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Common Sense Gun Control Should Make Sense

June 27, 2022

I awoke on a beautiful June Sunday Morning to the news of another mass shooting late Saturday in a popular nightlife area of Philadelphia which left three dead and at least a dozen injured.  This latest carnage closely followed the Uvalde, TX and Buffalo, NY horrors.  

Not to be cynical but I knew what to expect next. These horrific (but statistically rare) mass shootings follow a predictable pattern. Within hours, a procession of local and national politicians and “community leaders” saturate the media exhorting lawmakers to “do something” about gun violence. 

Right on cue, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney excoriated the shooting as “devastating” and another “terrible  tragedy.” Kenney vouchsafed “that the safety of our residents and our visitors is our top priority,” even as the city’s 2022 homicide rate continues to outpace 2021’s record 562 homicides. 

Meanwhile, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner routinely releases violent, repeat offenders on nominal or no bail to continue to wreak havoc on the lives and livelihoods of city residents and visitors alike.

The “do somethings” convey a now-familiar litany: ban “assault weapons,” expand background checks, enact Red Flag laws, and hold gun manufacturers accountable (for crimes committed by criminals), despite scant evidence that if enacted, these efforts have decreased gun violence in schools or anywhere else. 

To cite one example, in August 2020 Uvalde school district police, using a $69,000 state grant, underwent extensive law enforcement training for school shooting situations, which included the town’s separate police department and its SWAT team. Yet as precious seconds ticked away, Uvalde family members said district police reconnoitered for an hour outside the elementary school while the 18-year-old shooter methodically executed the children within. 

A local judge once explained her reasoning when formulating an opinion: listen to the facts, apply the facts to the law, add a measure of common sense, and rule accordingly. 

Common sense is the missing ingredient in the gun control debate. Gun-control enthusiasts view mass shootings through the wrong end of the telescope. In mass shootings, the “fact” is that murder has been committed; fact number two is murder is against the law everywhere. Common sense would suggest that authorities next turn their sights on the person who pulled the trigger. 

Not so. Inexplicably, liberal policymakers fix their gimlet eyes on gun owners and gun manufacturers while portraying criminals as victims of the latest psychosis du jour rooted in poverty, abuse, or broken homes. 

It makes no sense. 

However, a quote by Samuel Johnson three millennia ago makes perfect sense: “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” 

Mass shooters may be crazy but they’re not stupid. 

Depend upon it, the knowledge that upon conviction of a crime committed with a gun criminals face mandatory sentences of two, five, ten, twenty, or more years will concentrate the mind of the maddest of madmen and make many of them think twice before pulling the trigger. 

With a bow to Dr. Johnson, a common-sense proposal to stop mass shootings and gun violence in their tracks might look something like this:

1. Illegal possession of a firearm: mandatory minimum of two years confinement, no possibility of parole 

2. Possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime: mandatory minimum of 10 years confinement, no possibility of parole. 

3. Attempted murder or aggravated assault with a firearm: mandatory minimum of 20 years confinement, no possibility of parole. 

4. Murder by firearm: mandatory life confinement, no possibility of parole. [Editor's Note: Or maybe the death penalty!]

5. Charges cannot be dropped or reduced at a preliminary hearing. 

6. Lawmakers with the guts to implement these laws and non-political district attorneys to apply them without fear or favor. 

Common sense gun control. 

Makes one think that the anti-gun lobby prefers gun violence as a talking point rather than actually “doing something” about it. 

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This needs to be in more papers! Common sense needs to make a comeback.
Copyright ©2022

Gerald McOscar has lived, practiced law, and penned an occasional column in West Chester, Pa for over three decades. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers and periodicals over the years, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Women's Quarterly, and many others. He was politically raised a "blue-collar democrat" before acquiring a conservative worldview upon entering young adulthood. Jerry believes that the personal responsibility that conservatism espouses is the key to a life worth living.