be tolerated. We are slaves, and saying otherwise is a crime against the current lies denying inhumanity and the incorporation of our enslavement.

A "first world" government does not enslave its people. A "first world" government demonstrates its goodness and garners the trust of its people. It does not lie in its commercial contract and purchase.

We, the people, are not the enemy. The enemy knowingly kills its neighbors. The enemy knowingly destroys its foes. WE are not the enemy. THINGS are not the enemy. ACCIDENTS are not the enemy. Corporations are our enemy...and they own our world. They own our drug cartels. They own our genetic engineering cartels. They own our railroads and pavement. They own our money. It is here today and gone tomorrow. It is paper in their hands.

You have nothing. I have nothing. We will take nothing back.

Admit it. You are a slave. All you have is what is given to you by your gods, to keep you from causing trouble.

KIDDING! Everything is fine. These are not the droids we are after.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 1 year, 7 months ago

You're absolutely right. What was I thinking? Our founding fathers gave us the right to bear only obtuse objects. Blunt instruments are what they had in mind (e.g. pipes and sticks). Sing it!

lunatic 1 year, 7 months ago

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said "guns kill people like spoons make you fat". Gun regulations make no sense unless the ultimate goal is to disarm law abiding Americans.

voevoda 1 year, 7 months ago

Just like automobile registrations and drivers' licenses are really designed to take vehicles away from law abiding Americans? Really, lunatic; this simple swap of reference--autos for guns--points out the serious flaws in your reasoning.

Of course, if the government really intended to incapacitate "law abiding Americans," as you call them (conspiracy theorists?), they wouldn't need to worry about guns. Just take away their cars and cellphones--neither of which is protected by the Second Amendment--and let them hole themselves up in bunkers until they run out of food and ammunition.

jayhawklawrence 1 year, 7 months ago

There is so much rhetoric flying around this issue that it is impossible to trust politicians with creating reasonable legislation regarding gun "safety".

It is disappointing to watch Obama politicize this issue and realize that he is just widening the divide between the Republican and Democratic Parties.

This could have been handled in a much more positive fashion but that is asking too much of these politicians. They want to create a big show.

For that reason alone, we should not trust them to legislate away our freedoms. They need to be voted out of office. The only change I would accept is universal background checks but even that is probably something they will screw up.

Bryan Moore 1 year, 7 months ago

I have a theory and you can tell me I’m full of…well full of it. I don’t have one lick of evidence to back it up just my experience and what seems to me to be something missing from the debate. I have seen people ask about why Chicago or Detroit or D.C. can have such strict gun laws but high gun crime. I think why this is so and why those same communities still want more gun laws is that your views on gun control are directly related to the population density in which you live. Of course this is a general statement and exceptions are sure to be found, but this is my theory. I have lived in towns with 2000 people and towns with cities with 2 million. I have lived in Arizona and California among other places and you don’t get a wider gulf on gun views than those two neighbors. I find that people in small towns and many suburbs of larger cities find a gun in the house or on their hip comforting. They fear a break in to their home or being mugged in a parking lot. A gun makes sense to them. If they awoke in the middle of the night to an intruder or are approached in a dark parking lot they can equalize the situation and at least not be killed for lack of shooting back. It makes perfect sense; the gun could change everything for them and their family. I can’t fault them for that. I also have found that many people in the large cities have a different perspective. The large cities I have lived in are full of gangs and wanna be groups of thugs. If you live in a large city and your house is broken into while you’re home or you are jumped in the street you have to think twice about using any force. You see if you shoot a gang member, unlike the rural robber, it doesn’t end there. If you shoot a MS13 punk he has 25 other punks out looking for you, your kids, your parents or anybody remotely connected to you that he or she can exact revenge upon. cont,

