Opinion

Are we safer if everyone is armed?

Political

Columnist

Is our society safer or less safe because of guns?

On a recent “60 Minutes” episode, Leslie Stahl focused on the “gun show loophole” that supposedly makes it easier for gangsters and terrorists to acquire firearms. Not all gun shows do background checks and some people will sell lethal hardware out in the parking lot, no questions asked. Much of the segment focused on the awful Virginia Tech incident two years ago, where 32 students and staff were murdered by a deranged student named Seung-Hui Cho. Friends and family of some of those students lobbied the legislature in Virginia to close the “loophole” but the effort failed narrowly, proving to gun control advocates and Leslie Stahl that the National Rifle Association has a “stranglehold” on the legislature.

Two problems here. First, statistics show that firearms purchased at gun shows are rarely used in violent crimes. And second, the Virginia Tech killer didn’t buy his gun at a gun show. He went to a gun shop and purchased it over the counter, showing identification and passing a background check, the whole works.

The TV segment also neglected to mention the previous campus shooting in Virginia. In January 2002, a student at the Appalachian School of Law killed three and wounded three others before being subdued by other students, including two who ran and got their firearms from their cars when the shooting erupted.

Suppose an off-duty cop or soldier at Virginia Tech had been carrying a concealed weapon to class (Virginia Tech proudly declared itself a “gun-free zone”). Would lives have been saved? Probably. When police finally arrived on the scene, Mr. Cho took his own life.

Let’s move the debate to Seattle. Mayor Greg Nickels wants to prohibit law-abiding people from possessing firearms on city property, including buildings, parks and other outdoor areas like the Seattle Center. But while the mayor is talking down guns, a series of brutal, sometimes lethal assaults are taking place throughout his city. Groups of thugs have been roaming through Pioneer Square, Belltown, the Seattle Center and the U-district, viciously attacking people for little or no reason. Ed McMichael, the beloved “Tuba Man” from Seattle concerts and sporting events, died after being beaten and kicked by these punks at a Seattle Center bus stop. Only three of them were caught. They refused to identify their cohorts and because of their age (15) they were sentenced to 72 WEEKS in juvenile detention.

Shortly before the attack on Tuba Man, a young couple was assaulted and robbed by these same thugs at the Seattle Center. Yet Nickels would deny such couples the means of defending themselves with a gun. Had they done so, the Tuba Man would still be alive.

In Mason County on the Olympic Peninsula, they don’t seem to have these problems. Many people there are armed, and as state Sen. Tim Sheldon said last week, “I think the Mason County citizens are very well aware of how to protect themselves in a situation that might need a response.” He went on to say it’s “open season” on violent troublemakers and “there’s no bag limit.”

Interesting. In places like Seattle, and more recently Federal Way, it’s open season on decent people instead. When thugs don’t fear the law then what do they fear? Armed citizens. When you get past the political correctness, it really is that simple.

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