Once again a disturbed, disgruntled, deviant with a chip on his shoulder has chosen to make himself famous by killing people, and once again the media, politicians, and some heartbroken family members of the victims are using the tragedy to call for “solutions” that can’t work to prevent such tragedies, and only hurt the innocent.
This time the culprit was a homosexual, African American, self-avowed racist who considered himself a victim.
In retribution for perceived slights from former colleagues at a Virginia TV station, the murderer decided to create a media sensation by committing his crimes on live television. But that wasn’t enough. To be sure that his act would be seen and replayed as much as possible, he also recorded the entire thing himself, including the actual act of shooting. He then posted that video, along with long lists of the “wrongs” he had suffered, to social media.
As is The Firearms Coalition’s longstanding policy, I will not mention the name of the murderer, and will only refer to him in the derogatory terms his actions have earned.
When the clear, and often openly stated objective of committing a heinous act is to generate media, and make the culprit famous, we believe it is irresponsible for the media to fulfill those desires. If more media would adopt a similar position, we might see less of this sort of infamy-seeking.
In this case, as in so many cases before it, the atrocity was actually an elaborate suicide in which the suicidal individual makes his death “newsworthy” by taking innocents’ lives along with his own. And like most of the similar events in recent decades, the murderer planned his actions out in detail well in advance of the event, fully complying with existing laws right up to the moments preceding the atrocity.
It’s easy to look at events like these and point an accusing finger at America’s “gun culture,” that is, the lawful acquisition and ownership of guns. After all, if we didn’t have all of these guns everywhere, the murderers wouldn’t have been able to commit their crimes. If we just had one more layer of checks, one more set of administrative hoops, if guns were just a little more inconvenient to obtain and own, couldn’t we keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them? I don’t think so.
This approach holds that the solution to the problem of evil acts by deranged humans is simply more paperwork for everyone.
The paperwork “solution” du jour is an idea proponents call “universal background checks.” They say that because Americans are able to legally buy and sell guns amongst themselves without having to get the blessings of the government, criminals and crazy people are able to get guns with “no questions asked.” What they neglect to offer is any clear evidence that this is actually a problem or that their proposal is actually a solution. They don’t mention that the TV murderer in Virginia passed a standard FBI background check when he purchased the gun he used in his crimes. They also neglect to mention that virtually all of the other murderers anyone can name also either passed background checks or bypassed the system completely by stealing the guns or obtaining them through other illegal means.
In fact, the incidence of a criminal buying a gun from a private individual in order to bypass the background required of dealer sales, is so rare that supporters of “universal background checks” are only able to produce a handful of examples from the past two decades. Those who commit elaborate, “I want to be on TV” type murders rarely have any serious criminal or mental health records that would cause them to fail a background check or disqualify them from legally buying a gun, and real criminals find it easier and safer to keep their firearm acquisitions in their familiar, illegal channels.
There is no such thing as legally buying a gun “over the internet.”
Reports about criminals buying guns “over the internet” are misleading at best. All legal firearm sales under current law must take place in face-to-face transactions, except transfers between federally licensed dealers. What restriction advocates call “internet sales” are actually private sales involving some sort of internet advertising, either through a firearm-oriented advertising site or a regular classified ad site. In all cases, the actual sale must take place in a face-to-face transaction, and most private sellers require, for their own protection, ID and driver’s license information before they will agree to the sale.
It is natural for people who have suffered a tragic loss to want to make sense of a tragedy, to see some good come out of the event. Unfortunately, in the case of those advocating for expanded background checks or other restrictions on individual rights, not only are these efforts useless at preventing similar tragedies, they can actually enable other types of tragedies.
Not to mention, they are also a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Instead of responding to heinous crimes with calls to make life more complicated for innocent people, let’s focus attention on programs, measures, and institutions that can actually have a positive impact. Let’s stop the divisive politics of racial, gender, and other victimhood categories, and work toward actual fair and equal treatment of everyone.
More laws, which only apply to the law-abiding, and more paperwork, are no solution to the problems of madness and evil.
Calls for expanding firearm purchase background checks are just another case of emotion demanding action, even if the action makes no sense at all.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org