Gun control is in the news again. Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the Tuscon shootings, when alleged gunman Jared Loughner killed six people and injured thirteen — including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is still recovering from her injuries. The Daily Caller reports that despite lobbying from gun control activists the White House has offered little more than a nod in their direction, perhaps fearing the impact of any new anti-gun legislation on the president’s reelection efforts in key swing states such as North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. But gun control activists aren’t backing off; progressive news program Democracy Now! reports that one survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, Colin Goddard, is pushing for new gun curbs.
A very different story has also been in the headlines. A recently widowed teen mother, alone at her isolated home in Oklahoma with her 3-month-old son, shot and killed an intruder on New Year’s Eve. 18-year-old Sarah McKinley of Blanchard, Okla., said that she had to make a choice between her son and the intruder, 24-year-old Justin Shane Martin when Martin busted down the door to her home. “I chose my son over him,” said McKinley in an interview with CNN, describing her decision to fire the 12-gauge shotgun that killed Martin. No charges will be filed against McKinley and prosecutors have said that an alleged accomplice, 29-year-old Dustin Louis Stewart, may actually be charged with Martin’s murder.
I’ve never liked the old slogan, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” It’s a tired cliche and one that offers cold comfort to victims of gun-related crimes like Congresswoman Giffords and Mr. Goddard. Guns do kill people. Sometimes, in the hands of criminals, they kill good people as was the case in Tucson last year and at Virginia Tech in 2007. But sometimes guns kill bad people. Sometimes guns kill people like Justin Shane Martin before they can kill someone else instead. We can lament that guns have been used in senseless murders, but we can also celebrate that a gun saved Sarah McKinley’s life and the life of her 3-month-old son. And we can wonder: What if someone besides the deranged criminals at that “Congress on Your Corner” in Tucson or on the Virginia Tech campus had been carrying a gun? Might more lives have been saved?
In a sense, gun control activists are right: Guns kill people. But gun control can kill people, too. Just ask Sarah McKinley and her 3-month-old son, who are alive today because the McKinleys owned a 12-gauge shotgun.