Disappointing news for supporters of Connecticut’s new gun laws

Until Connecticut surpassed it this past January, California had the strictest gun laws in the nation, yet the Santa Monica shootings showed that none of that mattered, or deterred the madman.

Clayton Cramer;

According to news accounts, the killer used an “assault-style weapon.”  Unsurprisingly, the 24-year-old killer had a history of mental illness, a run-in with the police, and had been hospitalized at some point in the last few years(although it remains unclear if this was voluntary or involuntary).  As regular readers of my columns know, this is the heart of the mass murder problem, not just in America, but in Europe and Canada as well.

But how could this happen? California has had an assault weapons ban since 1989, progressively tightened over a decade.  This law has been on the books, and enforced, since the killer was born.  The only lawful way for a Californian to possess a high-capacity magazine is if he owned it before 2000 – when the killer was eleven years old. California passed a firearms-transfer background check requirement that took effect on January 1, 1991, which checks not only for felony and violent misdemeanor convictions and pending charges, but also for involuntary mental hospital commitments.  Even if you are only held for 72 hour observation and then determined to be not crazy enough for longer term treatment, you are ineligible to possess a firearm for five years.  The shooter was 24– unless he was hospitalized between 18 and 19, he could not have legally purchased any firearm.  You can’t drive across the border into Arizona or Nevada to legally buy a gun; federal law prohibits such transfers unless your state of residence allows such transfers — and California does not.

….  Perhaps most importantly, if someone is mentally ill and intends to murder people (a capital crime), what sort of penalty is going to actually deter such a person from breaking gun-control laws?

Gun-control advocates, at least the more rational ones, will usually admit that these laws only work at the margins, by making guns harder for criminals and the mentally ill to get.  I can buy that argument; all laws work only at the margins, and that is all that they have to do to justify their existence.  I can also agree that when there is a large stockpile of illegal goods in circulation, it can take a while before laws aimed at those goods will remove them from the illegal marketplace.  Still, when I see that laws that are decades old failed to disarm a 24 year old who could not possibly have legally acquired this weapon, I find myself wondering in what century California’s gun-control laws are going to be effective.

So we are again left with the question: how did the killer get this gun?  It would seem as though he broke a stack of laws, without much of a struggle.  It almost makes you wonder if California is barking up the wrong tree.  They pass all these laws, starting with attempts to deal with a mass murder involving a mentally ill person in 1989, and they do not work.  Short of house-to-house searches for guns, how are they going to be successful at enforcing these laws?  Perhaps most importantly, if someone is mentally ill and intends to murder people (a capital crime), what sort of penalty is going to actually deter such a person from breaking gun-control laws?

We have a serious problem in this country with psychosis.  This is not new; what is new is that we no longer make a serious effort to protect not only the society, but those suffering from these severe mental illnesses, by providing the treatment that they desperately need.  Rather than confront this problem, the mainstream media keep screeching about gun control – ignoring not only that gun-control laws can’t do anything about the innumerable tragedies that do not involve guns, but very restrictive gun-control laws, such as California’s, do not seem to work.
We deinstitutionalized the mentally ill and under the guise of protecting their civil rights (while in effect simply saving tax payers’ money) we’ve made it impossible to recommit them or even treat them without their consent. We’re paying for those decisions, every day; depriving law abiding, sane citizens of their constitutional rights will accomplish nothing. Nor, to take a ridiculous example from Connecticut’s new law, will banning the sale of .22 ammunition to target shooters, though I’m sure squirrels everywhere will give a sigh of relief.


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17 responses to “Disappointing news for supporters of Connecticut’s new gun laws

  1. Anon

    Excellent post and commentary. Bravo.

    It’s remarkable how silent the press is about California’s strict laws. Or that the shooter was a member of the Religion of Peace. Uh oh spaghetti-o. A Muslim.

  2. weakleyhollow

    Let’s not all type at the same time now… You seem to be disconnected from reality. Liberalism is centered about doing things that make one feel good. The fact that they’re ineffective is irrelevant. “If it saves one squirrel (er, school child).”

  3. Publius

    In our politically correct world, one is not allowed to look at facts/science to address an issue like this (mental health/mass murder). Young men with a genetic disposition for a mental health related disorder tend to be most at risk between the ages of 17-25 in succumbing to their inner demons. This we don’t address because it is a gun that causes the mayhem.

    Additionally with all the patient privacy rights on the books, even family members have a difficult time in getting information and treatment for the afflicted. Do we address this issue? No. Has their been any meaningful legislation in CT in light of Newton? Not to my knowledge. What do we do? We continue to erode second amendment rights (rights….. not privileges) of law abiding citizens.

    We do not address issues any more in this country. We write checks and engage in fell good acts that don’t address the issues. Until we do so, there will be more of these heinous acts regardless of how strict the gun laws

    • Publius: I’ve posted this link/video here before but it bears repeating. The woman in the story, Ginger Smith, has been my best friend since we were in kindergarten. Her oldest child Eric (of the famous sculpting Parks family of Delaware) has gone through hell and back trying to get her son care. His first bout of mental illness when when he was a freshman at Tufts – he just disappeared, for months, and only after exhaustive search, he was found near death in San Francisco. Ginger has jumped through a zillion hoops to get Eric care, most often thwarted by privacy acts, doctors who didn’t care, doctors who wouldn’t help…the list is endless. It costs her several thousand dollars a month to house him in a private facility. And as the video says, she had to sell her house to fund it.

      It’s not irrelevant to say that Eric’s father, no longer married to Ginger, is also severely bipolar. The genetic component is huge.

      Ginger’s story is not unique and she knows how lucky she (and Eric) are to have the means to keep him safe and keep the community safe from what he could do if he goes off his medications.

      • Publius


        Thanks for this. I really do empathize with those that bear this burden and especially for those who refuse to throw in the towel and let others bear the consequences.

        • Anonymous

          -Unsurprisingly, the 24-year-old killer had a history of mental illness, a run-in with the police, and had been hospitalized at some point in the last few years(although it remains unclear if this was voluntary or involuntary). As regular readers of my columns know, this is the heart of the mass murder problem, not just in America, but in Europe and Canada as well-

          LOL Chris. You think by adding” (although it remains unclear if this was voluntary or involuntary)”: -lets you off the hook?

  4. David Smith

    Ya know,

    Back in the Middle ages the gun homicide rate was zero. But the murder rate . . .?

  5. Katie

    Hey Chris
    Guess who cut the funding for mental health services in California? That’s right, your boy, Ronald Regan. See prop 13 to refresh your memory. Got him a ticket right to the White House.

    • Well the lesson must not have been lost of the legislators of the other 57 states, because there was a nationwide rush to “deinstitutionalize” the mentally feeble and toss them out on the street, where they remain to this day. Blame reagan? That’s so old fashioned – we blame Bush!

  6. David Smith

    It’s never as simple as we think: I just saw a post on another blog that blamed Viet Nam on Nixon.

    Nixon was the guy who got us out!

  7. Thanks for sharing this information with us. Really appreciate

  8. Slappy White

    As we do with the newest gun laws, why not make assumptions. Lets assume every male between the ages of 17 and 24 will go on a mass killing spree. Lets restrict the areas they can go, no schools, no theaters and then we screen them for mental illness. Everyone of them. It is the very dangerous 17-24 year old male that is most dangerous. No telling what males of that age will do. Lets make laws to keep all of these dangerous potential criminals under control.