Laws Don’t Stop Criminals with Guns – They Never Have and They Never Will

When tragedies happen, and they inevitably do, there is always a bandwagon of individuals who rush to the podium to demand more laws. Harsher laws. Broader laws. More oppressive laws.  In the emotional aftermath of tragedies, particularly ones where innocent people lost their lives, the general public are prone to throw themselves onto that bandwagon – pitchforks in hand – demanding that “something be done”.  Since it is impossible to resurrect the victims and undo the hideous acts which caused their deaths, the only option for many appears to be “batten down the hatches” to make sure it never happens again.  When a killer uses a gun, the gun control supporters burst through the woodwork and start the hysterical accusations – “guns are the cause of all this violence!”, “if it wasn’t for guns, this wouldn’t have happened”, “we need to get all the guns off the street”, “we need to make sure only police have guns”. The demands go on and on.  Each one more warped with emotion than the one which came before.

Unfortunately, whether the gun control pundits like it or not, inanimate objects don’t kill people on their own. A car must be driven (or otherwise operated or maintained improperly) to cause a death.  A knife must be wielded or positioned intentionally to cause a death.  Yes, a ladder can slip . . . but a person placed it.  Yes, a pencil can puncture a hand . . . but it does not, in and of its own accord, jump from a prone position and stab someone.  Can an earthquake bring a house tumbling down, causing deaths? Yes, of course.  Acts of nature happen.  However, a gun being fired is rarely, if ever, an act of nature.  There is always a human being involved.

A gun is just a tool.  Just as a pair of scissors, a hammer, a tire iron, a broken bottle, and a chair are tools.  Weilded for evil purposes, any one of those items can be used to cause death.  The list of things a human being can chose to use to cause a death is without limit. Human beings are crafty individuals. Cars, poisons, snakes, dogs, bows and arrows, screw drivers, sticks, spears, rocks, pipes, wires, ropes. All of them are just tools. Nothing more than inanimate objects.  Yet, every time a gun is used, the gun is the item to blame.

Every day, innocent people lose their lives in car accidents. Unfortunately, I’ve known a few myself.  In those circumstances nobody saunters up to the podium demanding all cars be outlawed.  We don’t see media pundits swarming the microphones to demand cars be removed from the streets to keep everyone safe. Yet, have a gun be used to cause death and the “hot topic” button is pushed.  Media outlets flash the news across the screen, “reporters” parade a series of gun control advocates before the TV audience to speak their minds and give their warnings, and talk show hosts ask the government “what are you going to do to make sure this never, ever happens again?”

Unfortunately, politicians can’t really do anything to make sure it never, ever happens again.  To make absolutely sure, the government would need to lock everyone up under 24/7 surveillance. I can only hope most politicians see this as a draconian measure or at least, at a minimum, too costly to implement.  So ,instead, to assuage the outraged populace, look proactive, and hopefully score future votes; the politicians do what they do best: pass more laws.

We already have laws on the books which say murder and manslaughter are illegal.  These laws are pretty unnecessary if you ask me.  Most people already know it’s wrong to kill someone.  However, they are on the books to deter murder by saying 1) we as a community will not accept this as a legal act and 2) if you do it and we catch you we will punish you.  Unfortunately, even these most basic of laws don’t actually PREVENT murder.  At best, they only deter.  Ask any police officer you know.  If laws worked, they’d have nothing to do.  Also ask them the ratio of crimes they prevent to crimes they address after the commission. Police don’t prevent most crimes.  Particularly murders because most of them are committed where people cannot see the act.

These basic laws (don’t murder, don’t commit manslaughter) are enough.  However, when people are in an emotional turmoil they don’t think logically.  They start demanding more laws.  They want the government to go further.  They want to government to not only constrain the bad people.  They now want to constrain the good people.  This is because the people demanding these new laws (usually liberals in my experience) view every good person as a potential bad person.  In their minds, only by restricting the rights and freedoms of all people will be government be able to guarantee safety and security for all.

However, here’s what happens when you restrict gun ownership beyond just the bad guys.  You create a new class of people.  You create victims.  Individuals who have been unarmed and who can no longer defend themselves from the bad guys. Don’t get me wrong, if we could pass laws which would actually prevent crime, I’d be all behind it.  However,  theory and reality don’t jive.  Laws don’t prevent. Laws don’t protect.  Laws only deter.

I had a phenomenal law professor  who is one of the most brilliant people I have ever met.  I had him for both criminal law and white collar crime courses.  He showed us a bell curve.  On one end of the curve were the 100% guilty.  On the other end of the curve were the 100% innocent.  In comparing the standard of evidence in a criminal case compared to a civil case, he showed us how the standard in a criminal case is significantly higher.  The intent of the higher standard was to make sure innocent people were allowed to remain free, i.e., not be punished or go to jail.  EVEN IF that meant letting some guilty people go.  He argued, it was reprehensible to constrain the freedoms of the innocent just to make sure no guilty individuals were allowed to go free.

I think this is the stance we need to take with gun control.  If the gun control lobby gets their way, the rights and freedoms of the innocent will be constrained.  Since no law ever stopped a determined criminal (if they did we’d never hear of a rape, murder, or shoplifting case) we need to make sure no more unnecessary laws are passed which only serve to disarm the good guys. In fact, it would be a good measure to also repeal all of the unnecessary, freedom-restricting laws which are already on the books.

These mass shootings seem to happen in gun-free zones.  I would much rather see the good guys take down the bad guy and save as many lives as possible.  Unfortunately, the good guys are the only ones who obey the laws and in gun-free zones the good guys have been disarmed.  Leaving the bad guys to mete out terror until their ammunition runs out.  It’s time to re-evaluate gun laws and rearm the good guys in all locations.


5 responses

  1. Well said. Good point that police really don’t prevent crime, mainly investigate after the fact. I’m beginning to think that gun free zones should be relabeled as mass killing zones.

  2. Lets get back to the Wild West when everyone carried a gun. Then its a fair fight!

  3. Perfectly said. I wouldn’t change a single thing about this post.

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