Bryan Moore 1 year, 7 months ago

They will be there the very next day and they will not stop, ever. These people don’t care that their buddy was robbing you, you shot one of theirs and you are going to pay. And even if you can defend yourself against the next guy then you just draw more attention. And the threats can come from anywhere. They could be across the street or in your building on the next floor or the next apartment. You can’t just shoot your way out of danger in this situation. Some feel that it may be better to get beat up and robbed and do nothing than to incur a gang vendetta. You could save yourself with a gun at night and get your wife and kid killed in the park the next day. In the cities many feel that a better solution is to get rid of all the guns. To the city dweller the gun offers only a temporary solution and may actually increase the sense of insecurity. I can’t fault them for that either. Of course this is a theory about the disconnect in the debate. I have no theories on a solution. Let’s do an exercise. Instead of listing what is wrong with the other sides’ views, let’s see what you can come up with as a solution that doesn’t take away the gun from the person who feels it increases their security but also doesn’t flood the cities with cheap guns and armed gangs. Let’s have only one rule, no belittling or demonizing the other side. Realize that perspective is everything.

Chris Golledge 1 year, 7 months ago

A gun is just a tool. A minority would use that tool for offense, and others would use it for defense, or neither. Not sure that the ones who don't want to use them at all should be able to mandate that the ones who want to use them for defense, can't. If you start from there, you might be able to come up with some sane legislation.

It may also be that enforcing current laws may be more effective than making new ones.

It terms of children, far, far more children die in cars or swimming pools than by homicide with a gun, but I don't see anyone clamoring for tighter rules on driving with child passengers or rules for who can own a pool. So, when Sandy Hook is used as a reason for more gun laws, it rings kind of hollow.

jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

I don't know the numbers, but you have to include children who die accidentally by guns to make a reasonable comparison with accidents on the road or swimming pool accidents.

I'm all for protecting children, and would gladly support legislation that would do that.

It's obvious to me that the only way to affect this issue is to have consistent national legislation. State to state variations, or even worse, city to city, make it impossible for local efforts to be successful.

uncleandyt 1 year, 7 months ago

A gun is not a pool. A gun is not a tool. Stopping evil ain't the question. Guns are inventory that the makers want to move. Guns are merchandise, products to be sold. They keep makin' 'em. We keep buyin' 'em. Are last week's stats out? Have we passed Yemen as the gunniest? I would like for less people to be shot. More guns equals more shooting. More pools equals more swimming. As long as our representatives remain bribed by the gun lobby, gun control legislation, IF passed, will be weak sauce. We need to get the bribe money out of politics. Propaganda and fear-mongering needs to be called out, pointed out, and thought about. Cal Thomas is nationwide. Cal is a salesman, a pitch man, selling ideas not necessarily his own, pitching whacky woo. Crying wolf is a tool. Distraction is a tool. Cal's AM radio writing is a tool. Media consolidation is a weapon.

jayhawklawrence 1 year, 7 months ago

The goal of the progressives who have aligned themselves in the anti-gun debate is to gain enough political power to be able to legislate whateve they want regarding gun control.

Ultimately, they would like to see the end of gun ownership in America because they see no reason themselves that someone should be allowed to own a gun.

Proof of this is the manner in which the Democrats have decided to politicize this issue. This is their counter to Benghazi. Each political party is desparate to find an issue to pound the other party. This is not about finding solutions or improving gun safety. This is just political theater.

If this was really about improving gun safety it could have been donely quietly behind closed doors with bipartisan discussions that the majority of gun owners in America would have supported. The Democrats are getting as much juice out of this as they possibly can.

jayhawklawrence 1 year, 7 months ago

Fundamentally, we have a problem in our political system and no matter what issue we are looking at, whether it is guns, health care, foreign policy, etc., we are seeing a situation where our politicians cannot work together in a responsibile manner.

The worst examples are when the emotional level is pumped up to such a degree that it upsets the American people. This is extremely poor leadership.

We have a lot of challenges in the world and we are seeing one example after another of very poor leadership from our politicians. Sooner or later, Americans have to stop allowing themselves to become caught in up in this manufactured drama and we need to get better people in government. There is a better way to manage our country and our state than what we are seeing.

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