creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Jacob Sullum
Jacob Sullum
19 Nov 2014
Bulldoze First, Answer Questions Later: A New Jersey Ruling Invites Eminent Domain Abuse

Two years ago, New Jersey's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) approved something called the … Read More.

12 Nov 2014
District of Cannabis: How Will Congress Respond to Marijuana Legalization in the Nation's Capital?

Of the three jurisdictions where voters approved marijuana legalization last week, Washington, D.C., is the … Read More.

5 Nov 2014
Ebola Panic Control: A Nurse's Successful Quarantine Challenge Is a Victory for Reason and Due Process

After a judge rejected Maine's attempt to quarantine Kaci Hickox, the state's attorney general said she was "… Read More.

The Folly of Unilateral Disarmament

Comment

When Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan started shooting up the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Pfc. Marquest Smith dove under a desk. The Associated Press reports that "he lay low for several minutes, waiting for the shooter to run out of ammunition and wishing he, too, had a gun."

Neither Smith nor the other victims of Hasan's assault had guns because soldiers on military bases within the United States generally are not allowed to carry them. Last week's shootings, which killed 13 people and wounded more than 30, demonstrated once again the folly of "gun-free zones," which attract and assist people bent on mass murder instead of deterring them.

Judging from the comments of those who support this policy of victim disarmament, Smith's desire for a gun was irrational. According to Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, "This latest tragedy, at a heavily fortified Army base, ought to convince more Americans to reject the argument that the solution to gun violence is to arm more people with more guns in more places."

Note how the reference to "a heavily fortified Army base" obscures the crucial point that the people attacked by Hasan were unarmed as a matter of policy. Also note the breathtaking inanity of Helmke's assurance that "more guns" are not "the solution to gun violence." In this case, they assuredly were.

The first people with guns to confront Hasan, two local police officers, were the ones who put a stop to his rampage. And while Sgt. Kim Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd acted heroically, they did not arrive on the scene until a crucial 10 minutes or so had elapsed and Hasan had fired more than 100 rounds.

If someone else at the processing center had a gun when Hasan started shooting, it seems likely that fewer people would have been killed or injured. Furthermore, the knowledge that some of his victims would be armed might have led him to choose a different, softer target in order to maximize the impact of his attack.

There would have been plenty of targets to choose from: any of the locations in Texas, including public schools, universities and shopping malls, that advertise their prohibition of gun possession.

The problem is that crazed killers tend not to follow such rules.

That problem was vividly illustrated by the second deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, which occurred in Killeen, Texas, a stone's throw from Fort Hood. In 1991, George Jo Hennard drove his pickup truck through the window of a Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, jumped out and began firing two pistols at the defenseless customers and employees inside, killing 23 of them.

One customer, Suzanna Hupp, saw Hennard gun down her parents. Hupp later testified that she had brought a handgun with her that day but, to her bitter regret, left it in her car, as required by state law. The massacre led the Texas legislature to approve a "shall issue" law that allows any resident who meets certain objective criteria to obtain a concealed carry permit.

But people with such permits are still barred from bringing their weapons into areas designated as gun-free zones. And when a killer fires on people he knows will be unarmed, it matters little whether he has 20-round or 10-round magazines, a detail emphasized in press coverage of the Fort Hood massacre. The second or two it takes to switch magazines is a minor nuisance when the people you are shooting at cannot shoot back.

Even less relevant is the allegation that Hasan used illegal armor-piercing ammunition. The Brady Campaign bizarrely chose to highlight that claim even though there was no indication that any of Hasan's victims were wearing bulletproof vests, let alone that his bullets penetrated them. Perhaps the group hoped that such puzzling illogic would distract people from the plain fact that having a gun is better than not having one when you are confronted by a homicidal maniac.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine, and his work appears in the new Reason anthology "Choice" (BenBella Books). To find out more about Jacob Sullum and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM



Comments

0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Jacob Sullum
Nov. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 1 2 3 4 5 6
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Authorís Podcast
Linda Chavez
Linda ChavezUpdated 21 Nov 2014
David Sirota
David SirotaUpdated 21 Nov 2014
David Limbaugh
David LimbaughUpdated 21 Nov 2014

27 Apr 2011 Drug Control vs. Pain Control: A Crackdown on Opioid Prescriptions Will Hurt Patients

4 Apr 2007 Lollipop Lickers

12 Jun 2013 We're Only Spying on Ourselves