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How Gun Control Kills

And why death-penalty opponents should think twice about firearms bans.
gun control

Is there an evil worse than killing children? Is there anything more heart-wrenching than the feeling of absolute helplessness in our inability to protect them?

If Newtown, Connecticut shooter Adam Lanza had not taken his own life, millions would want him dead. Part of this tragedy is that the person responsible cannot be brought to proper justice. The entire event played out by his rules. The lack of justice compounds the loss of life. It makes the hurt worse.

It is these emotions—the high pitch of public outrage that accompanies the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting or any tragedy—that liberals say should preclude any possibility of the death penalty. But when liberals present rational arguments against capital punishment or demonstrate multiple instances where government has mistakenly executed innocents, such reasoning is often no match for society’s call for blood.

The calls for increased gun control after the Newtown shooting are also an emotional reaction. The same thought of murdered children that would naturally lead people to support the death penalty has also led politicians, pundits, and other Americans to clamor for more gun restrictions. This happens every single time there is a public shooting that becomes a national tragedy. But it’s demonstrably wrongheaded—and potentially deadly.

Gun control deters violent crime about as well as the death penalty. Worse, stricter gun control is the surest way to insure that virtually every would-be shooter is successful.

Two days after the Sandy Hook Elementary rampage, a gunman in San Antonio, Texas attempted to open fire on a movie crowd watching “The Hobbit.” Luckily, the man’s gun jammed. Even more luckily, there was an off-duty police officer who stopped that man with one bullet.

When Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and five others were shot in Tuscon, Arizona in January, the man who wrestled the gunman to the ground before he could continue killing had a carry-and-conceal weapon. Said 24-year-old Joe Zamudio, who acknowledged that being armed gave him the confidence to tackle shooter Jared Lee Loughner, “I was ready to end his life.”

Here is a list of potential national tragedies that were prevented thanks to an armed populace (as compiled by the Libertarian Party):“A 1997 high school shooting in Pearl, Miss., was halted by the school’s vice principal after he retrieved the Colt .45 he kept in his truck; A 1998 middle school shooting ended when a man living next door heard gunfire and apprehended the shooter with his shotgun; A 2002 law school shooting in Grundy, Va., came to an abrupt conclusion when students carrying firearms confronted the shooter; A 2007 mall shooting in Ogden, Utah, ended when an armed off-duty police officer intervened; A 2009 workplace shooting in Houston, Texas, was halted by two coworkers who carried concealed handguns; A 2012 church shooting in Aurora, Colo., was stopped by a member of the congregation carrying a gun.”

These are just a few examples spanning 15 years. On December 11 a man opened fire in a mall in Portland, Oregon—that is, until he was confronted by another armed man who had a carry-and-conceal weapon. The gunman who had fired on shoppers then took his own life.

If the people who prevented these crimes through the use of personal firearms were legally prevented from having them—as many liberals now clamor for—America would very likely be remembering a dozen more national tragedies.

In an article for The Atlantic titled “The Death Penalty’s Enduring Emotional Appeal,” lawyer and author Wendy Kaminer wrote in 2011: “Support for the death penalty (like opposition to it) is generally more ideological than pragmatic… This means that people who favor executions don’t accept at face value abolitionist claims about wrongful executions, no matter how carefully they’re documented.”

The same is true of gun-control advocates. As columnist Thomas Sowell has noted:“The key fallacy of so-called gun-control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available. If gun-control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago.”

That there really isn’t any way to predict or ultimately prevent these random tragedies—except, if you’re lucky, an armed person being nearby—is a basic truth liberals’ anti-gun ideology has blinded them to. Banning knives would not have stopped Jack the Ripper. Banning guns will not stop the crazed few who seek to open fire on the public.

To the degree that liberals get their way on gun control, there will be more deaths of innocents. I’m not saying liberals would want the potential murders implied in the examples here to occur. But what they want legislatively would only—inevitably—lead to more killing.

Jack Hunter is the co-author of The Tea Party Goes to Washington by Sen. Rand Paul and serves as New Media Director for Senator Paul. The views presented in this essay are the author’s own.