As expected, the horrific violence that occurred on Sunday night on the Las Vegas strip once again brought the gun control issue to the forefront of American society.
Immediately following the rampage, the usual debate commenced.
If we’re going to be honest, however, the fact is that in the United States we already do have gun control. Laws are in place and background checks are standard. Even if there was an increase in laws as they pertain to firearms, gun violence would still occur.
As Charles Cooke remarked at The National Review, the dead Nevada perpetrator, Stephen Paddock, was no felon, emphasis mine.
…the killer “passed all required federal background checks” on at least two recent occasions:
This doesn’t mean that the shooter didn’t have an automatic weapon as well, although if he did, as opposed to a Gatling crank or a bump fire system that increased the rate of fire on his semi-automatic rifles, he’d have had to obtain it separately and at great effort and cost. (Automatic weapons are extremely expensive — on both the black market and the legal market — and they can only be obtained after the buyer has paid a hefty tax and passed a rigorous and long-lasting federal check.) And it doesn’t mean that the weapons that he bought on these occasions were used in the shooting. What it does mean, however, is that he wasn’t a felon — or, at least, that there was nothing in the federal database that would have prevented him from buying weapons. That matters, because we are already hearing politicians pretend that “universal background checks” would have prevented this attack. They wouldn’t have.
On paper, Paddock would have appeared to be a responsible gun owner with no history of criminality. Real life on the thirty-second floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel on Sunday night told a different story.
Two gun shops who sold firearms to Paddock said he passed background checks. No one would have suspected he would commit such a murderous rampage. There was nothing to indicate such horror would occur.
The problem I see with many who say “we need gun control!” is two-fold. They are entirely unaware of what is currently in place, and they expect the government to fully take care of us, our needs, and our safety. They should stop putting so much faith in D.C. and elected officials around the country. They have never been and will never be our saviors.
There is absolutely no one in the United States (except criminals themselves) who is pro-gun violence. Just as there is no one who is pro-rape. Only those who possess a sick delight in harming others enjoys committing such acts. Often times, they feel no remorse after the fact. These people can never be touched by laws that seek to prevent such atrocities from occurring. They will continuously circumvent said laws in order to achieve their twisted goals.
This is an uncomfortable truth about human nature. It can’t be controlled by anyone except the individual. That this even needs to be stated is astounding.
As Nick Gillespie wrote over at Reason, increased gun legislation won’t actually lead to a safer America, emphasis mine.
It’s wrong, I think, to immediately pivot to what are inevitably pushed as “common-sense” policy responses to gun attacks, such as banning “assault weapons” (a class of guns that doesn’t really exist, have been banned in the past with no impact on violence, and detract from other, arguably more effective regulations). Thoughts of tearing up the Constitution clearly come more from the heart than the head and should be resisted until the passions calm at least a little. If hard cases make bad law, then public tragedies make terrible policy, whether we’re talking about mass shootings, acts of terrorism, or celebrity drug overdoses.
As Jacob Sullum noted yesterday, most of the ideas pushed by anti-gun activists would have no conceivable impact on mass shooters such as Stephen Paddock. Raising the minimum age for gun purchases to 21, limiting the number or purchases allowed each month, and developing “smart gun” technology have nothing to do with what we know (so far anyway) about Vegas, or virtually any other mass shooting. And the policy prescriptions that might—such as barring individuals with serious, documented mental problems or convictions for domestic abuse—would not have snagged Paddock.
As a country and as individuals, we need to pay our respects to the dead and wounded in Vegas. But policy cannot be a form of therapy that will neither bind our wounds now nor make us safer in the future.
The desire to harm others exists in the hearts of some who own their share of the more than 300 million guns in the United States today. But that handful pales in comparison to the millions upon millions of responsible gun owners who would defend another at a moment’s notice. The good far outweighs the bad, but that is not much of a comfort to the families of the 58 victims who have yet to be buried.
So let us contend that yes, we are appalled by Sunday’s carnage. We join with those who mourn and shake our heads at the reality before us and the hidden darkness in the human heart. We aren’t just afraid that something like this may happen again, we know it will.
It will be in our own towns, on the streets of Chicago, on school campuses, and in the open as other innocents are enjoying evening entertainment. I hate this truth as much as any, but this evil is part of the human existence.
We should mourn for what we have lost but must not trick ourselves into believing that one or more pieces of legislation would have kept Stephen Paddock from pulling that trigger.
It is folly.