Newsweek reported last week that President Obama intends to push for new gun control measures in the wake of the tragedy in Tucson. Gun control advocates argue that such measures are necessary to prevent these kinds of tragedies. Personally, I see it as another instance of “not letting a good crisis go to waste.”
One of the most talked-about potential provisions is a renewal of the 10-round magazine capacity limit, the so-called high capacity magazine ban. It’s so-called because they’re not high capacity, but standard capacity magazines, but I digress. Proponents argue that Jared Loughner wouldn’t have hurt as many people if he hadn’t used the 33-round magazines for his Glock G-17.
The reasoning sounds pretty logical; however, it’s not quite that simple. To start with, proponents argue that it was during a reload that Loughner was tackled. That’s not quite the case from what I’ve been able to learn. Loughner suffered a jam in his weapon. Jams are often the result of the magazine, and the 33-round magazines are notorious for them. It was the delay in dealing with the jam and then trying to reload afterwards that opened the door to stop Loughner. It’s entirely possible that a lower capacity magazine could actually have resulted in more casualties.
Obviously, many will not agree with that. I can certainly understand that. I’m speculating, just as gun control opponents are speculating that a lower-capacity magazine would have resulted in fewer deaths. However, their speculation actually doesn’t hold up to the test of history.
On April 20, 1999, two teens walked into Columbine High School and unleashed horrific violence. They killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 21 other people. The event shocked the nation and opened up national discussions on everything from video games to bullying in schools. The number of deaths was greater than Tucson despite the assault weapon ban having been in place for five years.
The truth is that laws do not stop the determined attacker, no matter how much we may wish they would. Instead, they merely punish the law-abiding citizens who have done nothing wrong. Passing laws that are supposed to hamstring the next Jared Loughner will instead push him to find alternate means of committing violence. Bombs, for example, could have been even more horrific and deadly and all this despite efforts to regulate explosives.
Now, I’m not saying that he would have become a bomber instead of a shooter. What I am saying is that there’s no way to prevent a madman from wreaking havoc. Even giving up our freedoms to such an extent as exists in China didn’t prevent a maniac from going on a stabbing spree of all things. Simply put, you will not prevent someone intent on hurting others.
Yes, we can enact tighter and tighter controls to minimize the potential casualties, but it will never prevent violence. Instead, it creates a world where the innocent are punished while the guilty can do as they wish with impunity. Laws don’t stop the criminals — only those who listen to the law in the first place.
President Obama’s efforts to bring gun control back onto the debate floor may or may not be good intentioned. They may or may not be predicated on the idea that Tucson changed everything when it comes to guns and gun rights. It may be as noble an attempt to keep people safe as they come. None of that changes the fact that he’s wrong.
Written by Tom Knighton. Read his blog at TomKnighton.com, as well as SWGAPolitics.com. A lifelong political junkie, Tom started out his adult life as a journalism major at Darton College before leaving school to serve his nation as a U.S. Navy Corpsman. Through the years, he has watched government from outside and inside. A former Reagan supporter, then later a Democrat, Tom now finds himself quite comfortable as a card carrying Libertarian and currently serves as Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Southwest Georgia.