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Would a database would have stopped Jared Lee Loughner from his murderous rampage? Sorry, your NICS background check says you’re prohibited from purchasing a firearm. Really? Huh. I was going to go on a murderous rampage but you know what? Screw it. No Glock no rock. And you can trust me when I say I won’t find a gun elsewhere, because there’s no way I can get a hold of a gun anywhere else but a legal gun store like this one. And I won’t use another method to murder people because . . .

I can’t think of any. Can you? No? OK then. Have a great day.

If gun control advocates are serious about stopping psycho-terrorist types from shooting people, they need to take a leaf from the playbook of a society where this sort of shit happens all the time: Israel.

Now I’m not going to say that gun control advocates should perform a volte face, clock the Israeli situation and conclude that arming civilians is the ultimate that is to say last defense against an individual intent on mass murder. Even though that’s the truth.

My point here: the Israelis know that computerized security systems are inherently flawed. Vulnerable. Weak. Just as prisons only warehouse stupid criminals, data-driven spree killer prevention methods only prevent unlucky or stupid terrorists/murderers. There’s no substitute for vigilant people taking decisive action.

You want to capture terrorists at the airport. Put people on the ground who know what to look for and what to ask, and let them look for it and interrogate passengers. You want to keep college campuses safe? Put people on campus who know what to look for and what to ask. Political rallies? Same again.

Where was Giffords’ security?

Even before that fateful day, Loughner had made death threats to staff of Pima Community College, radio personalities and local bloggers. Some of these folks—we don’t know which ones or how many—reported Loughner’s criminal threats to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Apparently, deputies assured citizens raising the alarm that Loughner was being “managed” by the Arizona’s mental health system.

Why didn’t Jared Lee Loughner’s teachers, classmates, friends, the police—especially the police—and his parents take decisive action? Perhaps they were scared about legal blowback. And? If taking down a potential madman triggers an unlawful arrest suit, well, get on with it. If not, STFU when bad shit goes down.

Sorry, but I’m perplexed. Large scale government run computer systems are as leaky as a child’s beach sieve. Even setting aside the limitations inherent in a system limited to legal firearms purchases, adding tens of millions of pieces of data to the NICS system is bound to make the system worse, not better.

Congressional investigators estimate that there are as many as a million false or (at the least) highly debatable entries on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List (with no protocol for correction or appeal). Check this out from the :

This month marks the 10th anniversary of New York’s Combined Ballistic Identification System (CoBIS) program.

Under this program, all new handguns sold in the state must be test fired and the shell casing imaged and entered into an electronic databank for possible crime scene identification.

Since its inception in March 2001, a total 311,859 shell casings have been cataloged. At an estimated cost of $4 million dollars per year, $40 million dollars has been spent on CoBIS over the past decade.

What have taxpayers received for this? Absolutely nothing! Not a single crime has been solved because of it. By any measure, CoBIS has been a total failure and a public policy disaster.

Why don’t gun control advocates understand that computer checks are nothing more than security theater? In fact, the gun control community’s faith in “gun checks” indicates willful, wishful ignorance. They simply refuse to wake up and smell the gunpowder. And dynamite. And fertilizer.

If gun control advocates wanted to stop spree killers or straw purchasers at gun stores—although I’m thinking of barn doors and bolted horses—they should do everything in their power to enlist the aid of the one group of people who can stop the madness at the goal line: gun dealers.

The same gun dealers they’ve been vilifying for decades. The same gun dealers that phoned the ATF when gun smugglers came knocking on their door. Gun dealers who were told to shut up and sell the damn guns. Where’s the gun control advocates’ indignation about that problem?

I digress. Bottom line: I reckon relying on computers to prevent a recurrence of the Loughner spree killing is dangerous nonsense. It will take society’s off the ball. Fixing gun checks is not only impossible, it actually makes spree killings more likely to happen. Am I wrong?


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  1. Good points. It only goes to prove that either the gun-control people are not very bright, or they are lying. My money is on both.

  2. Some of these people realize that their “databases” are simply a stepping stone to further victim disarmament. They just want control. But if they’re just anti-gun bigots, they don’t have the ability to think logically. If you happen to mention the absolute truth: “If a person can’t be trusted with a firearm, any type of firearm, then that person cannot be trusted without a custodian” it doesn’t compute. However, since they were raised in government schools, they believe it is perfectly acceptable and proper for the government to oversee the “databases”. When you don a state issued costume, you’re transformed into an angelic being-super competent, moral, and wise. The gun controllers LOVE violence. They just want to be the only ones with the guns, through their big daddy, government.

  3. NICS is limited in effectiveness mainly because the gun lobby does everything in its power to limit the effectiveness of NICS.


    • So you think a better NICS system would have prevented Loughner’s crime? Would help prevent crime generally? Although I believe that making that kind of measurement—crimes prevented— is like trying to gauge the numbers of jobs “saved” by pork, have a go. Seat of the pants. Whatddaya reckon? 10 percent less crime? 20?

    • Look, mikey . . . oops, I mean Magoo, this will come as a shock to you but the gun lobby can’t do shit when it comes to making NICS work better. E.g., Lochner failed a drug test but it wasn’t reported by the Army because of medical privacy concerns. I was there at the inception of HIPAA and similar state medical privacy statutes and can tell you that the two driving forces behind the legislation were (i) a very large church that didn’t want medical records of abuse known to anyone, and (ii) the AMA. There’s always one in the woodpile, but it isn’t usually the NRA. I know you hate the NRA, but blaming it for all the world’s ills is senseless.

