Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Empire State Building Shooting

Mayor Bloomberg of New York City was quick yesterday to blame yesterday's highly-publicized shooting on "the national problem of gun violence."  The problem with Bloomberg's narrative is that a gun wasn't to blame.  A murderer was. 

The media went big with the fact 9 people were wounded.  Turns out, those passersby were wounded by panicked officers shooting at a man who hadn't fired at them.  At least, the evidence makes it seem very unlikely he did.  Don't get me wrong.  Officers have the right to shoot at someone who simply draws a gun on them.  In fact, they have the right to shoot a fleeing suspected felon in the back if he won't stop and surrender in many jurisdictions.  The question is whether they should do so on a busy street.  9 innocent people wounded by police bullets would seem to indicate opening fire was the wrong call in this situation.

I don't blame the NYPD, though I think there's a training issue to be addressed there.  I don't blame the gun.  I blame the murderer.  Here's what history tells us:  a person who really, really wants to kill someone else will do so.  That's not a "national gun violence" problem.  That's a murderer problem.  If he hadn't had a gun (and how could he have one on the street with NYC's amazingly restrictive gun control laws?) he'd have used a knife.  Or a shovel.  Or a hammer.  Or a rock.  You get the idea.  Taking one tool away won't stop a determined murderer.

In this case, I don't even think this was a failure of gun control laws.  The victim, even if lawfully armed, probably wouldn't have had time to defend himself.  (If you want a failure of strict gun control laws, look no further than Chicago, where 13 people were shot in a half hour Thursday night despite their near total ban on firearms). 

Mayor Bloomberg would do far better to refrain from making a clown of himself grandstanding to the media about a "gun violence" problem and instead use that time to instruct his police departments to take some shooting courses that include firing on the move without blowing holes in innocent civilians.

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