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B. Jeffrey Madoff

B. Jeffrey Madoff

Posted: January 25, 2011 11:24 AM

The tragic shootings in Arizona were a wakeup call to many: wake up and buy more guns. As if stockpiling food for a coming storm, gun buyers stocked up on firearms, fearing a scarcity or, even worse, background checks and restrictions.

In an economy that has been challenging for many businesses, gun sales have been robust. In October of 2008 as Obama was heading towards victory, gun sales surged 15%, which according to the FBI is about 1.18 million firearms. These sales were allegedly stoked by fears that the Obama administration would take an aggressive stand on gun control. That didn't happen. Obama, who initially was going to make the ban on assault weapons permanent, backed off. The ban expired. Assault weapons and the extended clip for the Glock used in the Arizona shootings became readily available.

(Clarification: Obama intended to reinstate the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which had expired in 2004, and make it permanent. This was part of his campaign agenda in 2008. Efforts to reinstate the ban were abandoned in 2009.)

According to FBI data, one-day sales of handguns in Arizona jumped 60 percent the day after the shootings compared with the corresponding Monday a year ago, the second-biggest increase of any state in the country.

The day after the Arizona shootings handgun sales in Ohio rose 65 percent, California 16 percent, Illinois sales rose 38 percent and there was a 33 percent increase New York. Nationally, gun sales increased about 5 percent.

This isn't a new phenomenon after tragic shooting events. When 32 people were murdered and several more were wounded at Virginia Tech in April of 2007, gun sales once again went up.

Many brave politicians and pundits have taken the risky stand of publicly condemning the shooting of innocent people. They took similar stands when they bravely condemned the shootings at the McDonald's in California where 21 people were killed, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood Texas, Northern Illinois University; the list goes on, so does the lack of sensible legislation.

Some in Congress support novel gun control restrictions: Congressman Peter King, (R-NY), plans to introduce legislation that would make it illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a government official. How to detect who has a gun, who is a public official and when the 1000 foot threshold has been breached has not yet been worked out. Representative Dan Burton, (R-Indiana), has proposed to encase the House Gallery in "a transparent and substantial material" such as Plexiglas, a bulletproof sneeze guard to protect Congress from members of the public who might throw explosives or make other attacks on members on the House floor. Both men are against gun control, they just want to keep guns away from them.

It is an amazing coincidence that although "guns don't kill people, people do" there has always been a gun in the hands of those people doing the killing. It is more accurate to say "guns don't kill people, bullets do", just so guns aren't unfairly blamed. No gun has ever been found guilty of murder, but lots of people have.

The Tucson murders awoke the slumbering beast of the gun control debate in the United States; it awakens after every mass shooting and then goes back into hibernation until the next massacre of innocent people.

Those who support gun control legislation argue that guns are too accessible; they argue that Jared Loughner should not have been able to purchase his Glock and the extended magazine so easily. The same was said of Seung-Hui Cho, the killer at Virginia Tech, Steven Kazmierczak, the shooter at Northern Illinois University and every other perpetrator of similar mass murders.

To claim that someone who opens fire on a crowd and kills several people is mentally unstable is an obvious truth. Sane people don't do that. The mental instability is used as an excuse for their actions instead of trying to affect policy that tries to keep guns out of the hands of such people.

Opponents of gun control argue that there would be less crime if more people were armed. Because Virginia Tech's gun-free "safe zone" policy ensured that none of the other students or faculty would be armed, no one was able to stop Cho. The same argument for arming teachers was used by gun proponents for Columbine. Arizona's gun laws are among the most permissive in the country, yet no one stopped Loughner. None of the mass killings were ended by armed civilians. It was either the police or the shooter ended the spree by shooting himself.

Speaker of the House, John Boehner, (R-Ohio), reminded us of his own heroism when he said the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, (D-Arizona), was a reminder that "public service comes at a risk". It would be more accurate to say "being in public comes at risk" since most of the people killed or injured were not public servants.

Senator Mike Lee, (R-Utah), came up with a novel twist on the terrorist maxim when he said: "The shooter wins if we, who've been elected, change what we do just because of what he did." I thought laws were implemented because of what people do.

Gun advocates claim that we would all be safer if more people had guns, the crime rate, especially the murder rate would go down.

I agree and in order to assure a safer more crime free society; teachers should be armed. Students should be armed. Convenience store clerks, fast food servers, gas station attendants and pharmacists should be armed. Retail clerks, postal workers, UPS and Federal Express employees should be armed. Ministers, priests, rabbis and nuns should be armed. Doctors, lawyers, public servants and all elected officials should be armed. Private cars, taxis and city buses should have gun turrets mounted on their roofs. If everyone had a gun you'd be crazy not to have one -- because we all know crazy people kill people, not guns.