Friday, 14 January 2011

Americans Arm Themselves in Wake of Tucson Shootings

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pistolDespite — or perhaps because of — politicians’ and pundits’ handwringing about the dangers of guns in the hands of ordinary citizens in the wake of the January 8 shootings in Tucson, Arizona, Americans seem far from fearful about the prospect of owning firearms. In fact, they are positively giddy about buying their own guns. Bloomberg News reports that, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data, handgun sales across the country on January 10 were up 5 percent year-over-year, with Arizona experiencing a 60 percent increase. In addition, sales rose 65 percent in Ohio, 38 percent in Illinois, 33 percent in New York, and 16 percent in California.

Of particular interest is the fact that, writes Michael Riley, “Arizona gun dealers say that among the biggest sellers in the past few days is the Glock 19 made by privately held Glock GmbH, based in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria, the model used in the shootings.” This is not the first time a Glock 19 has been used in a mass shooting: Seung-Hui Cho used it to kill 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. At the same time, Riley says, the 9 mm pistol “is among the most popular sidearms for U.S. police departments,” proving that the weapon itself doesn’t cause people to commit crimes. Greg Wolff, an Arizona gun shop owner, told Riley that the Glock 19 is “one of the greatest guns made in the history of the world” and that its newfound notoriety is also a significant factor in its sudden sales growth.

The main reason people are rushing to purchase guns is, of course, to protect themselves. If a shooting spree can happen at a shopping center in Tucson, it can happen anywhere. Riley notes that “gun sales … also jumped following the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech.” He continues:

“Whenever there is a huge event, especially when it’s close to home, people do tend to run out and buy something to protect their family,” said Don Gallardo, a manager at Arizona Shooter’s World in Phoenix, who said that the number of people signing up for the store’s concealed weapons class doubled over the weekend. Gallardo said he expects handgun sales to climb steadily throughout the week.

Those who wish to protect their families with guns, however, have a concomitant concern: gun control. “When something like this happens people get worried that the government is going to ban stuff,” Wolff told Riley, leading them to stock up on guns and ammunition while they can. They have good reason to fear such an outcome, especially when reporters such as Riley write that the Arizona shootings have spawned “a national debate over weaknesses in state and federal gun laws,” as if someone intent on committing mass murder is going to let a little thing like the law get in his way of obtaining a weapon.

Furthermore, members of Congress — egged on by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which urged that body to “move now to enact tougher restrictions on guns, ammunition, and who can legally possess them” — are already seizing the opportunity to implement gun restrictions. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), for example, said that he “will be introducing legislation that would make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within 1,000 feet of certain high-profile government officials.” Meanwhile, his Empire State colleague, Democrat Carolyn McCarthy, “said this week that she plans to introduce legislation that would ban the high-capacity magazine” used by alleged shooter Jared Loughner “to fire 33 rounds without reloading,” according to Riley.

The Brady Campaign argues that Arizona’s lack of gun laws — no permits are necessary to own or carry a gun, whether concealed or in full view — led inexorably to the Tucson tragedy: “The troubles of the Tucson shooter are more proof that we make it too easy for dangerous and irresponsible people to get guns in this country. We have too few laws to protect our families and communities from this kind of bloodshed, and the laws we do have are riddled with too many loopholes.” If that is the case, however, how is it that Vermont, a state with practically no gun laws whatsoever, also has the lowest violent crime rate in the nation — a fact that even that state’s liberal Democratic senator, Patrick Leahy, recently admitted?

The solution to gun violence is not more gun laws. As The New American’s James Heiser explained, “If a legislative decree could make guns vanish from the hands of those who intend evil, then Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago would never have been plagued by the horrifically high murder and violent crime rates which are the usual marks of gun control in America.” The solution, as is so often the case, is to adhere to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, who included these words in the Bill of Rights: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Photo: AP Images

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