Blue: High-capacity ammunition magazines don’t kill people, people do

Brandon Blue

Now that the nigh-comical crossfire concerning whether a graphic with crosshairs on it constitutes culpability has been conversed upon ad nauseam, we are left with the punditry that follows the “Safeway Massacre.”

Should we ban high-capacity magazine because one was used to shoot a Congresswoman?

And the simple answer is, “I guess?” But “I guess?” a column does not make.

I think most people are shaken following this tragedy. It’s disturbing to think that an insane individual would betray the trust and openness of a Congresswoman standing defenseless on a street corner. Most disturbing is that it actually happened.

But there’s little merit in reactions to this tragedy. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., said on Fox News, “Guns kill. And those who glamorize gunplay or worship gun ownership do no service to humanity.”

McCarthy means well, I’m sure. I want to be safe when I walk down the street, and the representative does too. She has more of a stake in it than I do; McCarthy lost her husband in 1993 to a gun-wielding maniac who killed five other people in a rampage on the Long Island Railroad.

My question to McCarthy is this: Had Loughner been unable to procure a firearm, is it unreasonable to believe he would have attacked with a different weapon?

We’ll never know, certainly, but I suspect Jan. 8, 2011, would have been a dark day no matter the methods.

I suspect this, because guns themselves do not kill people. A gun on a table will not kill a man any more than the table will. It is easier to kill a person with a gun than a table, yet to presume a murderer would be deterred from killing his target once it becomes inconvenient assumes we comprehend the logic of a cold-blooded killer, and the mind of Jared Lee Loughner is anything but logical.

The day after McCarthy’s comments, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said that he was working on legislation along with McCarthy to ban the manufacture and sale of extended magazines such as the one used by Lougner in his spree.

The move is full of good intentions, but the trend of “passive adaptation,” in which we adapt to problems after they’ve occurred, is getting us nowhere. The TSA is now checking the underwear of every American because one time, some guy put a bomb in his underpants. They check your groin after they check your shoes because a different guy once hid a bomb in his.

While TSA restrictions and legislation such as this are similar, they also have similar shortcomings, chiefly that they treat the symptoms of their respective problems, but not the cause. The ineffective nature of passive adaptation is evident in the painful fact the TSA has not yet caught any terrorists for all of its efforts.

In the case of the Lautenberg-McCarthy bill, it is clear that the problem is not the existence of extended magazines or loose gun control laws.

Gun control laws did nothing to stop Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from perpetrating the Columbine Massacre; both were underage at the time and ineligible for the purchase of firearms. Gun control laws did nothing to stop Seung-Hui Cho from murdering 32 fellow persons before turning his gun on himself in the Virginia Tech Massacre. Gun control laws did nothing to stop Major Nadal Hasan from cutting down 13 fellow soldiers at the Fort Hood Massacre.

Harris and Klebold bypassed the law, Cho followed it and the law did not apply to Hasan, who was instead under the UCMJ. Simply put, these unthinkable tragedies are machinated not by ease of obtaining handguns but by the desire to do so; by the determination to realize sick ideas in sick minds. Banning high-capacity magazines means the next Jared Lee Loughner will only take three lives instead of six.

While McCarthy and Lautenberg have great intentions, I fear their bill will have little effect on future incidents such as the tragedy in Tucson.

Three dead is still three too many.