Thursday, 24 July 2003
|0739 - The NYC City Hall shooting|
I submitted the following letter to the Minneapolis Star_Tribune this morning, in response to the shooting at New York's City Hall yesterday:
The shooting of a New York city councilman at City Hall shows clearly that trying to ban guns simply doesn't work. New York City has the most draconian gun laws in the nation, and yet the killer was able to acquire a gun and take it into the heavily guarded chamber.
He obviously didn't care about such a minor detail as the gun being illegal. This is the key lesson: By definition, criminals don't let laws stop them.
His shooting spree ended only when he was shot by someone carrying a pistol legally. Those who think allowing honest citizens to carry firearms will lead to carnage inthe streets should think about this: Who was breaking the law, and who was upholding it? They may point to the fact that it was a plainclothes police officer that shot the killer. While this is true, they should also think about the fact that plainclothes police cannot be everywhere.
Stop worrying about guns, and start worrying instead about the people who are willing to use them to commit murder.
current mood: determined
Well, there's a flaw in this. The man who was assassinated, Councilman Davis, also legally had a firearm on him at the time of the assassination. He had no time to draw it before he was shot and thus its existence didn't save him or even affect the situation at all.
The problem here wasn't with the gun laws; it's with the double standard in enforcing them. If politicians were held to the same laws as ordinary people and barred from bringing guns into the building, this wouldn't have happened. If there were no guns in the building other than those by law enforcement officials, and the politicians were required to go through the same security as everyone else, then this wouldn't have happened. If everyone in the building were armed, this still would have happened, with roughly the same result--the shooter would have had enough time to kill the councilman before anyone took him down.
The death was preventable, but only if the laws had been properly enforced.
That's completely correct. Just as locks only keep honest people out of your house, gun laws only keep guns out of the hands of honest people. Those willing to break the law, in my experience, can get access to just about anything. Law abiding citizens are left defenceless.
I'm more inclined toward youngvanwinkle
Mephit's point of view. It also wouldn't surprise me to discover that the murderer's weapon was legal, too--I'm sure that I saw somewhere it was, but I won't stake everything on it. Remember, there are some in the world who are law-abiding only because they lack opportunity. At one point..everyone was a law-abiding citizen. Most of the press-heralded gunmen seem to have originally been law-abiding, until they broke the murder laws repeatedly.
Then again, from the sounds of things, if this guy was upset enough to sneak in a gun, he might've been upset enough to smuggle in a sizable-enough knife to do the job. Of course, one could say that limiting him to a knife would give him pause--a gun is much more effective at its job, which is to kill. Note that I have NO OBJECTIONS to guns being effective as weapons..that's what they're for, and if I ever buy a gun, I want one that WILL kill someone in their tracks. It's a *weapon*. Just a very good one, compared with other options, and relatively simple to use..hence its popularity.
Makes me wonder if the answer might be to lower the cost of body armour
Well, a gun is fundamentally different from a knife or almost any other weapon, for two simple reasons: Proximity and effectiveness. A contact weapon like a knife actually requires you to get close enough to the victim for htem to touch you back. Also, a gun is a lot more user-friendly; you point and shoot, and if you hit the victim he usually goes down, and if you're not sure you just keep shooting until you're sure. With something like a knife, it's hard to effectively kill someone with a single wound, and usually people (either the victim or others) will have time to react before you can finish the job, so you'd better know what you're doing. The only way to guarantee death on the first shot with a knife is to go for the lungs, knowing how to properly penetrate the rib cage, or go for the throat and cut the major vein or artery, both of which require at least some degree of knowledge and skill and thus are far harder to use than a gun. A gun, because you can use it without getting close to your victim and it's so easy to use, is a fundamentally different weapon and is much harder to defend against.
This is why guns are singled out from other weapons; they are different from other weapons. Of course, if someone tried taking a particularly large knife into a courthouse, one would hope that security would stop it just as much as they'd stop a gun, since Leathermans and Swiss army knives aside, a large hunting knife has about as much practical use as a courthouse as a gun does (zero).