Writing for qz.com, a convicted murderer writing under the pen name “John Lennon” [above] insits that lax gun laws had nothing to do with his crime. “It reminded me of the December night in 2001 when I easily obtained a (straw purchased) assault rifle from a friend and used it to shoot an associate of mine named Alex in the head. He, too, sat unarmed in a car, this one on a Brooklyn street. I killed Alex after learning that he was extorting a man who sold drugs for me. I can’t change what I did even as I feel remorse for it—the responsibility for pulling the trigger is mine alone.” Fair enough. Only not really. Mr. Lennon doesn’t take sole responsibility for his actions . . .
I can’t help but think about what would have happened that night if I hadn’t had access to that gun. Instead, maybe another sequence of events would have unfolded. Perhaps the effects of the Xanax I had taken would have worn off. Perhaps I would have slept on it and felt differently the next day. Perhaps we would have talked it out. Instead, there I was–emotionally empty and angry, and impulsive. Big gun in the trunk. A bit high. It was over in three seconds.
We of this life are engaged in a vicious cycle of hurt—giving it, receiving it. Years ago, I was stabbed six times in a prison yard, and suffered a punctured lung as revenge for killing Alex. Had I been shot six times, I’d be dead.
As my father used to say, if my grandmother had wheels I’d be a trolley car. In other words, there’s no point in theorizing about alternate outcomes for prior bad, ill-advised or downright stupid acts (especially the dirty deeds done dirt cheap). You can and should, however, learn from your mistakes. One of which is that a bad artist blames his tools. Badly . . .
Much of gun violence in America occurs in the self-absorbed world of gangster culture. Recently in the yard I was talking to a nineteen-year-old boy who calls himself “Shots.” He’s serving a sentence of 45 years to life for shooting and killing one victim and wounding another. He told me guns are so ubiquitous in his native Rochester, New York, that he once stumbled upon a nine millimeter handgun while walking in a field of weeds. He took it home. He was twelve.
Through his [unreliable] spokesman, “Shots” is deploying the Curley defense: “I’m a victim of coicumstance!” I dunno know about that. But I do know that Mr. Lennon is guilty of manhandling language to suit his “this will help get me out on parole” anti-gun rights agenda.
During a break I was talking to a prisoner who calls himself “Paradise,” convicted of trafficking guns and attempting to commit murder with one of them. From behind his big beard and permanent diamond grill, Paradise told me how he used to take drugs from Buffalo, New York, to rural towns in Pennsylvania. After selling the drugs, he’d ask customers with clean criminal records to buy guns for him. Paradise would take the guns back to Buffalo to sell or trade for more drugs.
This is a phenomenon known as straw purchasing, a dangerous loophole that has remained open for decades. I should know, my friends and I had gotten guns the same way in the mid-nineties.
The word “loophole” don’t mean what Mr. Lennon wants it to mean. “Straw purchasing” is a crime, not a “loophole.” People who buy guns for a prohibited person are committing a crime, not “exploiting a loophole.”
Conventional wisdom holds that if a problem exists—like, say, a loophole that allows untraceable gun purchases–we should just close it. And yet, illegal private-party gun sales account for as much as 40% of gun purchases in the US. Why do we refuse to actually address such a patently—and demonstratively—dangerous problem in American society?
Wait. How does Mr. Lennon know that “illegal private-party gun sales account for as much as 40% of gun purchases in the U.S.?” No one keeps a tally of illegal, private-party gun sales. How could they? They’re illegal! What he meant to say, perhaps, was that 40 percent of criminals get their guns from private sales at gun shows. Which isn’t true, either.
This kind of jailhouse-generated asinine anti-gun agitprop must be especially soothing to gun control advocates on the outside. See? Even criminals think we should have gun control! I reckon any criminal who argues for gun control — what we call civilian disarmament and you could call a PVEP (Potential Victim Expansion Program) should be automatically disqualified for parole. Especially any convict that takes their pen name from a man murdered by a crazed killer. [h.t AM]