The gun lobby loves the fact that the public quickly forgets mass shootings. Who, for example, remembers the Vegas shooting? It has been a whole six weeks. Who remembers the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas? It has been a whole two weeks.
As long as the public forgets mass shootings (except, of course, victims’ families) no one asks why it is legal for someone to buy 33 guns in 12 months (the Vegas shooter) or buy guns despite domestic and animal abuse charges (the Sutherland Springs shooter).
An estimated 85 percent of all U.S. mass shooters are legal gun owners––the so-called “good guys” who laws should not infringe upon, say gun lobbyists. That is why when a terrorist opened fire at an Armed Forces Career Center and U.S. Navy Reserve center in 2015, killing four Marines and a sailor and wounding a police officer, the gun lobby tried to blame the murders on a “gun-free zone” instead of laws that let a terrorist buy guns.
They were wrong. Military Times reported, “At least two service members involved in the Chattanooga shooting were carrying personal weapons during the attack, in possible violation of current military rules, and unsuccessfully returned fire in an attempt to stop the homicidal gunman.”
That is also why when 18 police officers were shot in Dallas and Baton Rouge in 2016, the gun lobby refused to address the laws that let such murderers buy their guns legally despite clear red flags.
Existing laws allowed the 2015 Charleston, Roanoke and Umpqua Community College killers to buy legal guns. They allowed the 2013 Washington Naval Yard killer to buy guns legally. (Like other mass shooters, he had a military misconduct record.) Existing laws let Alice Boland, a suspect in a botched school shooting in South Carolina, pass a background check in 2013 despite being charged in 2005 with threatening to assassinate President George W. Bush.
Is there anyone who can’t buy a gun?
Violent people legally buying guns is not a new issue. Headlines in Chicago in 1988 read “Laws Failing To Keep Guns Out Of Hands Of Disturbed,” and “Suspect Had History Of Bizarre Acts,” when Laurie Dann shot six students at the suburban Hubbard Woods Elementary School.
Dann had been investigated by authorities in three states for repeated threats to kill people and had even stabbed her ex-husband with an ice pick. Yet Dann had no trouble purchasing a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum, telling the salesman that she needed it for self-defense according to published reports.
Ten years later, also in suburban Chicago, white supremacist Benjamin Nathaniel went on a racist shooting spree murdering the African American Ricky Byrdsong, the former Northwestern University Men’s Basketball Coach, a 26-year-old Korean doctoral student and wounding nine Orthodox Jews and an African-American minister.
Smith was issued a gun owner’s ID card by the state of Illinois, which enables someone to buy guns, two weeks before the shootings. Illinois police said his background check did not reveal an order of protection filed by an ex-girlfriend. Smith also disseminated hate literature at Indiana University and officials say he was known for peeping into women’s windows and drug use which did not prevent his gun owner’s ID card.
In 2006 in Goleta, California, Jennifer San Marco killed six at a postal facility and a neighbor. The murderer was known for shouting furiously to herself, peeling off her clothes in random parking lots and kneeling in prayer by the roadside but passed her background check and bought a gun legally anyway…
“Criminals don’t obey laws” and “all we need to do is enforce existing laws” are the gun lobby’s two favorite mantras to stop new and better gun laws. Yet both are clearly lies and each new mass shooting refutes them.