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Opinion: Navy Yard Shooting Proves Gun Laws Don’t Work

navy yard shooting

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The horrific Navy Yard shooting has renewed the gun control debate in America.

But the tragic loss of life in Washington, DC, does not indicate that more gun laws are needed in the United States. It simply illustrates the inability of the federal government to oversee current background checks and weapons statutes. Aaron Alexis, the man behind the murders, had a verifiable criminal history before he received security credentials and purchased the weapon believed to have been used to kill 12 innocent people who were simply trying to earn a paycheck.

Like Chicago, Washington, D.C. has some of the most restrict gun laws in the country. Aaron Alexis was violating the law simply by being in possession of a loaded firearm in the city, regardless of whether or not he was the registered owner. Like all mass shooters, the Navy Yard gunman was focused on causing carnage, and could not have cared less about breaking a local gun law. It is also illegal even to travel through the nation’s capital with an “assault-style” weapon. As Second Amendment supporters often point out, only law-abiding citizens adhere to gun laws; criminals have not and will not ever care about new legislation to thwart their violent desires.

A 2007 study published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy found that European countries that had higher legal gun ownership rates also had less violent crime.

“Gun ownership spread widely throughout societies consistently correlates with stable or declining murder rates,” the authors wrote. “Whether causative or not, the consistent international pattern is that more guns equal less murder and other violent crime. Even if one is inclined to think that gun availability is an important factor, the available international data cannot be squared with the mantra that more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death. Rather, if firearms availability does matter, the data consistently show that the way it matters is that more guns equal less violent crime.”

Just prior to the Navy Yard shooting, the Chicago City Council approved a rewrite of the city’s gun laws that would make them mirror those of the state, cutting the number of gun laws in the city in half. It was a victory for gun rights advocates. As part of the new ordinance, Chicago citizens would not have to register their guns. A new state law allowing Illinois voters to carry concealed weapons soon will go into effect, making Illinois the last state to enact such a law.

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As previously noted by Off The Grid News, Chicago has some of the most stringent gun laws in America and one of the highest violent crime rates. Through September, Chicago had about 27 percent more murders than did New York, even though the Big Apple has three times as many people. Chicago had more than 500 homicides last year.

Some neighborhoods in Chicago are so dangerous that earlier this year Mayor Rahm Emanuel initiated a program which placed trained security officers and volunteers along school routes to make sure children reach their learning institutions safely. Sure doesn’t sound like gun control laws in Chicago are working as their advocates envisioned.

National Rifle Association (NRA) representative Todd Vandermyde applauded the city council’s action, which brought the city in line with state law.

“Mayor Daley’s pinnacle handgun ordinance … is now for all intents and purposes gutted, and I think that is a great day for gun owners in the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois,” Vandermyde said. “Today’s action is a victory for the little guy who wants to keep a lawful gun in his home or a concealed handgun for protection.”

California, always a mecca for gun control supporters, also is considering some new firearms laws. The state legislature recently sent 14 Second Amendment-related bills to the desk of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. Heated debated, primarily partisan in nature, preceded the passage of the California gun control bills.

The proposed gun laws include a bill to ban semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines that have the capability for rapid firing. Dictates in the other bills Jerry Brown must decide on include requiring gun owners to obtain a safety certificate, allowing Oakland to pass its own city gun laws, and banning magazine repair kits.

“The opponents like to paint it as some unreasonable restriction on gun ownership. And these bills are anything but,” said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat. “They are drawing a very careful distinction between gun ownership for sport, hunting and even self-defense – versus these guns that by definition fire dozens or hundreds of rounds indiscriminately and kill people.”

Craig DeLuz, a lobbyist for the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, said the bills, if signed, won’t impact crime.

“You have people who write this legislation who don’t understand the technology and thus don’t understand why the bill is a problem,” DeLuz said. “And in the end, none of these will end gun violence.”

California Senate Bill 755 would increase the list of criminal offenses during a 10-year period which would prohibit a resident from purchasing a gun. If a citizen had been convicted twice during three years for public intoxication, for example, the individual would lose their Second Amendment rights.

In March Guns & Ammo magazine ranked California 47thin its list of best states for gun owners, ahead of only Massachusetts (48th), New Jersey (49th) and New York (50th). (Arizona ranked first, Vermont second and Alaska third.)

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