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What Good Are D.C.’s Gun-Control Laws?


Ironically, before I heard about the gun massacre at the Washington Navy Yard, I was planning on blogging on the issue of gun control in Washington, D.C., based on an article that appeared in last Sunday’s Washington Post. The article revolved around the death of a 19-year-old African American man named David Robinson who was a recent victim of an unsolved gun homicide. According to the Post:

His killing, still unsolved, is the story of gun violence in Washington.

Year after year, young black males make up the bulk of the slain, most of them shot in poor or working-class neighborhoods, as David was.

In 2012, more than 90 percent of the dead were African Americans and nearly seven in 10 were younger than 35.

But wait a minute! How is all this possible? Doesn’t Washington, D.C., have some of the nation’s strictest gun-control laws? This is not a city where you want to be caught with a gun. They will send you sky high to the penitentiary.

So, how is it possible that David Robinson was killed by a gun? How is possible that other people are killed by guns? Since guns are illegal, how is all that killing by guns happening?

The answer is obvious but for some reason the gun control crowd just never gets it: Killers don’t obey gun-control laws. It’s really just that simple. Let me repeat it for emphasis: No matter how strict and harsh gun-control laws might be, killers don’t care. They’re going to violate the law regardless. After all, if they’re going to violate a law against murder, which has an extremely high penalty attached to it, why would they give a hoot about complying with a gun-control law?

So, what good are the gun-control laws? They’re not good for anything except denying people like David Robinson the right to defend themselves by legally carrying guns for self-defense. D.C.’s gun-control law disarms the ordinary citizen by making it a felony for him to carry a concealed weapon that he can use not only for self-defense but also to deter bad guys from even attempting to shoot him.

Most killers are logical in the sense that they choose victims in places where the law has prohibited people from defending themselves — i.e., so-called gun-free zones. It makes sense. Why target well-armed people, such as people at a gun show, when you can target them in Washington, D.C., where the law makes it illegal to be armed for purposes of self-defense?

Yesterday, we witnessed the same phenomenon at the Washington Navy Yard. Another gun massacre in America, only this time in the nation’s capital.

But wait a minute! I thought Washington, D.C.’s, strict and harsh gun-control laws were supposed to prevent this sort of thing. Isn’t that what gun-controllers always want to do in other parts of the country where there are gun massacres—impose harsh gun-control laws like the ones they have in Washington?

Yet, obviously D.C.’s strict and harsh gun-control law didn’t prevent the massacre at the Navy Yard. That’s because the killer decided to disobey D.C.’s gun-control law at the same time he decided to disobey D.C.’s murder laws. Doesn’t that show that killers don’t give a hoot about strict gun-control laws?

It seems, not surprisingly, that the victims at the Navy Yard were unable to defend themselves by firing back at the shooter. Undoubtedly, that’s because they were complying with Washington’s strict and harsh gun-control laws and, no doubt, with the military’s own gun-control regulations on military bases.

Thus, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, the good people obey the law and therefore are unable to defend themselves against the bad guy who doesn’t give a hoot about the law and starts shooting people to his heart’s content.

It will be interesting to see if the gun-control crowd starts calling for strict and harsh gun-control laws in the wake of the Washington Navy Yard massacre. Someone should tell them: “Been there, done that. It doesn’t do any good and actually does a lot of harm by preventing innocent people from defending themselves from bad guys who don’t give a hoot about gun-control laws.”

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.