A weekend story in the Capital Gazette, the Maryland newspaper that experienced a mass shooting incident earlier this year in which five staffers were killed, featured an interview with perennial anti-gun Democrat U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen that illustrates why gun control is doomed to failure.
Proponents just don’t get it, and if they could listen to themselves talk, that much would be quickly evident.
Van Hollen is delighted that he gets a failing grade from the National Rifle Association. He told the newspaper that so-called “universal background checks (and) reducing access to semi-automatic assault weapons” could reduce, while not eliminate, “gun violence.”
But the man accused of shooting up the newspaper offices back in June didn’t use a semi-automatic of any kind. The murder weapon was a pump-action shotgun.
Likewise, just over five years ago – Sept. 16, 2013 – Aaron Alexis used a 12-gauge pump shotgun purchased legally in Virginia to kill a dozen people and wound three others at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard. He passed a background check.
Pressed on what other schemes might reduce “gun violence,” Van Hollen “pointed to Maryland’s permit laws that require homeowners have a permit before purchasing a hand gun,” the newspaper reported.
But one needs only to look at the body count in Baltimore to see how well that is working. Last year, according to CBS News, Baltimore racked up 343 slayings. Most were shootings, some were stabbings and a few were by blunt force trauma, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Then Van Hollen offered an explanation that was almost self-contradictory in terms of logic and common sense.
“After Maryland passed its permit to purchase law,” the senator told the Capital Gazette, “you are finding a growing share of out-of-state guns used in crimes. If you are someone who intends to do bad things with a gun, you are a lot less likely to show up at Maryland law enforcement agency and go through a background check.”
This is what Second Amendment advocates often refer to as a “Well, DUH” moment. Laws and regulations that routinely inconvenience – make that “infringe upon” or “impair” – the rights of law-abiding citizens do not prevent guns falling into the wrong hands. Criminals do not comply with the law.
Leap across the country to Washington State, where a 2014 multi-million-dollar campaign resulted in passage of Initiative 594, a measure requiring so-called “universal background checks” to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands, thus preventing multi-victim shootings. But in 2016, more than a year after the law took effect, a 19-year-old killed three friends at a teen party that July, after purchasing a semi-auto rifle legally and passing a background check. Three months later, another teen killed five people with a rifle he took without permission from his step-father – thus, no background check was involved – at a shopping mall.
The same group that pushed I-594 is this year behind Initiative 1639, a measure that raises the minimum age for purchasing a semi-auto rifle to 21, thus stripping young adults of a fundamental right. It also mandates annual background checks, defines “semiautomatic assault rifle” so broadly that it applies to all semi-auto rifles, institutes a 10-day waiting period, and requires that gun buyers consent to allowing law enforcement access to their private health information.
There is a strong grassroots effort underway to defeat I-1639 in November. Those activists involved have seen what gun control has failed to accomplish in Maryland and elsewhere, and they want none of it in the Evergreen State.