Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two Students Hurt in Accidental L. A. School Shooting

     Dear Friends,
     That was a headline that I read a few minutes ago.  It struck me as really odd and after a little thinking, it makes for a good story to describe how well gun control laws work.  With all the calls for restricting handgun magazine capacity, prohibiting gun possession within 1,000 feet of "high ranking governmental officials" and tightening up on gun ownership for people like the Tucson shooter we need to think through whether these proposals will work.
     According to the school shooting article, an LA school district spokesman said that a student brought a gun to school in a backpack and it went off when he dropped it. He said two people were wounded and a police spokesman said it was three. 
     Before I continue, let me state for the record that it ios my personal conviction that there is no such thing as a "gun accident."  Somewhere along the line, any unintentional discharge involves a violation of the basic rules of gun safety. Any intentional discharge is categorically the responsibility of the person who has the gun in their hand.
     My question is this: how could it have been accidental when there are plenty of laws to prevent such a thing from happening?
     Gun control laws prohibit possession of a firearm on school grounds or within 1,000 except for law enforcement personnel. Press reports indicate the gun was brought in by a student - not a police officer. It seems the law was violated here.
     Gun control laws prohibit purchase of a handgun by any otherwise legally entitled person under the age of 21.  Unless the high school student was over 21, they didn't purchase it themself.  Since that is pretty unlikely, it would seem that another law was violated.
     Gun control laws generally make it hard to possess a handgun in California unless it is an intra-familial handgun transaction. While that type of transfer is certainly possible, chances are probably better that is not the case, resulting in the violation of another law.
     Gun control laws prohibit the concealed carry of a handgun unless a person has met the licensing requirements mandated by law.  As far as I know, high schoolers generally can't meet those requirements so once again, uless subsequent reports prove otherwise I'll hazard a guess that yet another law was broken.
     It would further seem that the student who brought the gun to school (in and of itself a stupid act) did not take reasonable care to ensure it was unloaded and carried in a safe manner so as not to cause harm to others. Whether criminal negligence laws apply in this case will be up to the local District Attorney. I don't believe that I am going out on a limb by guessing that lawsuits will come out of this event.
     Now about those new gun control proposals that are currently being discussed.  It seems that "high governmental officials" probably were not within 1,000 feet of this tragedy, so that would have had not prevented this.  Press reports do not indicate that more than one round was fired, so limiting magazine capacity would not have prevented this.  Further, it is unknown whether the shooter who dropped the backpack had any identifiable mental defects that could have prevented this shooting.
     In other words, this was no accident, laws to prevent it were broken and new laws would not have prevented it.
     I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.  Please feel free to leave your comments below.
     Sincerely yours,
     Tom Goffe

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