Dark Knight Rises Shooting Tragedy Not Caused By Lax Gun Laws

Undoubtedly, whenever there is a tragic shooting, after the "thoughts and prayers" for the families, the next step is always a renewal of the gun control debate.

There have been several shootings in recent memory, as Daniela Quintanilla points out in her article on the same topic. Columbine, Virginia Tech, the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, etc. There have also been sweeping changes in gun legislation in the last few years, the most notable change brought on by the Supreme Court, which decided that Washington D.C.'s almost complete ban on guns was unconstitutional.

However, the jury is still out on whether or not a complete ban on guns is an effective way of limiting violent crime. It seems intuitive, but as libertarian John Stossel argued following the Virginia Tech shootings, had even one law-abiding student at VA Tech been armed, Seung-Hui Cho's violent shooting spree could have been stopped almost as quickly as it began. One of the NRA's many catchy sayings is, "An armed society is a polite society." This is certainly true, but not the whole story.

The Supreme Court decision striking D.C.'s gun ban was notable, not just because of what it means for Second Amendment Rights, but for the interesting argument written by dissenting Justice Stephen Breyer.New York Times writer Adam Liptak broke down the Supreme Court decision shortly after it was announced. In his article he paints the issue of gun control as much more complex than a direct relationship between gun crime and availability of legal firearms.

In one study mentioned, Baltimore and Washington D.C. were compared side by side. Both have almost identical demographics and similar crime statistics throughout the years. However, while D.C. banned guns almost completely, Baltimore did not. The study showed no significant difference in crime between the two cities. “You have to think about the particular kind of gun control at work, and you have to subdivide gun users and gun abusers,” the article says, quoting UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh. He goes on to make the often cited point that criminals don't care about the law, and banning guns only serves to take them away from law-abiding citizens.

Likewise, European countires with stricter gun laws have more gun violence (almost double) than Euroepean countries that do not. But, as Justice Breyer pointed out, it is just as likely that countries with gun problems have to enact tougher gun laws in the first place.

What is clear is that there is very little correlation between current forms of gun control and gun violence. The United Kingdom, with some of the strictest gun laws in the world, may have as many as 250,000 illegal firearms circulating throughout the country. 

Gun laws do need to be enacted in this country, but unlike current laws, they need to focus on the source of the problem. Blanket banning of weapons does not work, and has not worked for us in the past. Thorough background checks are a must, and Volokh also pointed out in his study that background checks DID have an effect on gun crime.  The government can't catch everyone unfortunately, but people like Cho of Virginia Tech should not be able to purchase guns. 

But more importantly, gun control needs to target the black market. Illegal guns aren't purchased in a store, they are purchased off a back of a truck in a dark alleyway, or through a friend of a friend of a friend. Like with combatting terrorism, the best way to limit the number of gun incidents in this country is with intelligence and pro-active police work.  As Daniela points out in her article, blocking the Iron Pipeline (through which an estimated 90% of guns used in illegal crimes in New York City between 1996 and 2000 arrived), is of paramount importance.

Not banning guns, but limiting how, when, and where they can be bought is the way to go about tackling the gun issues in this country. Why not have gun show attendees go through a background check in advance, and be given a special card when they arrive certifying they are clear to purchase guns (like carding and giving out wristbands at 18+ nightclubs)? Laws that target manufacturers, controlling how they sell and market their guns to dealers and vendors would also be a more effective way of controlling the flow of illegal guns. If anything, making it so difficult to get an illegal gun that the price of them skyrockets, putting them out of reach of average criminals.

But it is important not to prevent law-abiding American citizens from owning the guns they are guaranteed under the Second Amendment. Had it not been for armed citizens, our country wouldn't exist in the first place, and there is something inherently sinister about the government taking guns from citizens, while at the same time arming themselves, even their Department. of Education inspectors.