After Oregon: Why Gun Control Laws Work
Destroying the Argument That Guns Laws Only Limit Law-Abiding Citizens
Proponents of widespread (some would say rampant) gun ownership argue that gun-free zones only turn citizens into sitting ducks. They argue that any limitations on gun ownership will only limit law-abiding citizens. They believe that fear of being shot down by their intended victims will dissuade deranged shooters from embarking on a course of carnage.
These beliefs are incorrect, and for two simple reasons.
First of all, deranged spree killers are hardly considered rational. It is unlikely that they consider the likelihood of victim defensive capabilities when embarking on a shooting spree. Most spree killers are eventually killed by authorities or die by their own hand, negating the belief that fear of death from armed civilians will dissuade them.
Rather, spree killers are likely seeking revenge in areas where they felt maligned. This could explain the seemingly high incidence of young shooters attacking schools and colleges. They are not targeting these areas because they maintain gun-free zones, but rather because those sites, for various reasons, have caused them anger. After all, people have engaged in shooting attacks in all sorts of heavily-armed venues.
And encouraging armed but untrained civilians to respond to mass shootings is controversial at best. There is a high likelihood of collateral damage and mistakes of identity when the authorities arrive. It will be a horrible tragedy when a misguided do-gooder accidentally kills an innocent bystander while trying to neutralize a shooter, or when a SWAT officer picks off a gun-toting person who turns out to be a vigilante rather than the killer.
Instead of blaming gun-free zones for allegedly enticing mentally deranged shooters, we must explore access to firearms as a key factor in these horrific events.
The ready availability of dangerous firearms inevitably leads to them falling into the hands of the mentally deranged. While the mentally ill may not be able to purchase these weapons from legitimate sellers, they may eventually procure them through illicit sales, theft, or underground trades. The person I meet on Craigslist who offers me an AR-15 is unlikely to demand that I complete a background investigation.
An assault rifle in the hands of a law-abiding citizen may eventually wind up in the hands of a deranged individual. Tragically, the deranged individual, as a result of mental illness, trauma, or intoxicant abuse, may have been that same law-abiding citizen years earlier. Your guns do not disappear just because you have begun suffering from mental illness, fallen on tough times, or become an addict.
We must, must, must reduce the sale of dangerous firearms. Reducing the number of assault rifles in the hands of law-abiding citizens will inevitably reduce the number of assault rifles in the hands of the deranged. The deranged are not stealing these weapons from the factories of the producers or the warehouses of the sellers; they are procuring them from law-abiding citizens.