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Guest Commentary / Common sense on self-defense

Some ideas on preventing gun violence

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By John R. Alberti
Perhaps what makes the Sandy Hook murders so heart-rending is the appalling disparity of force. A demented adult with an AR 15 against defenseless children and unarmed teachers is a very unfair fight. (But how could an adult murdering children ever be a fair fight?)
For me that provokes anger against the self-righteous fools who set them up as sitting ducks in a "gun free zone" -- defenseless and irresistible to a mass killer -- and anger at the weeks of lurid, politically motivated sensationalism which stokes the narcissistic fantasies of the next attention-hungry psycho, perpetuating the cycle.
Others direct their anger at the NRA, the AR-15, the magazine, and, apparently, me and 100,000,000 other well-behaved gun owners.
The very defenseless vulnerability of children that makes this case so emotionally compelling, makes it unpreventable by gun control. How much would you have to degrade the ability of millions of decent citizens to defend themselves against armed criminals before the one-in-a-million nut case would be unable to murder children?
Yet the liberal orthodox mind can conceive of nothing else but some form of gun prohibition -- a ban on AR-15s or large capacity magazines, or, if they can, all guns.
Prohibition, be it of drugs, or alcohol, gambling or whatever has, historically, granted criminal gangs a monopoly on distributing the prohibited commodity. Worse, most gun homicides in the US are related to drug gangs.
Adding guns or high capacity magazines as new profit centers for criminal gangs will not make us safer.
The big lie is that violent crime is spinning out of control, driven by those horrid AR-15s, and that we must take emergency action – this instant! The administration even threatens to bypass constitutional process. (Yikes!)
The FBI's Uniform Crime Statistics ( tell a very different story.
•The overall violent crime and murder rates are half what they were in 1992 and falling (Table 1) -- even as ownership of guns, especially the vilified AR-15, has grown.
All rifles (including AR-15s) accounted for 3 percent of murders. (Table 20).
California has some of the most onerous anti-gun laws in the nation, including a punitive "assault weapon ban", but the murder rate is more than double those of Washington and Oregon (Table 4), which have no assault weapon ban, and generally more reasonable gun laws.
A favorite scapegoat is the high capacity magazine. In theory, (if you could force all bad guys to use them) smaller magazines might limit the damage the 1 in a million nut case could do, but how much and at what price?
•Bad guys can pick the time and place of an attack, they rarely set themselves up to fight multiple armed victims and gain little beyond convenience from a large magazine. Child killers can reload at their leisure, or toss a Molotov cocktail, run the kids down with a car, ... ad nauseum.
Victims, on the other hand, are usually caught by surprise in unfavorable circumstances, terrified and outnumbered. There may be no cover to reload behind. Wood frame walls do not stop bullets so once a home defender's position is revealed, she must keep shooting until the fight is over.
The 11-shot AWB allotment might be enough -- or not. (NYPD officers average nine shots per gunfight.) I would hate to sacrifice the lives of the home defender and her family just to (maybe) inconvenience some one in a million psycho.
That said, here are some suggestions that may reduce violence without leaving innocent people defenseless:
1. Eliminate the "gun free zone" designation for schools.
2. Credibly enforce laws against handgun possession by minors, who commit the majority of gun crimes, but have to be caught with a gun five to seven times before they spend a day in juvenile detention.
3. Issue a NICS card to applicants who pass aNational Instant Criminal Background Check System check. Require the card or CPL and photo ID for possession or transfer of a weapon, including at gun shows.
4. Participate in the NICS Act Records Improvement Program and unseal convictions (including juvenile) or involuntary commitments, so these will show up on NICS.
5. Require that guns be securely stored when not being carried.

John R. Alberti lives in Everett

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