Recently, we discussed St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch, who upset some people in the fields of both law enforcement and education, by suggesting that the only real security against school shooters is the presence of armed decent people prepared to stop them. Those who found that argument upsetting will likely be no less unhappy about his latest contribution to the debate.
Fox 2 St. Louis reports that Chief Fitch is now arguing that new “gun control” laws will do nothing to reduce violence (see sidebar video):
President Barack Obama and others favor re-instating the ban on assault weapons and outlawing ammunition magazines that hold more than ten rounds. Chief fitch [sic] says it’s way too late for any of that.
Chief Fitch says the rush to buy guns after the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown shows that it’s too late for any new gun control laws to have any real effect. Fitch says with hundreds of millions of guns already in the hands of private owners in the United States, that it’s already easy for anyone who wants to have a gun to get one.
That “rush to buy guns”–particularly just those types of guns most demonized by the gun prohibitionists–is certainly apparent. Fitch’s “that horse is already out of the barn” argument–that it is simply too late to “control” guns–is also well taken.
That is something we discussed nearly four years ago, quoting Professor Nicholas J. Johnson’s Imagining Gun Control in America: Understanding the Remainder Problem. In that study, Professor Johnson pointed out that with over 250 million privately owned firearms already in circulation in the U.S., not even the most draconian, oppressive gun laws imaginable can make acquisition of firearms particularly difficult, the oft-touted “success” of such laws in other countries notwithstanding:
This is far more guns than the countries in any of the cross-cultural comparisons—far more private guns than any other country ever. Americans own close to half the private firearms on the planet. Plus, our borders are permeable, and guns and ammunition are relatively easy to manufacture. So achieving the supply-side ideal is not just a matter of channeling enough outrage to finally get the right words enacted into law.
Professor Johnson also points out that even if laws (somehow) make it impossible for one to buy guns, the option will still exist to make them:
The notorious AK-47 can be assembled from a kit of roughly-machined parts using only hand tools. Gun prohibition then is not the same as banning DDT or leaded gasoline. It is more like banning fire.
Johnson wrote that well before 3-D printing emerged as a promising means of thwarting any possibility of the “government monopoly on force,” so beloved of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Representative Jerrold Nadler. The “Wiki Weapon” project has, in fact, just in the last few weeks made significant strides since suffering what might have seemed something of a setback early this month.
Completely absent from the preceding is any discussion of the Constitutional and moral problems inherent to restrictive gun laws, and Chief Fitch does not seem to have weighed in on those questions–not publicly, anyway. Still, he makes a good pragmatic case for rejecting “gun control” as an effective approach to “violence control.”
- St. Louis County police chief questions wisdom of schools as ‘gun-free’ zones