I overheard an instructive conversation recently. Two people were discussing gun control. One was espousing the standard liberal position: outlaw assault weapons and limit the size of magazines. He based his argument on the need to prevent “another Sandy Hook.” The other party to this conversation opposed gun control on both philosophical and practical grounds. The latter commented: “Outlawing assault weapons and limiting the size of magazines would not have prevented Sandy Hook.” The former responded: “Yes, I know. But we have to do something.” This incredible response reveals in stark terms the Achilles Heel of the anti-gun lobby’s position. Anti-gun advocates are not so much interested in reducing gun violence as they are in appearing “to do something.” Theirs is a frantic, hyper-emotional response that makes no sense and will yield no results.

Consider the following scenario. A husband and wife are driving down the highway when suddenly the “check engine” light in their car comes on and the car’s engine dies. They pull off the road and look under the hood. After checking all of the usual sources of engine problems and finding no answers, the husband turns to his wife and says: “I’m going to change a tire.” The wife responds: “Why? That won’t do any good.” The husband says: “I know. But we have to do something.” Ridiculous? Yes, but no more so than the anti-gun lobby’s proposals to outlaw assault weapons and ban magazines that will hold more than seven rounds.

During the time that the most recent gun-control debate has been raging, Americans have been killed or injured by a crazed student wielding a box cutter, an angry boyfriend wielding a baseball bat, and two homemade bombs ignited using cell phones. Of course, there have also been incidents of people being killed by handguns, knives, ropes (strangulation), and—in the not-to-distant past—even by being dragged behind a truck. The point here is that people are murdered by bad people, not by guns, knives, bombs, rope, box cutters, or trucks. There is no end to the list of objects, tools, and implements—including plain old human hands—that can be used to kill another person.

Try this. Walk through your home checking in drawers, cabinets, and on shelves and make a list of the various tools, objects, and implements that could be used by a crazed person to kill or injure another. I first encountered this enlightening exercise during a hand-to-hand combat course I had to take in the Marine Corps many years ago. Our instructor called these items that are almost always available in any environment weapons of opportunity. We were taught that if attacked to use any weapon of opportunity that might be available. Some of the weapons of opportunity we practiced using were a brick, large stone, tree limb, a broken bottle, a bent piece of rebar, and a tent peg. In fact, as things turned out one of the best weapons in the Marine Corps’ arsenal turned out to be our E-tool (entrenching tool). The E-tool is a small collapsible shovel that is used to dig a foxhole. However, it can also be used to decapitate or crush the skull of an enemy soldier.

My point is that violence and murder are in the hearts of men, not the magazines of rifles and pistols. I have a shotgun and a pistol, neither of which has ever killed anyone. Nor has my hammer, chainsaw, shovel, hoe, carving knives from the kitchen, the left over stack of bricks from when we renovated out house, my car, the tent pegs that came with the tent we never use, the hedge clippers, the lawn mower, my car, or a long list of other things around my house that could easily be used weapons of violence. The reasons these tools and other implements have not been used to kill anyone is that I am not a killer.
People kill—guns don’t. Nor do hammers, broken bottles, or carpet knives. This is a simple enough concept, but liberals refuse to accept it. Instead they waste an enormous amount of energy trying to outlaw guns. Let us suppose for the moment that the left finally wins its emotion-driven, illogical campaign to ban assault weapons and large magazines. Within a few days of the president signing the bill into law, there will be a high-profile murder in which the weapon used is some everyday implement such as a box cutter, a baseball bat, or a kitchen knife. What then? Shall we outlaw everything that might possibly be used to kill another person? Perhaps it would be better to do the hard work of transforming people with murder in their hearts into responsible citizens. Are you listening Mr. President?