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Bad aim

By Lady Liberty
web posted February 26, 2007

Recently in the news was the story of a Utah teenager who shot and killed several people in a shopping mall. Nine people were wounded and five died before the gunman was shot and killed himself. Although this real life and death drama was overshadowed by the larger-than-life and death drama of Anna Nicole Smith in the media, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence wasn't about to miss the opportunity to rail yet again against guns.

The group dusted off its old arguments in short order and was right there at the forefront blaming the gun. What it failed (again) to acknowledge was the fact that one person with a gun was quite handily stopped by another person with a gun. In this case, it was an off duty police officer who happened to be at the mall after having had a Valentine's Day dinner with his wife. He also happened to be carrying a handgun.

Ken Hammond is being hailed as a hero. He modestly denies it, of course, but the bottom line is that if it weren't for him, more people would have been shot and more would have died. In fact, the death toll could have been substantial: 18 year-old Sulejman Talovic was carrying a couple of guns and more than enough ammunition for both to rack up quite a kill tally.

To date, the police either don't yet know or aren't saying where Talovic got the guns. That hasn't, of course, stopped the Brady Campaign from demanding that the so-called "gun show loophole" be closed and that it be illegal for those under 21 to buy handguns. In other words, the Brady Campaign is demanding that the federal government put its nose directly into transactions between private individuals (those demands won't change, either, if it's eventually learned that the kid stole a gun or was given one by another bad guy, transactions having nothing at all to do with loopholes in any existing laws). It's also — apparently courtesy of its very own Department of Redundancy Department — looking to make it against the law for those under 21 to buy handguns in a state where it's against the law for those under 21 to buy handguns.

While the Brady Campaign nibbles on its nails and adopts a "See? We told you so!" attitude about guns in the hands of the bad guys, there's nary a word about guns in the hands of the good guys. Those who stopped Talovic are just one of any number of stories involving self-defense utilizing deadly force to face deadly force. In the last week alone, I personally read at least a dozen stories where law-abiding citizens defended themselves and their property with a firearm.

The Brady Campaign would see those people lose the ability of effective self defense all together, or at the very least make it all but impossible for them thanks to draconian regulations and requirements (don't get me started on just how wonderfully effective a defensive weapon isn't when it's trigger locked and its ammo is stored in a lock box in another room). That's because the Brady Campaign doesn't blame anything but the gun when, in fact, crime is a whole lot more complicated than the tool a criminal might employ. (Incidentally, while the Brady Campaign likes to say that only guns really result in multiple fatalities, I'll bet it doesn't say a thing about a multiple homicide in Chicago this month where it appears a hammer was the murder weapon of choice — Chicago being a city where guns are all but illegal didn't help those victims a whole lot, did it?)

While the Brady Campaign blames the gun, other Americans are looking for other things to blame. Some have suggested that Talovic started shooting as part and parcel of a terror attack (Talovic was a Muslim); the FBI has said that it's found no links to terror. Others have claimed that Talovic's terrible childhood — he saw much more than a child should have as he grew up in war torn Bosnia — is to blame. His family and his closest friends, meanwhile, are bewildered.

Perhaps it was all of these things that combined to set Talovic on his deadly course. Perhaps it was none of them. Maybe he was just filled with teen angst and wanted to go out in the proverbial blaze of glory. But whatever the motivation might have been, people are dead that would have been alive had he not gone to the mall that night.

Ken Hammond, meanwhile, heard gunshots from a distance and made his way toward the ensuing chaos. He drew his own weapon and announced himself. Then he fired as needed. Other police officers arrived on the scene, and whether he wanted it or not, Talovic got his very own "blaze of glory" exit. The guns that caused all the problems were stopped by guns in other hands.

And that brings me to the real question behind the Utah shootings, the one that's even more important than why Talovic did it in the first place. Where were the rest of the guns?

Utah is a CCW state, and not a bad one as far as those things go. At any given time, you'd have to assume that at least a few of shoppers have a permit, wouldn't you? And why would you bother getting a permit if you didn't intend to exercise it?

Maybe the mall had signs on its doors prohibiting firearms on site. Some businesses seem to think that their patrons are actually safer when they do that. Of course, just because criminals tend to ignore signs is immaterial. If that mall had signs, chances are that the good guys obeyed them and left their firearms in their cars and trucks. And then they ran and screamed like everybody else while innocents were being gunned down. If that mall had signs, I consider the mall owners to be accessories to murder.

Maybe all of the CCW owners in the crowd that night decided that they'd leave their guns in their vehicles or in their homes. Nobody ever needs a gun in a dark parking lot, on a quiet poorly lit street, or — dare I say it? — in a mall, do they? While I suppose this scenario is possible, it strikes me as far less probable than that this mall did have those signs, and that the floors there are bloodstained because it did.

Do guns kill people? In the hands of the bad guys, you bet they do. Do guns kill people? In the hands of the good guys, they can kill too. Only when it's the bad guys that die, it's far from the worst thing that could happen. It's an even better thing if killing the bad guys ends up saving lives.

If the Brady Campaign really cared about preventing violence, it would start a new campaign tomorrow morning to eliminate signs at businesses that effectively announce that criminals have free reign on those premises. The one thing that criminals truly fear is a target that can fight back, and the idea that there are people who are ready and willing to do just that and to do so with deadly force has been proved again and again to be one hell of a deterrent. And when the crime is deterred, violence is prevented, which is just what the Brady Campaign claims to want. Simple when you think about it, isn't it?

Nothing in the world could have stopped Sulejman Talovic from committing suicide by cop if that's what he had in mind. Nothing in the world could have stopped him from wreaking havoc if he was determined to do so. But surely his death wish could have been granted before so many people were shot and chaos was given reign. Surely somebody could have taken action sooner to protect themselves and others. So the question remains: Why didn't they? Was it because, thanks to the Brady Campaign and other victim disarmament activists' work, they couldn't? ESR

Lady Liberty, a senior writer for ESR, is a graphic designer and pro-freedom activist currently residing in the Midwest. More of her writings and other political and educational information is available on her web site, Lady Liberty's Constitution Clearing House, at http://www.ladylibrty.com. E-mail Lady Liberty at ladylibrty@ladylibrty.com.






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