Roger’s Rules

Gun control: another barmy and irresponsible liberal nostrum

OK, so another misfit wanders into a public space and opens fire with a stolen AK47. This time, eight people were killed, several wounded, when Robert Hawkins, a 19-year-old school dropout, went to a mall in Nebraska and started shooting. “He had,” a local police chief observed, “apparently been experiencing some mental health problems, ideations of suicide.” Thanks for the tip, Chief. I had actually worked that out for myself, except maybe for the bit about “ideations of suicide.”

The moral? That guns should be outlawed everywhere and always so that losers like Hawkins can’t get hold of ’em? Wrong. When Cho-what’s-his-name started plugging students at Virgina Tech earlier this year, all the gun-control nuts came out of the woodwork to make that argument. As I said at the time,

My own feeling is that if a few responsible students and faculty had been in possession of the requisite firearms they might have made the death toll a lot lower, or even–had they been especially alert–eliminated it altogether, or at least reduced it to the gratifying number of one, that of the perpetrator.

I was happy to see that Glenn Reynolds makes a cognate observation about the Nebraska Mall Misfit: “It seems to me,” Reynolds writes today at Instapundit, “that we’ve reached the point at which a facility that bans firearms, making its patrons unable to defend themselves, should be subject to lawsuit for its failure to protect them.”

Now there’s a class-action suit I can get behind. Where’s the ACLU and the “equal protection” lawyers when we need them? The truth of the matter, as Mark Steyn has repeatedly pointed out, in our society a high incidence of gun ownership correlates closely with a low murder–and indeed a low crime–rate. Why? Steyn offers this thought experiment:

Let’s take a hypothetical situation: I’m up late working on a National Post column at my place in New Hampshire. I hear a noise downstairs and cautiously investigate. It’s a fellow I’ve never seen before, hunched over my stereo. What do I do? I take my gun and try to hit his shoulder, disabling his own firing arm. Unfortunately, I’m not that good a shot and I blow his head off. I instantly regret it, knowing I’m now going to have to repaint the room.

Next, I call the chief of my town’s one-man police department — his home number’s listed in the book — and invite him round to collect the body. Al’s also irked, at having his slumbers disturbed, but he takes a short statement and congratulates me on a job well done.

Flippant? Maybe. Callous? Perhaps. But all-too-true. If just a few of those holiday shoppers in Omaha, Nebraska had been packing heat, they could have put a stop to Robert Hawkins’s disgusting rampage eftsoons and right speedily. If guns are outlawed, only outlaws and assorted other weirdos will have guns. That, in a nutshell, is precisely the problem.