Federal, State, and Local Gun Control Laws Failed to Stop Another Mass Shooting

A terrible case from Chicago, in which 4 people (including 2 pregnant women) were killed and others were critically wounded in their Chicago home, allegedly by a mentally unstable convicted felon, shows that all the laws in the world won’t deter those bent on committing a murder:

James A. Larry, of Madison, Wis., is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of intentional homicide of an unborn child, according to Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Jamie Santini. . . During the hearing, Santini said Larry gave a videotaped confession to the shooting spree and led detectives to the murder weapon. Larry’s attorney, Assistant Cook County Public Defender Julie Koehler, said her client has been under the care of a psychologist in Wisconsin since 2002, although she could not provide specifics on his condition or a specific mental illness. . . Killed in Wednesday’s massacre were Larry’s wife, Tawanda Thompson, 19; their 7-month-old son, Jahod Larry, and the man’s nieces, Robeson High School student Keyshai Fields, 16, and Keleasha Larry, 3. Santini said both Fields and Thompson were pregnant at the time of the shooting. James Larry allegedly told authorities he knew the two women were pregnant when he shot them. Larry also shot his nephew, Demond Larry, 13, and his mother, Leona Larry, 57, according to Santini. Both were in critical condition Friday at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn; Leona Larry was on life support. . . Larry has a lengthy criminal record, including convictions for illegal gun possession, drug possession, theft, burglary, resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer.

Assuming the facts alleged are true, a convicted felon with psychiatric issues managed to acquire a gun and use to kill four people and devastate the lives of many others.  Advocates of gun control like to point to cases like this while arguing that we need more gun control laws.  Instead, the fact is that gun control laws at the federal, state, and local level already prohibit convicted felons and the mentally unstable from having a gun:

  • At the federal level, convicted felons are barred from gun ownership for life.
  • The state of Illinois similarly bans convicted felons from having a gun, and also bans those who have been to a mental hospital (even for drug/alcohol treatment) from having a gun for 5 years.
  • The city of Chicago bans handguns and strictly regulates rifles/shotguns.
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Despite these overlapping gun control laws at the federal, state, and local level, Larry was allegedly able to illegally acquire a gun and use it to deadly effect against his innocent family members.  This shouldn’t be surprising, as a person who is willing to commit murder, which is the most severely punished crime in our society, will logically be just as willing to break a gun control law.

Gun control advocates will often then argue that what is needed is a national ban on guns, on the theory that doing so will prevent killers from illegally acquiring guns at all.  That argument is also flawed, for the reasons discussed below.

  • If guns were banned at the national level tomorrow, the hundreds of millions of guns currently in the country would not vanish.  Guns are durable items, and guns manufactured 100 years ago can remain quite operational today.  Criminals certainly wouldn’t turn in their guns, and many otherwise law abiding citizens would similarly choose to disobey such an unjust (and unconstitutional) hypothetical law. Moreover, given the protections against unreasonable search and seizure provided by the 4th Amendment, enforcing such a gun ban would be virtually impossible.
  • Even if the hundreds of millions of guns in the USA did magically vanish, the demand for guns would not vanish.  Instead, peaceful citizens who wished to be able to defend themselves, as well as violent criminals, would buy guns on the black market.  These guns would be smuggled into the country, stolen from law enforcement, or simply manufactured by criminals. The fact is that in a free society, bans on popular items are doomed to fail.
  • Assuming that it were somehow possible to truly stop guns from existing in the USA, it doesn’t stand to reason that violent crime would similarly end.  Crime is the result of the intentional actions of a human being, rather than the presence of an inanimate object such as a gun.  Terrible crimes can be and are committed by people armed with knives, cars, hand tools, acid, flammable liquids, and every other imaginable item from everyday life.
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Note that it is not necessary to accept the above arguments based only upon my reasoning, as national gun control has already failed in a country that is quite similar to the United States: In England, a knee-jerk reaction to a tragic shooting resulted in the passage a series of laws that banned most gun ownership, and and even restricted the carrying of knives. These anti gun laws went as far as to ban the .22 target pistols used by the British Olympic Pistol Team, forcing those athletes to go to Switzerland and France to practice their sport. However, the gun ban laws didn’t stop criminals from acquiring and misusing guns.  Instead, British criminals buy their guns the black market, or simply manufacture their own illegal guns.  Crime statistics reflect this fact, showing a 40% increase in handgun related crime in the first two years after the gun ban took effect.  British gun-related crime went on to double in the following decade, and stabbings rose sharply as well.  Disarmed by the strict gun laws, defenseless British citizens were increasing murdered, raped, robbed, tortured, beaten, and otherwise victimized by the still-armed criminals.

The sad fact is that murder has been around since before recorded history, and there will always be members of society who are willing to harm others.  The solution is not to ban guns, but rather to ensure that crime victims are armed and in the best position possible to defend themselves.

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Remember, guns allow the elderly, the disabled, and the physically weaker to defend themselves against violent attackers, rather than being overpowered.  They allow women to defend themselves and their children, instead of becoming domestic violence statistics. Guns also allow a single person to successfully defend themselves against multiple attackers, who would otherwise be able to use their numerical advantage to deadly effect.  This article goes into much more detail on that point, and those who would like to read pages of real-life self defense examples may click here.