More Gun Laws a Folly

Bill Neinast

Long before the first human foot print was left on the sands of time, other living beings roamed the earth.  To protect turf, provide food, or for many other reasons, some of those animals used claws, teeth, or other weapons to kill other animals.

According to the Bible, Adam and Eve were the first persons on earth.  Among their children, Cain killed his brother, Abel.  The murder weapon in that case remains a mystery.  As gun powder had not yet been invented, guns can definitely be ruled out.

There were no laws prohibiting murder when Abel died at the hands of his brother.  A written law against killing probably did not appear until Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments written by God.  The sixth of those Commandments prohibited murder.

Having a written proscription of murder had little effect on man killing man in either Biblical times or later.  The story of the Ten Commandments is followed by the chronicle of David killing Goliath with a sling shot.  Then, except for Rehab and her family, every man, woman, and child in Jericho was killed by Joshua and the Israelites he was leading.

This highly condensed version of the history of killing should be remembered by the politicians jerking their knees to pass yet another law to prohibit a repeat of the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre.

No adult alive today will forget the carnage in Newtown last week.  Each of them should be reminded, however, there were three previous incidents snuffing out the lives of children in school buildings that were more deadly than Newtown.  None of those tragedies involved guns.

A deadlier assault on school children occurred in 1927.  On May 18 of that year, Andrew Kehoe blew up part of the school house in Bath Township, Michigan.  The blast killed 38 elementary school children, two teachers, four other adults, and injured at least 58 others.  A second charge in another part of the building failed to detonate.

Ten years later, many more school children died in a single incident.  On March 28, 1937, 297 students and teachers died in a gas explosion in the school in New London, Rusk County, Texas.  Although there was no mad man behind this disaster, the blast was due to human negligence.  Natural gas that had not been odorized to provide easy detection of leaks was being used in the new state of the art building.  So the gas filling a room in the basement was not detected before an electric switch was turned on with a spark that destroyed the building.  

Sixty eight years later, Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was even more deadly.  That blast claimed 168 lives, including 19 children under the age of six in the nursery school, and injured more than 680 people.

Here are three horrible incidents where many school children died at their desks, but not at the end of a gun.  Laws restricting the use of guns, therefore, are not going to provide absolute safety for school children or anyone else.

Remember, also, there are already laws to prevent what happened at Newtown. Twenty year old Adam Lanza just chose to ignore those laws.

In committing his atrocities on December 14, Lanza broke at least three criminal laws designed to prohibit theft, breaking and entering, and murder.  He stole his mother’s legally acquired guns and car, killed his mother, broke into and entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and killed 20 young students, six teachers and employees, and himself.

Would a fourth law have prevented the tragedy?  If not four, how many?

So here’s the perspective.

Not counting casualties in the international and internecine wars since 1700, more humans have been killed with a variety of weapons that did not include gunpowder than with guns.

The short history digest above also indicates that laws do not prevent crime. They may reduce the number of crimes, but they will never eradicate the evil in people’s hearts.

It is hoped that politicians will remember this when they go about their knee jerk reactions to hold more hearings on how to prevent a recurrence of Newtown.

This is not a rant against gun control laws.  Restrictions on assault weapons, huge ammunition clips, bullets capable of massive tissue destruction, and other killing machines might be desirable or advisable.

Imposing such restrictions in the belief that they will absolutely prevent future mass shootings, however, is pure folly.

The Washington bunch is facing problems much more important and dangerous than whether there are enough laws prohibiting murder.   The fiscal cliff and dangers in the Mideast, Iran, and North Korea are a few that come to mind.


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