If you’re a member of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Violence Policy Center or the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, chances are you’re secretly thrilled that Jared Lee Loughner joined Wikipedia’s list of spree killers. Horrified. Mortified. Enraged. But thrilled. Nothing motivates the public to [re]consider gun control like a concentrated mass of firearm fatalities. Well, maybe not the public. The media, for sure. But the average person? I don’t think so. In fact, I think spree killers have the exact opposite effect on John Q. Public. The gruesome murders make them more likely to support gun law liberalization, despite what you may have been reading . . .
In the wake of Saturday’s shootings in Tucson, Arizona, Americans are split over whether gun control laws should be made stricter, according to a new CBS News Poll [in a story dated January 11].
According to the poll, 47 percent of Americans believe that gun control laws should be more stringent in the wake of the Arizona shootings. Meanwhile, 36 percent believed the laws should remain the same, and 12 percent thought the laws should be made less strict in light of the shootings.
Convinced? Not me. Who in their right mind is going to contemplate a spree killing and say “More strict gun control? Nope. We’re good.” Especially to a survey taker. There are two words for that kind of response: lip service. Or, if you prefer, media desperation. ‘Cause the media wants spree killings to be a watershed event. Watershed events are good for business.
That said, not all media mavens get caught up in this SMBD (Something Must Be Done) meme. This morning’s Wall Street Journal “gets it.” In an article entitled Mass Killings Aren’t the Real Gun Problem, writer Gary Klek highlights the crime-fighting conundrum posited by spree killers like Jared Lee Loughner.
Ironically, promoting gun control by touting its purported relevance to mass killings may serve to discredit gun-control measures intended to prevent the single-victim incidents that inflict far more aggregate harm on Americans. Because certain measures will do nothing to prevent mass shootings, some people also will reject them as a tool for combating ordinary violence.
Well-enforced laws against carrying guns may discourage criminals who commit unpremeditated acts of violence from routinely being armed, even if such laws had no effect on Mr. Loughner. Increasing the availability and usability of existing databases on the dangerously mentally ill (limited though their coverage may be) could have some value in blocking gun sales to the kinds of people who commit more common kinds of violence, even if they could not have stopped the Tucson shooting. And extending background checks to cover private gun transfers might also block gun acquisition by ordinary criminals, even if they are ineffective against deranged and powerfully motivated mass killers.
While I don’t accept any of Mr. Kelk’s theoretical solutions to “ordinary” gun crime, I’m down with the wider point. The average person doesn’t connect the imaginary dots between gun control and stopping G-string-wearing murderous maniacs like Jared Lee Loughner. Sensibly enough, they’re deaf to the argument that better laws would have stopped the killing.
Who’d a thunk it? The great unwashed understand that shit happens and blame the defecator, not his parents’ toilet training or laws against public indecency.
When confronted with spree killing, the number one public emotion is anger. Anger at the spree killer. Not a Glock 19 with an extended magazine. Truth be told, most people don’t know what a high-capacity magazine is. Nor do they care. And there’s nothing that New York representative Carolyn McCarthy or NPR can do about their apathy. Ecept increase it.
The more gun control advocates claim they can stop great evil with great laws, the more the public says yeah right. How’s that working out for ya now? After a killing like this, voters don’t want spree killer prevention. They want justice. Or, not to sugar coat it, they want vengeance.
What’s the number one movie right now? True Grit. When the heroine shoots her father’s murderer point blank with a Sharps carbine chambered in .45-70, blowing him over a cliff in a cloud of blood, the audience cheers. What do you think sells better to the audience: gun control or concealed carry?
The relaxation of concealed carry laws and the ongoing surge in sales of concealed carry weapons answers that question. A surge that has only strengthened since Jared Lee Loughner opened fire.