The Herald Bulletin

June 5, 2013

Jim Bailey: Guns don't kill people, but they make it a lot easier

By Jim Bailey
For The Herald Bulletin

— Recently I watched one of the original “Hawaii 50” programs on a nostalgia station. “Story of a Gun” chronicled an illegal handgun smuggled in from overseas that was involved in about five unrelated killings and a young boy accidentally shooting himself in the foot before Steve McGarrett and crew were able to track it down.

There ought to be a law against that. Oh wait, there is!

In the wake of such atrocities as the Arizona mall shootings that effectively ended Rep. Gabby Giffords’ congressional career, the Colorado theater massacre and the killings in a grade school in Newtown, Conn., the outcry for stiffer gun control laws is rising with the tide.

Then came the Boston massacre, two homemade bombs that killed four people and seriously injured scores more. Not gun violence that time (although shootings followed involving the perps). Does that mean we should add pressure cookers to the restricted list?

The outcry is understandable: Stop the violence. Pass laws. Take guns away from those who shouldn’t have them.

Not so fast, the gun lobby replies. If laws already on the books were enforced, many of these crimes would not have occurred. The U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to keep and bear arms, and law-abiding citizens are better off with weapons than without.

And ne’er the twain shall meet.

One faction would love to see all firearms removed from society, including, I’m sure, animal lovers who equate hunting with Bambi killing. Can’t we all just get along?

The other faction sees any move to stiffen gun control laws as a foot in the door en route to complete destruction of the Second Amendment. And one possible result would be tyranny on the part of government once they had pried the last firearm from the National Rifle Association president’s cold dead hands.

But it seems to me a sensible solution would lie somewhere in between.

Guns don’t kill people, the NRA points out, people kill people. No argument there. Of course, firearms make killing people a lot easier.

If laws now on the books were enforced (which is easier said than done), we’d have some control of their use by the criminal element. But if all proposals that have made their way to Congress were passed, would that keep full-bore mental cases from going out in a blaze of glory? That is very doubtful.

I’ve said before that some of the high-profile automatic and semiautomatic weapons we hear about go beyond the constitutional idea of a well-organized militia. And expanding background checks to all public gun sales would hardly be a roadblock to the self-defense of law-abiding citizens.

Or we could go to the zero-tolerance idea that recently led to the suspension from school of a Suffolk, Va., second-grader who pointed a pencil at another student and made the noise of a gun going off.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Jim Bailey’s column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by email at