Commentary: Turning gun debate into and arms race

The Myrtle Beach Sun NewsJanuary 27, 2013 


Issac Bailey is a columnist for The Sun-News, in Myrtle Beach, S.C.


Sen. Lindsey Graham believes “the best way to confront a homicidal maniac who enters a school is for them to be met by armed resistance from a trained professional.”

That’s what he said in the wake of President Barack Obama’s much-discussed gun violence prevention proposals.

He also cited the case of a Georgia mother who effectively repelled an intruder who had broken into her home, saving herself and kids from harm.

“In the case of a young mother defending her children against a home invader -- a real-life event which recently occurred near Atlanta -- six bullets may not be enough,” Graham’s statement read. “Criminals aren’t going to follow legislation limiting magazine capacity. However, a limit could put law-abiding citizens at a distinct disadvantage when confronting a criminal.”

I asked Graham’s office which part of the president’s proposal he could support and reminded them that the mother was armed with a six-bullet pistol, not an assault rifle.

Maybe he would vote to close the gun show loophole that allows the sale of 40 percent of guns in this country to be made without background checks.

Maybe he could get behind the effort to free up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct comprehensive research into the causes of gun violence.

Maybe he has ideas that might be more effective.

His office declined to answer specific questions, telling me to wait on the Congressional hearings scheduled for later this month.

But they were quick to point to the incident in Atlanta.

“I believe she shot the intruder 5 times yet he still managed to get in his car and flee the scene,” Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop. “What would have happened if there had been 2 or 3 intruders?”

His question illustrates the type of thinking that might turn an honest attempt to curb gun violence into an arms race.

Graham’s office and many gun rights advocates have asked that question. What if there had been two or three intruders?

I’ll bite.

What would have happened if there had been five or six intruders? 10 or 20?

What if that lone intruder had been armed with a .223 Bushmaster instead of a crowbar?

What if he had the sort of shoulder-fire rockets used to breach the U.S. consulate in Libya?

Such thinking only leads to one conclusion: The only answer to gun violence is to arm as many law-abiding citizens with as many high-powered weapons as possible – just in case they come across a bad guy who is also well armed.

Don’t tell Graham about the infamous 1997 shootout in Los Angeles between the police and bank robbers dressed like commandos.

Here’s how one news account described that event:

“More than 200 police were on hand for the siege, which lasted more than an hour. Armored personnel carriers and dozens of police cars, fire engines and ambulances were called to subdue the attackers and attend to the wounded.”

“Wearing body armor and carrying a trunk full of weapons, the robbers were ready for a fight. And that’s exactly what they delivered, firing multiple hundreds of rounds, according to police.”

“They fired armor-piercing bullets at anything that moved, and one suspect used a getaway car as a shield. Two suspects fought fiercely to the death, killed by helmeted police who fired bullets to the head at close range.”

There will be rare cases such as those during which the good guys are outgunned, no matter how much we relax or tighten our gun laws.

That’s why this discussion must focus on all the reasons the U.S. is No. 1 among like countries for gun violence, and not devolve into simple-minded talking points, particularly from our most influential leaders.

The best way to confront a homicidal maniac who enters a school – or temple or mall or movie theater – is not for him to be met by armed resistance from a trained professional.

It is to prevent him from getting the gun.

The question is, how to do that while making sure that others are allowed to protect themselves the way the woman in Atlanta did.

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