  4. “Why don’t gun control advocates understand that computer checks are nothing more than security theater?”

    Who says they don’t?

  5. I agree that NICS isn’t going to keep guns away from hard core criminals, or crazy people with no record, but it might do some good around the margins – losers with histories of domestic violence, things of that nature. Whether the cost/benefit pencils out is another matter.

    Certainly the No Fly List is a shame and a disaster, and God knows what the NSA is up to with their information gathering apparatus. So maybe all such databases are inherently bad. Certainly any system that is secret and offers no due process is unacceptable.

    So let’s decry all security theater, regardless of who it targets, and regardless of the party in power.

  6. OK… so someone doesn’t pass the NICS check, or they know that they can’t. Most likely, they will find another tool to do some damage with.
    Now, what if Loughner or someone of his ilk is really hell-bent on obtaining a firearm with which to do the deed and won’t settle for anything “less?”
    Our usual riposte to the “anti” crowd is “there’s always a way to get a gun” but to what extent is that true?
    Is it truly easy for a person not normally part of the criminal class make the web of connections that will lead them to a firearm they’d be prohibited from having if they went through “legal” channels?
    Sorry if I sound like Magoo here – I think it’s a legitimate and interesting question.

    • “Is it truly easy for a person not normally part of the criminal class make the web of connections that will lead them to a firearm they’d be prohibited from having if they went through “legal” channels?”

      Yes and no.

      Let’s assume people can’t get them through FFLs and normal gun stores. Let’s assume that the person doesn’t have any, absolutely any, connections to criminals that sell guns.

      What’s to stop the person from buying a gun from a private seller? Certainly the selection won’t be as great as from a store, but if they really want a gun of some sort, the exact model probably won’t be a concern as long as the type of gun(ex. handgun) is met.

      The other alternative is to make the gun. It almost certainly won’t be high quality unless the criminal is also a machinist or has a machinist friend, but it’s relatively easy to make single-shot pen guns or slamfire shotguns. And either of those are quite capable of killing someone.

    • For a committed assassin like that creep, there are a heck of a lot of options besides a firearm. A bomb, a knife, or a runaway car…

      When this wanker’s trial begins we’ll probably hear if he considered any other plans to attack poor Miss Giffords.

  7. “Our usual riposte to the “anti” crowd is “there’s always a way to get a gun” but to what extent is that true?”

    If you will meet me in Hyannis this evening (on freakin’ Cape Cod, of all places), we will have no difficulty puchasing guns (mostly small cal revolvers and 9mm and .380 pistols) and dope (smack, X, perc, oxy, coke, weed, China White, you name it). Just bring money. Yeah, it’s that easy.

  8. Gun control advocates do not want databases to prevent crime – that’s just a convenient excuse. They want them as a step toward making firearms ownership inconvenient – if not impossible – and toward the final goal of banning private ownership of all firearms. Once you’re in the database, YOU prove that you don’t still have that firearm when you’re accused of same….

    • Nail on the head LawHobbitt. The beauty (to the antis) of ‘prohibited persons’ is there are always more people to add to the list. A few years ago some Eastern state (I can’t remember for certain which but NJ strikes a chord) was trying to enact a retroactive prohibition for juvenile crimes, even when the miscreant had not been charged as an adult. Then there was that poor schlub in PA a couple of years back who’d had a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, but had been assured that it would fall off his record if he kept his nose clean. More than a decade later he wants to buy a gun. Being a good law-abiding citizen, he calls the local cops to find out if there will be a problem. He is assured that there is no impediment so he goes to buy a gun and gets hit with felony charges (naturally according to the Bradys the reason he checked was to see if he could ‘get away with’ buying a gun).

      Stuff like this has got to stop. As I’ve said before, the only ‘prohibited person’ should be someone in prison or a locked-down mental facility.

      • Even better – individuals added “by mistake” are still frequently trapped in a kafkaesque nightmare to try and get off. Worse still – doing something while on the list, even if incorrectly on the list, can lead to imposition of penalties even if the poor guy is later removed.

  9. The Lawhobbit has a valid point. The more crap people have to go through to do something the more likely it becomes that we wont. That’s what they want the slow and painful attrition of gun owners. WE are creatures of convieniance.

  10. You’re assuming the gun-grabbers trust databases… or even want to implement those databases as a way to stop people like Loughner.

    Unfortunately, their motivations’re a lot more shameful, and a lot more troubling, than just that.

  11. Why Do Gun Control Advocates Trust Databases? A more pertinent question might be why do gun advocates trust databases? Private sales are not registered and all men have the potential to become madmen is the argument being proffered by gun prohibitionists as justification for such databases. Nothing can stop horrific acts by madmen but databases are essential for gun registration, which when complete enables confiscation. Those who support background checks are throwing liberty under the bus in exchange for a false sense of security.

  12. There is no scientific evidence in any study of the gun control issues that shows any crime decrease benefit from gun control ever. You can return to the 1950’s when anyone counld buy a gun at the local hardware or Western Auto and there would be no increase in gun crime. Law abiding people are hindered by gun control laws they obey, and criminals are helped by these same laws being able to victimize more easily. Show us one country where gun crime has gone down after passing stringent gun control. England an island, passed no handguns in 1997. Gun crime has been above 1997 every year. Violent crime is now over 3 times that of the US in general. Criminals are empoweed by these laws. These are facts.

  13. The state is all powerful. It is omnicompetent. The state says a database shall work, then it shall work. The state is never wrong.

    That’s the premise for the true believers.

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