As the country looks for answers to fix the perceived problem that caused the shooting in Connecticut on Friday, one of the things people are running to is increased gun control. An assault weapons ban and other measures are already on the table for national discussion, and appear to be on track for a lengthy congressional battle. But as we seem to get closer to the point of enacting more gun control measures, there’s something that we all need to remember: The existing laws worked and kept guns out of the killer’s hands . . .
The shooter in Friday’s massacre owned exactly zero guns. By federal law he was forbidden from buying a handgun from a gun dealer for another year (he was only 20 years old), and even then in Connecticut he would have needed to obtain a permit from the state first and pass a firearms safety course. And a rifle would subject him to a background check and require a 14 day wait.
Despite what some readers may think about waiting periods they appear to have successfully deterred the shooter form buying a gun. NBC reported that the shooter tried to buy a rifle on the Tuesday before the shooting, but left when he realized that there was a waiting period.
So existing restrictions — laws already on the books — kept guns out of Adam Lanza’s hands. The shooter didn’t legally own a firearm. You can question how his mother stored her guns, but it was only when he killed her and stole her firearms that he was able to obtain the guns he used in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
This shouldn’t be a story about increasing gun control. No amount of additional gun control would have done a better job of keeping weapons out of the shooter’s hands, since existing laws worked just fine. At most, this should be a cautionary tale about what happens when firearms aren’t secured and unauthorized people can access them. That kind of gun control I can get behind.
So when you’re thinking about what laws would have prevented this shooting, just remember that the laws already on the books did the job. Perfectly. It was the human element that failed.