This commentary is by Chris Bradley, president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs.
When a horrific mass shooting occurs, the focus seems to always be on the tools employed, not on the obviously sick and deranged person who perpetrated the heinous act.
No one in their right mind would plan to go to a public place and kill people, let alone kill children. It is unconscionable for “normal” people to even contemplate such a horrendous act, and from this we should and must understand that these people do not think like we do. As “normal” citizens we look to follow the law when others do not. How then will more laws control the uncontrollable?
Despite the fact these events continue to occur, with there being ample evidence that each mass shooter wants to out do the last in terms of carnage, how will any new law stop an individual who sets out to kill as many people as they can, while planning to end their life as they do so?
Without even knowing what firearms were used, how they were obtained, or really any other details whatsoever, the clarion call goes out: ‘We must do more about controlling firearms,’ while sadly completely missing the very plain fact that the true cause is out-of-control, mentally ill people.
In 1994, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which included a prohibition on the manufacture and sale of certain types of semi-automatic firearms to civilians, in addition to banning certain large capacity magazines. When passed, it included a sunset provision that would make the bill expire on Sept. 13, 2004. Despite numerous attempts to renew, the ban was never renewed or extended.
Subsequent to its sunset, numerous studies were conducted as to the impact of the ban, with these studies indicating that the ban had little effect on crime, homicides or the lethality of firearms used in crime. Since its sunset, proponents of the ban argue that the recent rise in mass shootings is due to the expired ban; however, detailed studies place the blame on the increased use of social media, a shooter’s desire for fame, inspiration from previous shooters, and the major underlying cause: mental Illness.
The fact that the ban had little impact on overall crime is not surprising, given that modern sporting rifles account for only about 2% of crime involving guns.
As to what the ban accomplished, in the leading study on the effectiveness of the 1994 ban, Christopher Kopel stated: “In general we found, really, very, very little evidence, almost none, that gun violence was becoming less lethal and less injurious during this time frame. So on the balance, we concluded that the ban had not had a discernible impact on gun crime during the years it was in effect.”
In the spirit of never letting any serious crisis go to waste, politicians immediately started calling for a renewal and expansion of the 1994 ban; they call for “safe storage,” “waiting periods,” or a ban on “ghost guns,” without having the slightest shred of knowledge or evidence that any of these initiatives would have provided any safeguards, or even a small impediment, to what occurred.
Given the plethora of firearms in this world — along with the known existence of terrorists, criminals and criminal enterprises such as smuggling — people with evil intent will always be able to obtain tools with which to kill others, unless we choose to become a police state. Despite state and federal laws that make it illegal to bring a gun onto school grounds, it happens, and it appears to be happening with more frequency.
Early on, Israel suffered from armed attacks on their schools. In response, they armed and trained their teachers — and lo and behold, school attacks in Israel virtually ceased. God forbid we protect our children from threats like we protect our politicians by providing guards/resource officers. That concept is enough to make some folks head explode, when it otherwise seems so prudent.
We forced our kids to wear masks to protect them from virus — can we not see our way clear to protect our kids with guards? How many more senseless mass shootings will occur while we try to blame or regulate tools, when we have not — and apparently will not — take the simple precaution of providing real protection?
When a criminal is caught doing something with a firearm, the response must be automatic and serious jail time, with no ability for those charges to be pled away at the whim of a progressive prosecutor.
Only the law abiding obeys laws; and the law abiding have the right to self-defense. When completely innocent people are shot on the subway, or thrown in front of a train, or killed by simply going to a grocery store or church, it is foolish to think more laws will protect them.